Off to Fort Lauderdale

Cooleys Landing, New River, Fort Lauderdale FL
Position: 26 07.066N, 080 08.922W
Posted by Bill

Anchor up at 7:15 AM and on the ocean 30 minutes later. There was no wind and the ocean was flat except for a slight easterly swell. Here is the view looking at Palm Beach.
Calm Ocean
The easterly swell was a bit annoying, but much better than dealing with the 21 bridges and all of the boats in the ICW. There was a contour line on the nautical charts that was about 1 mile off shore. Along the line the depth went from over 80 to 50 or 60. I found that if I stayed on the shallow side of the line, I could do about 6 to 6.1 knots. If I crossed over to the deeper side I could only do 5.6 or so. So we stayed on the shallow side. The wind picked up to between 5 and 10 knots so we rolled out the head sail and that stabilized the boat motion caused by the swell. It was a very pleasant passage. At around Boca Raton we picked up a positive current and our speed picked up to 6.4-6.5 knots. The water also changed color and became a clear dark blue.

As we got close to Fort Lauderdale, the boat traffic picked up. We got in to the inlet around 2:20PM, just in time to make the 2:30 opening of the 17th Ave bridge.
The beach just outside the inlet:
Coming in the inlet:
The inlet is supposed to be a no wake zone once you get past the rock jetties, but a large (over 100 foot) yacht came barreling past us with a wake that nearly caused our starboard rail to touch. Crap went flying in the cabin as we rolled in the huge wave. Thanks to Tricia, everything was pretty well secured, so no harm, but it really pissed me off.

Along the ocean passage we called several marinas to try and get a slip, but everyone was full. One place told us that Cooleys Landing could accommodate us, so we called them and headed their way. Cooleys Landing is about 2 miles from the ICW, up the New River. It is about 2 blocks from downtown Fort Lauderdale, is on the Riverwalk, and close to lots of stuff to do. What we didn’t know is that the river is very narrow in some spots and is lined with boats all the way. In some spots there was only room for 1 boat. On top of that, the tidal current is pretty wicked in some spots. On top of that, the boat traffic is really crazy and there are huge yachts and tour boats a-plenty. On top of that, there were 3 lift bridges to deal with. It was a white knuckle event for me. At our last bridge I was holding for the opening, with a strong current behind me. There were 3 large yachts on the other side waiting as well. I gave the bridge some room so I could maneuver the boat, which is not easy to do in the best of situations. As the bridge opened, the yachts radioed that they wanted to go first. I had the right of way because the current was behind me and told them I needed to go. The bridge tender sided with me so they had to wait. Only problem was…they plugged up the channel and once we got past the bridge we had no where to go. The current was really pushing me and I was starting to get ready for a collision of some sort, and then a tow boat with a huge yacht in tow came barreling in behind me. He slammed the boat in reverse and tried to control the tow. Finally, and at the last minute, the Sea Ray plugging up the channel figured he better move, and I hit the gas and made it through. A lot of Ass Captain awards got handed out today.

Here are a few pics of the New River passage to give you the idea:

The river widened after that and we had to pull up to a floating dock just down from our slip to wait for slack tide, so we could get in to our slip. We waited 45 minutes and got in without incident. We are docked right next to a lift bridge which makes for quite a bit of noise, but it is a cool place.
Lots of boats to watch as they go up and down the river.

We walked downtown to get something to eat and ended up in a “meat market” of young singles doing their thing. The food was great and the people watching was outstanding. The downtown area was hopping.

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