We’ve been in Florida now for almost a month. It’s been a bit of a head spin to be back in the states, after nearly 6 months in the Bahamas, and of course coming directly from New Zealand.
The US always seems so full on.
It’s been a great time though, being back in South Florida. We have had a chance to catch up with some old friends, my mom has finally made it onto the boat to stay for a while, and we got to spend some quality time with Jerry (my sort of removed brother in law) and his lovely wife Sandra on a dock just behind their condo in Ft Lauderdale.
Jenny had the chance to head over to Orlando to catch up with her besties, Jill (from Australia, now in San Francisco) and Catherine (from Dublin).
My mother flew in from Oklahoma a few days before Jenny left, and she is still with us here in Stuart Florida.
Ft. Lauderdale is overwhelming, with the size and opulence of the boats, Super Yacht Capital of the world.
We were docked initially, near Bahia Mar at Hall of Fame Marina. The marina is nicely located for the Ft Lauderdale pub crawl, which actually does nothing for Jenny and me. The docks were a bit run down, and very expensive. We met Jerry and Sandra for dinner, and later caught the Land and Sea Air show with them, where there was lots of sun, and drinks, and beautiful people.
Jerry arranged for us to stay at the dock alongside his condo off of Oakland Park Blvd, about 6 miles further north from Hall of Fame. The dock was great, and we were the attraction of the condo. We met lots of Jerry and Sandra’s friends and neighbors, had some nice bbq’s.
I had a blast from the past, from the long distance past, from Provo, when I caught up with an old friend on Facebook, Beryl Nelson who is redoing a small boat here in Florida to take it back to the Turks and Caicos. On one of his trips around Florida, getting boat supplies, Beryl stopped by the boat to say hello. It has been over 20 years since I saw Beryl, and he looks exactly the same. Beryl called another old friend, Mongo (Herbert), and Debbie Clarke. Before you know it we had old Provo meeting, and shared a great many laughs. It was really amazing to see these guys again.
Ft Lauderdale is also a great place to find ways to help you spend money on your boat.
We did just that, ticking off a good number of tasks from our to-do list. We had air conditioning system checked out and recharged (this become an urgent necessity when the pilot house AC and the guest cabin AC stopped AC ing).
We learned to do the interior teak touch up with Valter. He is an amazing man with an artist brush, and we made great headway on some of the teak bleaching that is inherent in Nordhavns of our age.
I also was able to get the carpet strips in the engine room replaced, and the ER looks fantastic again now.
My poor mom is staying with us, as we have a parade of tradesmen coming through the boat, paint fumes and Air Conditioning not working very well. But she is a trooper, really enjoying meeting my friends from Provo, and of course catching up with Jerry.
I think that Mom was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the activity on the boat, when she suggested that she head back to Oklahoma before we departed Ft. Lauderdale, which we planned to do soon.
We were able to convince her that boat life was not all about sitting at the dock and having work done to the boat, when we headed out of Lauderdale, to head to Stuart Florida ( to have some more work done…)
We were also able to convince Jerry to join us for the first leg of the trip. We left Lauderdale and headed north last Monday, travelling the ICW for about 6 miles and exited the Intracoastal Waterway at Lighthouse Point.
The cut was not too bad (Hillsborough inlet) as the ocean was nice and calm. We did have to wait for the draw bridge which lies just west of the inlet. The current was enough to get your attention as we waited 5-10 minutes for the bridge. But once we were out the seas were nice and calm.
We trolled a few lines, but had no action. We made the 40 mile run north to Lake Worth inlet (North Palm Beach), in good time as the Gulf Stream current assisted our northern progress.
Entering Lake Worth inlet is pretty straight forward, nice and wide and well-marked. But is it busy, with container ships, cruise ships, P-nut Island, and a huge number of boats. Plus the channel is quite narrow and meandering, keeping you on your toes as I piloted Southern Star back to the place where we took her over 6 months ago.
North Palm Beach felt almost like home. And in a way I guess it is , as we did spend over a month there, and did move Southern Star around a half dozen times, practicing boat handling with Robbie.
We dropped Jerry off at Old Port Cove Marina, and we stayed the night on the hook off of Old Port Cove in the northern arm of Lake Worth. This is Nordhavn FL country.
After a nice peaceful night on the hook, we headed back to the inlet about 6 miles or so and put out to sea again heading to Stuart FL. We had to wait for a container ship to dock as I held station off of P-nut Island, but after that we were clear sailing.
We trolled some lines and caught a small black fin Tuna, but as he was only average size (Hey Reg) we put him back, to fin another day.
The run to St Lucie inlet was a pretty short run, and we lined up for our approach, which turned out to be a pretty challenging one.
Fortunately the swell was very small, but the inlet is quite narrow, and we made our approach on a falling tide. The outgoing current was amazingly strong: 2-3knots?
I had to give Southern Star a push with the throttles, to make our way against the current. We traced our way slowly through the channel markers, other sport fish and smaller boats passing us.
The trip up the St Lucie River to Stuart was pretty long, and we followed the markers very closely, as we were doing this at the wrong tide, low tide and a minus low tide at that.
We took over an hour and a half to make the final approach to Sunset Bay Marina, watching the depth sounder very closely. We had the Hwy 1 bridge to pass under, which is very high, but then the rail way trestle bridge (up unless a train is crossing) and then the A1A bridge which opens on demand to pass through before we turned into the marina.
As luck has it, a train was crossing, so we waited to pass under the highest bridge, mindful of the outgoing tidal current.
Finally the train trestle opened and I called the Roosevelt Bridge keeper, and she started the bridge raising process. The bridge attendant advised me to come ahead, and I did so, but still had to delay between the trestle and the Hwy Bridge, before passing through it, both pretty narrow.
The Marina lied to our port side, and I contacted them on VHF. They seemed surprised that we were there. The reservation must not have come through. But they had room, advising me that the slip was C12- left side of the marina. We waited outside the marina to get our lines and fenders ready, as I did not want to get into the small basin until ready due to the current.
We turned into the marina and headed to the left side of the marina and the left side of C dock, when they hailed me on 16, advising me to go to the right side of C dock. Okay, I backed up into the current using my bow thruster to keep me aligned in the current until I could make a safe turn to the right side of C dock. We spotted the dockhand- I had been advised of bow in starboard side finger, and lined up for that.
The dock hand waves me off- pointing to the other side of the finger, meaning I have to turn around and back into the slip. Not a major problem, but I was already lined up for a bow approach.
Again, backing up and trying to turn my bow into the current so that I can go past the slip on the current side of the thoroughfare so that when I turn the boat to start backing, I have plenty of room down current.
I got through it, but with some pretty high pucker factor, we eased perfectly into the slip, stern to.
My mother was pretty nervous by all of the maneuvering, luckily Jenny and I had on the new head sets and we did not have to scream and shout at one another. These have been a great investment.
And so we are now sitting in Stuart Florida.
We ran into fellow nordhavner Sea Fox, and had drinks and a catch up ,and good advice on our future journeys north.
Over the next few days, we had Alex from Marine Diesel services (highly recommended by NOG) inspect the main and the generator and give me a short list of work to do. And we also had Dennis of Bullhead Marine, do a complete service on the crane.
We plan to hang out for a few days, to let the Memorial week end pass (Monday) before heading further north to Ft. Pierce and beyond. In the meantime we have discovered downtown Stuart, is full of small restaurants, and shops and is pretty and quaint.