A Travellerspoint blog

Ft. Lauderdale

sunny 79 °F

I wanted to leave on Sunday, Carol on Monday when the weather would have been a sure thing. But it was cold on Saturday night, 40 degrees, and another similar temperature was in the offing. I carefully checked the weather before setting out. 10~15 knots diminishing as the day goes on. We had met an experienced sailor who said always add another 10 knots to that. Today, this might have been good advice. We heard an extreme weather notice on the VHF from the USCG in Miami. I thought that that was for about 150 miles south of us, which it was. After listening more closely it was clear that they were reading a report about 24- hours old. My reading was that the hard center of the high pressure passed us on Saturday and was to the south. It would move away from us faster than we would move toward it, and that things would calm down in the late afternoon. In the event, that is exactly what happened, but I cut it too close.

We saw these brown pelicans roosting in trees near the mooring field entrance. Despite having seen pelicans on all manner of places it had never occurred to me that they would also roost in trees. Their great webbed feet just don't seem to be made for that sort of thing.


We got underway from the marina at 0800 and cleared the Ft. Pierce inlet before 1100 having the benefit, again, of a running tide and a tail wind. The inlet at Ft. Pierce is one which I have come to dislike. The currents and winds can be difficult at best, treacherous at worst, for an underpowered vessel such as ours. Today did not disappoint. The good news was that the tide was running out which meant that we had almost enough speed to manage the exit. The wind was strong from the north and it was a lot of work to try to stay on the north side of the channel. There is a stretch, maybe a mile, from being in inland waters to the sea buoy that is hard. Today, once again, the waves were breaking over the top of the canvas on the cockpit, burying the bow and just generally making things difficult.

There were clues about the ocean that I should have noticed. The inlet on a weekend morning usually looks like I-95; today, not so much. There was only a boat or two near the inlet and both of those were well inside the breakwater. We were the only boat leaving and the only one on the open water, having this section of the coast to ourselves for several hours until we saw a few small pleasure craft in the late afternoon.

On the way out, at the difficult transition point we saw these guys doing, what? Para-surfing, maybe? Regardless, it looked pretty cool so I had to take a picture and let Carol manage the boat.


When things started to attenuate, wind and waves, we got escorted, off and on, by several porpoise, sometimes just two, other times as many as four. Sailors being a superstitious lot, these seemed like a very good omen. But the ride was a rough one for several hours.


We made really good time heading south, very unexpected .... usually the Gulf Stream slows us down a lot. We hit the Port Everglades sea buoy at 0730, several hours earlier than planned. Unfortunately, the marina on the New River has very swift currents, so they recommend mooring at slack water, in this case 1330. So we tooled around a bit in the open water. It was an interesting time for observations:

  • This vessel was anchored just outside the channel entrance. It is a floating dry dock with a motor attached into which people drive their boats for delivery to another location (the hull says: Dockwise Yacht Transport). I had never heard of such a thing. The financial implications of this activity are beyond my imagination.


  • This is a sport fisherman, a very common style of boat in these waters. What struck us as different was that he was using kite type devices to run his fishing lines away from the boat.


  • While we were going in circles two Navy ships, maybe destroyers or frigates, exited the harbor and took up a station a couple of miles off shore. They were communicating on VHF 16, just like any other craft. All of a sudden we heard this statement on the radio, "This is warship 57 off your starboard bow. What are your maneuvering intentions?" Some poor guy, for whom English was probably a fourth language, allowed as how he was going to get out of the way, and right now, lest the situation devolve to a weapons test.

The trip up the New River was again tense. However, this was on a Monday morning and there were very few pleasure craft about, although there were enough commercial tour boats to make things interesting. There are three bascule bridges in 3/4 of a mile with the marina occupying both sides of the last bridge. Once again I heard the captain of one of the tour boats say something nasty over his speaker system about my "driving."

We like the marina despite the tortuous, sinuous trip up the New River. The physical setting is gorgeous and Carol seemingly cannot get over the fact that she's sitting on the boat looking at palm trees of which there is a profusion.


