Overall we weren’t impressed with Miami. I know some people love the area but our experience wasn’t all that great. We stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacations at McAlpin-Ocean Plaza. It was a nice 2 bedroom suite that was just across from the beach. The location was perfect and the hotel would provide beach towels to take with you to the beach free of charge. There were several restaurants immediately around the hotel. The weather was as good as you’d expect, but traffic was as bad as NYC, parking was more expensive, and the public bus transportation was a little confusing to someone not from the area. The public transportation web site and signs at the bus stops list routes with numbers, 103, 120, etc. however the buses have letter designations. I passed on our bus a couple times because I didn’t realize the “C” bus was the 103. To make things even better the “S” bus took us home. Most things were minor irritants taken in isolation, but the transportation and several small things during our stay just left a sour taste in our mouth. I’m sure we’ll give it another try when we’re sailing around, but so far it was disappointing.
The first day of the show a military friend of mine, Brad, came down to see us and the boat show. He’s a sport fisherman so he was looking at the power boat show most of the day while Lisa and I hit up the Strictly Sail Show. We had lunch at Whiskey Joes and Brad ran into George Poveromo and was able to meet him and grab a picture. Needless to say Brad had a great time.
While we were at the sail show we toured the Maverick 440, Bossa Nova. It is a nice boat and had a lot of attributes, but I think we are going to stick with the FP 40 Lucia. The Antares 44i Ona was at the show and is currently for sale. Unfortunately even a newer used Antares is a little out of our budget. Antares does produce some spectacular liveaboards. If you have money to burn you must check out their boats they are the gold standard for catamarans.
The next day we returned to the show and were able to get aboard the new FP 40 Lucia. My biggest heartache with the entire FP line is the helm location. They have the helm raised above the hard top bimini. While you can enclose this raised helm, it is not as weatherproof as the one level hard top the Antares and Maverick makes for their boats. The raised helm also obscures the aft starboard hull unless you are standing up and almost all the way outboard. However, all boats are compromises and overall the Lucia is a fantastic boat that will more than make us happy as we safely and comfortably circumnavigate the globe for our retirement. We’ll post more about the boat and purchase process as we get closer to sail away time.
Friday we had some time before we met up with one of Lisa’s friends from work who was hanging out in Miami. We sat in on a few of the free seminars provided by the Strictly Sail show. First was a brief on the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association by Kimberly Russo. This was an informative brief on the Great Loop that covers the East Coast ICW, Great Lakes, Mississippi, and Gulf Coast. This brief has given me some ideas on our route after moving aboard our boat. I didn’t really consider this route before the brief. I didn’t think it would be feasible with a 40’ catamaran, but now this may be a very good possibility. We may spend a year doing this route before we start our worldwide circumnavigation. This will allow us some time to get familiar with our boat, shake it down and spend some time home in Cincinnati before we sail away.
We also sat in on a Basic Diesel Maintenance seminar by Carl Schlemmer and Doug Dykens. This was alright if you’ve never seen a diesel engine before and don’t know they come with manuals. The synopsis is, your boat has a diesel engine and check the manual for the maintenance schedule.
The last free seminar we attended was on preparing your boat for a long cruise by Tom Hale. This was pretty good and covered a lot of material on: communications, provisioning, navigation, and many other subjects. There was a lot of ideas and considerations covered that people can easily overlook when planning for an extended cruise.
After our day at the show was finished we met up with Cheryl, Lisa’s friend from work. While she was back at Bragg working, Lisa was off playing in the Caribbean and looking at new boats. So she decided to head down to Florida to see, not only us but her husband Mike who is taking a course to get his fixed wing ratings. He has been staying just a little North of Miami flying around and having fun. We met them at our hotel and had dinner at Madero. The food was fine, but at least we had some good conversation. After they headed back home for the night Lisa and I went upstairs and started packing for our trip home.
The next day we started the long drive home, but the trip wasn’t complete without stopping by Cracker Barrel and seeing Brad again, along with his wife and kids for breakfast. We hung out for a while catching up on their new jobs and living the post-military life. I can’t wait. We’ll have to swing by their new place with our boat in a couple years.
The Miami Boat Show was actually two shows in one this year; the Strictly Sail Show and the Miami International Boat show. The venues were spread out between Biscayne Bay and the Miami Marine Stadium area on Virginia Key. The Boat show had water taxis and shuttle busses set up throughout the city connecting the two shows and all the associated parking locations. We took public transportation from our room to the show and then water taxi rides between the two shows. The average wait for the water taxi was about 20 minutes and the ride between the shows took about 15 minutes. The Biscayne Bay area was much better for amenities. There were plenty of local shops and restaurants, but the Power Boat show had many more marine vendors. Albeit they were geared toward power boats. If you are looking at seeing both shows you really need a full day for each one. The boat show was a success, as we found our retirement boat. In comparison to the other show's we've attended, the Miami boat show is huge, especially with the power boat section; however, I think the October Annapolis show is a little bigger. The Miami show is a lot bigger than San Francisco or the Spring show in Annapolis.
So far we have been to the Strictly Sail Pacific in San Francisco, Annapolis Spring and Fall Shows, and the Miami International Show. If I had to rank them from best and largest to smallest it would be Annapolis Fall show, Miami Strictly Sail show, Strictly Sail Pacific, and then the Spring Annapolis Sail Show. All are good venues to check out new toys, but if you can only make one make it the Annapolis Fall show.
It was a great vacation and a great thing about military life is you seem to have friends no matter where you are or what you’re doing. The last two weeks we linked up with three different friends we’ve met since our time in the service.