We left Virginia a week ago. It was cold. We were bundled up while out on the water. we were looking forward to the warm tropics. Cold is not our style. Now, I am writing this in the middle of a subtropical downpour in the winter tourist capital of the eastern USA.
We are now settled in our anchorage at South Lake in Hollywood, Florida. Approaching Florida is always an exciting time. Navigating to clear clear the shallow banks north and west of the Bahamas. Crossing the Gulf Stream. Dealing with complex boat traffic. New weather patterns. Crowds. Cities. People. Radio traffic.
But, to start, I’ll be backing up a bit and sharing some photos that we took while offshore and can’t upload over the satellite link…
Always offshore in warm waters flying fish abound. For some reason, they are attracted to lights. In fact a way to catch a bunch of them is to anchor a dinghy with a white bedsheet stretched out vertically and lite by a flashlight. They fly to the light, hit the sheet, and collect in the bottom of the dinghy.
Our navigation lights attract them as well, so we frequently find them on the boat’s deck in the morning. Maybe someday we will collect enough of them at one time that we will see if they are as tasty to humans as they seem to be to every predatory fish that swims in the open ocean.
Such fascinating and strange creatures living at the interface between water and air.
In the days before we approached the coast we were visited by several land based birds. A pair of Great Blue Herons circled the boat, and then headed off. Do they migrate this far offshore? Or was this pair lost and doomed to fly until they crashed into the sea? A kestrel landed on the mizzen boom for a short rest and then flew off into the blue.
A day before we came into the coast we found a warbler on board who gave a new meaning to “birding binoculars”.
He spent a day wandering about the boat picking up every tiny little bug we had hanging around while we carried him back closer to land. He was quite friendly, more to Bill than Karen for some reason. It was actually a challenge to keep him out of the cabin.
Most of the time, when a tiny little songbird like this ends up on a boat at sea the story has an unhappy ending. This case was different. He rode back with us to within a mile of shore before flying off. Hopefully to make Florida a better state–one bug at a time.
As we come close to the coast on a Saturday morning, the number of recreational fishing boats is extraordinary. Remember, we have just spent a week sailing and the number of boats we have seen can be counted on one hand. Suddenly, within a mile of us there are one or two DOZEN boats. Some trolling, some anchored. some drifting, some flying kites. It is a touch overwhelming. Oh… there are large ships and barges, and the Navy is conducting submarine exercises nearby too!
Coming into Port Everglades, the main harbor in Fort Lauderdale, the first thing you come to is the huge cruise ship terminal. There were eight of these huge things at the dock as we came in, these were two of the smallest ones. Seriously. A quick estimate suggests that there were cruise ship cabins for nearly 20,000 people there ready to leave before the weekend was over.
Once you get to the inland waterways of Florida you have to navigate the bridges. Lots and lots of bridges. To get to our anchorage today we need to open three. To get to the boat yard tomorrow we will need to deal with at least eight. Once you know what to do, it is not especially hard, but with all the other boat traffic, and currents, it can be a bit stressful. All this is coordinated on one channel on the radio. It is fascinating how quickly you can learn the basic personalities of the bridge tenders–and boat captains.
And… would any passage summary be complete without a set of pictures of sunrises, sunsets and weather? Some of these are worth clicking on… seriously.