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.

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