Dolphin family

Thursday, Friday. September 29-30

Our early departure was not as early as expected. Although the fishermen and harbour restaurant staff start their jobs at 0600.

Here a day starts early. After the daily routine of checking mail, uploading the blog, we depart at 0730 for Fort Lauderdale. Our last stretch will take two days. This will be my last blog.

For the last stage we decide to use the ICW again, the distance is the same. The ICW runs parallel with the Florida coast. On this waterway we don’t have the back current (1-2 kts), calm waters, no heavy waves and the view is attractive. Florida resembles The Netherlands. It’s a flat landscape, not very surprising for Dutchmen. And reminds us of the Dutch lakes. The difference is found in the fauna (caiman, dolphin and pelican), flora (palm tree) and the architecture of the buildings. The, in Florida and South States of the USA, very characteristic white washed wooden houses built on piles are seen everywhere on the banks. Equipped with jetty, boatlift and BBQ facility. On the water small fast boats, equipped with Bimini tops and fishing rods. In the sky endless cloud formations, in a way they were painted centuries ago by the Dutch masters. Frequently we see restaurants and stoical imperturbable staring pelicans, cormorants and herons on poles in the water.

Game fishing is an important activity, sportively as well as commercially. In the yacht harbour of Canaveral where we took berth they had a large range of fishing rods and other fishing equipment. On the wall life size photos of fishermen proudly showing their trophy catches.

The more south we come, the weather becomes warmer, humid and unpredictable.

A thunderstorm builds up, dark clouds gather, together with increasing winds. A tropical shower thunders overhead. Peter is in control and Edzard gives visual assistance. Visibility is less than 100 meters. It lasts for only ten minutes, temperature decreases from 30 to 25°C, the sun has disappeared. Some moments later, the sky clears again, and a dolphin family joins us. Two adults with their calf. Obviously they enjoy it.

We spend our last evening en route in Fort Pierce, a city 75 nm from Fort Lauderdale. The yacht harbour is beautifully situated with a restaurant-bar close by. We receive a warm welcome from a boat owner we met before in Chesapeake, when we were both waiting for the disabled bridge to open. We eat swordfish with rice and brown beans, today’s speciality. The Caribbean restaurant is constructed under a thatched roof with open sides giving a view on the fully lighted waterfront. Showing large shoals of fish, feeding on the food we provide them…. holidays!

Friday, September 30, our final day of navigation en route to Fort Lauderdale. As we sail along the waterway with occasional uninhabited islands the build up areas slowly increase. One row of mainly large villas built in several architectural styles. Having all comforts, BBQ’s on terraces, swimming pools with lounge chairs and boats with the usual boatlifts on the quay. Gardeners with straw hats maintain the perfect lawns. Luxury everywhere.

On the open and unrestricted shores, bathers waiving enthusiastically, in their boats or relaxing on their seats in shallow water. We also get attention from many water sport enthusiasts in boats and they follow us. They all want to know where we’re from. On the way we encounter another heavy thunderstorm, visibility less than 100 meters and an outside temperature of 31°C.

The tidal currents reduce our progress. We encounter more and more bridges. Some are too low to pass, even with our radar arch in the lowered position. This means waiting for bridge opening, sometimes only once every hour. This takes time and we won’t reach Fort Lauderdale before nightfall.

We consider returning to sea, only a few miles away, for the last stage. But the outlet to sea shows to be very risky with several treacherous shallows. We continue in the dark. The setting sun beautifully illuminates the banks, now a completely built up holiday area. Along the channel there’s a side canal every few hundred meters, overcrowded with well-lit villas. Large hotels, in full floodlights, with their private tour boats, super yachts in private berths. Bars and restaurants, fully booked, with guests. Abundant live music and on the jetties dancing weekend guests. It’s Friday evening. We lower and secure the radar arch. It’s late and the bridge operators went home. Some of the bridges only show a clearance height of 12 feet. With Peter using his body weight to pull the arch down we can just clear the bridges and complete our voyage.

At half past nine we arrive at Bahia Marina, where we have a reserved berth. We are welcomed by Mike who presents us with a welcome gift, food and special beer offered by Judy and Howard Waldman, our contact persons in Fort Lauderdale. Thank you Judy and Howard for this gesture. Tomorrow Mike will show us the vicinity and Sunday afternoon we may use Judy and Howard’s motorcar, very kind.

Sunday morning we will make one last trip. There will be a hired dinghy to take action photos and video shoots of Four Seasons in the Fort Lauderdale waters. Afterwards we sail her to the final Marina, not far from here. Our mission is completed, now two days of relaxing and sightseeing. Tuesday, October 4, we fly from Miami to Brussels.

We say goodbye, it has been an extraordinary voyage. We want to thank Evert Stel, Peter Wierenga and the men of No Limit Ships Shipyard for their support and advices. Hans Molenaar, Bas Hoekstra and Hans Papenburg for uploading the blogs in both and And finally Frank Hop and his wife for the really outstanding English translations.

On behalf of my brothers Peter and Edzard, I thank you all for your interest, the sometimes intense empathy and the warm, spontaneous and enthusiastic reactions.

See you on a next trip.

Jurgen Braam

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