Fort Lauderdale is a fun place to hang out but it’s not easy to get off the boat. Unless you pay for a marina or eat at a restaurant with a dock, there are no places to tie up a dinghy for free. At least that was our experience. We initially anchored in Lake Sylvia which was nice and protected. But the only options we found to get to shore were to ride west in our dinghy up a canal for about a mile and a quarter to the Southport Raw Bar. They allow you to park your dinghy there for $10.00 that you can use toward food and/or beverage. This is convenient for shopping but that’s about it. It’s miles from the beach.
The beach options we found were two restaurants off of Seabreeze Blvd/1A. One of these–Bahia Cabana– cost $20.00 to tie up a dinghy if you desire to leave the premises. The other one is a secret.
The Marina at Las Olas Blvd. allows you to tie up to their dock for a $20 fee, but you have to be back to collect your dinghy by 4pm or you dinghy turns into a pumpkin preventing you from returning to the mothership.
We managed to work around these restrictions as our inflatable can fit into small, out-of-the-way places. We adopted the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. However, the idea that a boating capital such as Fort Lauderdale would not have any free, public access to their beach side attractions, is absolutely ridiculous. They offer such facilities downtown up the New River in the Riverwalk area. Why not by the beach?
We had tried several times during the week to get a mooring at Los Olas but were told that all ten mooring balls were occupied. It was not until Wednesday (a week after arriving) that we finally got a mooring. This made access to the beach much easier for us since the marina did not place the same restrictions on boaters who were paying for a mooring.
The highlight of our stay was hanging out with Amy’s sister Leslie and her husband Kevin from Madison, WI. Their first night was my birthday and they took us out for a lovely dinner at Coconuts. It made my entrance into the 62nd year of life on earth a joyful occasion. We enjoyed many nights of frivolity with the Wisconsinites at various and sundry venues. They even invited us to their hotel room to enjoy showers and the Oscars.
The day before their departure, we managed to get a mooring closer to their hotel and they joined us aboard Mary T for a deluxe luncheon prepared by my lovely wife Amy. It started with complementary shots of Captain Morgan’s Private Stock, followed by curried chicken salad wraps with raisins and walnuts and a modified Waldorf salad. It was finished with more rum and Petits Ecoliers, which are my favorite cookies. [ Amy wrote the above paragraph. ]
Aside from hanging with Les and Kev, another highlight, was the dinghy ride up the New River. You really do get the feel that Fort Lauderdale is the Venice of America as you wind your way through the canals. The homes and yachts you pass along the way reflect the enormous wealth in this part of America. It also makes you wonder what will happen when the sea level rises.The Riverwalk and shopping district are fun places to spend a day. We were lucky that our visit was on the fourth Sunday of the month when they have Riverwalk Sunday Arts featuring the area’s local artists, performers, photographers, and others.
After a fun-filled week in Fort Lauderdale with Les and Kev, we departed for Miami. The wind was perfect although a little on the light side. But we didn’t have far to go so we sailed the entire distance. Along the way, the image on our Raymarine chart plotter display began shaking. It was like trying to read a label on a paint can in one of those mixing machines they use. The image became progressively worse to the point of looking like a blank etch-a-sketch so, I called tech support. They said it was an internal problem and the unit had to come in to the shop for repairs. There was nothing I could do by resetting the system or pressing any combination of buttons. Fortunately, we had a back up–our Garmin hand-held GPS, a gift from friends, Corning and Tita.
As we approached Miami’s Government Cut, we turned on the Raymarine again, just to get the GPS signal sent into our AIS receiver. This allowed us to at least see the AIS enabled ships on our radio. Then, all of a sudden, the image of our location on the charts was back! This was quite lucky as there was a good deal of big ship traffic moving about as we entered the cut. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing the info of each big ship on our chart plotter–it takes a lot of the drama out of these kinds of situations.
After anchoring amongst some of the man-made islands between Miami and Miami Beach, I called Raymarine again and told them what happened. The tech support guy said not the unit still has problems and will continue to go on the fritz.
So, the next morning we removed our trusty chart plotter and rode the dinghy into Miami Beach to ship it out. We probably have about a two week wait until we get it back. Our current plan is to hang out near Miami Beach for a portion of that time and then, when we find out the unit is ready to come back, we’ll head over to the mainland and take a mooring at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. Many folks have recommended this place and we’ve already used their address as the “ship to” for our chart plotter.
In case any, old salts reading this were wondering, yes, we do remember how to read paper charts and we do have the Garmin so, we may also chose to sail around Biscayne Bay for a while.
On the other hand, the Miami International Film Festival is taking place this week. We already saw one entry, Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War and we expect to see a few more.
We did the Lincoln Road Mall Saturday night, after the film. This was great fun, not only for eating, drinking, and people watching, but because it is about the only place we’ve been recently where pedestrians rule. For those unfamiliar with this South Beach attraction, most of Lincoln Road is a pedestrian thoroughfare. Cars can only pass through on the north/south intersecting roads. The timing for the crossings favor pedestrians, too. That is, as a walker, you have much more time to cross the street than does the driver trying to get through Lincoln Road. This is really quite satisfying after having to walk along so many busy roads in south Florida where drivers frequently refuse to stop at designated pedestrian crossings.