Well, here we are back in the USA after a month in Cuba and a month in Mexico. The last week in Isla Mujeres was enlivened for David by a couple of dives on a nearby reef. He had a quick refresher course in the marina pool beforehand as he hadn’t dived for nearly 30 years and enjoyed the opportunity to do so again where the cost wasn’t too high. The scenery wasn’t as exciting as the last dives (on the Great Barrier Reef!), but we saw a turtle, scorpionfish, barracuda and tons of fun tropical fish, so it was definitely worthwhile. Meanwhile, Lindsay snorkelled overhead, unable to summon up the enthusiasm to don all the gear. She got the most pleasure from catching the divers’ bubbles on their way up! We also discovered another side to the island where the locals live away from the tourist scene and admired a spanking new church constructed with a glass wall at the front to make the most of its sea views.
The marina bar on Mujeres with our favourite bar tender:
… and his favourite customer?
The church with its ocean views:
We left Isla Mujeres on Saturday, March 21st when the forecasts looked relatively favourable for a passage against the prevailing winds and along the Gulf Stream. We were expecting light winds and therefore some motoring, but we didn’t plan on so little wind for 48 hours! We ended up motoring for 2/3rds the way, across pretty glassy seas, watching the strange little “plastic bag” jellyfish drifting along in the current (they have “sails” sticking out of the water and in the right conditions can actually sail to windward). At least it made for 2 easy days and nights and on the third morning we were able to sail “goose-winged” in lovely conditions. Rigging the spinnaker pole for this proved painful as it got briefly stuck before crashing down onto skip’s thumb – ouch! On our final night we had to slow down as the current was taking us north too fast for a daylight entry to Fort Lauderdale, so we shortened sail and slipped past the lights of Miami and the “Sunshine State” coast for a dawn arrival.
We picked up a buoy close by the main municipal marina as we couldn’t bring ourselves to spend the $100+ a night for a berth. The spot was relatively peaceful despite being close to the main thoroughfare for boat traffic up and down the waterway, but we were woken each night by the bell on the nearby bridge which went off every time it opened, even at 2am! The use of the marina laundry was a huge bonus for first mate who found herself in washing heaven with rows of pristine, empty machines in an air-conditioned room. After three days, we were able to move to a little private dock further up one of Fort Lauderdale’s many canals where we have the essentials of water, power and walk ashore access without breaking the bank. We will be here for the next two weeks at least whilst we have various jobs done on the boat and lots of packages delivered to our temporary address.
Fort Lauderdale is an extraordinary place with its miles of canal waterways lined with luxury waterfront properties and their accompanying super yachts – they call it USA’s Venice, but we suspect they haven’t really been there. So much money is pretty obscene, especially after Cuba and Mexico. There is also the very long, straight beach crowded with holiday-makers and backed with mile after mile of hotels and condominiums. (They use a new word here for an apartment with boat berth – a “dockominium”!!) It’s not the most exciting place to be but we need to be somewhere to prepare “Goldcrest” for the return crossing and Lauderdale is full of all the necessary trades and provides an address to ship stuff to. We’re quite excited to be getting our sprayhood repaired so we can actually see forward clearly again and having a little tent made to give us some shelter in the cockpit when there is bad weather behind us. To enliven our evenings, we have found a bar/restaurant which serves drinks and food half price Mon-Fri until 7pm. It’s a 2 mile walk there, so we do get some exercise on the way!
Downtown Fort Lauderdale: