West Palm Beach – Mile Marker 1022
22 Dec 2017 – 5 Jan 2018
As any parent knows once you have children in your life everything changes, lay ins are a distant memory, having a full conversation with another adult is virtually impossible and seasonal holidays become a military operation. It was our first Christmas aboard the Tudor Rose as family and I wanted my little girl to learn about the joy and excitement of Christmas without it being all about presents! Thousands of miles from relatives in a foreign country meant establishing some festive traditions was imperative.
Tudor Rose felt cosy and snug covered in fairy lights and decorations all that was missing was an open fire and Christmas tree, but that didn’t matter as the worlds largest tree carved out of 600 tons of sand was in our backyard.
Having no idea what West Palm Beach was like I’d hoped it would provide a good setting for Christmas. Boasting a FREE town dock just minutes walk from the downtown waterfront with access to water and a green for Scrumpy to chase his ball. At night the whole Waterfront and Sand Tree were illuminated by a spectacular light show all the colours of the rainbow and Tudor Rose was anchored just 200mtres away, our location couldn’t have been more perfect.
Use of the free dock was permitted between 5am and midnight so as a treat we moored alongside on Christmas morning after opening the huge pile of presents our parents had sent back with us. Behind us was a small yacht with a bunch of reprobates on it, they’d been living on the dock for 10 days spending most of their time getting wasted, shouting, smoking & arguing. Kyle, the owner of Gypsy Wind a tired looking 28ft sailboat wore a plastic cocktail monkey as an earring and his brother Tom plus Toms girlfriend Elizabeth were along for the free ride. Seeing as they hadn’t been asked to leave yet we decided to just stay moored up too.
Being on the quay was like being famous with so many visitors in the area for the holidays many people came wandering down to the water. All them intrigued by the boat, taking photos and asking about our story, we loved chatting to passers-by and even invited a few families with inquisitive children on board for a tour. In a marina the dock is usually gated you don’t get everyday bystanders so it was all a bit of a novelty for everyone involved.
However on our 6th night the eve of New Years eve a friendly policeman woke us at 1am and kindly asked us to move off the berth. Simon asked to stay until the morning so we didn’t wake up Daisy dropping the anchor. Very apologetically he said no, apparently the hoodlums had previously been asked to leave the dock 3 times so he couldn’t make them move and let us stay, which was fair enough.
Both knackered, pitch black in the middle of the night with Daisy rudely awoken and crying sod’s law this had to be the perfect time for our first experience of running Tudor Rose aground. Unchartered sand banks are a common occurrence along the ICW due to the strong currents and extreme tidal changes. Simon jumped in the dinghy to help tow us off while I was at the helm giving it some gas Daisy propped on my hip. It was a little disconcerting being alone on board with a baby, as I didn’t know how much the boat might heel over. Luckily with our cool heads and quick thinking we were soon buoyant again. Despite our vocal disagreements during boat manoeuvres (that’s putting it politely) we’ve learnt to work well as team when it matters and there was still enough water underneath preventing the boat for tipping drastically.
On New Years Eve we had front row seats to a marathon firework display that was set up on a barge in the canal about 200 metres away. Unsurprisingly it woke Daisy but we lifted her hatch and poked out our heads so she got to enjoy watching thousands of sparkly lights burst into the sky above us. Obviously the grand finale was in Red, White & Blue but hey being British we weren’t complaining!
Other highlights were the fake snowfall at City Place, the amazing weekly farmers market and colourful street art dotted all around the city. During our stay we also bumped into Donald Trump twice but I’ll save that for another story!