On to. . . Fort Lauderdale

We spent three nights total in Cocoa Village, thanks in part to our friends Robin and Jim Roberts who gave us the “One Free Night” certificate they had gotten at the DeFever Rendezvous (another boaters’ group we are in) and which they couldn’t use.

Continuing on the Indian River, which seems to go on forever paralleling the ocean shoreline, there are many bridges. Some bridges are high enough so we can go under them without asking for an opening, others we have to have opened for us. We have what they call an “air draft” (translated to “height above the water”) of 27’. Our mast carries our radar, a TV antenna, lights, a weather station and some GPS antennas and is VERY HEAVY. Image

We could lower the mast if we had to, although it would take four strong men and a winch, OR. . . a clever Hans with a VERY clever rig he has devised for doing it single handed, but  . . . with no small effort. We do not lower the mast. So for a bridge with 9’ clearance, or 16’ clearance, or 24’ clearance, we ask for an opening via the VHF radio. The answer will be something like this:  “Opening in 24 minutes, Cap’n,” if they have a posted schedule, which is usually on the hour and half hour, or every fifteen minutes. Or it will be, “Yes Cap’n, get a little closer and we’ll open for you.” Sometimes they do it immediately, and sometimes you just hang there, waiting. But you almost always have observers.Image

So you’re traveling along the Indian River forever. There are barrier islands between you and the ocean, where there is often development and sometimes not, but there is also often a second set of barrier islands, sometimes east of the ICW, and sometimes west. On the chart they look like a string of beads, and in actuality it looks like some of the islands are big enough to live on. Or not.Image

ImageWe had many dolphins join us along this stretch, with one group that followed us for a good ten minutes. There were four of them; the smallest would leap fully out of the water in a big arc, and re-enter with a determined ­­­­­splash; the largest one would splash his/her tail really hard after every couple of “soundings” or whatever they call the graceful arcing into breathing time. . . ; the third had apparently lost its dorsal fin at some point, although it didn’t seem to affect its swimming;  the fourth one was sort of speckled, and swam on her side with one eye focused on us the whole time. Niya was overjoyed, and she squealed so much I thought she might lose her voice.

On Saturday, January 5th, we stopped at the Harbortown Marina in Ft. Pierce. A longish walk to the nearest supermarket let us replenish our stores. We’ve been pretty successful with the groceries. I think the inclination on the part of most boaters (or possibly just those of us who are new to long term cruising?) is to carry more food than you can possibly use. The unfortunate truth is that after carefully stocking refrigerator and cupboards, local restaurants and eateries are often too tempting and you eat out rather than on the boat. Which of course we did that night, as there was a restaurant/tiki bar right there at the marina. . . Sometimes what you can fix in your own tiny galley with limited ingredients and a creative mind is better than what you can get at the local tiki bar. Okay?

Getting farther south we’re seeing bigger and bigger personal yachts.Image

ImageA “Personal Yacht” is beyond what we have. What we have is a . . . well. Let me think about the perfect definition, because sometimes with our peeling paint and worn varnish (both of which are on our list of “things to fix when we get to Marathon”) we don’t really look like we belong in some of these marinas.

­­Passing through the Jupiter area was interesting. There are many bridges at or near the Jupiter Inlet that were low enough that we had to wait for openings, so it’s slow going. The ICW takes a little snaky curve there, and with all the bridges and Sunday boaters in their small go-fast boats, water police were very much in evidence. That area felt almost carnival-like in atmosphere. Image

LOTS of Golf Courses!Image

And getting into Lake Worth in North Palm Beach — YIKES! Wide open water, lots and LOTS of Sunday boaters, many of them no longer so small, gave us a pretty bumpy ride down to our Sunday stop just north of the Port of Palm Beach at the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina.

The marina is undergoing a major renovation, as they are adding floating docks. These were still not available to the public (next week is “launch” apparently), but were fully occupied by birds. Evidently birds can be a real problem in Florida in the winter, as this is where many of them come when they “head south.” The docks — and boats! — can be pretty disgusting with bird droppings.Image

Our dock was right across from the Tiki Bar, which looked to be VERY popular.

Our plans to head out Monday morning at 7 were cancelled when we realized that our Port transmission was not working. Several years ago we replaced the Starboard transmission with one that is more modern and is definitely smoother in operation. It’s not an easy or inexpensive job, but we had decided to replace the Port transmission before we left Baltimore. . . unfortunately the wrong part arrived from Volvo, so we are still limping along with the old transmission. One of the parts of this mechanism is called a “damper plate.” It is the weakest link in an archaic system, so we carry spares. Hans has had experience in changing the damper plate, but it still took almost three hours of hard sweaty labor.Image

After getting underway again, we realized that we were seeing water that was that wonderful green that means you’re in the southern waters! ImageIt’s a gorgeous color, and unlikely when paired with blue skies. It just doesn’t look real!

