Monday, March 13, 2023

Hail, no

We are under way northbound in the ICW, along the Treasure Coast, with some 950 miles of ICW still ahead of us. It's been two weeks since my last post and I need to catch up a bit. I tried to start typing Friday, but between the gantlet of bridges and then the weekend traffic I made little progress. Today I should have a few fairly quiet hours to crank it out.

Sunset from the Key Biscayne Yacht Club.

As expected, Wednesday evening two weeks ago found us anchored in a familiar spot between the old Nixon helipad and the Key Biscayne Yacht Club (map). We tendered in to the club for dinner, tying up on a new-to-us arrangement using a system of lines and blocks (pulleys) to hold us off the dock. It's a very tony club and we ate in the more casual patio dining outside the bar.

A new docking arrangement for the tender.

Thursday we weighed anchor for the very short cruise up through Miami to Maule Lake in North Miami Beach, where we dropped the hook in our usual spot (map).  Maule Lake is private, and we never know if this is going to the be time when they start prohibiting anchoring, but we had no issues. More troubling was that we heard that the fantastic free dock we'd been using at the Intracoastal Mall was no longer free.

Crew-6 Dragon, with four souls aboard, rocketing toward the ISS, as seen over the Miami skyline from our anchorage off Key Biscayne.

I tendered ashore stag at the Oleta Park dock and hoofed it a quarter mile to the Amazon locker, where I had a new cell phone and a couple of oil sample kits waiting. I was pleased to see the Blue Marlin restaurant right at the dock was back in full operation, serving until 6 daily, and had an amber on draft. We considered dining there, but instead went back to the Intracoastal docks to scope out the situation.

As we approached Miami we encountered these several dozen Miami-Vice style speedboats preparing to zoom down Biscayne Bay. They apparently passed our friends on Esmeralde on both sides, with a camera helicopter close behind.

As we'd heard, the docks are no longer completely free. The hourly rate is quite steep, but patrons of Duffy's restaurant can tie up for free while dining. Duffy's is the worst joint in the whole mall, with nearly a half dozen better choices, but free is free so that's where we ate. Then we squeezed in a quick run to the adjacent grocery store before leaving. On a Thursday in the early evening there was no dock attendant and likely we could have done whatever we wanted.

New signage at the Intracoastal Mall docks.

We normally enjoy staying here for a few days, but with most of the mall essentially off-limits, we weighed anchor in the morning for the short trip to Hollywood, where we dropped the hook as usual in the South Lake key slot (map). We tendered over to GG's for dinner, where tying up at the BOAT DOCK with our BOAT we got a bunch of attitude from some Instagrammers because we were ruining their sunset glamour shots and "we were here first." Not how that works, honey.

My secret tie-up near the Hallandale Beach Walmart.

Getting into GG's turned out to be impossible and we ended up walking over to Sapore di Mare on the Broadwalk instead. Saturday I tendered down to my secret dinghy landing in Hallandale Beach to pick up another Amazon package and brave the zoo that is Walmart on a Saturday morning. Not wanting a repeat of Friday's experience, we tendered to our stealth landing and strolled the Broadwalk for dinner, ending up at the Broadwalk Cafe.

Always something going on at the Broadwalk. We stopped to listed for a little bit.

We had a rental car booked in Fort Lauderdale for Tuesday morning, hoping for a berth at the nearby yacht club starting Monday night, and so Sunday we moved up to the Sunrise bay anchorage in Fort Lauderdale (map), right next to the yacht club. Traffic was miserable, and in hindsight we should have waited to Monday, but we wanted to catch good friends Dorsey and Bruce on their last evening in town. Since our last stay here, a private individual has set a pair of "No Overnight Anchoring" buoys in the bay.

Unlawful "No Anchoring" buoy. Annoyed boaters have already eradicated the "No."

There is a very long story about these buoys and how they came to be here, which I will not repeat here after posting it in several other places. Suffice it to say they are not lawful and I have reported them to the FWC, who will follow up to get  them removed. In the meantime, they are taking up valuable room in the anchorage. They might be working to our advantage, inasmuch as they are keeping anyone unfamiliar with the situation out.

Stealth tender landing in Hollywood, complete with locking ring. Big wakes though.

We tendered down to Coconuts for dinner with Bruce and Dorsey, who were docked a short walk away at Bahia Mar. This is our favorite restaurant in all of Fort Lauderdale, and we really enjoyed catching back up with them. Afterward we walked to Esmeralde to get some dog love from Maisie and Ollie before heading home.

Hollywood Beach and Broadwalk on a pleasant day.

By Monday evening no berths had opened up at either of our yacht clubs in town, and I canceled our hotel reservation out in DeBary for Tuesday night. We tendered up to Shooters for dinner, getting a little wet and salty in the process. Tuesday morning I made one final call to the yacht club before canceling the rental car and waving off our plan to drive out to Wildwood for a surprise anniversary party for good friends and former Red Cross colleagues Kathleen and Tom. We're sorry to have missed it, but we did see them a month ago, and quite inadvertently had dinner with them on their anniversary a year ago.

Every weekend the sandbar we like to call Beer Can Island fills up like this.

