Stuart to Coconut Grove, FL

Stuart, FL

Monday, December 15, 2003

This morning we met Bob & Eileen Lutz for breakfast. They moved from Lancaster to nearby Port St. Lucie earlier this year and it was good to see them. We looked at before and after photos of their new home and they insist that we visit them on our return trip this spring. We’re very much inclined to do just that! After breakfast we went to the boat to make sure all was well and to show her off to Bob & Eileen.

Next on the list was provisioning. Having the use of Stehman’s car was a real bonus. And, we gorged on the goodies offered at the local grocery stores. After another of Bev’s great dinners, they returned us to the boat so we could get an early start the next day. We sure had a great visit!

Stuart to North Palm Beach, FL

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Another harbor, other friends. Today we made our way south to North Palm Beach to anchor in the northern reaches of Lake Worth. This is a lovely natural anchorage with lots of boats waiting to cross to the West End on Grand Bahaman Island and the Abacos. Cheryl & Knox McKee (Blue Voodoo) kept their boat at the Sailing Emporium last summer and that’s where we met them. They live in a condo that overlooks the anchorage we were in. We went ashore, tying up in the marina in front of their condo, and went up to their unit on the third floor. The view is beautiful. Locating our boat in the anchorage, they noted that we were anchored right in front of the home of local golf legend, the “Golden Bear” Jack Nicholas.

We had a short visit, and then returned to the boat for dinner aboard; cannelloni Florentine over brown rice and a salad.

North Palm Beach, FL

Wednesday, December 17 – Thursday, December 18, 2003

The morning dawned with some light rain that continued through mid-morning. Bill took Sandy ashore to go shopping with Cheryl and returned to the boat, intending to meet the women and Knox for lunch. While on the boat, however, the wind increased, with gusts above 30 knots! So, Bill decided to stand anchor watch until the blow abated. It was well into the afternoon when the wind subsided, some, and he was able to get to shore without getting soaked. Cheryl took Sandy to Worth Avenue in Palm Beach to do a little window shopping (that’s all Sandy could afford!). But, the merchandise was just beautiful and the architecture interesting. Bill missed a great lunch at a local Chinese restaurant. More drinks, more talk and we returned to the boat for the evening.

The next morning was chilly, with a low in the low 40s but the sky was bright and clear. Sandy made gluten-free pancakes (excellent) for breakfast and we ran the engine to charge the batteries and to heat water for showers. Later, we landed the dinghy at a small, crowded beach at the head of the lake next to a bridge and walked around. We found a local department store where we found a couple of Christmas gifts. Not far up the road was a West Marine which we just couldn’t resist!

Later, Bill returned to the boat to write and do some maintenance while Sandy accompanied Knox to the local surf beach. Seems the local truant officers are on the lookout for school kids in the surf!

Later, we met at the Knox’s home to celebrate Cheryl’s 45th birthday with champagne and cake that Cheryl made that afternoon.

North Palm Beach to Pompano Beach, FL

Friday, December 19, 2003

Pompano Mansion
Pompano Mansion

We hoisted the anchor just before 7:00 for our trip to Pompano Beach. It was 53° but felt warmer than we expected. Nevertheless, we needed layers to stay comfortable until the sun got a bit higher in the sky.

This section of the waterway is mostly a narrow land cut south of Lake Worth. We passed through sixteen drawbridges today! Some open on request, but many are on schedules. Fortunately, they foresee that many boats are moving only six knots or so and do their best to set up the schedules so that boats generally don’t have to wait too long. Also, we were lucky to be traveling on a weekday, as we’re told that chop, set up by many small boats, can make for an annoyingly bumpy ride.

We enjoyed this section. There was lots to see and, with the drawbridges, always some action. We arrived at Pompano about 3:00 and tied up at a slip at the local Ramada Inn. It wasn’t fancy but had the advantage of being cheap … $.75/ft-night.

