The last stop in the U.S. spent with friends
05 April 2008 | Sylvia Lake to Cooley’s Landing Marina
November 16, 2007
Sylvia Lake to Cooley's Landing Marina
We are up early and ready to raise the anchor when Kelly gives John a call on the VHF radio. John just telephoned the marina and was advised to arrive at slack tide, around noontime. All the slips are perpendicular to the current. The current normally runs quite strong there and could pin the boat against the pilings before you could enter the slip. We delay leaving and Kelly works on the VHF antenna while the girls work on their school lessons. The VHF radio has been acting weird every now and then. Sometimes it will receive transmissions from other channels not selected. After a couple trips up the main mast, the problem was diagnosed. The antenna lead between the base of the mast and the radio in the navigation station was shorted to its insulation jacket. The connectors at both ends were slightly corroded. The connectors are soldered to the wire lead and had to re-worked. This job took every available minute right up to departure time to complete. The radio now works fine.
At noon we raised the anchor and followed John and Cindy up the New River to the marina. The river is lined with many beautiful homes which have boats tied up in front of them. As you enter the river, the passage way narrows. We saw various types of boats traveling on the river from kayaks to 100 plus foot mega yachts. The river is edged with walls or bulkheads made of concrete, stone or steel. On a section of a concrete bulkhead we saw an orange colored, 3-foot long iguana and a small bright green iguana warming up in the sunlight. Boats are tied to the bulkheads and docks on both side sides of the river for much of its length limiting the maneuvering room for two boats to pass each other in some places. As we get farther up the river we pass by skyscrapers and restaurants.
The tide is slack when we arrive at the marina and we tie up with help from John and Cindy. The dock hands were at lunch, a common excuse. Then it was off to the marina comfort station, to take long luxurious showers for all. Fresh water is conserved on the boat so showers aboard are normally brief.
Together with John and Cindy we take a walk along what is called the Riverfront. A short distance from the marina is a beautiful Performing Arts Center and a Children's Museum. It reminds me of walking along the riverfront in Providence Rhode Island. Just beyond the museum is a complex of shops and restaurants where we found an Irish Pub with two large salt-water fish tanks full of interesting fish. The pub is loaded with nautical artifacts. It was very interesting to poke through all the artifacts hanging on the ceiling and walls. As we headed back to our boats we watched some young girls singing on a small outdoor stage with their singing coach. The performance reflected their young age, but I give them credit for just being up there.
November 17 - December 4, 2007 Cooley's Landing Marina Fort Lauderdale, FL
Since we are behind on the blog we figured we would summarize the highlights of being at the marina. We didn't plan on being here this long, but due to weather and provisioning it just worked out that way.
The girls complete a lot of school lessons during this time period, and Kelly manages to get a few more systems fixed before we leave the states. He purchased and installed a new pump for our autopilot. He rebuilds the water pump that supplies pressured water throughout the boat to the faucets in the heads and galley. He also installs the faucet we bought at Home Depot. By installing the specialized water filters inside our refrigerator, the water is chilled before it reaches the faucet. We now have chilled drinking water on a tap. This will come in handy when we leave the country.
We had walked to Las Olas Boulevard, which is a popular strip in the area with many bars and restaurants with outdoor seating on the sidewalk. It is full of upscale shops and restaurants, many cars cruise up and down this strip. We found an ice cream/coffee/pottery shop. The ice cream shop had huge comfortable chairs to relax in while Kelly and the girls enjoyed their ice cream. Another night Kelly, the girls and I walked down there after Thanksgiving and we enjoyed all of the Christmas decorations and lights.
We enjoyed visiting with our friends Val and Ralph. They lent us their truck while we were in town, which came in very handy. They also delivered mail to us that were forwarded to their home from our family. We also joined them one afternoon for cocktails and dinner at their home where we met their dogs Sealy (a boxer) and Cruiser (a bulldog). They are both 8 years old and are very well mannered. We all got our dog fixes in. The girls had fun playing with them too. We enjoyed the afternoon with good conversation and checking out Ralph's Plymouth muscle cars. We had an awesome ham dinner and ice cream for dessert. We finished the day watching the Patriot's game with the dogs tired from play at our feet.
Another night, Ralph needed to move a 62-foot powerboat down the New River to a marina for one of his customers. He invited John, Cindy and all of us to join him and Val to make the trip. John, Cindy, Val and Kelly acted as deckhands tending the lines and fenders.
The yacht is docked ¼ mile up a narrow canal off of the New River. The canal is extremely narrow and is lined with boats on both sides. This is the largest boat in the canal by at least 20 feet. Ralph must back in this boat ¼ mile to reach its dock because there is no place to turn it around anywhere on the canal. There is a maximum of a few feet on both sides at the widest section and just inches on both sides at the narrowest point. Tonight we just have to drive out forward that is a feat in itself. The boat lunges ahead to 7 knots when it is placed in gear at idle, so Ralph needs only move the gear lever in gear for a split second then move it back to neutral. With just a few rotations of the propeller the bow rises up and the boat moves forward. The bow wake rolls ahead of the boat causing the rest of the boats tied up in the canal to bob around. If this boat were to move down the canal at idle speed even with just on engine engaged, the wake would cause all sorts of damage to the tied up boats, so Ralph has to move the boat as slow as possible. The controls are electronic over hydraulic, I believe. There is a significant lag time between input and output. The lever is seemingly back to neutral before the gearbox is engaged. The boat has twin engines and is maneuvered at slow speeds with the engines rather than the rudders. The rudders steer the boat once it is making headway. It really is a treat to see pro command a boat this size knowing it could easily create hundreds of thousands of dollars damage if a mistake were made. I have to mention Ralph was driving in the dark too! As we head out, we are literally inches between the boats tied up on both sides of us. The neighbors come out of their houses to watch Ralph maneuver this huge boat up the narrow canal. Ralph is a great captain. Since it was night, we got to see all the homes illuminated for Christmas. Some folks really go all out with their decorations. We can't thank Ralph and Val enough for all they have done for us!
