Monthly Archives: February 2015

Healing 30 degrees at anchor.

It’s Thursday afternoon and we just arrived in Ft Lauderdale where we anchored in Middle River, a spot that we generally visit each time we come through the area.  We particularly enjoy this spot as there is a great public dock for us to tie up our dink and do some shopping.  Amazingly, this is probably one of the few places you will ever go where there is a place to tie up across from a high end shopping mall.  To see a huge mall and grazing manatees in the same area is certainly not something that we see every day. 

Today has been a rainy and windy day but it seems to be brightening off to the west.  I am hopeful that it will clear up before the evening.

Last night was pretty windy with gusts coming down on Pandora causing her to strain at her anchor.  However, that was only a test to be sure that the anchor was well dug in as things really got interesting this morning around 08:00 when a very strong line of thunderstorms came through Boca Raton.  It went from nearly calm to fierce gusting wind and rain lashing the harbor in just a few moments.  Over the years Brenda and I have experienced many thunderstorms at anchor and while on moorings so we thought that we knew what to expect.

Not so…  As the torrential rain slammed into us, the winds increased hugely but to exactly how powerful, I can only speculate as I did not have the presence of mind to turn on the instruments.  However, the wind came on so suddenly that I didn’t even have a chance to turn on the engine, just in case we dragged.   In just a few moments a huge burst of wind came down on us Pandora and healed over at least 30 degrees, perhaps more.  Let me tell you that this is about as much heeling as we experience when we are sailing hard on the wind in strong conditions and much more than we have EVER experienced when we were anchored.   The amount of force that blasted against us was just unbelievable.  Thankfully the dink was secured in the as I am sure that it would have flipped, engine and all had it been trailing behind us.   Even though the dink was clear of the water, it reared up in the davits and threatened to rise above the top of the radar arch in several of the gusts that hit us.  The roar of the wind in the rigging and hitting the canvas was breathtaking.

For a brief moment, several moments actually, I fully expected Pandora to drag her anchor and to make matters worse, we were anchored quite close to a 100’ motoryacht, that was on a dock behind us. Had we dragged even 100’ we would have been driven directly broadside into the yacht.  It was a real cliffhanger, let me tell you.

Happily, the new over sized Rockna anchor held and the only damage to the boat was that some of the plastic clips that hold the SSB antenna on the back stay broke off because of the pressure of the wind.

This was our first experience with real wind since installing our new anchor and I am very thankful that I purchased such a large one, several sizes bigger than is called for for a boat of our size.  There was only one other boat anchored near us, a small 25’ cruiser, and he dragged several hundred yards toward shore.

All and all, it was a very “exciting” experience and not in a good way.  I should note that Brenda took it all in stride and certainly looked calmer than I felt as everything crashed around down below.

Finally, the winds let up and the rain slowed to a light drizzle so we headed off to make our run down to Ft Lauderdale, a short 15 mile run with bridges every mile or two, just like yesterday.  The run from Palm Beach to Ft Lauderdale has more bridges per mile than any other part of the ICW and I am very happy to have that part of the trip behind us.

This part of the ICW is just jammed with remarkable homes and even though some are just over the top it’s fun to look into back yard after back yard as we make our way south through the Gold Coast of Florida.

This looks more like a convention center than a single family home. I am sure that “sticks and stones” would indeed break some things at this home. I wonder if the “lady of the house” puts on makeup before even peeping out of her bedroom?  Probably a good idea. This one was a welcome break from the “Mediterranean” influence that pervades this area. I guess that this guy is “topped out” with his “giga-mortgage” and can only afford a “micro yacht”.
We passed many yachts along the way, some that looked larger than the homes they were parked in front of.  I was struck by the lovely lines on this grand old lady.  Her metal hull looked a bit lumpy but she is beautiful, never the less.   So, for the next few days we will enjoy Ft Lauderdale prior to making the short offshore run down to Miami and then on to the Keys.  While our plans continue to change, we have once again decided to help out SSCA and man the booth for a half day during the Miami Boat Show.

Yes, I know, we have been changing our plans each day and not it’s up to the weather to get us to Miami in time for the show.  However, I am pretty optimistic as the show is a week away.

