In Sight Of The Bahamas, But Waiting On The Wind

Our hope was to leave Fort Lauderdale on Friday or Saturday, and make our way to Bimimi, in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has a different plan. Here is the forecast:

NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS INCREASING TO 20 TO 25
KNOTS LATE THIS EVENING. SEAS 6 TO 8 FEET WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO
10 FEET BUILDING TO 11 TO 13 FEET WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO 17 FEET
AFTER MIDNIGHT. DOMINANT PERIOD 6 SECONDS. INTRACOASTAL WATERS
ROUGH IN EXPOSED AREAS. SCATTERED SHOWERS WITH ISOLATED
THUNDERSTORMS.
MONDAY
NORTHEAST WINDS AROUND 25 KNOTS. SEAS 11 TO 13 FEET
WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO 17 FEET. DOMINANT PERIOD 8 SECONDS.
INTRACOASTAL WATERS ROUGH IN EXPOSED AREAS. ISOLATED SHOWERS.
MONDAY NIGHT
EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 20 TO 25 KNOTS. SEAS 9 TO
11 FEET WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO 14 FEET. DOMINANT PERIOD 8
SECONDS. INTRACOASTAL WATERS ROUGH IN EXPOSED AREAS.
TUESDAY
EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 20 TO 25 KNOTS. SEAS 7 TO 9 FEET
WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO 11 FEET. DOMINANT PERIOD 8 SECONDS.
INTRACOASTAL WATERS ROUGH IN EXPOSED AREAS. ISOLATED SHOWERS IN
THE AFTERNOON.
TUESDAY NIGHT
EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS. SEAS 5 TO
7 FEET WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO 9 FEET. INTRACOASTAL WATERS
CHOPPY IN EXPOSED AREAS. ISOLATED SHOWERS.
WEDNESDAY
EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS. SEAS 4 TO
6 FEET WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO 8 FEET. INTRACOASTAL WATERS
CHOPPY IN EXPOSED AREAS. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT
EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS. SEAS
5 TO 7 FEET WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO 9 FEET. INTRACOASTAL WATERS
CHOPPY IN EXPOSED AREAS. A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS.
THURSDAY THROUGH FRIDAY
EAST NORTHEAST WINDS AROUND 15 KNOTS.
SEAS 4 TO 6 FEET WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO 8 FEET. INTRACOASTAL
WATERS A MODERATE CHOP. A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS
Now the boat could more than handle this…me, not so much. Northeast puts us right into the waves, which means UP……and DOWN, and repeat, repeat, repeat for seven or so hours. ICK!
This isn’t anything tropical, but the result of a high pressure system being wedged in close proximity to a low pressure system. The winds squeezed in between become pretty fierce. On shore, we’re having 25 mph winds, with much bigger gusts, and in the Gulf Stream, it’s much worse.
The winds have blown the sand onto and across the street.
In some areas it’s worse that this, covering the entire street. There are still people on the beach. It has to be painful. The breaking waves go out as far as you can see.
It really picked up last evening, with winds howling all around us and constant noises from one thing or another being shuffled around by the big gusts. Currently here in our slip, things are pretty bumpy. It’s also affecting our large neighbors. When the big boats are moving around, you know it’s windy!

It appears that our next chance of getting out of Florida is the middle of next week…sigh. To keep from busting our budget here at Las Olas Marina, much as we’ve enjoyed our stay, we’re going to leave here in a day or so and head further south along the Intracoastal (yay, more narrow channels and bridge openings!!). The plan is to anchor in the Key Biscane area. We can anchor there for the next week, and head out to the ocean from there once things settle down.

On a Howard note: he went walkabout yesterday, jumping off of the boat and exploring other peoples’ (this was his “M-O” at our marina in Baltimore). I had to get him off our “neighbor” across the way, who is listed for sale at 3.3 million dollars! Scott was having a heart attack as I climbed onboard to get him. Howard is now on lock-down!

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

Fort Lauderdale Tidbits

We have heard that Fort Lauderdale is referred to as the “Venice of America,” so we decided to spend a day on the local water taxi, taking it in. The water taxi service here is extensive, with several routes and transfers. We paid one price and rode all day, from 11am – 10pm.

