Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Almost scofflaws

We are anchored in one of our favorite spots, along the Middle River in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (map). We love this anchorage because it is mostly quiet and serene, yet affords easy access to groceries, shopping, and a variety of restaurants. Sadly, the Florida legislature has just voted to make anchoring here, and in four additional locations further south, in Miami, unlawful. We're not scofflaws just yet -- the law will not take effect until July, assuming the Governor signs it.

The cruising community has mobilized against this law (and others like it), and many of us wrote and/or called our legislators (our representative was one of only a small minority who voted against the bill). But we are no match for the ultra-wealthy homeowners whose multi-million-dollar mansions line these shores, some of whom seem convinced their property rights extend all the way across the waterway.

As far as I know, the bill has yet to be signed, and we've invited Governor Scott or his emissary to spend some time here aboard Vector to get a first-hand impression of just exactly what they will be outlawing -- I suspect they haven't a clue. I doubt anything will come of that invitation, so we're not fixing our plans around it. We've also signed a petition that is circulating, urging a veto, but I give it slim chances. The next time we come through Fort Lauderdale we will have to squeeze in to less secure digs, or else keep moving along.

We made it through the inlet and under the bridges last Wednesday in plenty of time to stop by the Las Olas Marina, a familiar spot for us, to avail ourselves of their pumpout before proceeding here to the anchorage. We had a nice dinner on the aft deck, and I am happy to say that we are now in warm enough climes to be spending some time out there each evening.

The following afternoon we splashed the tender to ride over to one of our favorite restaurants, Coconuts, which has a courtesy dock for patrons. This place is also a favorite of Martin and Steph aboard Blossom, and we could not resist hamming it up in a selfie and sending it to them while we waited for our table.

Being goofy on the Coconuts patio.

As luck would have it, our good friend Steve from across town was doing some on-water training of young protege Colin, and asked if they could take us to lunch Friday, so we ended up right back at Coconuts for the second day in a row. Colin did a great job of bringing his Sea-Ray Fin Chaser alongside Vector (we did put out a few large fenders for the occasion), and thus we had a much nicer chariot to carry us to the restaurant than we did at dinner the previous evening.

Steve and Colin aboard Fin Chaser as they pulled away. We were too focused on getting them alongside and ourselves transferred to get a photo of the process.

We've since also returned to upscale Serafina, just upriver from here, another on-water establishment, and also walked to P.F. Changs in the high-end mall across the street from the nice park with the dinghy dock. That park is also how we get to the Publix grocery, and in the past we've even picked up a rental car there.

This anchorage is well-used on the weekends by water-ski and other water-toy enthusiasts, and that includes those arriving by megayacht. More than once we've seen a very large luxury yacht charter anchor here, splash several jet-skis and a big tender to pull tubes or wake boards, and spend a few hours tearing up the water. (Daytime anchoring like this will continue to be legal; only overnight anchoring will be prohibited.)

This cat at lower left is our hero, holding his ground when a megayacht wanted his space. I was just trying to capture the US Navy blimp, with some sort of antenna array on top.

And so it is that part of our entertainment this weekend was watching a pair of expensive yachts from Fleet Miami, the 154' Usher and the 87' Mystique, arrive at the anchorage, only to find the primo spot for such large vessels already occupied by a sailing catamaran with a BVI flag. We watched as Usher's tender circled the anchorage, then went and had words, some animated, with the cat. We guessed they tried to persuade the cat to move, but he held his ground (it is, after all, a first-come, first-served discipline), and eventually the two yachts and their enormous jet-boat tender steamed back down the ICW whence they came, probably to head to Hollywood Lakes an hour or so south. I'm sorry we did not get any photos.

A different large yacht arrived the next day and dropped anchor right in front of us, perhaps 150' away. We surmised these guys had no guests aboard, and their mission here appeared to be setting up and testing all the water toys, including the giant inflatable two-story slide. If anyone knows where I can pick up a surplus aircraft escape slide, let me know -- this looks like fun, but there's no way I'm going to drop over $7k on one.

Yacht Slide, anyone? This one's made by FunAir.

Tonight we tendered down to the Pier 66 complex, which has been closed for renovations on all our previous stops here. We ate at the waterfront bar, Pelican Landing, which would have a lovely view across the ICW if not for the fact that Seven Seas, Steven Spielberg's gargantuan 295' yacht, is moored just in front of the restaurant, blocking the view (and blotting out the sun). The joint bills itself as good for sunset views, but really all you can see is this enormous yacht.

As usual I have been busy with projects around the boat, but mostly I've been doing research and making phone calls to line up some yard work while we are in town, and tomorrow morning we will weigh anchor and head up the New River to a couple of yards to get some estimates. We need to have the bottom cleaned and painted, but we'd also like to service the stabilizers while we are out of the water, and get the topsides paint touched up in several places. We might even have a staple rail fabricated here if the price is right.

Our plan does not yet extend beyond tomorrow afternoon; it really will depend on when we get estimates and just how much those are. We may very well just spend tomorrow night at one of the yards upriver while we wait on them. We're hoping that someone can fit us in in the next week or two and get everything done in a couple of weeks beyond that. Once we are in a yard, we can get the scooters on the ground and have access to more services as well.


  1. You would think that Stephen Spielberg would at least show one of his movies on the side of his yacht as he is blocking the view!

  2. Sounds like you guys are having fun away from the land yacht! :)


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