For now, I am glad to be in Ft Lauderdale and look forward to doing some shopping for provisions and enjoying the sights.

Yes, I am seeing blue sky to the West.  Sunshine is certainly on the way.  With some luck we won’t see any more healing to 30 degrees till we head out to do some sailing.

Here’s to sunshine and blue skies in so0n-to-be-sunny Ft Lauderdale.  Glad to be here.

Eleven bridges in 22 miles.

It’s Wednesday morning and we are anchored in Lake Boca having made our way nearly to Ft Lauderdale where we will jump out to head down to Miami and The Keys.  We picked up our anchor yesterday morning shortly before 10:00 to begin what was to be the longest/shortest run of the trip so far.  For this short stretch of just over 20 miles, there is a remarkable number of bridges, more than one for every two miles along the way and nearly all open on their own schedule.   While the schedule is nominally designed to make it possible to run from one to the next within the time allotted, many things can go wrong and cause things to get out of sync and mess everything up.   

For example, the first bridge we had to go through, a mere few hundred yards from where we were anchored in Palm Beach, was experiencing “technical issue” and as a result, had to raise, and lower, each of the four segments individually, thereby turning a quick process into a long, drawn out one.  As a result, we missed the next bridge and had to anchor for a half hour until their next opening.

After that we did pretty well until we came to a bridge that had one span frozen in a partially open position.  We were told that a mechanic was on the way.  I didn’t check my watch but I am sure that we were anchored or over an hour until the bridge was finally opened.   By that time, there were 6 or 8 boats anchored waiting along with us.  Of course, when the bridge finally opened, there wasn’t enough time to get to the next bridge so all of us set the speed as slowly as possible to cover the distance to the next bridge in time for the “next” next opening, about an hour later.

Another rub in all of this is that in order to make an “ideal” well timed trip through the bridges, you have to be able to motor at a good 7kts and there are plenty of cruising yachts that just can’t do that.  Fortunately, that’s no problem for Pandora but of the half dozen boats that we were traveling with, Pandora was the only one that could make speed that was sufficient to make each remaining bridge.  As  a result, we arrived in Lake Boca first and watched as the remainder of the “fleet” arrived over the next 90 minutes following our arrival.

Along the way, as we have been motoring through the part of Florida that is known as the “Gold Coast”.   True to it’s name the area includes an amazing display of wealth in the homes and boats that lined the waterway.  I should note that for all of these fabulous homes, I almost never saw anyone in evidence on the property with the exception of those working on the homes and yards.   I guess that you can’t take much time off from work if you want to support such a lifestyle.

I was struck by this yacht named “Sexy” with it’s bold color scheme. Not sure if this that’s quite the right name but when you see the home that goes with it, you get a pretty good feel for what the owner must be like.  Sexy?  Not sure again if that’s the correct term.  I guess you’ll have to be the judge.Now this is a sexy boat.  What sleek lines.  Pretty elegant.  “James, please run me and Buffy over to the club.”The amount of work that must go into keeping these places in perfect shape.   How about a diver chipping away at some concrete bulkheads that need mending.Or, imagine how much goes into keeping hedges like these in shape.Or these.  Everywhere you look things are pretty much over the top and mostly unoccupied.  I guess if you really want to be impressed, you will have to visit their “main homes”.   

Speaking of an opulent lifestyle, how about the Breakers, the iconic hotel built by Henry Flagler way back when.  In a recent post I incorrectly identified a different building in Palm Beach as that hotel but later found out that particular building was a hotel years ago, that it was now a condo residence complex and the Breakers were in a different spot, near the beach.

Well, Brenda and I paid a visit to The Breakers to have a drink in their ocean front bar.  Can you say “NY drink prices are cheap compared to these?”.   Pretty expensive but what a place.

How about a bit of gold leaf on the ceiling?  Very subtle, yes?Or a nice “glass” chandelier in the lobby?  Oh yeah, and a cute little flower arrangement to round things out.  The painting details and woodworking are just over the top.A really stunning hallway.  And, as you arrive and drive, or walk, up the main drag you surely can feel like you have “arrived”.  I expect that feeling is quickly followed by the certainty that your money will soon “depart”. One way or the other, if you can’t afford to keep a fabulous empty home on the ICW, at least you can act like one of the ”uber-rich” for a few days by visiting this beautiful iconic hotel. 