With the remainder of the day suddenly free I turned my attention to our rapidly dwindling fuel supply, down to just 80 gallons. The Anchor Petroleum truck in the area had the best price on the east coast, and they were able to meet us Wednesday morning at the downtown docks on the New River. That requires paying for a night at the dock (whether you stay or not), and we lucked out to get a last-minute cancellation for Tuesday night. We weighed anchor, headed up the river, and tied up on the south bank (map).

All that's left of the Las Olas Marina is a pile of concrete dust. When it reopens it will be a Suntex superyacht marina.

Being here on the bulkhead early in the day gave me a chance to put both scooters on the ground for the first time since we left Treasure Island nearly eleven moths ago. I got them both running, breezed them out, and then rode off to do errands that I had intended to do on foot from the Sunrise anchorage. We strolled over to The Downtowner for a casual dinner on the patio. In the evening I took a long walk through the Las Olas neighborhood to see what's changed since our last visit.

Vector docked at "Danger Bend" on the New River, as seen from the 3rd Ave bridge.

Wednesday morning I ran more errands, including sounding out a city dock where we can get water and a pumpout in the future, now that the Las Olas Marina is closed. While I was picking up bagels I got a text from Louise saying there was a boat on fire near the mouth of the New River; I tried to get a view but all I could see was the thick black plume of smoke.

This city facility on a canal has a water spigot, pumpout, trash cans, and just enough depth for Vector.

We decked the scooters and then hit the pumpout on the way to the fueling berth. The truck arrived at noon and by 1pm we had bunkered 1,000 gallons at just $3.43 plus tax. That will get us all the way to our paint appointment in New York with plenty to spare, and I don't need to think about it again until we are done in the yard. When we wrapped up fueling we headed back to Sunrise for the night.

Wrapping up bunkering 3.5 tons of diesel fuel.

We lingered another day because our friend Tim flew in on Thursday from his tug boat gig in Puerto Rico. We agreed to meet for dinner at Kelly's Landing, where he could tender in from his anchorage in Lake Sylvia. It's a 40-minute tender ride from Sunrise bay, but on a whim I called the Lauderdale Yacht club, who had been unable to accommodate us earlier in the week due to a regatta. They were able to give us a free slip for the night and we headed there in Vector, tying up (map) in time to have a beer before taking a pleasant stroll down to Kelly's Landing.

Vector at the Lauderdale Yacht Club.

It was great catching up with Tim, his other half Crisálida, and her son Disan (apologies if I misspelled that) over dinner and a few beers. They are sailing down to Key West for his off rotation and I expect they'll have a great time. We dropped lines first thing Friday morning for the slog north to Palm Beach.

North of Lauderdale we passed a couple of radar speed signs. We're doing 6.

Headed north from Fort Lauderdale is a miserable stretch of the ICW, a veritable gantlet of bridges that require careful timing and station-keeping. We wanted to get it behind us on Friday because it is doubly miserable on the weekend. We much prefer to go around this section on the outside, but with six footers we just did not have the weather for it.

Below 7 the speed alternates with this little smiley face.

We had set our sights on our usual anchorage in Palm Beach, where we can tender ashore at the city docks in West Palm, an easy walk to numerous restaurants. However, setup has already begun for the boat show in two weeks, and during setup and the show they close the docks altogether. Moreover, they close off half the anchorage and boot everyone out. We continued north, looping through the east side of the lake before finally dropping the hook north of Singer Island (map). We arrived so late we did not bother going ashore.

The manatees here carry calendars, because they are only safe on weekends and holidays.

Saturday we moved just three miles north to a more protected and familiar anchorage in North Palm Beach (map). There we were able to get ashore for dinner at Divino and a few items at the Publix. We usually land the tender at a concrete storm outfall under a tree, involving some gymnastics, and unfortunately Louise managed to tweak herself getting back aboard. The tree needs pruning, and next time I'll bring clippers to do just that; it's really just overgrowth in a drainage ditch.

Sunset over Riviera Beach from the Singer Island anchorage.

After the previous Sunday's misery, we had somewhat promised ourselves to avoid traveling the ICW in South Florida on the weekend. But apprehension about a significant shoal on the next stretch, near Jupiter Inlet and reported to be just 5.5', got the better of us, and  we opted to weigh anchor yesterday morning and get it behind us with a favorable tide. After a phone call with TowBoatUS, we ended up trailblazing a new path around the inlet for a least depth of 7.5' MLLW, and that track has already been published in various boating corners of the Internet.

Our weather station under way today. 43mph is about 38kt.

We finished the day in a familiar anchorage (map) near Fort Pierce, where we tendered ashore for dinner at the 2nd Street Bistro. They had a nice deck, lots of draft handles, and decent food. This morning we got our DST-adjusted selves in gear in time to make the 9:30 opening at the North Bridge, and have been bashing our way north in winds up to 38 knots -- gale force. The plotter says we'll have the hook down around 5pm, near Eau Gallie.

Hail storm at our anchorage in Indiatlantic.

Update: We are anchored near Indiatlantic, FL, across the channel from Melbourne (map). Severe storms were moving in and we stopped one causeway short, getting the hook set mere seconds before the storm arrived, with hail of all things. It's passed now, but we'll be having a quiet evening aboard.

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