We arrived back on Beatitude on Wednesday. I was worn out from working 11 days in a row at the hospital. Upon returning, we found that the guy we had hired to do some work on Beatitude in our absence had only completed one of the three jobs we had expected. He had not installed the new freezer nor the wifi booster. He had only installed the new hot water heater… and this cost twice as much as we had expected. I will one day learn that one should automatically double the expected cost of any job on a boat, and then add a little bit more (And, also double the time it takes and add some). Needless to say, I wasn’t real happy about that. The freezer install was actually quite simple, so he did it upon our arrival. However, the wiring had melted by later that evening, so he had to come over the next day to redo it. It’s now working fine. The hot water heater installation was also leaking, which our workman fixed the next day. However, it was leaking again the following day, which I hopefully repaired. The wifi booster… That’ll have to wait for another time.
We were too tired to get underway on Thursday, so we hung out for a day before leaving Dinner Key. The weather and sea conditions were supposed to be better on Friday anyway. Friday morning, we arose before dawn and released the mooring lines around 6:25 in the morning. The cool November morning called for a sweat shirt and jacket until the sun could climb above the horizon to warm the day. After exiting the Dinner Key Channel we turned north to pass by downtown Miami and beneath the 75’ vertical clearance Rickenbacker Causeway bridge before transiting the Government Cut Inlet, an extremely busy commercial channel which required dodging ferries, cargo ships, tugs and smaller vessels. We successfully exited the pass, and then pursued a heading of 003° for Ft. Lauderdale.
After navigating throughout the traffic of Government Cut, the next three hours were wonderfully relaxing as we made our way into 1’ seas with a light breeze blowing from the south west. About 2/3’s of the way through our brief excursion into the Atlantic, my starboard fishing rod bent strongly and line started flowing from the reel. I shifted into neutral and yelled for Cindy who was sunning on the bow trampolines. I grabbed the line while Cindy rounded up the net and gaff. A moment or so later, I landed a beautiful dolphin fish (a.k.a., mahi mahi). Cindy returned to her spot on the bow as she can’t quite endure seeing the catch cleaned. It wasn’t long before the fish was cleaned and on ice, and I was back at the helm.
A few minutes later we entered another busy channel, the Port Everglades Inlet which leads into the Fort Lauderdale area. The next two and a half hours were among the most stressful of our two-plus years aboard Beatitude. The goal, to reach Lauderdale Marine Center on the south fork of the New River, would require navigating four and a half miles of extremely narrow channels lined on both sides with multi-million dollar yachts while making our way beneath five draw bridges and fighting a stiff current. The river was filled with boat traffic, most of which was much larger than our beloved vessel. The third of the five bridges brought trouble. The current was strong, the river was narrow, and the 3rd Avenue Bridge controller delayed opening the bridge despite multiple requests (it is an on demand opening). After fighting the current for what seemed like eternity, it got the best of us and pushed us into a magnificent 77’ yacht. Fortunately, it was a relatively light collision. Beatitude escaped unscathed, but our starboard rub rail inflicted a few scratches and divots into the gelcoat of “Two Thumbs Up” (Two thumbs were definitely not up at this time). The French captain who was in charge of the vessel emerged, and we tied alongside until we could exchange information. After about forty-five minutes or so, we untied from his vessel and continued our journey.
The next bridge required further acrobatic maneuvering skills as we had to wait on a railroad bridge for about 10 minutes or so. Fortunately, we made through this bridge and the next one without further mishap. Upon finally arriving at Lauderdale Marine Center, we again had to dodge multi-million dollar yachts as we awaited a slip assignment. After probably a half an hour, we were assigned to a slip in the middle of a working boatyard – not the ideal spot. The marina itself was full, so we have this side-tie in the east basin sitting next to a large vessel being grinder and pounded continuously. Fortunately, the din subsided around 5 p.m., when the crew went home. We are supposed to move to the main marina when a slip becomes available, hopefully sooner rather than later.
The reason we are here is to have the separation of the hull and deck along the transom repaired. We were told this would likely take a week (longer if weather delays), so it looks like we will be in Ft. Lauderdale for a little while. It was killing me to do this since our heart was to head to the Bahamas and we had a weather window this weekend to go. The Bahamas are off the schedule for at least a week while Beatitude sits in Ft. Lauderdale for repairs. This boating life definitely requires patience, and hopefully the Good Lord is able to teach me some.
After settling in, we grilled our freshly-caught mahi mahi with some rice, and paired it with a La Crema Chardonnay for dinner. A little Stan Getz on the sax in the background made for a lovely dinner. It’s always nice to be back in a marina where we have shore power. I sit typing this in the owner’s hull with the air-conditioning going. Because we’re off in the side basin, the wifi is not available here, but hopefully we’ll get wifi in a couple of days when we move to a better slip. In the meantime, we’ll be figuring out how to spend the next few days enjoying Ft. Lauderdale. There are worse places to be “stuck” for a few days.