The Bahamas

Melvyn Brown
Sat 26 Feb 2011 10:15
26: 29.7N

78: 41.6W

Fort Lauderdale Addendum

The Scribe is now back in the UK....the sailor continues to go south. Before I left we took a water taxi around Fort Lauderdale - not that it's really a viable taxi point A to B service in that it is a fixed-all-day cost of $20, but does represent good value if you spend the day sightseeing, as we did. It includes the taxi out to Hollywood Beach via the City Docks and you get up close to the enormous cruise ships which use Fort Lauderdale as their base but - according to a report in the local paper just before I left - are registered elsewhere and consequently pay a very small percentage of their huge profits in local tax. The difference in size between the largest cruise liner and the one that superseded it is apparently a mere 2 inches in length, breadth and height - how's that as an example on how to get one over your competitors?!

One of the mega-yachts moored in the dock belongs to Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft). It is 92m and has a yacht "slotted" in to a recess on the port side, a speedboat "slotted" into a recess on the starboard side (the motorboat alone reputedly costing $1.2m ) and a helicopter on the top. The guide told us it was crewed exclusively by ex-Navy SEALS. It is 50-something in the world's largest yachts...but spare your sympathy because he also owns Octopus which is 126m long and has it's own submarine - Melv saw Octopus in Iceland when he was there.

The mega-yachts which we found draw-dropping further north were positively commonplace in Fort Lauderdale. The marina we were in was next door to the cheapest marina in Fort Lauderdale which charged a mere $7 per foot per night. It was also the venue for the annual Boat Show and last year they exceeded a previous record by having $3.5billion (not million!) worth of boats on show.

One of the boats moored belonged to David Copperfield, the magician. The boat was called "Magic" and the tender "Rabbit" (complete with logo of a rabbit coming out of a hat).

Hollywood Beach seemed very much like Atlantic City in that it had a long boardwalk with tacky T-shirt shops (some of the logos actually made me blush), the difference being that Atlantic City was closed for the season and this beach was very much open for business. I think Melv and I probably brought the average age of the inhabitants down by a year or two!! These people were tanned beyond mere brown....more mahogany! Even at mid day they didn't seem to need shade.

After I had left for home, the Canadian sailor a couple of boats up from Zarafina asked Melv if he would like to accompany him to a gathering of "Solo Sailors" he had seen advertised. I truly believe the pair of them expected to be amongst like-minded yachties discussing sails and knots over a turned out to be a singles club for the nautically inclined!! Anyway Melv was chatting to a woman there who told him she jogged over Las Olas bridge every morning and that perhaps she would drop by..... I can only assume she jogged over on the right side and failed to see Zarafina amongst the mega-yachts on the north of the bridge and/or jogged back on the left side and DID see Zarafina on the handful of docks set aside for <35ft yachts......but he didn't get a visit (or so he tells me).

He was very much taken with the covered B-B-Q on one of the other boats and went out and bought his own before he departed. It is clamped to the rail at the back of the boat and will be used to cook the fish he believes he will be catching in the Caribbean.

Sunrise Restaurant & Marina

It was Melv's intention to make the journey over to The Bahamas last Monday, but in the event he was advised the weather wasn't favourable and he postponed it until Tuesday. Although it is only 50 or so miles across to The Bahamas he felt it wasn't worth attempting it in a day and running the risk of arriving after dark and so he planned to sail overnight and arrive in daylight. In the event the journey was quicker than anticipated and he had to sit it out for a couple of hours waiting for dawn before entering the harbour. The customs paperwork took a while but was straightforward. Upon his arrival he met a Canadian family who had travelled over that Monday. It was a rough crossing and apparently at one point the youngest child asked if he could please now go home (I know that feeling!).

The weather has - again - turned unfavourable and he is "stuck" there for a few days (oh dear...aren't we all sorry for him?!). He says the economic climate would appear to have had an impact on the number of yachts and the marina - cheap though it is - is almost empty. The temperatures are in the 80's and the waters crystal clear - he has seen sea horses.