Fort Lauderdale to Miami

Wednesday afternoon we went exploring and were surprised at how busy everything was. We enjoyed walking the palm-lined boulevard and watching the sea crashing into the shore whilst the lifeguards were fighting a losing battle to keep the masses of people out of the water.

Fort Lauderdale beach

Beachfront boulevard

We were soon hot and bothered – and hungry – so looked for a shady spot in a restaurant to have something to eat.   We chose Tsaruko as we fancied the Asian-fusion menu of small plates to share.   We enjoyed the food, the people watching and the huge cruise ship leaving town bound for the Bahamas.

Bahamas bound

We returned to Morphie about five and had a lazy few hours. About nine we headed out again to sample some of the night life.   We took a pew in the Rock Bar and watched the world go by.

Rock Bar

Well….think a cross between Benidorm and Blackpool….with local bars full of burnouts and tourist places getting everyone drunk on massive 40 ounce $20 cocktails.   Was very interesting to see the quick change in demeanour from quiet and reserved to high fiving, back slapping, giggling, whooping and hollering, self-obsessed youngsters – although, to be fair, the bars were checking IDs, and we were upset they didn’t ask for ours LOL.   Oh yes, and all this was being preserved for posterity as they had their heads buried in their phones most of the time.   Messages being sent must have included ‘Look, I’m having a wonderful time!”

Boulevard by night Monster cocktails

FL nightlife

Having walked the strip before we turned in for the night – and looking at all the food options available having found out there was no official firework display / party – we decided to book a table in Tsaruko for New Year’s Eve.

Thursday morning and we were up early to go downtown. We planned to buy a day pass on the Sun Trolley bus but, after a 30 minute wait for a bus that was scheduled at 9.30 am, we hailed a passing cab which dropped us off at the New River Walk.   We wandered around and followed the river – very pretty and interesting to see the boats lining the path. These are the downtown docks that we had decided against and were glad that we had made that decision when we realised there was no security here at all – and very little amenities unless you count the single Irish pub!

New River New River 2

We then wandered to the shopping district of Las Olas Boulevard and found a coffee shop for elevenses.  Two huge sickly muffins later we carried on walking – enjoying the architectural sights along the way – with traditional and modern side by side.   The economy must be doing well as there was evidence of lots of new construction and every fifth person appeared to be driving high-end sports cars – this is Porsche city LOL.

Shopping district Modern skyscrapers Shopping district 2

We went into a few stores and enjoyed visiting some art galleries – unusual and pretty stunning stuff but not very practical for a boat. We carried on walking in the direction of the beach and kept an eye out for the illusive lesser-spotted trolley bus.   Well, we walked and walked and nothing came along – so we just carried on walking – and covered more than seven miles in total back to Morphie, via a chandlery off course! But we enjoyed seeing the canals and large water-fronted properties along the way before crossing the ICW via the Las Olas Bridge.

Canals Canals 2 Canals 3 ICW

Back on board we put our feet up for the remainder of the afternoon to recharge our batteries for New Year’s Eve. We were laying on the bed reading and all of a sudden we hear a thud and cries for help…serious screams… We ran outside to find a guy with his legs trapped by the huge engine compartment locker on the large motor yacht besides us.   It took two guys – one of them being Richard – to lift this heavy locker cover up and release him. Then it was tea towels, gauzes, bandages and medical gloves to the ready to deal with the guy who skin had been completely ripped open exposing his knee and leg bones for at least four inches across and two inches down – as well as another nasty gash on the other leg.   Very gory!   Luckily a medically-trained young woman on the adjacent boat took control with us feeding her supplies from our first aid kit while she tended to his wounds.   The injured guy was very composed – probably in shock – and made his own 911 call and phoned both the boat’s owner and his wife. It took a while for the medics to show up and once they’d assessed the situation and patched him up they walked him off the boat – which we were amazed at – before placing him on a gurney and taking him off.   Not a very happy New Year for the guy – who we think was a professional skipper. Meanwhile the boat owner’s son – who had shouted ‘sorry man’ and had hidden inside the boat throughout all of this – came out, turned on the hose, and started cleaning all the blood up while we all stood there in stunned silence.   Later on we heard the kid’s parents come back to the boat – but stayed out of the way. Potential law suit I would have thought especially as, according to the marina guy the following morning, the accident appears to have been caused by the inadequate fitting of a hydraulic strut on the boat which failed and tore away from its mounting.

Later on – feeling a little shaken up – we headed out again to the beach stopping first at The Drunken Taco for a drink before going over to Tsurako to take up our table.

Drunken Taco

It was on the pavement so a little hot but far enough back to be out of the way of the crowds… We had a wonderful meal – really authentic Asian cuisine particularly the Pad Thai – was going to take photos but too hungry LOL.

Still 2015 Busy New Year Busy New Year 2 Busy New Year 3

Close to midnight our server handed out party hats and people were getting in the mood.   The streets were teeming and lots of people were on the beach waiting for fireworks – not realising that the local council had vetoed a large display.   Some individuals set off fire crackers and aerial bombs but that was it. Everyone was in a party mood and we didn’t see any trouble despite the huge drinks being consumed… At the magic hour the road was closed and the street was full of people celebrating.

