Keeping Busy In Fort Lauderdale

Forgive the delay in posting. It has been a busy week, and I am just catching up. We have spent the week here as usual, visiting friends, running errands and provisioning and doing boat projects (yuck). We rented a car, to do our usual Home Depot, West Marine, grocery store, etc. stops, in addition to some pre Bahamas appointments.

First up…an International Health Certificate for Howard. We went to a local vet, who listened to his heart, and deemed him healthy. Either that, or Howard’s hissing and open-mouthed panting deterred him from further examination. Either way, we have certificate in hand, and are good to go!

Next, we went to our “appointment” with Customs and Homeland Security here. There is a “Local Boater Option” that you can apply for, allowing you to call into customs when arriving back into the country, versus physically going to an office. This would give us more options of where to come back into Florida. We could enter the keys without stopping to find a customs office, or having to come into Miami or Fort Lauderdale first.

Finding the building was the first challenge. They do a terrific job of hiding it, no number or sign on the building, and no signage leading up to it, along the road. We did pretty well, only having to do one u-turn. Once inside, we were told that each of us had to have an online application, something that I did NOT find on the site, and I searched and searched. Applications can only be done online, of course, so I got out my phone, and started searching for the form.

The agent was nice enough to wait for me to complete the form and get a confirmation number, so that we could still both be approved. We were expecting our “appointment,” with some kind of interview. Instead, once the agent saw my online confirmation, he handed us each a card with our name and a number. Done. Now when we’re back in U.S. waters, we just have to call a number on the card and give them our name and the number that was assigned to us. We expected it to be a bit more thorough, but are glad that it went so quickly, and that we are now “cleared.”

Now it was onto the usual stops….Our West Marine visit was like a sightseeing tour! Scott had been to the Fort Lauderdale location when he was here buying Sea Life, and was anxious for me to see it. It is HUGE…like a Sam’s Club!

The departments here are so large, and the amount of in-store stock amazes Scott. Very little is actually kept on the shelves at locations in the Baltimore area. More often than not, Scott has to have whatever part or supply we need brought into the store for pick up. I couldn’t believe the things that were here, that are not offered in any of our stores at home. Not even the “larger”ones. I am now even more sad for our Canton location in Baltimore.

We also hit Sailorman, another marine consignment store (or as the sign says, a “new and used marine emporium”). Scott plundered around inside, again lamenting that he didn’t have access to a place like this while doing our refit.

I was again amazed at all of the stuff..

While I did a run of Walmart, Target, Petsmart, etc., Scott surprised me by painting the decks himself. A small area against the pier still needs to be painted, but we can do that at anchor, when we don’t need to get on and off on that side. The paint needs several days to cure, so we need to keep foot traffic to a minimum. What is done looks sooo clean and nice!

We met Mark at Outdoor world, where he helped Scott choose some fishing rods. (we hope to catch a lot of free dinner over the next few years!). Afterward, we went to his house, where Shannon grilled us up some great food while Mark and Scott put new line on the reels.

Mark also passed along some of his older fishing equipment to Scott, and purchased some lures for him. We now have a good start toward catching our dinner. I’m sure that Mark, the fishing guru, will be on speed dial for emergency help and questions. Thanks SOO much to him, for all of his time and help!!

We also caught up with our friend, Mike Efford. When we traveled south in 2008, Mike was living on a really cool tugboat named Mi-T-Mo. He traveled back and forth between Baltimore and Hollywood Florida, spending winters down here and summers in up north. He was a great host to us when we were last here, and we have kept in touch since. Mike is a retired Maryland pilot (Marine, not airline. They come aboard large ships, and navigate them into the harbor) and a wealth of knowledge. We have enjoyed spending time with him over the years.

Mike picked us up and drove us to a great Irish bar for dinner. After a meal and extensive boat chat, we went with him to meet one of his boating groups. They were having a meeting at a nearby restaurant, and we got there just as it was ending…perfect timing! We had a few drinks and met some of the group, and then Mike chauffeured us back to our boat.

Here are some photos from the past week, including more of both West Marine and Sailorman!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”