Stuart, FL

Today we traveled north, then took a turn to the west. We’re now on the start of the Okeechobee Waterway, another leg of our southern loop. Our voyage was tranquil, except that several thunderstorms chased us. One drizzled on us a bit, but otherwise we kept just ahead of them. We passed two inlets today – little Jupiter inlet & bigger St. Lucie inlet. The Atlantic Ocean looked calmer today as we glanced out from each.

A whole entourage of kayakers & paddleboaters were enjoying a day out near Jupiter inlet.

A whole entourage of kayakers & paddleboaters were enjoying a day out near Jupiter inlet.

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The lighthouse at Jupiter inlet.

We’re now at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, FL, surrounded by big expensive looking yachts. The good news – no evidence of the dreaded green algae bloom yet.

Disappointment Day

I was looking forward to today. We planned a short day with a stop on Peanut Island, then another short trip to an anchorage. We passed Peanut Island by on our last trip through here. It sits just inside the Lake Worth inlet and has wicked currents and convuloted shallows. Most of the dockage is designed for shallow draft runabouts When we passed by as boating novices, it was beyond our skill level. But, now we were ready, so I planned our day around it.

The draw for Peanut Island is that a bunker was built underground in 1961 as a fallout shelter for President Kennedy in the event of a nuclear attack. The bunker is now available for tours.

To get to Peanut Island we had to wait for 3 bridges, one of which is under construction & only opens once per hour. So, our day got off to a slow start. I read that there are a few usable deep water docks on the east side of Peanut Island, so we headed there. Waves were crashing in through the outlet & the wind was high, but we got docked & tied off. Whew! Then Rich noticed the “ferry only” sign in our slip (the only open space). Getting out of the slip was a challenge, we were pinned to the dock by waves & wind. Through teamwork, we managed it flawlessly, with no damage to the boat.

We rounded the island & wove through anchored boats & shallows & dropped the anchor. But, when all was set, we decided we were in water to shallow. We could be grounded when the tide dropped. So, up anchor, pick another spot, & drop the anchor again.

We tossed the kayak overboard & paddled to shore, batteling strong currents. On shore, we hiked the perimeter trail looking for the bunker. The island appeared to be a county park with campgrounds, picnic areas, playgrounds, swim areas, etc. We found one sign that gave a “tour” of the island but it barely mentioned the bunker. Finally we found the forner Coast Guard station building & hiked to it  & saw a trail to the bunker entrance. No signs anywhere & the “check-in” boat house was closed tight. A man started yelling at us – that we were trespassing on private property. Say what? He didn’t want me going near the door of the bunker to take a photo, but I did anyway. Come to find out, the bunker is closed on Tuesdays. Drats.

The former Coast Guard Station on Peanut Island - locked up tight on a Tuesday.

The former Coast Guard Station on Peanut Island – locked up tight on a Tuesday.

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Tresspassing – the entrance to Kennedy’s bunker.

 

So we finished hiking the perimeter trail, paddled back to the boat & swam off the stern – tied to a rope to keep from getting swept out the inlet.

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Leaving Peanut Island the tide was low and many people were enjoying the exposed shoals.

We continued north for another hour & are now anchored in a quiet bay at the very north end of Lake Worth. This day didn’t exactly pan out how I had envisioned.

Low Bridge Everybody Wait

Yesterday we hiked to Birch Park, had a picnic lunch, and hiked the woodland trails through the park. It felt good to be surrounded by greenery.

Rich in front of a banyon tree in Birch Park.

Rich in front of a banyon tree in Birch Park.

Today we left Ft Lauderdale & continued our trek north through bridgeville & richville. We passed under 16 bridges in 39 miles of ICW travel. 11 of those bridges we had to wait for an opening. Luckily, they have them timed so there is time to travel between bridges & arrive just before a scheduled opening. It went smoother than we expected.

Our view for much of today - waiting for a bridge to open.

Our view for much of today – waiting for a bridge to open.

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Boat parade – the bridges with scheduled openings made us cluster – 2 trawlers & 2 sailboats.

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The pretty Lantana Bridge opens for us to pass.

The shores were richville – lined with mansions, expensive condos, & expensive yachts. If a visitor to the USA only traveled the ICW from Miami north, they’d think all Americans were filthy rich.

Richville- an example of the homes we passed.

Richville- an example of the homes we passed.

Tonight we’re anchored off a mangrove island, just south of the skyscrapers of Palm Beach.

Paddleboat Time

Last night we walked almost to downtown Ft Lauderdale – just to get exercise & milkshakes. We detoured through some waterfront neighborhoods to see how billionaires live. Along Las Almos Drive flocks of parrots flew by – squawking loudly.

Choices is in the front row, on the right, next to the white floating dock.

Choices is in the front row, on the right, next to the white floating dock.

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A parrot serenading us with his squawk.

One of the pleasures here is being able to take a cool shower. In the Keys all water – from the boat, the seas, or shower faucets – was hot. The air is still hot, which is why we wait until evening to go for our walks.

Emmy finds Ft Lauderdale relaxing.

Emmy finds Ft Lauderdale relaxing.

This morning we took advantage of a summer 2 for 1 sale to ride on the  Jungle Queen paddlewheeler. It traveled the same waters we’ve run in Choices but Rich got to relax & watch, and the tour was narrated with history & local facts. For instance, we learned it costs these big yachts about $7,000 per night to dock here when you add dockage, utilities, and staff costs. In contrast, it’s a relatively cheap place to dock Choices (at the municipal marina) and I don’t have to pay Rich a salary.

Rich on the back deck of Jungle Queen.

Rich on the bow of Jungle Queen.

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A couple mega yachts.