We visited the Museum of Discovery and Science for an afternoon field trip. Outside the entrance to the museum is a huge Great Gravity Clock, it is as tall as the museum. We watched as balls the size of bowling balls go through a maze. As the balls move through the maze they provide the energy to drive the clock. The number of balls sitting at different locations representing hours and minutes and could be counted in such a way to tell the time of day. It was pretty cool to watch. We then enter the two-story museum. The first floor there was an exhibit called Florida Ecoscapes. Various tanks and exhibits of fish, turtles, lizards and alligators were on display. These exhibits were depicting the inhabitants of the Florida Everglades. It was all very interesting. The second floor had various exhibits throughout it. We checked out the aviation exhibit, which had a simulator for flying F15's that I flew and crashed, while Kelly flew a Cessna, which of course he did well. Kelly & Danielle each tried an amusement ride, where you go on a simulated satellite repair. Danielle enjoyed it; we think she would enjoy flying a plane like her dad. Kristen unfortunately was not tall enough for this ride. We all then we went on a simulated trip to Mars. This was very interesting as it presented you facts and probe photos of Mars. We saw a Robotic Bugs Exhibit that had various sized insects and facts about them. Then it was on to Gizmo City, a huge room full of brainteaser games, and virtual volleyball. We challenged our minds here for a while with the brainteasers then had a lot of laughs playing virtual volleyball. Before we knew it the museum was closing and we had to leave.
We did many provisioning trips to Walmart, BJ's Wholesale, Publix, and boat stores. We wanted to stock the boat as best we could before we leave since it is very expensive to purchase food in the Bahamas. One of the more difficult and expensive items to get in the Bahamas is meat. We purchased large quantities from BJ's and repacked it all with our vacuum packer before it was stored in our freezer onboard. By the time we left the freezer was well stocked with all types of meat. We got back to the boat from BJ's at 10:00 PM and didn't finish vacuum packing until 2:00 AM. On the days we did dry storage provisioning it would take the entire next day to stash it somewhere on the boat. We have food stuffed in every nook and cranny of the boat! We inventoried all of the food and freezer items so we would know where to find everything later.
One day Cindy, the girls and I checked out the Broward County Main Library. It was a short walk from the boat. Kristen had to do some research to complete an essay on Africa. I brought my computer so Danielle could use it while I worked with Kristen. The library is six stories tall. We found the children's section on the second floor. Kristen located some books on Africa and she read them to me. She dictated to me the notes she wanted for her essay. When she finished reading, we organized her notes then went to find Danielle and Cindy. Cindy is proofreading articles for Seven Seas Sailing Association. Cindy and John are members and they both volunteer for the organization. When Cindy completed her proofreading we headed back to the boat, where Kristen finished her essay.
Thanksgiving was a refreshing change this year. We missed our families, but still enjoyed the day. The day before the girls made their annual turkeys, which are made of paper from their hand and shoe prints. We have made these for at least the last seven years. I decorate my refrigerator with them every year. Cindy then gave them an idea to use pipe cleaners to decorate a pinecone to look like a turkey. Thanksgiving morning we enjoyed the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on our TV in the boat. Shortly after 1:00 PM Val joined us and we all went to Lester's Diner. Ralph missed out because he was on a boat delivery bringing a boat south from New England. All of the adults enjoyed turkey dinners, and the girls enjoyed Belgian waffles. The girls brought their pinecone turkey as a centerpiece. They got a few nice comments from people seeing their creation. Val then headed home, and we took a ride by the beach. It seemed weird to see people lying on the beach on Thanksgiving Day. Upon returning to the boat, the adults went for a walk and the girls stayed behind on the boat. We carry a VHF radio to stay in touch with the girls when we leave them alone.
Kelly celebrates his birthday on November 30th. The first time he got to celebrate it on the boat. The girls and I made him a cake while he was off doing errands. It reached 85 degrees in the boat while the cake was baking.
Another day we checked out a car show that was held on a blocked off street and stretched a couple of blocks. There were cars on display from 1915 to present models including foreign, domestic, race and kit cars. There were hot rods new and old, professionally restored cars as well as backyard fixer uppers, and daily drivers. The same day the girls and I went to kids' Christmas fair located on the Riverfront while Kelly went to a used Marine Flea Market. The kids fair was fun; it was sponsored by the local children's hospital. They were giving away Bell kid's bike helmets. The girls each get one, which is good since they needed new ones. They made some Christmas decorations, and play some games. They each won a T-shirt answering questions for safety trivia. Kelly's flea market trip turned out to be a dud.
On December 4th we are finally ready to leave Cooley's Landing. It's been fun here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida but we are ready to begin the next part of our journey, cruising the Bahamas. Today we head to Sylvia Lake to anchor for the evening. Lake Sylvia is close to the Port Everglades inlet where we will begin our crossing of the Gulf Stream. We stop on our way to Lake Sylvia to fill up our fuel tanks. Fuel, water and food will be our biggest expense while we are out of the United States. We have been listening to Chris Parker on the Single Side Band Radio, and it sounds like we will have a good day to make our crossing tomorrow. We head to bed early with great anticipation!