Happy New Year Party mood Happy New Year 2

We finally returned to Morphie around two am with Richard stopping for his box of chocolates Forrest Gump photo on the way…. Happy New Year everyone – may all your hopes and dreams come true.

Box of chocolates

Friday morning I did laundry while Richard thoroughly cleaned Morphie inside and out; topped up the water tank; and did pre-passage engine checks. Oh yes and the freezer is in a stable condition so hopefully this is fixed finally – but we’ll not be certain until we are on battery power as it can get affected by voltage fluctuations.   We are moving out of here on Saturday and, if there is room in the inn, we’ll be in a mooring field so had better start getting used to conserving power and water again!

Morphie all cleaned up

Later in the afternoon we wandered the beach for a while and were amazed by the number of people around – obviously a Bank Holiday and it’s hot and sunny – but this was sardine city!   Slightly overwhelmed we headed back to the boardwalk and found a quiet spot away from the madness and mayhem – watching the world go by and some straight joggers… and blinged up motors.  Oh yes, and loads of trolley buses today, not sure where they were hiding on Thursday.

Sardine city Sardine city 2 People watching Jogger Blinged up car

Trolley bus

Back onboard Morphie we had a quiet evening, did our passage planning, and had an early night.

Saturday morning we were up early and left the slip in time to make the nine am bridge opening…. We were very pleased that Colin, our autopilot, was back in the room!   On the way to the bascule bridge we were in a long line of boats going out and there was a lot of traffic around.   Finally it opened and we passed through – being overtaken of course by a number of fast motor yachts and fishing boats in a no-wake, manatee zone. Hmmmm….

Waiting for 17th Street bridge to open Through the bridge

We went out through the Port Everglades cut into the Atlantic – wow!   Beautiful day…. Hot, sunny, blue skies, flat water just shame that there was no wind. Seriously not even enough to deploy our whisker pole – less than 2 knots…   Never mind, we settled down to motor along the coast enjoying the sights of the sky scrapers and watching out for other marine traffic which was darting around all over the place – no sense of any ‘rules of the road’ and certainly no radio etiquette.   There was swearing at each other – there were coastguard calls – and general mayhem on channel 16.   Lots of distress calls but most people didn’t know their lat and long nor their position; there were sinkings with people in the water; there was a fire on board one vessel; there were people needing a tow as they had lost engine power and others who just said ‘hello’ expecting the radio to act like a telephone. Lots of coastguard calls ensued to the rest of us asking us to look out for things…   Not quite the quiet environment we expected.

Motoring along the coast

We approached Government Cut into Miami around one o’clock and loved the sights of the buildings lining the beach.

Coastline of Miami

Lots of marina calls on the radio now to add to the chaos. As we turned into the channel we were cut up from behind, port and starboard with huge motorboats steaming through at high speed churning the water up and making us bob around like corks coming out of a bottle. Thanks guys!   One guy – obviously on a sailboat had had enough – he called them all a**holes and asked the Coastguard to deal with it. The Coastguard asked him to switch away from 16 – along with berating loads of others who took to chatting on this channel.

Turning into Government Cut Miami

We needed to turn to port across the turning basin to go through the Port of Miami and suddenly realised that a huge container ship had left his slip – so we were going to stay put until he put out a two signal blast which in the UK meant that he is turning to port.   So we swiftly went across his bow to get out of his way – and all the boats were scattered just trying to get to safety. You would have thought that a ship of this size would have put out a securite warning to let us know that his movement was imminent??? And lo and behold he continued on dead ahead too….

Crossing bow of Jack London Jack London going through

Anyway – completely stressed out – we continued through the port and then had to find our way through the confusion of markers to go alongside Claughton Island into the channel to take us down to the Rickenhauser Causeway Bridge.   The channel is narrow and you have to pay careful attention as you don’t have to stray far before you are very quickly in shallow water, which we found to our embarrassment although we avoided running aground. Finally we were under the bridge – supposedly with more than 15 feet above our mast but certainly didn’t seem like that much!

Towards the fixed bridge

Thankfully we were then in the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay and we made our way towards the narrow Dinner Key channel. They confirmed they had a mooring ball for us and we wound our way slowly in and found our allocated ball.   Phew – lesson learnt – don’t do passages on a bank holiday weekend in Florida!!!

We then tried to contact customs to let them know of our movement and they kept cutting me off. So we radioed the marina to find out about the free launch service but they stop at five in the afternoon so we decided to take dink in so that we could explore a little.   We went ashore – paid for our mooring ball for a couple of days in advance – and then had a quick wander.   We liked the look and feel of this upscale area of Miami and are looking forward to exploring properly in the next few days.   Meanwhile we headed back to Morphie for a quiet evening on board – and we finally got through to customs – before turning in.

This morning – Sunday – and we awoke to this view from the mooring field.  Off exploring later…..

View from Dinner Key mooring field

Bye for now