The one-day trip to the Bahamas was a bit of a disappointment, but another adventure nonetheless. We took a cab at 6:30 a.m. to Port Everglades, went through customs, waited (and waited), then boarded the Bahamas Express boat. The cruise to Freeport was a 3-hour ride – then we went through customs again, then boarded a bus. The 1/2 hour bus ride took us to the touristy section of Freeport.
We walked to the beach, had lunch at an outdoor café, visited the marina, then a 2-1/2 hour downpour ensued. Hence, we ended up in a Bahamas casino, where we donated (of course), and waited out the rain.
The trip back was the same in reverse – we caught the bus at 4:30 pm, and got back to our boat about 10 p.m. The next time we go it will be via our own boat – we’ve heard nothing but good things about the Bahamas, but this trip was too much to do in a day, and we didn’t get to do or see much. Still, we’re glad we went. I’m trying to visit all the places in the ‘Kokomo’ song, and the only one I have left is Bermuda. Some day I’ll check that off too!
Wednesday morning we got up, showered in the marina (nice showers) and had breakfast aboard. Then we shoved off and headed north up the ICW. It was slow going with many no-wake zones and low bascule bridges which we had to contact via radio to get opened. We cruised past Pompano, and ended up anchoring out in Lake Boca Raton – a little shallow lake with an inlet out to the Atlantic.
The water was that beautiful blue-green color I love and crystal clear. I saw a large sea turtle when we were setting the hook, and took advantage of the 82 degree water and went for a swim. It was wonderful to say the least, although a little difficult to get aboard afterward because the dinghy was on the back, and obstructed the swim ladder. If anyone was watching my attempt, I’m sure they had a good belly laugh!
The following morning while pulling the anchor, I saw a huge black and white spotted stingray on the sandy lake bottom. We cruised past Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, and saw many more mega-yachts and Floridian mansions along the way. The ICW goes through long Lake Worth then, much wider with more greenery, expansive lawns and golf courses. It was refreshing, and the architecture of the homes had a little more Midwestern and East Coast flavor.
We anchored out again in a somewhat sheltered spot near the West Palm Beach city docks. The temps, especially overnight, have been unseasonably warm and humid. We went to the Thursday evening celebration called ‘Clematis by Night’ and enjoyed the free live music and landscaped water-front park, with its fountains, greenery, built-in benches, and walkways. I bought an amazing batik skirt, all hand made and designed by a woman with a business called Tropical Vibrations. We had $3 beers and wine, then went to an outdoor establishment on the waterfront called E.R. Bradley’s, where we sat at the bar and mingled with the locals. The night reminded me a little of the summer Thursday Concerts in the Park back home, only a bit more sophisticated.
Friday the 19th we stayed anchored out at the same spot in West Palm Beach. We dinghied to the city dock, then walked 0.6 miles to the Publix and did a little re-stocking of perishables. It was another hot, humid and windy day. That evening we went to the near-by amphitheater and checked out the ‘Lord’s House’ sponsored event for the homeless, where people put up their tents and spent the night. Further into the city park we enjoyed the free and fabulous 5-piece jazz band, and walked through the near-by marina with its mega-yachts and Rolls Royce’s in the parking lot.
Today we pulled up anchor, and after pump-out, ice, and water, once again headed north up the ICW. Peanut Island, which was built of the dredge spoils from the Lake Worth Inlet to the Atlantic was crowded with weekend boaters enjoying the sandy beaches. This little man-made island has a bunker, originally built as a bomb shelter and headquarters to house President JFK if needed during the Cuban Missile Crisis. When we reached Jupiter (the city, not the planet) we encountered a good rainstorm.
Many golf courses and sandy beaches bordered the ICW, and we debated about pulling up to one of them. However, our lines for the sand stakes that we used so often on the Mississippi were indisposed – one securing the dinghy, the other one stowed in the forward bow hold. It seemed like too big of a hassle, and the weather was not favorable, so we continued on. We heard through the boater’s grapevine that Tiger Woods has a home in Jupiter – a guy we met a couple of nights before in West Palm Beach put in his tennis court.
This section is called the Gold Coast because of all the money here, and it’s evident everywhere you turn. I’m still amazed at the yachts, cars and homes! Where did all these people get their money? The extravagance seems decadent when there are so many homeless people in Florida. But there’s always something to goggle over.
Once we left Lake Worth behind, the ICW narrowed and became more wild. Our route included rivers and creeks and we passed mangroves again, which we haven’t seen since Key Largo. Osprey nests once again were plentiful, and since there was so much fresh water, manatee zones were everywhere.
We drove through Hobe Sound to the St. Lucie River. Here we decided to head west up the Lake Okeechobee Waterway to the town of Stuart instead of proceeding north. It’s a small detour, but we like the small town feel of the place, and according to our neighbors who have lived aboard and traveled for 4 years in their catamaran, it’s the best place ever! The Internet is working great, even out here in the mooring field.
Today’s rains brought in some much cooler northerly air. It’s a little reprieve, with the low tonight only 71 degrees (currently 96% humidity). I’m hoping for better sleeping weather – although it’s raining again, which means the hatch has to be closed, greatly diminishing our air circulation. Tomorrow we will explore this little haven – known for its weekend flea and farmer’s market, the Lyric Theatre, and the shallow waters of Bathtub Beach. Who knows what else we might encounter while we’re here in Stuart!