Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Waiting in Fort Lauderdale, Sweltering

Intermezzo is lying in the Las Olas anchorage in the middle of Fort Lauderdale, one of only a few places where boats are allowed to anchor here, waiting for a ship to transport back to La Paz, Mexico. I'm on my own now, Robin having returned home to North Carolina on Monday.

I received somewhat encouraging news from the shipping agent. A ship has been "nominated" and the current loading window is from May 1 to May 10. That means I have between 10 and 20 days to sit and wait. I can deal with that. But what if transport on this ship falls through, like my original one in March and the last one this month? That would be really, really inconvenient, with the hurricane season approaching and nowhere to put the boat. I'd be nearing my wits end, I think. So I'm not going to worry about it, figure the ship will materialize on schedule and if it doesn't, deal with it then.

We're riding at anchor about 200 feet from a sea wall at the end of Sebastian Street and the elegant boutique Pillars Hotel. There are another 10 boats anchored around us, a wide range of size, age and condition. A few are unattended and somewhat neglected looking. Sloop du Jour is a modest older 35-foot Beneteau that is home to Forrest, a nice guy who "used to work in the movie industry, Hollywood and all that", but left it for a simpler life afloat during Covid. There is another catamaran and two large monohulls, well-kept boats, transients like me, who want to avoid the high cost of dockage. 

It's a relatively peaceful anchorage, well-sheltered and in a No Wake Zone off the Intracoastal Waterway. It gets noisy on the weekends with music-blaring boats on the water and noisy sports cars and motorcycles on the seafront road. The near shore is lined with high- and mid-rise condominiums, illuminated at night. On the far shore, across the channel, are multi-million dollar waterfront homes.

It's only a few blocks from the end of Sebastian Street to the ocean beach. Securing the dinghy to the seawall and getting onto land is a bit tricky. The seawall is rough concrete, covered with sharp oysters below the high tide line, not friendly to inflatable dinghies. There's also a jagged corrugated metal storm drain pipe outlet to be avoided. The urban location makes it prudent to lock the dinghy up. I tie a long bow line to the base of a street sign in the middle of the wall and then run a short stern line to a piling to hold the dinghy off the wall. Once properly tied off, I loop a steel cable around a wooden dock beam and lock it to the stern of the dinghy.

At high tide, getting out of the dinghy requires just a big step up from the bow and onto the top of the seawall. At low tide, I have to grab the top of the wall and hoist myself up about four feet. No matter the tide, the face of the wall is crawling with dozens of what I call sea-cockroaches, creepy little buggers that I don't want getting onto me as I make my landing.

From the end of Sebastian Street, I can walk to the beach, a bakery, bars, restaurants and liquor stores. I've been running along sidewalk along the seafront and back along the beach for exercise. On weekdays, there aren't many people. On weekends, it's mobbed.

My other dinghy landing is about a mile up the Middle River at George English Park where there is a nice floating dock with no sea-cockroaches. A Publix supermarket, a mall, Home Depot, CVS, a laundromat, and a good Italian restaurant are all within a short walk from this dock. 

The weather has turned hot and humid. I'm sweltering again, like I did in Costa Rica, Chiapas, and when I was "Stuck In Lodi Again" in El Salvador, like I am here.  I tried to avoid sweltering this time by scheduling ship transport for March, but was foiled again. Since I'm anchored out, I can't use the little air conditioner I purchased in Charleston which has offered welcome relief from sweltering when we can plug into shore power. Fortunately, afternoon thunderstorms have accompanied the hot humid weather, which cool things down for a couple hours.

I'm trying getting into a routine of getting up early, working on the boat in the morning when it's cooler out, having quiet time during the afternoon and going to shore to exercise in the evening. So far so good.

My main boat work is to get a good coat of wax on the topsides to protect the finish from whatever airborne substances- soot, salt, rust- to which they will be exposed on the ship. I haven't waxed the boat in over a year so the gelcoat is pretty porous and easily stained, as I discovered when the rigging was replaced. The riggers, Nance & Underwood, arranged to have the spots removed from Intermezzo's at the Leopard docks in Dania Beach last Thursday, a job that required application of concentragted muriatic acid. Quite a few faded spots remain that will require subsequent treatments. I want to try and avoid difficult cleaning problems after I unload the boat from the ship in La Paz.

Finally, a bit of good news: I'm getting my first Covid vaccination tomorrow! I managed to schedule an appointment at a CVS in Pompano Beach, about five miles north of the dinghy landing at the park. Officially, there is a state residency requirement but I think I can skirt around it by showing up, using my USCG Captain's license as identification and stating that I'm a captain of a yacht anchored in Florida and don't have a land address. I'm pretty sure that, even if they care about proof of residency, they won't know what to do in my situation and it will be easier just to give me the jab and get rid of me than hassle me. 

We'll see how it works out tomorrow.

Intermezzo anchored off the end of Sebastian Street, Las Olas anchorage, Fort Lauderdale


The dinghy tied off to the nasty concrete seawall