Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Different Perspective

If there is any one thing that I have taken away from two and a half years of cruising, it's that cruising is different for every cruiser that's out here. There is no single right way to live this life, no single thing that works for everyone attempting it, no method or means that is universal.

You might not believe the aforementioned is true if you read the glossies that tell you the list of equipment that everyone simply must have prior to pushing off. You also might not believe that's true if you even use a valuable tool like Active Captain reviews (like we avidly do) to plan your stops and stays.

I've been thinking a lot about this because we're sitting on a ball at the Dinner Key Mooring Field in Coconut Grove, FL. We've been here multiple times in the last two years and it has become a home base of sorts. Great people at the mooring office, brand new marina office with beautiful showers and laundry, free shuttle, stores close by, fantastic public transportation all abound. If you've never been here before, the mooring field is a long, thin piece of marginally deep water that snakes out from the Dinner Key Marina into Biscayne Bay. Way out into the bay. There are a little over 200 mooring balls, and the larger and deeper your boat, the farther out into the field they will place you. In the past, we've occupied balls in the 40's, 50's and 80's. This time we're on 148.

We're .7 miles from the dinghy dock, about a 20 minute ride in dead calm water, which the mooring field is exactly never. In rough water it's at least a 30 minute slog with our small motor, and a very wet one at that, rough enough and long enough that we decided not to deploy the dinghy at all this stay, but to utilize the free shuttle that operates on the hour from 8-5 each day. The moorings are very exposed to all but wind out of the west, and even that is no protection for boats on balls above 100. If you happen to be on a ball positioned right next to the channel (like we are this time), the wake from passing boats will rock and roll you mercilessly. If we had been assigned this mooring the very first time we came here, we might feel entirely different about this place. Since we know and have experienced the gem that is Coconut Grove, even these inconveniences are not enough to deter us from enjoying our stay here. But I couldn't blame someone from writing a bad review, if they chose to do so, based on their experience with the exposed moorings.

My point in telling you all of these details is that you should take reviews and opinions of fellow cruisers with a grain of salt, us included. What one cruiser finds annoying, another might find a small inconvenience to pay for great rewards. We recently ran into a gentleman at Vero Beach who was ranting about this mooring field and the people here. I was surprised and caught off guard since we've loved the place so much in previous visits. His experience clearly was different, his expectations not met, and his comfort level exceeded. Gather all the information you can, determine your comfort level and assess your desires, then make up your own mind. Be willing to stop in a place more than once to see if your experiences are consistent. Be willing to forge a new path if there are no reviews. You just might find a hidden gem like the Coconut Grove Drum Circle, one of the best experiences we've had since we left to go cruising. Oh, and even with all of it's rolly issues, the Dinner Key mooring field has some of the best sunsets anywhere in Florida. Hands down. But, really, you have to come decide for yourself.

1 comment:

Latitude 43 said...

Agree that everyone's experience is different and reviews of anchorages and marinas are like book and movie reviews. Most are worthless. The newbs soon find out that cruiser opinions are all just blah blah blah. If I had listened to the old salts before I left to cruise I would have had that lousy CQR on the bow and dragging ass all over the Bahamas :)