Our first day plan was to watch the weather and travel only as far as we could before the storms materialized. We were surprised to avoid any bad weather and made it to Hobe Sound. This stretch of the ICW is quiet, and we began to see large estates along the shore on the ocean side. This scene of multimillion dollar homes would continue with minor variation all the way past Miami
During our second day of travel, we had to pass eight bridges which must open for us, due to our 50 foot mast. Most bridges have a regular schedule for opening, and it’s up to us to get to each at the correct time. Generally they open every half hour. On this day the distance between bridges made it possible for us to reach each bridge in good time. Only in one instance did we have to slow to await the next opening, losing most of the half hour in the process.
Our plan was to anchor for the night by the West Palm Beach City docks. That would allow us to row over to the docks to get ashore. Unfortunately, other boaters had the same idea, so there was no room for us. We were forced to travel a bit further to another anchorage with no shore access.
The next morning we pulled up the anchor and headed south for Ft. Lauderdale. We intended to anchor in Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale. Lake Sylvia isn’t really a lake it’s merely a small body of water connected by canals and surrounded by expensive homes. It does provide a good anchorage for cruisers heading north or south. Unfortunately however we didn’t get very far. Shortly after leaving our Anchorage we smelled burning rubber and, upon checking, found that the alternator belt was smoking. We had issues with the alternator before and decided this time that it was perhaps best to replace the alternator with another I had on board. This spare was the one that actually came with the new engine three years ago. I chose to have that as a spare and use the more powerful one for cruising.
After an extended period in a hot engine compartment, I got the new unit working properly. But enough of the day was behind us now that we knew we would never make Lake Sylvia in daylight. So we decided to wait till the morning and try again.
They say that good things come in bunches in the reverse is also true. So it seems with us. When we tried to leave the next morning, the anchor windlass would not work. That means I had to pull up the chain and anchor by hand. This is not impossible – just a lot of hard work. After several attempts at resolving the problem that I think must be connected with the alternator exchange, I have given up and plan to reconnect with the issue when I get to Marathon. In the meantime I will just be pulling up the anchor by hand as I’ve done in times past.
But we did get moving and headed south to Fort Lauderdale. This stretch of ICW is in some ways the most challenging but also in other ways the most interesting stretch. The challenge relates to the 18 bridges we must get to open so we can pass. Most are on a schedule that we can meet only if the tidal current provides us with a boost. Otherwise we go a bit slower to kill time waiting for the next scheduled opening.
A stretch of 35 miles of this route has been named The Canyon. This is because the ICW is narrow here, and the shorelines on both sides are concrete walls. So boat wakes bounce back and forth long after the boat has passed It makes for a rocky ride. The interesting aspect of this stretch comes from passing close by so many multi million dollar homes with stretches of high rise condos in between. There are so many people packed into the stretch and so much conspicuous wealth. We can only try to imagine what it would be like to live in such a setting. One of the reasons these homes are so expensive is because they are on the waterfront. Of course the reason for this setting being valuable is because they can sit on their porches and dream about traveling by boat as they watch us and others pass regularly. So perhaps we are the lucky ones living that dream.
As we entered Fort Lauderdale a large sign on the Waterway announced that Fort Lauderdale is the yachting capital of the world. After boating through a few times I would hardly argue with that statement. There are so many marinas packed in with so many large yachts. Many of the homes have boats parked in front as well. Also Fort Lauderdale is a city of canals. When we think of such places most would probably bring up Venice Italy with 30 miles of canals, or Amsterdam with its 50 miles. But Fort Lauderdale has 165 miles. And they are all full of boats.
We arrived at Lake Sylvia and were happy to see few boats at anchor. There was plenty of room for us.
After checking the weather, we decided to strike out the next morning for South Beach, Miami. This day would include a shorter trip and only eight bridges. We began by crossing the inlet at Ft. Lauderdale and then sailing up past the port. We got a treat there since a freighter was just leaving.
All went well as we traveled down to the Port of Miami and our South Beach anchorage. As a bonus, we found that the last bridge that we needed open was permanently open. It seemed that they were rebuilding one section, so no auto traffic could cross anyway. (That’s the Venetian Causeway West bridge, for those might be traveling this way soon.) It was lucky for us that we were not delayed, since a thunderstorm was bearing down on us, and we barely had time t o get the anchor down.
Our anchorage by the condos in South Beach without the thunderstorm
We like to stop at South Beach for several reasons. The city lights at night are always great to see – briefly at least. Walking down towards the beach provides us with the chance to experience a bit of what a foreign city might be like. Clearly it appears, on the street and in shops, that Spanish is the native language, but they speak good English as well. One evening during this stop we were treated to some fireworks as well.
From our anchorage we also get a great view of the cruise ships coming and going daily. We enjoy this setting for a day or so before deciding that it’s time to move on.
More to come…