Thursday, February 18, 2021

Departing Broward

As I begin typing we are under way northbound in the ICW, bound for West Palm Beach from Fort Lauderdale. We always prefer to do this run outside, but the weather is uncooperative, and we are on a schedule, with a haul-out appointment for Monday. Instead we've been putting along mostly well under cruise speed, timing the numerous bridges on this route.

Shortly after my last post, we arrived at Port Everglades on an incoming tide, squeaked under the Las Olas bridge by lowering our antennas, and made the 4pm opening at Sunrise Boulevard. A few minutes later we had the anchor down in Sunrise Bay (map), just north of the yacht club and across the ICW from a state park.

Vector in Sunrise Bay, as seen from Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.

This is a new anchorage for us. More convenient anchorages in Fort Lauderdale are always full, ever since the state closed down our preferred spot on the Middle River, and it was no surprise that the tiny anchorage north of Las Olas was again full when we passed it. While Sunrise Bay is certainly less convenient, adding a full ten minutes to any tender ride, often through heavy chop, it's actually a very nice spot, calm and protected, with room for several boats.

We spent nearly a week in this spot, mostly with anywhere from two to four sailing cats; at one point we started calling it the catamaran ghetto. From here it was a 20-minute dinghy ride, a little over two miles, to the dinghy dock at English Park, just a half mile away as the crow flies. The entire distance is a no-wake zone, with the exception of about a quarter mile where we could plane, but only on weekdays. This is ostensibly to protect the manatees, who have calendars and are only a problem on weekends and holidays.

Once at English Park, it's a short walk to the Amazon locker, a gas station (for dinghy fuel), a nice Publix grocery store, and the Galleria Mall, where we ate one night on the patio at the Capital Grille. We also went to one of our old standbys from when we used to anchor in the Middle River, Serafina, right on the river, which is one of the best Italian restaurants in all of Fort Lauderdale.

A cruise ship rides at anchor off Fort Lauderdale, a sight I am still not used to.

The scuba shop is about a mile further than the park, and one evening we brought the tanks up, dropped them off for hydro testing, and walked a couple of blocks to Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, another old favorite of ours. And, of course, one evening we tendered all the way down to Coconuts, which seldom disappoints.

Much closer than English Park is Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, which has a nice dock immediately across the ICW from the anchorage. It's not really suitable for dining, though, because the park closes at sunset or a bit earlier, and there are really no options an easy walk from the dock. It was, however, a great place to land the e-bike to run some other errands. Park entry for a bicyclist is just $2, and I was able to purchase that on-line and show the email receipt to the ranger as needed.

Flux locked up for the day at our secret dinghy tie-up in Hollywood.

Among the items that arrived at the Amazon locker were the electrolytic capacitors to repair the satellite dish, and I dug into that project straight away. My repair was partly successful: the dish no longer trips the breaker, and it boots up and moves its elevation motor. The azimuth motor is not energizing, however, and the blown cap was in the azimuth motor circuit. I'm now trying to determine if it's a bad motor, or if some other part of the circuit board is bad. I had to set the project aside before I could nail that down.

In the middle of our stay, we weighed anchor and cruised down to the Las Olas marina, a city facility, to take on water. I had called ahead of time to ask permission, but when we arrived, an employee came out and cranked at us about it. He said he would give us 15 minutes, then disappeared for a half hour. Apparently back at the office he ran into the person who had given us permission. We took on enough water to do a load of laundry and cover us for another week or so.

As it happens, the other project I tackled in that anchorage was the watermaker, where I discovered that a prematurely obstructed pre-filter was, in large part, behind the last remaining vacuum leaks. After finally getting it working at full production, we made a few dozen gallons before shutting it down; the water in this anchorage is not ideal and would just lead to more plugged filters in short order.

I generally don't snap beach photos, but as we sat chatting on Hollywood Beach, a wedding happened just a few yards from us.

