We left Marathon after completing the repair and waiting out a week of high winds. We traveled along the ICW to a very quiet and calm anchorage near Key Largo in Tarpon Bay. Our next stop was Key Biscayne Bite and an anchorage near Miami in Biscayne Bay. This anchorage was not as quiet with airplanes going overhead, many passing boats, and lots of continuous activity. This wasn’t even the weekend yet. I believe the motto down here is: Every day is Saturday! With binoculars, we could spy on the Miami Race Week being held across the bay. It was fun to watch all the different classes/groups of racers.
The journey from Biscayne Bay took us right past the Miami city skyline, which we enjoyed the night before while anchored in the bay. This route passed Miami, Miami Beach Hollywood, and many more beach towns. We passed the Miami ship terminal and saw many cruise ships in port. In the Keys, we saw nice boats, but in Miami the boats just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger still. Many of their “dinghies” are big enough to take a long trip on. Many bridges along the ICW had enough clearance for Sanctuary to pass under, but many required us to wait for the next opening. To contact the bridge, you must call the bridge operator on channel 9 on the VHF ship’s radio. We quickly learned you must use the exact name of the bridge when hailing them or they will not answer you. Once you make contact with the bridge tender, they let you know when the next opening can be completed. After Biscayne Bay, the ICW is narrow with large houses and tall condo towers on both sides. Since the passageway is narrow, there is not much concern about waves from the wind, however passing boat wakes are another story.
As we neared Ft. Lauderdale, the amount of traffic continued to increase. We passed more cruise ships and mega yachts. Our planned destination was Cooley’s Marina up the New River in Ft. Lauderdale. Traveling up the New River is a lesson in patience and an experience in MAJOR congestion, or insanity whichever you prefer. Congestion every inch and turn of the river: tour boats, fishing boats, all kinds of boats very big and small are everywhere! Navigating through New River calls to mind one word: INSANITY!!! Later we were informed we’d arrived the first day of the busiest time of year—first day of Spring Break (Fort Lauderdale is the mecca for spring break, Saint Patrick’s Day festivities and Parade).
We needed to plan the arrival for slack tide to dock at Cooley’s (amidst old historic Ft. Lauderdale). Since the tide is rising or falling, the current in the river can be significant making docking a challenge. Once the tide reaches its high or low level, the current flow slows and is called slack tide. Quite the learning curve for us Northerners. Thankfully, our timing was good and docking was a non-event. Rates are extremely low for this municipal marina (ask for Boat US discount which took ours down to $1.16/foot). We are almost directly under a drawbridge which operates 24-7 with few restrictions during rush hours. Whoosh-Clunk-Rattle as traffic flow comes and goes. Swoosh-Rock-Roll as boats pass behind our stern. Some going MUCH faster than the no wake zone suggests.
We had a nice dinner with the crews from two other looper boats traveling with us at this time (Miss Bailey – Myron and Linda, Mikey Likes It – Mike and Joell). Once docked, we saw large mega yachts being towed up the river time and time again. They do this due to the very narrow, congested water way. We plan to stay a few days and then continue traveling north along the coast.
Miami Race Week across the bay
Buildings and scenes along the ICW from Miami to Ft Lauderdale
Big yachts and even bigger yachts
Ft. Lauderdale the New River – CONGESTION……