After a couple days at home assuring the kids that we hadn’t fallen off the face of the earth, we climbed back into the Smurf-blue Nissan that Hertz had rented to us, and took off for Delray Harbor Club Marina in Delray Beach.
We arrived in mid-afternoon, and after a quick stop at Publix for some groceries, we dropped off all our stuff at the boat and then drove the rental car less than a mile to the rental office. A quick walk back, and we were back aboard Magic Carpet.
We spent a couple hours talking to the couple on the 70 foot yacht next to us. They were a really nice couple, and he and I hit it off right away. He’s an architect, so he and I sort of had a common language, and we spent quite a bit of time looking at all the makes-it-go parts of his boat while the ladies wandered the boat discussing whatever it is that ladies discuss.
Turns out they had held a wedding on board the previous night. Janet and I are both Coast Guard licensed captains, as was the owner of the 70 footer. It wasn’t under the auspices of his Coast Guard license that he performed the wedding however, because he said that his understanding was that such a marriage must be performed in international waters to be valid, and that even then, some states in the US might not recognize it. He and his wife did some research, since this particular couple really wanted him to perform the service, and they concluded that he could take an online course, and become a fully, legally recognized ordained minister. So he did. Said it took him about an hour, and a few bucks, and presto change-o, he’s a Man of (insert diety of choice). I’m really thinking of doing this myself, so as to legitimize my long-dreamed-of church to be called the First South Church of the Plain Brown Wrapper and Discount Worship World. (An alternate moniker for my personal money-maker… oops, I mean my non-profit theological organization would be Our Lady of Perpetual Collections). Anywho, the wedding was held, the required forms were signed, and the happy newlyweds are off on their new life together.
After we put a significant dent in their wine supply, Janet and I said our good nights and wobbled across the deck back onto Magic Carpet. We wanted to get a fairly early start the next morning, so we put our stuff away, turned off the lights and called it a night.
The next morning, we awoke with only the slightest of hangovers, and set about getting ready to leave the marina. Leaving was much easier than arriving had been, because there was no wind, and I was going out pointy end first, so I could see where I was going. We got underway at 9:00, and our trip this day, the 2nd of March, was to take us to Loggerhead Marina – Hollywood, a distance of only about 27 nautical miles. This section was rather bridge-intensive however, so we wanted to leave plenty of time in case we missed a scheduled opening and had to wait 30 minutes to an hour for the next one. Along the way, we passed by some pretty swanky areas including Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach and of course, the self-proclaimed “Yachting Capital of the World”, Fort Lauderdale.
The port at Fort Lauderdale, (actually located in the north end of Hollywood) is known as Port Everglades, and is one of the busiest cargo ports in the United States, and one of the busiest cruise terminals in the world. We passed by cargo ships being loaded and unloaded,
and cruise ships being readied for the next herd of passengers.
At one point, after we had passed the mouth of the port, I was concentrating on what was ahead when I just happened to glance astern and saw this guy coming up fast.
The picture doesn’t do it justice, because I swear that Magic Carpet could have ridden on this guy’s bulbous bow. I know the nautical “Rules of the Road” say I was the “stand-on vessel”, and I should hold my course and speed, but I also am a firm believer in the “Rule of Gross Tonnage” so as soon as I saw him, I got the hell over as far as I could, slowed WAY down, and waited for him to pass. If he’d hit us, we would have been reduced to fiberglass mush, and I doubt we’d have even scratched his paint.
We arrived at Loggerhead Marina-Hollywood a little after 2:00, and found that once again, I was going to need to dock stern-to. This one was met with a bit less trepidation than the first, and again we pulled it off without trading paint with anyone. Our location in the marina however, was exposed to the wakes from boats passing by in the ICW, and for several hours, we were rockin’ and rollin’ in our slip. We took a short walk just to stretch our legs, and then came back to the boat to shower and eat dinner. As usual, we turned in fairly early and with the ICW traffic gone for the night, we slept soundly.
The next morning, we got underway at 7:15 because we had 45 miles to cover, with LOTS of bridges to contend with. Now that we were heading back north, we planned to stop the first night at Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach, then the next night at Harbortown Marina-Ft. Pierce where we would leave the boat, rent a car again, and go back home for a couple days to reassure the kids that mommy and daddy still loved them.
We stopped just a few minutes north at the Hollywood Municipal Marina and took on 207 gallons of diesel, then continued north.
Back through Port Everglades,
back through the condo canyons,
back past the palatial homes of the uber-rich,
back, ever closer, to our version of reality.
Of course, as a prudent mariner, I am ever watchful for hazards to navigation, and am careful when one is observed, to closely examine it, using binoculars when necessary of course, and photographically document it for future further study.
We arrived at Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach at 3:30, and quickly realized that we were not yet back to our own reality. There were some boats there that we could have fit on as a tender, and as we sat in our shorts and flip-flops sucking down a couple brewskis, we saw Buffy and Chad strolling down the dock pulling their matching Louis Vuiton rolling bags on their way to the nearly-200 footer at the end of the pier. I’m guessing that once aboard, they weren’t going to change out of their chiffon and tweed into shorts and flip-flops.
We walked a few blocks into the downtown area for dinner, and decided on a place called Tin Fish Clematis. I had about three years worth of fried fish, fried shrimp, fried clams and fried crab cakes. Oh, and beer…there was beer. There was a once-a-week street party called Clematis By Night going on (maybe you’re noticing a theme here…Clematis Street is sort of the place-to-be street it seems), with craft and food vendors of every type, a waterjet splash park for the kids and inebriated adults, and live music played at volumes intended, I guess, to disguise the quality. We stayed a few minutes and watched and listened, then made our way back to the boat. The next day was going to be a long one, so we wanted to get some sleep. When I was still rolling around restlessly at 1:30 in the morning, it occurred to me that cramming several too many helpings of fried food down my gullet might not have been the smartest thing to do.
We awoke at 6:15 and immediately started getting ready to move, because the bridge just north of us would open at 7:15, and then not again, due to rush hour traffic, until 9:15. This one did need to open for us, and if we missed the 7:15 opening, we might be much later than we wanted to be in arriving at Ft. Pierce, our destination. We got all buttoned up and out of the slip, and spent about 30 minutes patiently waiting for the bridge to open.
As promised, after several orbits in the channel, the bridge opened, we and a few other boats passed through, and we were on our way.
The trip from West Palm Beach to Ft. Pierce was uneventful, although passing through “the crossroads” near Stuart at the intersection of the ICW, the St. Lucie River and the St. Lucie inlet is always interesting. The area is subject to constantly shifting shoals, there is lots of traffic going every which way, and it can resemble the inside of a washing machine from all the wakes.
We arrived at the marina at Ft. Pierce at 2:00 and thought we were in great shape until we called Enterprise to ask them to come get us with the car we had reserved, and the pinhead on the other end said he “might” get to us around 5:00. We quickly decided that this “might” be our last rental from Enterprise, and a call to Hertz netted us a rental car. A two hour ride took us back to home sweet home, and we spent the next couple days petting the cats and counting our blessings for being able to do what we’re doing.
Coming up: The Final Leg.