Lake Worth narrows down at Boynton Beach, and we travelled through a long canal of attractive condos and homes. As we neared the megacities of Ft. Lauderdale and Miami there were more canals on both sides of the waterway lined with expensive — or derelict! — homes, and pretty much everything in between.Image


Image It’s very odd to see lavish homes with carefully manicured gardens and lawns and swimming pools (frequently guarded by life-size bronze or stone Grecian water nymphs for some reason) flanked by falling down and sometimes clearly abandoned homes that look like they were built in the ‘50s. It brings obvious questions to mind: where is the owner? Still alive? Was it a place of wonderful memories for a generation or two and then forgotten? Are the heirs not aware of the property? Where IS the owner??

We arrived at the Ft. Lauderdale Las Olas Municipal Marina after they closed, but before dark. With our slip assignment already taken care of by phone, we took Niya for a quick walk and then scrambled to the flybridge for sunset cocktails. Across the ICW, at the foot of the Las Olas Bridge on the other side, a bag piper was playing. Can I just tell you how awesome our arrival was??

An unusual weather system has brought “unseasonably warm” temperatures in the 80s, and strong south/south-east winds to Southern Florida and the Keys. We are sitting tight here until those winds subside and we can cross Biscayne Bay comfortably. There are many, many worse places to be stuck, wouldn’t you say?Image

A few things I’ve learned so far:

  • You can vacuum up “half-a-dog’s” worth of hair one day and the same amount two days later, but there’s still a whole dog here.
  • House plants that we nurture at our windows up north make great hedges when cut and trimmed correctly.
  • It may look delicious in the supermarket, but the temptation of a menu on the board outside a restaurant almost always wins. Unfortunately.
  • The floating thing in the water in front of your boat is not likely to be the head of a swimmer or even, God forbid, a decapitated head. It is a coconut.




9 thoughts on “On to. . . Fort Lauderdale

    • We are finally in Marathon, having had many starts and stops. Sounds like you are not too far from here, let’s talk about meeting half way, or in some fun/creative/interesting place here or there. I’m looking forward to us getting together!

  1. Glad to catch up with Aqua Vitae again. I couldn’t make out what you were highlighting in the photo with the red circle? I’m still curious about the layout of your trawler, but I imagine you’ve been too busy to include it. You promised! We Taureans are curious about your home, inside and out! You have passed through a land of many wonders…….. it stirs the adventurer in me!
    It’s great that Hans is so handy with the toolbox.
    Do you get enough exercise to balance out all that wonderful food you’ve been telling us about?
    It’s about 24 degrees here this morning, in Northern California, and the propane tank is empty! Brrrrr! It’s been so cold, and so many drivers sick, that they haven’t been able to keep up. Hoping to have the hea back on today……. Makes Ft. Lauderdale sound like paradise!
    – CM

    • 24 degrees in Northern California with no propane YIKES!! I hope you are warm by now.
      It is BEAUTIFUL here, with a very occasional rain shower, scattered clouds (which, against brilliant blue skies above azure seas, are just stunning) and a pretty consistent temperature of somewhere in the 70s. Well. . . maybe 68 degrees, maybe 81 degrees, but hang on and it will be in the 70s again — I can live with this!
      Exercise? We have our bikes (folding 5-speed bikes which took up a LOT of room on the flybridge on the way down, but which are now unfolded and re-formed into bike-looking things, and we have bike lanes almost EVERYwhere!) and we have our kayaks (which are still tied to the trunk as the efforts have been on getting the bikes and the dinghy “ready.”) There is SO MUCH to explore. And did I mention walking the dog?
      I’m really REALLY looking forward to the kayaks. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day. And I will take my camera. . . !

  2. Hi, Patt just shared the blog with me. I knew you guys had left and was hearing bits and pieces…..but I just spend my lunch hour at work reading the whole thing. It is a very rainy, cold day here in Washington. Your pics and stories just lifted me. Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait for the next installment. I also love the SPOT! Way Cool! Be safe Carrie

  3. That’s it! I’m coming down there and opening a gourmet food boat! I’m sure that’s much easier than trying to find a place to park a food truck! LOL! Very tempting though….

    I remember seeing houses like that driving down to Miami. HUGE monstrosities belonging to people with way too much money next to what could be lovely smaller homes going to ruin.

    Looking forward to your next round of adventures!

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