Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spring Break 2016: Barnacles Gone Wild

We are anchored in a new-to-us spot in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just north of the Las Olas city marina and east of the ICW channel (map). We've dropped the hook here three times already, and this is the fourth spot we've occupied since I last posted here a little over two weeks ago. I need to catch up...

The view from our anchorage, toward the Alhambra neighborhood near the beach.

We did, in fact, cruise up the New River the very next morning, on our way to Cable Marine for estimates. Cable Marine is nearly as far upriver as we can go, again as far as it is to the city docks where we ended our last cruise upriver. We've put a lot of hours and miles on the boat since then, and this time it was a much more relaxed and casual affair, negotiating passes with 150' yachts under tow and the ever-present Jungle Queen tour boat, and announcing our approach to landmarks only locals recognize like Tarpon Bend, The Girls School, Little Florida, and The Wiggles.

We arrived at Cable Marine mid-afternoon and tied up in one of the work slips (map), all of which are covered with a 28'-high flat roof. We met briefly with Mike-the-yard-manager, gave him our work list, and negotiated to spend the night while they worked up quotations for bottom paint, topsides touch-up, a staple rail for the swim step, and stabilizer seal replacement. We expected to get the quotes the next morning and be on our way, after seeing the paint supervisor and the stabilizer expert.

Under the "Drink Local" sign at Cafe 84 across the street from the yard.

In fact what happened was all of Thursday went by with no quote. Mike had told me that we would not be charged dockage until we had quotes in hand, or while work was ongoing, but if we wanted to remain in the interim there would be a charge. With no quotes we had another free night at the dock, with power. On Friday the yard had conceded their own paint crew was overbooked and they sent a subcontractor to quote the job, with the result being that we still had no quote when the end of the day rolled around. Since it looked like we'd be there for the weekend, we offloaded a scooter and settled in.

We were docked behind a yacht upgrading its jet tender... this is the old one between us. We gave them a card in case they want to sell it.

Through all of this we really did not get much else done, since we were always on the cusp of leaving, or else meeting with someone. At least with the weekend upon us we could do some errands on the scooter and catch up a little bit around the house. What I could not do in the evenings was watch any TV, with the sat dome under a solid concrete roof.

Angel takes it all in stride, as long as she has some shoes to canoodle.

By the time we had a quote in hand Monday afternoon, we had missed our window to get out of dodge, and we ended up leaving Tuesday morning. Not before going back to the office twice to try to get them to sharpen their pencils -- the subcontractor's paint estimate was five times what the in-house supervisor had guessed at the outset, and three times our budget. By the time we left Tuesday morning we had agreed only to have them paint the bottom, and for that we'd have to be off the boat for a week.

Vector at the downtown city docks.

We went halfway back downriver and tied up at the city docks for a couple of days to enjoy downtown and to have one of the other yards quote on the paint. We ended up spending four nights, just one space down from where we were last time. The city docks are a vibrant and interesting place, with a constant parade of giant yachts being towed up and down the river to the yards, the endless procession of water taxis, three giant tour boats, and an odd assortment of pleasure boaters with widely varying skill levels at negotiating the narrow, twisty, and swift river and its gauntlet of lift bridges.

One of many yachts that passed under tow. The "backwards" tug at the left is the brake.

The other yard, Luu Marine at Lauderdale Marine Center, gave us a quote to paint the entire hull -- all the steel including the deck pan, but not the aluminum house -- that was actually quite reasonable. They come highly recommended and we thought long and hard about just doing it -- it will need to be done one way or another within a couple of years. In the end, we did not want to spend six to eight weeks in the yard and about 20% of the value of the boat on this pass. Instead we will have them do our originally planned touch-up on a T&M basis, maybe two weeks worth. They also quoted on a bottom job, as did Lauderdale Marine themselves.

We were on the river for St. Patricks. This outboard-powered tiki bar docked in front of the Downtowner, which had quite the party that evening.

After a lovely four days downtown we came here to anchor and consider all our options. While the bottom job and stabilizer work had seemed most pressing when we arrived, we were reconsidering -- the stabilizer guy at Cable thought we had no real problems and at most needed seals and a pressure adjustment; the bottom job was going to cost north of $5k wherever we went and was probably premature. That persuaded us to first hire a diver to inspect the bottom and fins, and clean the hull if no other issues were found.

Too early for bar patrons, I guess.

Thus today found us heading over to Las Olas marina for "day dockage" (map), a very reasonable $0.66 per foot vs. nearly four times that much for overnight. Two divers spent an hour under the boat, reported that our bare spot had neither grown nor corroded, and cleaned what they reported as about three weeks' worth of "Fort Lauderdale" growth off the bottom -- not bad for six months since the last cleaning. Apparently little happened till we got here, where the barnacles are party animals, just like the visiting college students. We've decided to defer the haulout and bottom work for at least six months, when we hope to be someplace cheaper.

Sunset over our little anchorage, as see from the Alhambra district near the beach.

It's been Spring Break since we arrived in town, and Fort Lauderdale is virtually the birthplace of alcohol-fueled spring break mayhem. We've heard the revelry coming from the beach at our anchorage each night, as we did a week ago in the middle river. From this spot, the beach promenade is an easy tender ride and we walked to dinner a couple of nights ago, considerably earlier than the college crowd. The police were already gearing up for the evening. Today, since we were at the dock, we walked to the beachfront for lunch; things are winding down this week, it would seem.

Gearing up for another night of Spring Break, as seen from the Atlantic Surf Club.

We expect to head back up the New River next week to Lauderdale Marine Center to have the topsides paint work done, and maybe have the staple rail made. We should be able to remain on the boat the whole time, and we'll have the scooters on the ground to get some overdue errands handled -- I have a project backlog waiting on chandleries and big-box hardware stores.

How the blog is made...

1 comment:

  1. Having been in Florida for (gulp) 27 years now, I have witnessed the north/westward march of spring break. Embracing the college kids sounds like a shiny nickel to a town until they see what it really does... run off steady business. Fort Lauderdale was the first to declare no more. Then Daytona (though "black" spring break is still popular there. Destin/Fort Walton did several years ago, and Panama City threw in the towel this year. Galveston will be next I would guess. More and more young hedonists are finding the scratch to go to Mexico and Jamaica somehow in this jobless world. Florida is back to being a den of little folks over spring break for the most part.


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