So, now for a day here in Boca and then on to Ft Lauderdale and another day of fun bridges.  Good thing that it’s less than 20 miles.

For now, I had better finish up and get on with our day and I expect that we might very well cover more distance on foot today than we did on the water yesterday.  All and all, it took us 6.5 hours go to 22 miles and that was motoring at 7kts when we were on the move, otherwise, we just SAT and WAITED for bridge after bridge, all day.   Well, at least we had plenty of time to get to know the locals.

However, before you feel badly for us, and you probably don’t, it was sunny and pretty warm.  Such is life on the “slow lane” on the ICW.  Eleven bridges in 20 miles. Annoying or not, it could be worse, I expect.

The land of the “big boys” and their toys.

It’s Sunday morning and we are anchored in West Palm Beach, clearly the home of some pretty big kids with all the toys that go along with being one of the .001% crowd.  One of the best parts of being on the water is that we get the $20m view without having to pay the price.  Alas, gone are the days of the Million Dollar View, I guess as that amount won’t get you much more than a one room condo in this neighborhood with a view of a parking lot. Well, owning a boat isn’t exactly cheap but compared to what the locals must be paying, we are pretty low on the totem pole and we have terrific views too.

While I am certain that the local property owners would love it if we didn’t anchor near them, the city and merchants clearly want us to hang out so they offer docks to tie up for a few hours and a very convenient spot to park our dink while we visit ashore.   I even spied a spigot on the dock so perhaps I can fill up our water tanks too.

We arrived here yesterday after our short ten mile run from North Lake Worth.  We are still in the “Palms” as the local cities are known but are now anchored in a more urban environment and the view of the city it’s very nice.   A short run to shore in our dink put us in the heart of a great shopping and dining district with a very pretty waterfront park.  Last night we went out to a very nice Mexican restaurant for dinner.  It was terrific.

The main drag in town is bustling with activity. The view from the park is very pretty with a neat fountain that lights up at night along with lights on the palm trees and over the street itself. And, as the light fades, it’s even more beautiful.  Doesn’t this make you want to whip out your AMEX?  I guess that’s the point. I have to say that the view of the city after dark from the harbor is quite impressive.As we made our way south yesterday we passed the Rybovich yard, known for their work in refitting megayachts.  It seems that this yard does more projects than any other in the US each year.  And, if the number of huge yachts at their docks is any indication of how business is, then they must be swimming in work.  This is clearly a spot for the “big boys to keep their toys” with slip after slip filled with one yacht bigger than the next.  If yachts are the ultimate status symbol, then these babies are making that point loud and clear. I was particularly struck with this racing yacht R88.  I have seen photos of this yacht, the newest Rambler.  It was just launched by New England Boat Works in late 2014.  It’s a very hot boat and will certainly be sailing around the world and do all of the major ocean races.   When it comes to toys of the “megawealthy”, no make that the “gigawealthy”, this boat is a the top of the heap.And, when the gigawealthy want to take their yachts to Europe or perhaps further, they (their yachts that is) are hoisted aboard a ship like this and off they go.   Notice the yacht tender on dock to the right, all packed in a cradle waiting to be shipped.  Or, perhaps it just arrived.  Who knows?  I wonder what the “mother ship” for that little number looks like. Anyway, “The Palms” are clearly where it’s at if you are a member of the .001% club and have dollars to burn.   And, in that case, The Palms are on fire.  

Today we hope to feel a little of that heat by going over to the iconic resort The Breakers, to have a cup of coffee and do some people watching.  The history of the hotel is really the history of Florida tourism.  The last time Brenda and I were there was years ago in a different life with someone else paying the bill.  At that time we stayed several days for a nice visit but now, on our own dime it will just be coffee or tea.   It’s a beautiful building. That’s fine with me as these days I certainly feel that in the “having fun” department we are keeping up with those .001% folks just fine.    My mother used to tell me that the rich were miserable however, looking around Palm Beach is making me wonder.  Well, one can only hope, can’t one?

OK, OK, perhaps I have overdone the “sunrise thing” of late.  However, a nice one today.  That’s all for now.

Oh yeah, one more thing.  It’s going to be in the mid 70s today.