Just as the fog over Lake Okeechobee provided a stark contrast to the crisp, bright Florida days, our introduction to Florida’s east coast cast a distinct change from the quiet of the inland waterway. Where the day before we met the occasional boat, avoiding collisions with other mariners was now our primary task. There were big boats, little boats, sailboats and personal watercraft buzzing about, all creating wakes, all enjoying the weekend weather, and all at varying stages of sobriety.
We felt wrenched from our cruising-time, laid-back attitude and tossed into an ever-alert, traffic-ridden environment peppered with numerous bridges of low clearance. Boats would back up on both sides of the bridge, holding against the wind and current. As the bridge opened, we all jockeyed for position to pass, with smaller craft buzzing through it all and adding to the confusion. It was a long day.
Riverbanks give way to bulkheads and concrete walls. Wildlife all but disappears. The gold in the Gold Coast is obvious.
The homes were lavish with individual architectural styles and lush landscaping. The tropical plants and trees provided endless pleasure as we transited the waterway. Homeowners focused on aesthetics facing the water. Large windows, patio spaces, manicured lawns, large flowering splashes of color, and facing terraces all spoke of welcoming havens to relax and visit.
Barrier islands protect the Intracoastal Waterway from ocean waves. Where there are no natural barrier islands, the waterway is a man-made canal or a canalized river system. Passages to the ocean exist between the barrier islands and these are often navigable inlets to ports or the ICW. Sand shoaling often makes these inlets dangerous and care must be taken when entering or exiting.
The day turned windy and we opted to stay in the protected waterway channel.
As late afternoon approached, we entered Lake Worth and the speed limit on the waterway lifted. Boaters heading home came barreling across the lake tossing smaller boats in their 2 to 3+ foot wakes. Our goal was to reach Fort Lauderdale in the early afternoon on Sunday to join my family for dinner.
We continued cruising southward, putting as many miles behind us as possible before the sun set. Anchorages were becoming sparse and we left the channel to find a quiet spot in the lee of Peanut Island. This was our last night at anchor for some time and we knew that we would miss this favorite time of day, sitting on the flybridge watching the last rays of sunlight easing over the water. So we sat, enjoying the fresh air and reviewing the charts and cruising guides for tomorrow’s passage of the 25 miles to Fort Lauderdale.
Our plan is to leave “Arkansas Traveler” in my brother’s hands. Someone would check on her regularly, run the generator, and a boat-washing service would visit monthly to scrub her down and shine her up. Meanwhile we will work, and in our spare time we will fill the gaps to this blog as we wait for spring.