After our arrival, we called Andreas Logothetis, a friend from our marina, the Sailing Emporium. Andreas has a home in Pompano Beach and soon showed up at the marina. He showed us his condo, a nice unit overlooking the beach and also with a view to the ICW. After a drink and snacks, Andreas took us out for dinner to a local, Greek restaurant. Andreas called Mary Jo Harris, another Sailing Emporium friend who lives in Boca Raton, to join us. After a delicious meal, Andreas drove us through Pompano and into Ft Lauderdale where we walked around town and a portion of the New River. The area seems very nice and we’ll probably stop here on our return trip.

Returning to the marina, we found Whistwind very much aground on her rudder. The slip we were in was shallow by the stern. We turned in for the night, with plans to meet Andreas at l0:00 the next morning. Hope there’s no damage!

Pompano Beach, FL

Saturday, December 20, 2003

It was near high tide when we got up. Bill found his coffee at the local convenience store. Then, we lowered the dinghy so that it wouldn’t be in the way, turned the boat around in the slip using lines and rehoisted the dinghy. Thankfully, the rudder worked smoothly and didn’t appear to be bent!

Andreas had offered to haul us around in his car to do some shopping and we took him up on the offer in spades. We needed to do some major reprovisioning. We stopped at a health food store, the post office, the local grocery store. Next was Home Depot for disposable propane cylinders for the grill and the U-Haul outfit to refill our large propane tank. We hauled it all back to the boat and put away the perishables and propane. Since we had plans for the evening, the rest would have to wait.

Andreas picked us up after showers and we headed for Mary Jo’s home in Boca Raton for cocktails and snacks. She has a lovely, one-story home in one of the many small developments in the area, away from the beach. Although the home is fairly large, there is virtually no yard, just a walled, screened lanai off the back of the house that shares a common wall with the neighbors. It’s really pretty and private.

Afterwards, it was off to the boat parade. We went to a local park by the beach and walked to another park where bleachers were set up for viewing the parade. The lead boat set off continuous fireworks and about 30 boats followed, all decorated beautifully. Included in the parade were all the local lifeboats, each with a crew of very well developed young men of the lifesaving service.

With Andreas and MaryJo
With Andreas and MaryJo

Pompano Beach to Dinner Key Marina, Coconut Grove, FL

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Next stop, Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove. We settled up with the hotel/marina and headed south on the ICW. Once again, this would be a day of drawbridges … but only 13 today. And, once again, they were well timed and we had no difficulty with them. The most interesting portion of the trip was through Ft. Lauderdale. The wealth represented in the homes and large yachts we passed nearly defies description. Sandy kept taking pictures. Many appeared to be unoccupied– merely part-time residences!

Miami Home on Water
Miami Home on Water
Miami Home on Water with Boat
Miami Home on Water with Boat

Eventually we got to the Miami area. Here, the waterway widens into the northern reaches of Biscayne Bay so you’re not so near to the homes. One of the most impressive things we saw about Miami was the scale of hi-rise development and the colors applied to the exteriors of the buildings. Unlike other cities, color is in and that is reflected in even the largest structures. Also impressive was the Port of Miami area. True, there were freighters, but most impressive were the cruise ships lined up on the causeway adjoining the main channel to the ocean, Government Cut. These ships commonly dock, unload their passengers, take on new passengers and depart in a single day. It’s an amazing feat of logistics.

Passing Government Cut, we passed into Biscayne Bay proper and headed down that bay to the Dinner Key channel. We had reservations in the city marina, there, through Christmas. The marina is huge, over 500 slips, and well kept, but we were disappointed. We’d hoped for a small community of cruisers, in situations similar to ours, with whom we could share the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately, that did not seem to be the case. The marina is filled with local boats, and not many of those folks were in evidence.

Dinner Key Houseboat
Dinner Key Houseboat
Bike Storage Ala Dinner Key
Bike Storage Ala Dinner Key

We headed out for the local renovated/shopping district to see what that was like. Again, some disappointment. Coco Walk, one of the featured venues, was really just a noisy, three-story, outdoor mall with lots of upscale, chain stores. The nearby shopping village was much nicer with smaller, unique shops but not really the kind of places that we frequent. There were, however, lots of nice restaurants, all of which spilled out onto the pavement.

We decided on a small waterfront restaurant for drinks and a light supper. Adjacent to the marina, the place was called Scotty’s, a popular stop for boaters.