Ft. Lauderdale is probably the pleasure boat repair capital of the east coast, at least from the Chesapeake to the keys. So we are are availing ourselves of the many service alternatives. We are having a Westerbeke dealer replace the oil pan gasket .... called on Monday afternoon and on Tuesday it's being done. Hard to believe. The gasket was a project that I considered doing myself; but I was afraid the I might carelessly torque the head of a bolt and have a $10,000 problem. Seeing what this guy is doing, convinces me that it's good to let the pro carry the load. Later in the week someone will take a look at the refrigeration unit.

This stop, as last year, is a working time, trying to get issues resolved and changes made prior to the Keys and the Bahamas. We have a lot of things to accomplish so, to that end, we're rented a car for a couple of days. Carol seems excited to be able to SHOP making plans to visit every store and to buy everything, just like at home.

This whole boating thing continues to amaze. We arrived on Monday so I walked down the dock to see if Bruce's boat was still here, Bruce being a man we met last year and with whom we enjoyed some evenings. It was, so, remaking the acquaintance, we went out to dinner with him and an old high school friend, also named Bruce. It was a very nice evening. They are off for the Bahamas in the next day or two.

Today, Thursday, I was sitting in the cockpit reading the paper, on the iPad, when a sailboat pulled into the marina. The boat looked vaguely familiar in the way that all sailboats look vaguely familiar. This afternoon the guy, having seen Oriental, NC on our stern came down to chat. Their boat, Escapade, was one which we knew in its earlier incarnation as the Blind Date, moored about 5 or 6 slips down from us at Whittaker Pointer Marina in Oriental, NC. Not only did we know the boat, but we knew many of the same people, almost like old home week. They had bought the boat from Carol and Ashley. A very small world, indeed.

The view from the cockpit has not disappointed this year. There has been a constant cavalcade of boats, going and coming, which make ours look like the proverbial rubber ducky in the bath tub .... they are all either huge, humongous or leviathanesque. The boat density along the seawall is much less this year than last. Our speculation is that the Miami Boat Show is this weekend and many boats are headed south for the event. Carol and I, in our rubber ducky, are avoiding the whole thing while we try to complete projects on the boat.

Had a refrigeration guy come by on Friday, another of the checkpoints for Ft. Lauderdale. He did some stuff, draining, then evacuating the system. Things seem to be better but the change won't be apparent until we get off shore power.

Saturday was mostly for work and then for visiting. A friend who I knew in Boca Raton and with whom I went to HS in Delray Beach, came by for a visit. It was the second time I have seen him in 35~40 years. We are both, predictably, older and not even close to being our former tennis playing selves. I never, in all those years, beat Steve at tennis or ping pong; Steve was, for a while, a teaching tennis pro. But, he is the only person who has ever beat me playing ping pong left handed, or other handed. It is interesting and comforting that the thread which has connected us over distance and decades is still there. I will have to try to find a way to strengthen this connection. In our lives and in our lives together Carol and I have had much good fortune in our friends.

The security at this marina is, almost, over the top. Police patrol cars are through frequently as are cars from a private security company. There have been mounted police patrols and on the weekend police boats. Carol, and others, go to the shower, maybe 100-ft. away, in robes or pajamas with no concerns. And, like in many other marinas we have revisited, many of the same boats rest in the same slips in which we saw them last year. The boat on our starboard side has, by rumor, been sitting there for 14 years. If you had to pick a place to stay, this is not too bad. The weather has been beyond delightful, maybe a dozen raindrops one evening when a dark cloud blew over. I don't think that we have hit 80 degrees yet, but we have come close. Ft Lauderdale has all of the benefits of Miami without any of the apparent intensity. The marina also has some local interest like these characters:


So, now we're waiting for a new cockpit LED light to arrive and for the boat show congestion to clear out of Miami. Our next stop, Sunset Lake, is probably very crowded with boats, being quite close to the convention center in Miami Beach. So, maybe Wednesday, maybe Thursday we'll make the 4/5 hour run south and stay there a few days before heading to the Keys.

Posted by sailziveli 12:28 Archived in USA Tagged boating

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