Have I mentioned we are still learning? A LOT?

Arriving at Dinner Key yesterday, just south of Miami, I called the marina on the cell phone to reserve a mooring ball and to confirm that the channel to enter the marina was deep enough for our 6-foot draft. I thought calling would be easier than using the VHF radio. Well the woman on the phone had a strong accent (this IS Miami) so I had to listen extra closely, and repeated everything back to Mike including the directions on how to find mooring ball 105:

  • Come all the way into Dinner Key channel
  • You are close to the limit on depth, but stay to the middle and you should be fine
  • Turn left, and follow the (something) along the marina
  • When you get to the (something) channel, look for yellow marker Mike
  • Ball 105 is the third ball from the marker

I hoped that when I reviewed the nautical chart, it would all become clear. But it didn’t. We had flashbacks of the GIIW and the Miserable Mile as Mike squeezed through the narrow channel. We were at high tide, so depth was fine, but when we reached Brennan Channel, we saw a small yellow marker, with the letter facing the opposite way. Eventually decided it was C or Charley. But which direction should we turn for M or Mike? Not the direction we choose, apparently.

As water got shallower and shallower, and the boats got closer and closer together, my thought was “these are not our boats ” “This is not where we belong” and “Turn around Mike!” But sometimes turning around, in a 37 foot sailboat, is easier said than done. Capt Mike was a hero, and somehow found a gap between the too close boats in the too shallow water, and got us out of there. I hailed the marina on 68 and got more detailed directions. Turns out we were supposed to turn INTO Brennan channel and motor back out into Biscayne Bay to find water deep enough for our type of boat. Once you know that, it seems so obvious! Back into deep water, it was still tricky finding the exact ball we had been assigned, but we had plenty of room the maneuver, and I picked up the ball on the first try. Phew!

Lesson learned today: when something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Listen to your instinct and don’t be afraid to back off, try again, and even to ask for help before it’s too late.

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