We boarded the first taxi right near our marina and headed south, passing the mammoth preparations for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. There are three miles of temporary piers being put in place at our marina, extending south through three more marinas. truckloads of pier sections are coming in several times a day, to be put in place by crane. The marina piers are extended north and south, and also west, into the Intracoastal, cutting the size in half! I cannot imagine the malay of boats trying to get through that shrunken path!

All of the boats currently in these marinas have to vacate, so that show boats can be brought in. It takes over a month to prepare and set up, and they tell us that it comes down in three days! The show brings in 300 billion dollars in boats, and half a billion dollars in revenue for the city. Scott and I would love to be in a hotel room in the area with a balcony, so we could watch the comings and goings. It’s got to be a zoo.

Farther south, we passed the largest boat currently in Fort Lauderdale.

Infinity is 287 feet long, and is rumored to have been purchased by the owner of a “Marine” hardware store. We were told that it won’t be near the largest when the show starts.

Just before the inlet we changed taxis, to catch one going south to Hollywood. We stayed at the marina there on our way north in 2008, and had planned to stay there again this time, but they were full. The taxi allowed us to spend some time on their “broadwalk,” made of concrete pavers.

The ride south was about 45 minutes, and took us past the Port Everglades and several parks. There were four cruise ships in port when we went past. We were told that in peak cruise season, there are more like ten docked here. Royal Caribbean owns the two largest cruise ships, that both dock here. They are currently building one even larger, and will keep that one here as well, bumping Port Everglades up to the largest cruise ship port in the world (edging out Miami).

In Hollywood, we checked out the new Margaritaville Beach Resort.It was really nice, complete with a margarita glass chandelier and a “blown out” flip flop.

There are several bars and restaurants, named after Jimmy Buffett songs, two pools; a “Flow Rider,” for waverunners and boogie boards; a spa; day care and of course a gift shop! Jimmy Buffett has one great marketing team! Check out the website.

After wandering through his resort, we were good and hungry. We wandered down the broadwalk until we spied the Taco Spot….sold! The food, and sangria, were terrific. With full bellies, we wandered around a bit, and then back to our taxi stop to head north.

We transferred taxis back near the inlet, and got on one that took us north, toward the New River. Along that route, we passed the current home of Wayne Huizenga.

Wayne has started three Fortune 500 companies: Waste Management (yes, all of those dump trucks you see across the US are his); they say that the WM stands for “Wayne’s Money;”  Blockbuster Video, with his nephew and AutoNation owned. He was the initial owner of  the Florida Marlins baseball team, the Florida Panthers hockey team. At one time, he also owned 50% of the Miami Dolphins.

He has purchased several homes along the Intracoastal here, and given them to family members. His current house, above, has a movie theater, bowling alley, and guest house. The pagoda has stairs that go up to a hot tub on the second level. Bells in the top play over 100 tunes.

We transferred taxis again, to a smaller one that took us a bit farther up the New River. The river is narrow and winding, with all sizes of boats using the channel, and again…more bridges. I guess this is the status quo around here. We got off at a few stops and walked around, and then made our way back to transfer to our final taxi of the day, which would take us back to our original stop.

It was now getting dark, and we were enjoying the evening scenery. The weather was comfortable and our taxi had an upper deck, giving us great views of the area. We decided to stay on and ride to the end of the route. getting get off at our stop on the taxi’s final trip south.

The taxi was a great way for us to see the area, not having a car. On the road, we’d have missed all of the huge houses and boats on the water. It was also fun to learn some local knowledge about Fort Lauderdale.

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

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!”

Work And Play In Las Olas

Once we were tied up in our slip on Saturday, we plugged in, cooled off, checked in, iced down the coolers, took out the trash, cooled off again (it was 93 and hu-mid!), showered, fed ourselves (and Howard), and collapsed. Yesterday morning, we spent a few hours washing the boat, while we had endless water.

