Thursday, 2 February 2012

Interlude in Southern Florida

We've been reading all the posts from home about the relentless hot weather in Perth and Bunbury, and feeling really fortunate to be in southern Florida in the winter time. No wonder those with the means retire here - mild days 28 - 32 degrees, nights with a gentle cooling breeze. And speaking of means, there is some serious wealth in these parts in the form of palatial homes and unbelievable luxury boats. Fort Lauderdale is largely built on a system of rivers and canals, so there are miles and miles of water frontage and every waterfront mansion seems to have a substantial yacht or powerboat on its dock. You wouldn't want to have a big psychological investment in the size of your boat here. Even Spielberg's $200 million yacht is overshadowed by one across the harbour belonging to a Russian 'businessman'. Apparently this guy has so many assets around the world that he doesn't even know where his boat is.

As we kick back on the deck of Common Sense here in Cooley's Landing, there is an endless parade of craft up and down the New River; game-fishing boats, water taxis and ferries, megayachts being towed by tugs, tiny skiffs, party boats, yachts from all over the world - it's endlessly fascinating. This marina is right on the New River, a very deep waterway which was created by an earthquake in the recent geological past. Many people live aboard their boats along the river and the endless canals that branch from it, adding to the energy and colour of the waterfront area. We are right on the 'riverwalk' within an easy walk of the performing arts centre, the science museum, some good bars and restaurants and the Las Olas shopping district.

This compensates to some extent for the fact that we are pretty much stuck here for the next couple of weeks while we fit solar panels and a self-steerer, and purchase a few essentials for the upcoming trip across to the Bahamas and the big one from Bermuda to the Azores in May. I have done a lot of Bahamas research and planned various passages, feeling just a bit frustrated that we can't yet take off for the part of the trip that we've most been looking forward to. Oh well, that seems to be part of the cruising life; we've met lots of boaters stuck in various places awaiting parts, repairs and family complications, some of them with very little prospect of moving any time soon, so I guess we're OK from that perspective.

Once again we've met some terrific people, catching up with Canadian friends Russ and Suzie from Opportunity, and meeting experienced Aussie cruisers Jennifer and Michael Gough from  Mahili, who invited us to a delightful Australia Day dinner, complete with vegemite for appetizers, pies and sausages, banana splits and plenty of cold beer. And of course all the friendly folks right here on our dock, from overnighters heading to the Bahamas to our next door neighbour Sheldon, aged 91, who has lived here aboard his boat for years.

This interlude has given us time to do some of the planning and paperwork for the ARC Europe rally in May, so we're now fully subscribed and paid up members. We've bought our life-raft, a thing of beauty and fine engineering that we hope never to see in action, and we're stocking the various spares and supplies we are likely to need. Most importantly, we're very much looking forward to meeting Padraig, who will be joining us as a crew member for the rally!

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