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Billionaire’s home – big house, bell tower, infinity pool, all on the New River.

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A free water taxi on the New River in downtown Ft Lauderdale.

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A few more maga yachts.

Day 2 – Ft Lauderdale

I forgot to mention yesterday – before we left Oleta State Park, my husband performed a heroic feat. I was working on hauling up the anchor and it got unusually heavy near the end. I thought at first I had a big load of heavy mud, but no, as the anchor rose I could see I had hooked a big metal cable. Dave had warned us that there were old cables on the bottom. He had anchored there many times & once pulled up a cable. Lucky us – we got it on the first try. Rich donned his snorkel gear, steeled his nerves, & and dove for the anchor. On his first try he was able to drag the cable off the anchor. Yeah Rich!

Last night we strolled the Ft Lauderdale beach front and stopped at an Italian restaurant for dinner. Off shore, five freighters were anchored, waiting for their turn at Port Everglades.

Now, this is a salad!

Now, this is a salad!

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2 of the many freighters waiting offshore from Port Everglades.

On the beach, we saw many marked turtle nests among hordes of people. These poor turtle patrollers have to carry 8 stakes for each nest. At least they don’t have to haul cages, like we did when we were turtle patrollers.

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Here’s why they’re double banded – lots of people on the beach even on a weekday evening.

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A loggerhead sea turtle nest marked & protected on Ft Lauderdale Beach.

Ft Lauderdale

Today we moved north to Las Olas Marina in Ft Lauderdale. Getting here was traveling through the world of the wealthy & Ft Lauderdale is home of the mega-yachts. We’ll stay here for awhile & explore the area. Saturday a potential buyer comes to inspect Choices. It’s strange, on this trip we didn’t see a single cruise ship docked in Miami or Port Everglades – must just be our timing.

Trees form a pretty edge in a park area.

Trees form a pretty edge in a park area.

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A ship being offloaded in Port Everglades.

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A wierd type of cargo ship.

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A fast ferry to the Carribean, anyone?

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Big Yachts in Ft Laderdale.

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A paddlewheeler that goes up the New River.

Miami & Oleta State Park

All the way across Biscayne Bay we could see the skyline of Miami. It grew larger & larger, then we were surrounded by tall buildings and into the water channel of the wealthy.

Miami in our sights.

Miami in our sights.

Dense skyscrappers in Miami.

Dense skyscrappers in Miami.

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A bird rests on the bridge fender.

We pulled into the protected cove & dropped anchor at Oleta State Park near Haulover Inlet. On the way in, we passed hordes of people lounging & playing on a huge sandbar. We tossed the kayak overboard & paddled out to it. First surprise – the water was no longer 95 degrees.  It was actually warm but refreshing, coming in straight from the Atlantic Ocean. We frolicked on the sandbar then walked across it towing the kayak. Near the far shore we jumped back into the kayak to row across a deep channel to the marina on shore. Two ice cream bars & a bottle of cold juice later we were ready to head back to the sand bar.

On the way back to the boat. We kayaked through long mangrove tunnels inside the park. Such a fun day – actually 2 in a row! Back in the anchorage we visited with our neighbor, Dave, who lives aboard his Monk trawler. He tried to talk us into heading to the Bahamas.

Rich rowed the dinghy over to see something on Dave's boat.

Rich rowed the dinghy over to see something on Dave’s boat.

Boca Chita

Rich & Squeak enjoying some quiet time.

Rich & Squeak enjoying some quiet time.

Wow, what a place this is. It’s an island in Biscayne Bay, south of Miami, part of Biscayne National Park. The island has a protected harbor lined by docks, a beautiful lighthouse type structure, and other buildings built with coral. A wealthy person once owned it & began developing it, but sold it when his wife got injured, before it was finished.

We spent the day swimming & snorkeling – simply fabulous!

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The harbor when we first arrived. A speed boat brought a load of day trippers out.

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Choices docked at Boca Chita. At night we had the whole island to ourselves.

Our view as the sun set.

Our view as the sun set.

Key Largo

Yesterday we hauled anchor & headed to the area where Florida Bay ends & mainland Florida begins. We pulled into Anchorage Marina & plugged into power to luxuriate in air conditioning, take showers, & read.

Sue working at the bow to haul the anchor.

Sue on the bow, signaling to Rich that the anchor is up & he can get underway.

This morning, Rich wasn’t feeling well so we decided to stay in Key Largo another day.

The view from our Key Largo marina of Gilbert's Marina across Jewfish Creek.

The view from our Key Largo marina of Gilbert’s Marina across Jewfish Creek.

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Our view back toward Blackwater Sound.

Heat & Skinny Water

When on anchor, in heat, we often sleep on the back porch. That way we garner any available breeze. We tried it last night, but biting flies & mosquitos drove us both inside.

This morning when we started the engine an alarm rang on the chartplotter – hot intake sea water – over 90 degrees. We had never seen that before. No wonder the corals are all dying and swimming in the pools or gulf waters here aren’t the least bit refreshing.

A channel through mangrove islands.

A channel through mangrove islands.

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In the water we could clearly see this dolphin riding inches from our bow for 15 minutes

We traveled through beautiful, but skinny water today. Often we had a trace over one foot of water below our keel. We anchored off  Butternut Key and kayaked ashore. It’s a sand island with mangroves. We walked the sandy shore in shallow water that felt like sauna water. Back at the boat we snorkeled in the cooler (90 degree) water but there wasn’t much to see.

Isn't she pretty, anchored off Butternut Key?

Isn’t she pretty, anchored off Butternut Key?

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Sue in the water off Choice’s stern.

Sue, snorkeling & towing the kayak.

Sue, snorkeling & towing the kayak.