New River Ft Lauderdale
16 May 2012 | Up the Creek!
the Kaptain !?
Did an off shore passage from West Palm Beach inlet to the major Port Everglades inlet at Ft Lauderdale? It was a nice close reach on port without needing a single tack. I made the mistake of going out to the sea buoy which seems to be IN the Gulf Stream. The water in the stream was indigo blue and the breeze was warmer and very much 'tropical'. With main and jib flying and Perkins ticking away at 1500 rpm we were making 7.7 kts through the water--unfortunately with 3 -kts of north flowing current and us on a 188 course that was only 4.6 over the bottom. It took a while to realize the error of my ways but when I did we headed in a lot closer and ran down the coast in about 50 'of water, Current in the shallow water is much less with bottom friction to slow the flow--only problem with this is the shallow water made for larger sea swell and a few white caps. It took 8 hours out there but it was better that the two days inside trying to get through 28 opening bridges!! When we got into the Ft Lauderdale turning basin I thought we had arrived and any major concerns were behind us; WRONG! When we got inside and dropped the sails and headed north we realized we had just enough time to make the 4 o'clock 17th street bridge opening. It is a 55' bridge but I'm not comfortable going under that close to my 54'6" height so we waited 5 minutes for the opening. The current was flowing with me and I had to back down and do a 180 turn to kill time!! Once the bridge opened I noticed a stack of boats on the other side fortunately I remembered that the up current boat has right of way and I went through first. Within a very short distance I came to a particular location in Ft Lauderdale that I have navigated UNSUCESSFULLY three other times!! Twice ran aground and once went around the sand bar on the wrong side!! This time with the aid of a good scale chart, a chart plotter and Dede yelling which way to go I made the passage unscathed. A short lived moment of joy however in that the next 90 degree turn to port revealed a 160' motor yacht coming right at me - I got to his port side and we did the honorable port to port passing with at least 10' between us--and next to nothing on my starboard side and the sea wall! It's not over yet--the next turn in the New River called Tarpon Bend bends an arc of about 130 degrees to port followed in 50 yards with a 90 degree turn to starboard into a narrow section of the North Branch of the New River at red day marker #12. This is where I met the "JUNGLE QUEEN "doing her river boat cruse tour. She is about 120 feet long and about a $%#@#$#$ mile wide! No radio communication...no horns... just run my sorry ass into the mud on the starboard side of the channel and keep going you %%^$#@! Fortunately at 2 knots and soft bottom on a flooding tide and current we slid right on through. I just had time to change my undershorts when we turned a bend to find the "New River Bascule Bridge" as it says on the chart. HOWEVER all the bridges on the New River are bascule bridges and they only respond to their 'proper names'--quick reading on Dede's part found the proper name on the street map and the port guide book--3rd avenue bridge. We called -they acknowledged and we waited -being pushed by the current -oh well turn and spin a couple of times and it will finally open. I felt like a dumb dog chasing his tail in circles!!! Oh did I mention that the bridges DO NOT open after 4:30 !! They are restricted until 7pm !! We were fighting the clock! So the time is 4:12 and we are working our way up stream in the New River...getting the hang of it now and the St Andrews bridge opens on our first call. We now know that just a few hundred yards ahead around the next bend ( 160 degree bend -lined with mansions and mega yachts on both sides) is the William H. Marshall memorial bridge -so we call ---the response is "call when you get here"! Well in about 45 seconds later we round the bend to a CLOSED bridge -we call and then do two donuts in the river waiting for the opening! Through that one and only one to go with 10 minutes to spare before 4:30. A mile further up the river making turn after turn -including a very cute 175 degree swing to starboard (thank God no out bound traffic--did I mention the sides of the river are lined with mega million dollar yachts) We made the call to the Davie Blvd. bridge at 4:28 and the bridge tender gave us the last opening of the day at 4:30! Thank goodness the next bridge is a simple fixed bridge of ----of $#!* 55 feet!! This is the 6 lane in each direction route 95 fixed bridge with a railroad bridge draw right after it--usually open (damn I hope so). As we approach the final bridge of the trip we pass the Lauderdale Marine Canter that usually only caters to mega - mega yachts 100 --200 foot. There must have been 10 of these suckers lined up on the port side of the channel.. There were so many yachts lined up on the side of the river we only saw the bridge when we were 50 yards from the channel fenders!! Yippee the rail road bridge is open-----But oh no there is a barge/dredge being pushed by a tug coming through--and holy $#!@% the tide board says 53 feet and oh my God were doing 3 knots in neutral with the current pushing us under !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did I mention our 54 foot mast -lest you forget my sudden concern! THIRTY FIVE HUNDRED RPM IN REVERSE! Rudder to PORT, BOWTHRUSTER hard to Starboard and did a Turn on Point!!! "Dede !!! get a set of lines on Starboard -screw the fenders -just get the #$$@$ lines--screw the rain and lighting that just started !!!
Yes there was some room between the big boys for a little squirt and Dede's fine line work -and the barges wake and sudden squall's wind put us smack on the dock -safe and sound unscathed!! After we stopped shaking we walked down the dock to look at the bridge -sure enough at high tide the bridge clearance is 53' NOT the 55 feet indicated on the chart!! The Dock Master John came by and said nice docking!! Told us we could stay for free until low tide at midnight then pass under at 56' of clearance -or wait till morning for the next low tide at 11 am and just pay the single night rate for dingys of $0.80 per foot! Damn 80 cents a foot is a no brainer after that experience!! So here we sat with the big boys all around us. Not one of the yachts had an owner on board all crew working at clkeaning and polishing--we are actually having more fun on our Lady than anu one here!!
Tuesday morning at low tide ( 10:30) we went under at 55' showing on the board and my VHF antenna tapped each of the 20 RT 95 highway beams. No damage it is just a wire antenna like on an old car -but it does give one pause to consider. I found my friend David's dock right across from another mega yacht yard and we squeezed in between a couple of normal boats and tided up for our trip home. Spent most of today cleaning up and closing down for a few days. Hot and humid --very glad for air conditioning.