Fort Lauderdale, FLORIDA – ICW Mile Marker 1064
18 -20 Dec 2017
After reading in the waterway guide that Fort Lauderdale was an important destination on the ICW with lots of onshore attractions I had high expectations. Why don’t I ever learn that expectations usually lead to disappointment? This place is aimed at the mega rich, canals branch off into all directions lined with multi-million dollar homes, private docks and super yachts. No wonder its known as the ‘Venice of America’. Us sailboat cruisers are small fry actually more like plankton, which is probably why our anchorage was in a pretty inconvenient location.
Lake Sylvia was 3 miles from Las Olas River Front, which according to our 2013 guide is the place to go for a dazzling array of shops, restaurants and Riverwalk. Not fancying a hike we decided to give it a miss maybe if we’d seen it our experience here would have been different.
There weren’t any dinghy docks close to us and even those far away charged a small fortune to moor your tender, which is money for old rope as far as we’re concerned. On arrival another cruiser showed us a spot for getting ashore but with a steep wall to climb and nothing to grab on to it was far from ideal however we persevered. It was quite a walk through a Private (very posh) neighbourhood and then along a highway to reach anything of worth. That anything turned out to be the beach the last thing I wanted to see after cruising the Eastern Caribbean for 2 years. Annoyingly dogs were also banned from the beach and Scrumpy was so desperate to run around in the sand. Denying him was torture, so after letting Daisy play for a bit we headed back to the boat for dinner.
Unfortunately a disappointing afternoon was made worse when Simon lost his phone between the beach and the boat. Both of us searched high and low including me wondering up and down this exceptionally luxurious gated community barefoot in my Harry Potter Primark shorts and crop top with no bra accommodating my spaniel’s ears (boobs). We’re talking houses that are on the market for $12.5m, god knows what the locals thought probably that I was homeless and looking for my lost crack cocaine but when one lives as a travelling hobo one doesn’t give a shit. With no success the only conclusion was that it was swimming somewhere in the anchorage after slipping from Simon’s pocket on the dinghy. I think this is now the 6th phone that has succumbed to a salty grave since leaving England. Simon deliberately bought an iPhone 7 as they are waterproof but that doesn’t make it float!
The following day after buying a cheap(er) smart phone things started to look up when we hit up the Southport Raw Bar for lunch. For those who don’t know a raw bar is a restaurant where live raw shellfish are shucked and served. The place was heaving despite being a weekday and gave me a real feeling of being in the United States. A gum-chewing waitress wore a pinafore tied around her waist taking our order on a little notepad and every time she spoke referred to us as y’all. It was like something from the movies. Daddy Bear stuck with a burger & fries but with a love of seafood I had to go for half a dozen raw oysters.
Late evening I relieved Simon of his usual dog walking duties taking Scrumpy to check out the extravagant homes of the Harbour Beach neighbourhood. Each house or rather mansion quite different from the next with ornate fountains, infinity swimming pools, balcony’s, manicured elaborate gardens with not a single leaf out of place. Wondering around in the dark trying to stop Scrump Dog Millionaire from taking a dump on any of the pristine front lawns, one house in particular caught my eye. It had a huge evergreen oak tree outside with an astounding light display consisting of thousands of tiny specs of green light twinkling across the tree creating a magical appearance. Small shrubs were scattered underneath and faint blue strips of light rippled giving the impression of a pond at the base of the trunk. Illuminated in the darkness were statues of pure white stalks dotted around the water. There was nothing tacky about it and wouldn’t have looked outplace in a scene from the film Avatar.
Seeing it was the hi-light of this stop and I returned to the boat with a skip in my step only disappointed that Daisy Bean and Simon weren’t there to share it with me.
(Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me to take a photo but I doubt it would have done it justice)