We are staying at Las Olas Marina, which is right off of Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Our neighbors here at the marina are definitely large,

And so are the people across the street,

Despite being right near a drawbridge, and right off of A1A, it’s very quiet here. We see schools of fish swim by frequently, and when the tide changes, we’re treated to a parade of coconuts!

Our brother-in-law has family here, and they have been gracious enough to allow us to have packages sent to their house over the past few weeks. Yesterday afternoon, Mark and Shannon brought us our boxes and we gave them a quick boat tour. Then we went for lunch at the Quarterdeck, where Mark and Shannon’s daughter Nikki works. Their friend Pepe joined us, and we had a great meal, with terrific service and company. Afterward, Nikki took a photo for us.

And, and old school selfie!

They are good peeps! Thanks to Bobby for sharing them!!

When we got back, we opened our various packages, most being things for boat projects and maintenance. Howard loves when we get packages, it means a new playhouse!

Once the cardboard carnage was cleaned up, we set to defrosting the freezer, which had been growing more angry at the build up of ice in it.

Today, we went back to old school boat work. We painted our decks last year, after having trashed them while refitting the boat. Over this past year, they’ve gotten trashed again, during our extensive varnishing and painting projects.While we have plugged-in power, we want to have the decks ready to paint, when we have time and good weather.

I scraped my varnish drippings, and then dug out some areas of old caulk, so Scott could replace it. Then we dug out the sanding bin, and I reacquainted myself with my old friends: my knee pads, dust mask and goggles…and, of course my orbital sander! For those of you who don’t know, this has been my wardrobe for most of the last two years:

Armed with 80 grit sand paper, I scuffed the decks.

In the meantime, Scott was addressing small cracks in the faring compound that was used when the original teak decks were replaced. They are in various places around the deck surface. He used a dremel tool to dig out the crack, and get down to good surface. Then came his old friend…epoxy! It was a hot, sweaty day, but now the decks are ready for painting….and we’re ready to put that stuff away again!

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

We’ve Landed In Lauderdale!

We went out of the Lake Worth inlet early Saturday morning, for an eight hour run to Fort Lauderdale. Scott originally had us traveling farther off shore for the trip, but then changed his mind, thinking it would save a bit of time if we stayed closer to the coastline, and be more interesting (scenic). Giving us a chance to see big houses intermingled with high rises…

..next to an Airstream trailer with a family camping…

Traveling on the “outside” usually means an “easier” go of it, meaning no timing of bridges or other boat traffic to speak of. However, being a beautiful Saturday morning in South Florida, there were boats everywhere! Little boats, big boats,fast boats, faster boats! Directly in front of us, off to either side ahead of us and passing from behind on both sides of us (usually at pretty close proximity)! Only one or two made it uncomfortable for us, causing a decent lurch back and forth. Aside from that, it was just a lot to pay attention to, and we were back to constant small course adjustments.

At least half of these boats had a red and white dive flag flying, meaning that someone was in the water below. You are supposed to stay at least 100 yards away from them, which was difficult at times, because there were so many of them out there! We didn’t realize that there was a reef just off shore here, bringing many private and chartered divers.

We made our way south, past Boyton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Hillboro Beach, Pompano Beach and finally to Fort Lauderdale. As we came close to the inlet, traffic increased, with boats funneling in tighter, to get through the entrance. It was crazy! Boats of all sizes and speeds, all trying to be the first one through. We had one pass us very close and fast, just before the slow speed zone. I had to put my camera down and hold on. I’m glad we don’t have to use this route every time we use our boat! This photo does not do it justice!

Once through the inlet, we were again navigating a narrow channel full of boat traffic (private boats of all sizes, tour boats, and water taxis) while taking in the sights of big boats and houses on either side of us. The amount of big, big boats in this area is amazing. They are placed in crowded marina slips like puzzle pieces. Others are in front of huge private homes, on narrow canals. It was sensory overload.

We made our way to Las Olas Marina, where a very friendly deck hand helped us tie up in our slip. It was 93 degrees and humid when we arrived, so we were very glad to get plugged into shore power and get the air conditioning going!

Here are photos of our ocean trip to Fort Lauderdale, and the big boats here!

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