An Embarrassment of Bridges
16 January 2010
Our next two days, from Lake Worth/West Palm Beach will have the greatest number of bridges to transit of the entire trip down (23 in fact). Many of the bridges are on restricted openings meaning that they open at specified times (Hour and half hour, quarter and three quarters, every 15 minutes, etc). They do their best to create these schedules so displacement vessels, if you can make at least 6 knots, may be able to hit the next bridge in time for the next opening.
Each opening is somewhat of a ballet. Usually there results a cavalcade of boats of all types which get on the same bridge interval. Each boat must call up the bridge tender (and each has a specific bridge name) and signal that you (your boat's name) would like to transit on their next opening. If you are not close enough, they will tell you that you'll have to wait for the next scheduled opening. They generally give no leniency. Sailboats are very limited in manoeuvrability so the queue up for the opening is challenging. You've got to be ganged up close enough yet you can't get too close if the guy in front of you needs to back up or if the current pushes you closer.
Anyway, we hit all the bridges spot on today; combination of good luck and some aggressive motoring. On our way we pass hundreds of mansions (or MacMansions as they now often are called) most with large yachts on docks in front of them. We get to Boca Raton around 3:30. My cruising guide tells me that Boca Raton means Rat's Mouth in Spanish but don't let this derogatory title fool you; Boca is the epitomy of luxury. We anchor in a small "lake" just off the ICW called Boca Raton Lake. We are surrounded by luxury hotels, resorts and private dwellings. The lights are impressive and while it is the antithesis of the remote, secluded anchorages that we love, it is impressive. There are about eight cruising sailboats anchored here with us; the flotilla who we transited the bridges with today. It blows a bit during the night but we are well hooked and sleep fine. Off tomorrow to Fort Lauderdale.