Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lake Sylvia, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

South Florida shoreline from sea
     The sea was calm with a warm, gentle 8-10 knot breeze at sunrise as Simple Life motor sailed down the coast of Florida from Lake Worth Inlet toward the Port Everglades Inlet in Fort. Lauderdale. While motorsailing Simple Life was averaging over 6.5 knots. By traveling outside on the ocean we avoided having to negotiate 19 bascule bridge openings in the ICW and accomplished the journey in one day rather than two. From the get-go the trip was interesting. First a rambunctious pod of dolphins ascended from the deep blue depths to frolic in Simple Life's bow wake. I tethered into the jackline while carefully navigating my way to the bow stepping over mired jerry cans and fenders. Over the course of ten to fifteen minutes, the dolphins and I "communicated." While I leaned over the bowsprit peering down at them they turned side to side all the while using their sonar squeaks to maintain speed with our bow wake glancing up at me with each turn. Remarkably, they kept perfect pace with our speed. It was an exhilarating experience and one that I thought would make a good video that I could share with everyone. First I needed to get the camera. To my disappointment when I returned to the bow they were gone. It was as though they were as curious about me as I was of them and when I left well...I suppose they had better things to do.

     With the dolphin departure I returned to the cockpit to check out the shoreline. I began wondering about the Kennedy's and the family's Palm Beach connections. After all I'm from that generation that was raised on the Kennedy mystique. Of course I googled the former Kennedy administration Winter White House on Palm Beach. While searching the shoreline as we sailed by the coast of Palm Beach I was able to identify the home. It was surprisingly less spectacular than most of the newer McMansions that have been constructed by lesser known individuals along the ICW in south Florida. The Kennedy home at Palm Beach was sold in 1995 but, it remains on the register of historic places.

Port Everglades Inlet, Fort Lauderdale
     By mid afternoon we negotiated the Port Everglades inlet with plans to anchor in Lake Sylvia. The anchorage entrance is shallow and requires local knowledge to get in without grounding. Once inside it's completely surrounded by land and exclusive private homes. After all it is in the epicenter of Fort Lauderdale. Fort Lauderdale is referred to as the "yachting capital of the world" but, those of us who pass through as cruising sailors often find that there is an undercurrent of unwelcoming. Or, should I say it's apparent that size definitely matters in Fort Lauderdale. OK delete that X-rated thought from your mind. I'm referring to the size of your boat. Even though many cruising sailors headed to the Bahamas or south to the Florida Keys make this one of their stops along the ICW, Fort Lauderdale is not a place that caters to cruising live aboards. It seems that if you own a megayacht of 100 feet or more along with an overstuffed money clip, then the welcome mat is rolled out. Things are not so welcoming for the average cruiser traveling aboard a boat in the 40 foot range. We're pretty much ignored although at times suspiciously eyed by authorities and stopped for minor infractions while traveling Fort Lauderdale's canals. Such crimes as not having a whistle aboard your dinghy. There is one dock down at the end of one of the canals where dinghies are allowed to land for a fee of $10.00. The location is convenient since it's near a grocery store, laundromat, liquor store and a dollar store. What more could a cruiser want? The $10.00 landing fee at the raw bar is waived if you choose to have happy hour drinks or eat at the restaurant. Of course we all partake in happy hour, so most of us make good use of the dinghy dockage fee. Though, it would be even better if there was at least one dock in the greater Fort Lauderdale area that offered free dinghy dockage for less affluent cruising sailors.

    Simple Life's anchor barely touched the bottom when our friend Steve from IP 38 SV Slow Flight
Happy hour aboard Slow Flight photo by Stefano Piviali
dinghied over to invite us for happy hour aboard his boat. He'd earlier invited many of the anchored boats in Lake Sylvia. Steve said he needed to head back to his boat to prepare hors d'oeuvres. I'll admit that a sexist thought popped into my head. "What's he going to rush back and crack open a can of peanuts?" We were the last dinghy to arrive and Steve had prepared hot Calzones for everyone and they were delicious! The get together was a reunion for many of us since we'd met the crew of Pendragon along with Steve on Slow Flight in St. Augustine. Lorraine and Phil from SV Changes and Ken from SV Sail Away were cruisers we'd met while moored in Vero Beach. We were introduced to Stefano and Helen from Fremantle, Australia who recently crossed the Atlantic aboard their sailing catamaran Novae. I must admit, Steve was an excellent host.

The anchorage in Lake Sylvia, Fort Lauderdale
      Now that we are nearing Christmas and the New Year, quite a few cruisers have been actively seeking reasonably priced, secure places to leave their boats in order to return home to family for the holidays. Once again boats have been departing the anchorage each day. Simple Life has found a temporary home at Bruno's Zoo for a week or more while we visit our family in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Bruno's Zoo is actually a few finger piers behind a private home in Fort Lauderdale. We were fortunate enough to be recommended to Bruno by fellow cruisers from SV Chantibrise II with whom we shared Thanksgiving dinner in Vero Beach. That's how life is out here. Cruisers helping fellow cruisers, sharing information, laughs and camaraderie. It's a special life that we partake in and it's rarely simple but, there's nothing that compares to life aboard. Happy holidays to everyone wherever you are! (I feel like Tiny Tim...)
Simple Life at her berth at Bruno's Zoo, Fort Lauderdale

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