Christmas Vacation: Sailing South on the Intracoastal

Day 1: We tried to sail

Southbound, going north

Through the inlet at dusk. Windy and wavy, but manageable. Hastings is seasick. Tack east then south for an hour. Sails are full in 20 knots of wind. Matt suggests quitting as we are making good less than 1 knot. I remark that it will take us an hour just to get back to the inlet. Oh my dear, we are north of the inlet. At this rate, it will take us 60 hours of bashing into the wind to get to Biscayne Bay. 
sailing our Lagoon 380 catamaran at night
Sailing south, moving north


We give up and head into the Intracoastal, and head south (again, for realz this time). We pass Clematis / downtown WPB; it’s all lit up with a million lovely Christmas lights, children are laughing, puppies are decked out in reindeer hats, couples are holding hands, music is playing - and there are Lagoon catamarans in the anchorage! A fairy palace, an enchanted castle. We should have stopped here for the night, but didn’t, because who wants to have a nice time on vacation? Not us! 

Dementor Anchorage

We headed through 3 bridges and stopped south of Southern in a dark hole, where dementors in the mangroves made valiant, non stop efforts to steal our souls. It was windy 20-25, right on the nose, with a nonstop north current. Matt did an anchor and dementor watch.

Yes, dear reader, I have neglected to tell you one small point. If there is ever a point in this narrative that you believe us to be in misery, you may assume, that is was also raining vengefully on us. You would also be quite right in inferring that the helmsman was without a rain jacket while the off-watch person was gladly wearing their rain jacket in the comfort of the salon.

Day 2: Bridge Madness

Depart our anchorage at 9AM and go through bridges all day. Two bridges are called Ocean Ave, and they are 2 miles apart. Their signs merely state “Ocean Ave” and the charts merely state “bridge”.
     Ocean Ave, this is motor yacht Bella Vita, requesting next opening.
You mean Lantana Ocean Ave. There are two Ocean Aves.
I don’t know what I mean. I mean, I’m here, in the green 95 ft motor yacht, and I want the bridge to open.
Right, but do you mean Lantana or Boynton?
Motor vessel is in tears
Bridge Tender: “Ocean Ave preparing to open” 
But WHICH Ocean Ave, dear bridge tender?

Truly, hearing all the other bridges and the other boats will drive you insane. Oh, and our starboard engine that we paid an expert $$ to fix overheated and shut down. There's only so much Intracoastal insanity one can take, so we stopped at Lake Boca instead of continuing the suffering.

Lake Boca

We have spent a significant amount of time and effort to completely escape our regular and work lives, but find ourselves so enchanted by Lake Boca and surrounds that we are going to stay a while! Ha! (This location is approximately 35 seconds from our workplace). We dinghied to shore and took Hastings on a little walk, and it was lovely. We lounged on the tramps, had egg nog, read by solar light. 

A balmy night, surrounded by the twinkling lights of the richie riches who's private secretaries are very busy calling their congressmen complaining about the blight of having to look at poor people having a nice time. The actual richie richies are drinking fancy wine in one of their other 48 properties. But the horror their private secretaries have to go through is very, very unsettling. (Waterfront property owners are constantly pushing laws in Florida to prevent cruisers anchoring in Florida. It would be funny, expect such a bill just passed the Florida legislature, so it’s actually sad.)

Tragedy at Sea

Our nice time was cut short by a tragedy at sea. (See, Richie, we're NOT having a nice time!) Hastings bed blew overboard and was lost forever. It (handily held down by the dog) had been on the bow while we lounged; when we came in to have a snack, Hastings said he would hold the fort down. Wait, did someone say Snack? See ya, bed! After the bed was discovered missing, Matt mentioned he had noticed a dark object fly by, but couldn't comprehend its meaning and so put it out of his mind. Somehow we will pull ourselves through this loss and pick up what pieces remain of our blighted Christmas vacation.
Lucy and Hastings share a seat on their catamaran
Bed lost at sea = gotta cuddle up! 

Day 3. Christmas Eve

I awake to absurd and annoying clanking and react by pounding on Matt’s chest. Luckily for Matt, he was not there to receive the pounding as he was the cause of the aforementioned clanking. He had woken up to the surprising revelation that a boat had appeared mere feet away. Did we drag? Did someone else drag? No, the new boat had arrived in the night, and was so drawn in by our stunning loveliness that it wanted to be as close as possible, like a moth to a flame. 

During his discovery check, Matt found that our bracket for our wind generator had failed and the generator was dangling precariously, still windmilling. Hence the wild clanking. All was well enough, and we went back to sleep so we could be energized for high powered glaring at the interloper.

