Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Gauntlet

We are underway southbound in the ICW, running the gauntlet, as I am wont to call it. There are a full fifteen bridges we need opened today, most of them on a time schedule that means we either have to speed up or slow down on each inter-bridge leg to get the timing right. I much prefer to pass this stretch on the outside, but the weather is not cooperative, and it would add a dozen miles to a 35nm trip. At least we no longer have to worry about onerous security zone restrictions popping up.

Neon wall art at Batch, on Clematis in West Palm Beach.

We had a very pleasant evening in Hobe Sound Wednesday, after dropping the anchor in our customary spot (map) inside a minimum wake zone. By nightfall there were two more boats in the anchorage. We had a nice dinner on board, and it was quite peaceful other than a pair of very large wakes from cruising powerboats that didn't pay attention to the signs.

In the morning we weighed anchor and made our way through the Jupiter Inlet area, which is notorious for shoaling. It's been dredged since our last time through, but the Corps of Engineers hydrographic survey pre-dates the dredging and is no longer correct. We split the difference between our last known-good track and the nominal recommended course line and found plenty of water.

These trees on Clematis are wrapped in chasing red, blue, green, and white lights. Maybe relocated from last year's extravagant holiday display.

We were well-timed for the PGA and Parker bridges in North Palm Beach, but it's never possible for us to then arrive at the Flagler Memorial Bridge on time for an opening. We ended up dropping a lunch hook just north of the bridge to wait. Once we cleared the bridge we found the anchorage to be the most crowded we have ever seen. We squeezed in near our usual spot (map), but had to carefully position in the center of three other boats. It does not help that the majority of the "anchorage" here is in a pair of marked cable areas, forcing us into the tiny slice between them.

The Wishing Tree in Rosemary Square seems to have been pruned a bit since last year.

We splashed the tender in the evening and went ashore for dinner. Even though the anchorage was crowded, the town was rather empty and we had our pick of outdoor tables at numerous places. We ended up at a place that's been here forever but was new to us, Ristorante Santucci, where the food was good but I thought the prices were a bit steep for what they offered.

View over the marina, the lake, and the Breakers resort to the ocean, as seen from the rooftop bar at The Ben hotel.

On our way back, the weekly Clematis By Night music was just about to start. Even outdoor concerts seem a bit risky to us at the moment, and the band was not our style, so we did not linger, but it's good to see West Palm Beach continuing to offer community events. As always, the city was nicely decked out, including a new dancing-light program in the Centennial splash fountain that they are calling Clematis By Light. The pandemic still has the fountain closed to actual splashing.

Clematis by Light fountain display. I missed capturing the more spectacular portions.

After my little spa day in the emergency room back in Little River, my cardiologist in New York ordered a set of blood tests as follow-up in a couple of weeks. I've been scanning for labs on our route, and there is a Quest Diagnostics in West Palm just a short walk from the dock. En route from Hobe Sound I called and was able to score the last available appointment for Friday, and I had perfect weather for a pleasant walk along the waterfront. On the way back I dropped a generator oil sample in the mail.

With a day of weather-imposed downtime and prompted by a question on social media, I unpacked, inspected, and supplemented the contents of our "ditch bag." I might write it up in a future post.

We returned ashore together in the evening for a nice dinner on the sidewalk in front of Kabuki, one of our long-standing favorites. I've written here before about how much we like West Palm Beach, and a key reason is a plethora of outdoor tables at a dozen or so restaurants just a short walk from the dock. Regular readers may remember that we spent the Christmas holiday here last year.

Appropriately, I snapped this photo of the ever-evolving BLM mural on MLK day. Interesting to compare it to a year ago.

Saturday morning we treated ourselves to breakfast bagel sandwiches at Makeb's Bagels, which are as close to NY bagels as you can get in this part of the country. Then we briefly strolled the enormous GreenMarket, which encompasses the lawn as well as several blocks of Clematis Street. I would have loved to spend a little more time, but once again, the venue felt too crowded to us even outdoors. We returned ashore in the evening for dinner at long-time favorite Lynora's, which has a discounted happy hour menu even on the weekend.

Our view from Lynora's and Batch of different chasing lights.

Sunday's forecast was for gale force winds, ramping up over Saturday night. The wind was already picking up on our way home from dinner, and we decked the tender as a precaution, to keep it from bouncing around and in the event we had to maneuver during the storm. There was lots of jockeying for better positions in the anchorage as vessels prepared for the winds.

The Goodyear blimp passed us back and forth several times today, running along the beach as we made our way down the ICW.

The wind did keep us on the boat all of Sunday, but it was not nearly as bad as forecast; we may briefly have seen 35 but it was mostly less than 30. By dinner time it was flat calm, but too cold and damp to want to eat outside ashore, and we had a nice dinner on board. With the tender already on deck, we discussed the possibility of continuing south in the morning, but this stretch of water is bad enough on the weekdays, and running the gauntlet on a holiday seemed ill-advised. We decided to just spend another day.

Sunset view from our table at Coconuts.

Yesterday was a nearly perfect day and I took the opportunity to stroll around town a bit, on my way to and from the Publix to restock some critical provisions. We returned ashore for a final dinner at Batch where, like Lynora's and Kabuki, we enjoyed the happy hour menu. I was disappointed, but not overly surprised, that there was no MLK celebration in town. I did notice all the buildings with decorative lighting were lit magenta instead of their usual colors in the evening,

Update: We are anchored in a familiar spot in Sunrise Bay, Fort Lauderdale (map). As with the last few anchorages, it's more crowded than we have ever seen it and we had to squeeze in. I had to stop typing once the bridge transits became constant, and with waits of 15-25 minutes on three of them, it was time to head for dinner as soon as we had the anchor set. We had a nice sunset meal at Coconuts, perhaps our favorite place in all of Lauderdale. In the morning we will see if the yacht club right next door to us can get us in for a night or two.

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