On Friday we weighed anchor for the two hour cruise south to Hollywood, where our nieces and their mom had booked a hotel room for the weekend. We arrived at South Lake to find our preferred spot occupied, so we continued a bit further west along the "slot." There's a charted 6' hump in the slot, which has apparently been growing, and we hit it at a below-zero low tide. Had we had any tide at all we might have gone over it to better water further west, but after backing off with full astern power, we settled instead for the very eastern end of the slot, just outside the no-wake zone (map). Fortunately, the wakes were not too bad over the holiday weekend.

We had a great time over the weekend. We started out with a busman's holiday, taking the Water Taxi back up to Fort Lauderdale and around part of the loop on Saturday, stopping off to stroll downtown and have cocktails on the river. We finished the evening with a light meal at their hotel's beach bar.

The town of Pompano Beach has painted a colorful aquatic mural on the south face of the Atlantic Boulevard bridge since we last passed it.

They had a full schedule for the weekend, with a walking tour of Miami's Little Havana on Sunday and an airboat tour of the Everglades on Monday. We're still not comfortable riding in cars, even with friends who have COVID immunity, so we opted out of both, but instead got together at their hotel patio in the mid-afternoons. Monday evening we had a nice final dinner on the deck at GG's Waterfront, overlooking the ICW, before saying our goodbyes. It was great seeing them and catching up.

They stayed at the Marriott on the beach, which is well north of where we tie up the tender, and further north than we normally walk. It's a little less frenetic at that end of the beach, and the hotel had a nice bar right on the Broadwalk. On the one evening that the walk was a bit too far, we took the free Circuit service, which uses GEM cars. They've put plastic dividers in between each pair of seats on the six-seat electric carts, and between that and the large windows all the way open we felt safe even with a shared ride.

They flew back to California on Tuesday morning, and I took advantage of a brief break in the day's seeming endless rain to race down to the Walmart in Hallandale Beach to reprovision. Once that was done, we weighed anchor and returned to our comfy spot at the Sunrise anchorage (map). This time there was a mix of cats and monohull sailboats in residence when we arrived.

I'm never sure if this is a drawbridge, or Rapunzel's tower.

Yesterday I tendered back to the scuba shop to pick up our cylinders and regulators in the morning, and in the afternoon I again launched the e-bike at the state park dock for a 12-mile round trip down to the watermaker dealer for a couple of parts. I rode through a few of our favorite neighborhoods just to see what's changed, and made a quick stop at West Marine on my way back. We ended the day and our stay in Fort Lauderdale with a final trip to Coconuts.

Both Hollywood Beach and Fort Lauderdale were far busier on this visit than they had been just five weeks earlier on our southbound journey. In part that was the holiday weekend and the start of spring break season (if that even exists now), and in part it's the weather, which is considerably warmer now. With apologies to our friends who are shivering elsewhere in the country, it's been in the 80s since we arrived in Fort Lauderdale from Key West (where is was quite a bit cooler), and other than one rain day, we've had gorgeous outdoor weather the whole time.

Since our last visit to West Palm, this mural is being updated with African-American portraits.

Update: We are anchored in our usual spot in Palm Beach (map). We dropped the hook just before cocktail hour, then headed ashore to pick up a package at the Amazon locker in the Rosemary Square shopping complex, where we also stopped for dinner at Il Bellagio. We walked back by way of Clematis Street, which, unlike Fort Lauderdale, was actually a good deal quieter than on our last stop. There is some sort of live music at the band shell, which we can hear from the boat a half mile away.

I've made an appointment to be hauled out at River Forest boatyard in Stuart, just upriver of the St. Lucie lock, on Monday morning to replace the bow thruster drive leg. It's a full day from here to Stuart, and another few hours to the anchorage just upriver of the lock, where we'd like to be on Sunday evening. If all goes well we will be back in the water Monday afternoon, and headed toward Lake Okeechobee on Tuesday.


  1. I have friends from long ago who could have seen you at anchor in South Lake from their patio. Their house is at the southwest corner of the lake.

  2. Greetings from Tom, the See's Candy guy from NOLA! Keep having fun & I still admire the quilted coffee/candy spots that your dear wife made me!

  3. Saw you steam by my place on your way to haul out -- right where you leave the ICW to turn into the St. Lucie River. I took a couple of pics and can send them to you if desired. I have other pics of Vector from when you passed by two years ago.


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