February 27, 2015

We have a short trip planned for today, only 8 miles and four bridges to reach the Bahia Mar Marina at Ft. Lauderdale. We’re going to hit pause here again since Ft. Lauderdale is an old favorite of ours. We came down here to take our first two series of sailing courses at Blue Water Sailing School. We have a few favorite hangouts here as well. The Field, an authentic Irish pub that features a live Celtic band and is built around a huge old Banyon tree, The Greek Islands Taverna, a favorite with all of the local Greek population and the Casablanca Cafe, neat little place right on the beach that we discovered when we were here for a zydeco festival many years ago. Also Jamie, an old friend from Huntsville, is coming down to visit us for a few days. We’ve already signed up to go out deep sea fishing while he’s here, both for the fun of it and to learn about catching ocean fish (and to score some fresh fish as well!). The weather in Ft Lauderdale is nice with days in the 80’s and nights in the 70’s and the marina is located across Highway A1A from the beach.

We plan to depart from the dock at Pompano Beach a little before 9:00 since we are just a stone’s throw away from the Atlantic Blvd Bridge and they open on the hour and half hour. At 8:45 we realize we’ve let the time get away from us and we scramble to get the engines started, pull in our shore power cables, detach the fenders we have tied to the wooden pilings on the pier and hail the bridge. I get seriously stressed, especially when the bridge opens early to let a dredge through (even the timed bridges seem to accommodate commercial and Corp of Engineers boats). I hail the bridge and verify that they will still open at 9:00 and after all of my stressing, the bridge transit goes off without a hitch.

We do notice a little smoke coming out of the starboard engine exhaust but confirm that cooling water is flowing strongly. We suspect that this is due to our hasty departure, which did not allow us any time to warm up the engines properly. Cindy backs down a bit on the starboard throttle which eliminates the smoking. After a while we crank the engine back up and it performs flawlessly. We decide that the starboard engine doesn’t wake up as easily as the port engine and consider nicknaming the starboard engine “Cindy” and the port one “Martin”.

Soon we reach the Las Olas Bridge, our last bridge of this short hop, and I hail it on VHF channel 9. This bridge passage represents somewhat of a full circle for Cindy and me since this was the first bridge we ever hailed from a boat. Our sailing school was located just north of the Las Olas bridge and we had to open it to reach the Port Everglades Inlet which leads out to the Atlantic Ocean. A minor milestone but it still gives us a smile.

Almost as soon as we pass through the Las Olas Bridge, we reach the entrance to the Bahia Mar Marina. Unlike most of our marina arrivals, we know exactly where we are headed. The marina has a map showing all of its slips by number and we know what slip they are putting us in so we have no trouble finding it. Its a nice wide catamaran slip and Cindy pulls in and docks us on the port side with no problem.

Bahia Mar Sunset 2

Bahia Mar Sunset

We head up to the marina office to get checked in, taking Missy with us to get her off the boat and let her get acquainted with her new surroundings. At the office, we run into Jody, a fellow boater and dog owner. Jody has two of her dogs with her and Missy instantly zeroes in on them. Her husband takes the male dog outside, Jody explaining that he’s not good with other dogs. No worries as Missy and the girl dog proceed to sniff and play together. We chat with Jody about boating and dogs and hit it off right away. She invites us to a monthly party that she organizes for the folks in her dock neighborhood (Bahia Mar is a huge facility, we’re docked in the North Basin, she’s docked in the South Basin). The party is today at 4:00 in the captain’s lounge, BYOB and bring a snack to share. We readily accept.

We leave the marina office and head out to explore our new home. There’s a charming little Zen-like garden with bamboo and water features right outside the office. There’s also a gym, kind of small and full of old school equipment but a welcome sight since I have not had much of an opportunity to work out in the last 3 months. Outside the gym there’s a rooftop pool with a nice bar along the back side. Even better, there’s a gourmet market on site at the marina that features a good selection of beer, wine and imported chocolates, as well as fresh pastries. I expect I’ll be shopping here a lot in the upcoming month.

Bahia Mar Garden

Bahia Mar Zen Garden

We wander along the dock where they park the big boats and realize that vessel sizes have officially passed into the realm of the surreal. A row of mega yachts sit moored at the long dock, reigned over by a 200-foot behemoth named Samadhi which a quick web search reveals has a crew of eighteen and is owned by hedge fund wunderkind Daniel Loeb. He purchased her for around $50 million a couple of years ago. Most folks who win the lottery couldn’t purchase this boat. The locals tell us that an even bigger 300-footer just pulled out a few days ago. You just have to wonder.

Bahi Mar Boat

I Like Big Boats and I Cannot Lie, You Other Sailors Can’t Deny…

At 4:00 we head up to the captain’s lounge, chips, salsa and drinks in tow. Most marinas have these lounges, which have sofas, a TV, computers, internet connections and a book exchange. The Bahia Mar lounge is the nicest we’ve seen. It features tile floors, a bar, a big screen TV, pool table, artwork and a patio that overlooks the big boat dock.

Bahia Mar Captain's Lounge

Captain’s Lounge

We spend a very nice evening snacking and chatting with our fellow Bahia Martians. The folks we meet are from all over the US. Some have been in the boating lifestyle for years, others are newbies like us. We chat about living on boats with animals, our various adventures plying the waters of Florida and the Caribbean and I once again explain to people why I don’t have a Southern accent in spite of having lived in Alabama my entire life. Around 7:00 we say our good nights and head back to the boat.

Total Distance Traveled: 377 miles