With ongoing record-breaking heat, we continued our journey up the busiest part of the Florida ICW, enjoying the impressive skyline, astonishing real estate, some lovely nature preserves and state parks, and mind boggling yachts. We were thankful it wasn’t a weekend.
Days 132 – 134, February 22 – 24, 2019
Our day started in our quiet little marina in North Miami. We walked the dogs as best we could. The Marina Palms Marina actually had some very nice landscaped areas for the pups to enjoy, but that didn’t get them any exercise, so we marched them a ways up Route 1. It wasn’t very pleasant as far as dog-walking was concerned, and quickly became very hot, so we retreated to the boat and got ready to get under way. Our new pals on the Mexican yacht alongside were nowhere to be seen.
We cast off at 1015 hrs and headed across the quiet, pleasant Maule Lake. The lake is man made, and has a rather colorful past that is completely lost in today’s modern high-rises, marina and residential real estate. I found this bit of history which describes how the lake and surrounding area evolved, from untamed wilderness in 1881 to tourist destination and local hangout. It became infamous in the 1980s as a destination for smugglers bringing illegal drugs in from the Bahamas, as documented by the film Cocaine Cowboys. Now it appears to be an exclusive, upscale enclave.
But I digress. On we went, through the tight canal towards the ICW proper. We cruised just yards from front porches, BBQ grills and swimming pools along the canal, peering into second floor windows and seeing our reflection in the plate glass. It was unique, at least in our experience.
Back on the waterway, we meandered along “the canyons”, impressed by the high-rise buildings and quite a few bridges. It wasn’t a difficult day, but we were very glad that it wasn’t a weekend. The few other boats we saw were generally like us, transients content to move at a civilized speed and enjoy the sights.
The route also took us through some lovely parks, including Oleta River State Park, Haulover Beach and, up closer to Fort Lauderdale, West Lake Park. It was a relief to see the natural habitat among the concrete.
Our route was only 12 miles, so a short ride, but it became a bit hectic as we approached Port Everglades. Cruise ships and commercial shipping were coming and going, along with plenty of pleasure craft, all sharing the very tight channels. We had no trouble, but it was a bit intimidating at times.
Once past the Port Everglades inlet, we transitioned into the canal chaos of Fort Lauderdale. By now it was a Friday mid-day, and it appeared the weekend was getting under way. We needed all our senses to keep track of the frantic activity every which-way as we found our way along the unfamiliar territory. It was hard to focus on the task: the opulence of the real estate and the yachts alongside the homes was astonishing.
We were especially excited to arrive, though, as we were catching up with friends who were staying at one of the waterfront estates. Enzo and Renata were there waiting for us, and it was such fun to pull up and wave hello. We had last seen them in Maine, while visiting them along the Eggemoggin Reach on Deer Isle. Enzo and Renata are the best hosts in the world, and we looked forward to spending some time with them during our stay in Fort Lauderdale.
After a quick holler with Enzo and Renata, we crossed over to Bahia Mar Yachting Center. As a loyal fan of the Travis McGee novel series, Bruce had to stay at Bahia Mar. I’m pretty sure there is little resemblance to the facility of the 1960s where McGee lived aboard his boat, The Busted Flush, but we enjoyed our visit. We were among the smallest boats at the marina. The larger yachts were — well — large.
We decided to stay and play in Fort Lauderdale for a few days. First and foremost, we wanted to spend some time with Enzo and Renata. They picked us up at Bahia Mar and took us on a driving tour around Lauderdale, then up to Delray where we enjoyed a fun lunch at The French Bakery. We can always rely on Enzo to sniff out some good food!
Bahia Mar is right in the center of the action in Fort Lauderdale. We have visited this same area a couple of times before, when I ran the A1A Half Marathon which finishes at South Beach Park right across the street from Bahia Mar. It is a very lively area.
The beach is miles-and-miles long. You can walk the length of it on a broad sidewalk with uninterrupted views of the ocean. The land-side of the street is jam-packed with restaurants, shops, hotels, condos and nightclubs. The street itself, A1A/Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, is a destination in itself. Folks in cars of every imaginable size, shape and value cruise up and down, to see and be seen.
On this particular visit it was especially crazy, as a huge gay pride weekend was in full swing. The crowds were not only impressive, but colorful! The one problem: our boat was right across the road from the major event venue and sound stage. The music, if you could call it that, went late into the evening. Our boat literally vibrated from the noise. We could not escape. The air conditioning could not drown it out. It was not pleasant.
A few things to note: a National Marine store on-site at Bahia Mar is the best marine supply store we have ever seen. Just be ware: we were surprised to find that it was closed both Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. Big disappointment, as we had stuff we wanted to do. There is a hotel on-site, and I enjoyed the nice cool fitness center. Several times we walked to the local favorite, Coconuts, for dinner. The Scoobies, which aren’t on the menu, are great! Crab laws sautéed in oil with loads of garlic. And then more garlic.
We also enjoyed some nice walks along the beach and the shopping district, but it was too hot to take full advantage of the sights. Hopefully we can go back sometime when it is a bit cooler, and have some more fun.
We did have some nice flybridge evenings as the sun went down and the air cooled off. At one point I looked over at the boat next to us and thought they had a Scottie! It was Pepper, reflecting in their windows, as he enjoyed a flybridge evening.
When we finally left Fort Lauderdale after three nights, we were ready to move on to quieter places.
North Miami (Miami Palms Marina) to Fort Lauderdale (Bahia Mar Marina)
February 22 – 24, 2019
12 miles, 2h 9m, 5.6 knots average speed
Total trip miles: 2015