The interlopers got into their dinghy and left. I could only imagine that they would be back shortly, as no normal person would simply leave their boat so poorly set. We had a lovely brunch and did boat chores, which included scrubbing the bottom and swimming around for lost objects. I bathed in the anchorage, in order to entertain and delight my fellow cruisers. “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?" (Jane Austen, 1813)
Boat dog looks lovingly at brunch
Hastings loves brunch!

 Christmas Eve dinner on the town

We discussed moving the boat to get away from the interloper; however, he had not come too close - and - if we moved, there was nothing to stop a fresh interloper from anchoring on top of us in a new location. So, we left Independence to her own devices, dinghied off, had a charming conversation with a local woman at the local park about the wonders of percoset comas (Hastings initiated this by being unbearably cute, and such a young puppy - nay, he is nearly 11, my! but so young at heart and spirit!) and marched to Mizner. Hastings drew all the passersby into conversation while we had a lovely Irish meal, that was cooked by Someone Else. Someone Else then did the dishes. Oh how I love Someone Else!

Interloper Crisis

We dinghied back towards Inde to find the interloper closer than ever. Per standard protocol, Matt decided to throw more of our items overboard, and naturally, he went to fetch them. The interloper was now only 6 ft away, and while we were not sure that we could pull our anchor without coming even closer, we decided to try.

Dear reader, it is dark. I am rather cross at the interlopers, and life, and the currents and the wind. And perhaps the black and tan was a bad idea. Maybe this whole vacation is a bad idea! Why not stay at the dock, where wind and waves pay us no mind? Where interlopers stay safely away, where replacement beds for Hastings are easily found? Where Someone Else is always on hand to cook dinner and do dishes?

There is a meltdown over the carabineer instructions. I cannot fathom why none of our fellow cruisers have dinghied over to help. If only someone was fending off the interloper while we were helming and pulling the anchor. I imagine they were all too engaged in a captivating game of Snap and drinking copious amounts of beloved egg nog to notice our mini-drama, or hear our cries of “I want you to do the carabiner, Margot”. “I would, Todd, but I can’t fathom what you mean!” (Griswold's Christmas Vacation, 1989)

We re-anchored as far away from everyone as we could get. I must admit I found the whole episode frightening and depressing, but Matt was gleefully ready to move on. I comforted myself by thinking of others’ miseries: how many were out raining down blows on last minute shoppers in Wal-Mart? How many daughters-in-law are being chided by their mothers-in-law for not cooking the potatoes in the tradition that the Dedlocks have held for millennia, even before fire was discovered? How many people are happily watching TV because they never dared to look outside the window, and dream? 

We awarded ourselves our own egg nog, but sadly had no game of Snap. Another fitful night of paranoid glaring at other boats as the wind increased to 25 knots awaited us. At one point, Matt got up and successfully fixed the wind generator noise, and returned to glaring out our window.

Day 4. Christmas Day 

I awoke to find the wind generator dismantled in the cockpit. Hence “it’s no longer clanking”! 
Two cups of cafe ole
Coffee is needed to get through these long tough days of vacation.
Again, the bridges drove us batty and we only made it to the Middle River in Ft Lauderdale. Yes, there was another tragedy at sea! I lost my favorite hat to the wind, while we were passing under a bridge and surrounded by other boats, jostling each other in the ever present, ever contrary current.

The anchorage area was close enough to the surrounding houses that we were in earshot of any raves hosted by the law-abiding, congressman writing homeowners. We were entertained by such a rave at such a house. For the rave-er's nighttime spectacular, they drunkenly kayaked about the anchorage, screaming at boats. I hope they were able to get up early enough the next morning to write more letters to their congressman about naughty boaters detracting from their rampage. 

Day 5. Boxing Day 

Sailboats anchored in Middle River Ft Lauderdale
Middle River anchorage at dawn
We somehow managed to get up and leave early, determined to make this our last day of bridges. We decided to each helm through 2-3 bridges each to keep the exhaustion at bay. Despite my best calculations and slowest possible speeds, we arrived at Bakers Causeway 30 minutes early and had to dance with 8 other waiting boats while innumerable power boats buzzed by. 

Bridge Horror, Part 967

Then the true horror began: the bridge would only open its' west span, offering supposedly 40 ft of horizontal clearance. We needed to manage our 22 ft wide boat through this ridiculous bridge, perversely now with the current with us, powerboat wakes bashing us, and fear gripping us. It's fine, don't worry. A victory celebration was definitely in order after clearing the last of the bridge assault and arriving in the wonderful waters of Biscayne Bay. 


We anchored with the rest of Miami at Biscayne Bight. Boats with Attractive Young Ladies abounded, and boats wondering why they didn't have any AYL's forlornly circled, turning their music louder and louder and getting more and more miffed at their lack of success. They left en-masse at sunset, undoubtably to check out the nightlife. 

Next time on the blog: Biscayne Bay, baby! 

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