Day Twenty (d)one
24 October 2011 | Ft Lauderdale
Day 21 Monday October, 24 We push away from the dock on what is supposed to be our last day of the trip at 9:00. It has rained overnight, but appears it will be yet another delightful day for us. (I'm not really fan of the word delightful, but I've grown tired of writing beautiful and perfect and such. And certainly linguistic boredom is better than having to come up with words synonymous with bad and rainy and cold.)
We get out of Marco Island and almost immediately have to spend time dodging pod buoys. Forget the slalom comparison of yesterday, it's more like boating in a maze. There are plenty of ways through this labyrinth, the trick is to find one at 30 knots. At one point we do, in fact, come to a dead end and it's all engines stop.
Going from 0 to 30 is exciting, but not quite as exciting as going from 30 to 0. Everybody and all systems are good with it though, with one exception. Mike later discovers the tool box in the engine room did not stop quite as quickly as the boat did. The bilge is full of tools, the tool box is not.
As we continue to make our way through the network of buoys and Florida Bay, I'm amazed at how far offshore we have to get and remain in order to stay in the deep water to the Keys. We're out of sight of land for hours. But still evading pod floats.
In fact, all the way to, and then through the channel to and under the Seven Mile Bridge south of Marathon Key, we're pestered by crab and lobster fishing gear. But it is still warm and sunny. And now we're heading north again on the final leg of the trip. We're only a few miles from our final destination, Ft. Lauderdale.
We go by Key Largo and Ocean Reef, Key Biscayne, Miami and Miami Beach, Aventura and Hollywood. Holy Cow, talk about over developed. We approach Ft. Lauderdale as a cruise ship departs (as one had going by Miami). Man they're big. We're approaching along with a 120 foot yacht and see an expedition yacht leaving the harbor. They both are amazing, but just precursors to what lies ahead.
As we enter the harbor we see a mega yacht docked up ahead. After we go by a yard with a wave pool in it off to starboard, we look to port and see another super yacht. And then another. And another. And another. And another. We turn north in the river and there are three side by side. And then under the bridge and there are more. It's eye candy for the boater. I think we all may have suffered whiplash this time.
The FLIBS is later in the week and all the biggies are in town. I feel like we're motoring through the pages of Showboat International magazine. Not to mention Architectural Digest. The homes are all out of control as well. I feel as if my head is on a lazy susan, it's turning so fast to try and catch everything. It's all just unbelievable.
We turn west on the river and continue upstream toward the boat's home for the next few months. Every hundred yards is another incredible house with a superyacht in the front yard. Eventually, after passing several lift bridges, we get into downtown Lauderdale. But there's no end to the yachts. It has been, and continues to be, another labyrinth we have to make our way through. This time though, at idle or slower. And the penalty for failure would be much, much more severe. Mike is doing a masterful job, with some calming guidance from JC and Bud.
We get beyond the downtown area, and back into residential areas. So residential that it includes trailer parks. But the river is still lined with yachts, big ones. And the river gets narrower and tricky to navigate. At one point we go through a hair pin turn the radius of which can't be more that 200 feet. I think I saw the stern on one side of the point from the bow on the other. And that's not the most difficult part of the river.
Not long after that turn we pass 100 foot yacht going the other way at a bend. You'd swear it was not even possible to make it by each other. As we get half way by her, we're kicking our stern to make way for her captain to do the same, in our direction, to make his next turn in the opposite direction.
Just before we cross under I-95 (yes, we're that far inland now) we go by a marina with an unfathomable number of huge yachts, including sailing yachts. I just can't believe it. They're everywhere. Mike comments on the whole 'one percent thing', and that seems a fair assessment. I'm just glad to be part of the 99 percent that gets to see it.
After we maneuver (the most challenging maneuver of the trip) our way under I-95 we have to wait for the Jungle Queen to dock before proceeding to the house where the boat will be docked. The Jungle Queen, is what it sounds like, a tourist trap boat ride on a huge paddle wheeler. It passed us as we waited for a bridge to open. He went by without slowing, and through the still half opened bridge. That had been a little sketchy.
We finally tie up for the last time. It's been a long trip, 3000ish miles one way or the other, and 21 days. I liken the trip to going to see fireworks and today was the grand finale. Absolutely awesome.
Tomorrow we'll tidy up and tie up loose ends. Then we'll be on our way home. We'll cover the distance between Ft. Lauderdale and Rochester in six hours this time versus 500. But for now it's off to dinner and the hotel, and a closer look at Pegasus V, and Argyll, and Felicita, and Star Ship, and.....