April 4, 2015

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on our sailing adventure. I’m happy to report that Cindy and I arrived at the Bahia Mar Marina back on February 27th and we’re still here. We’ve been enjoying all that Fort Lauderdale has to offer, especially the warm sunny weather and many bars and restaurants located along the beach. We also made another quick trip down to the Caribbean and this was a good place to leave the boat.

We took this time to do some more work on our boat (boats are constant works in progress). Just One Dance, just like many other modern boats, has a hull made of fiberglass coated with a protective substance called gelcoat. Brand new, it’s bright and shiny. Over time though, sun and salt oxidize the finish, causing the hull to look dull and aged (if you run your fingers over a spot on the hull and it leaves a white powdery substance on them, its oxidized). Well, even by the time we bought her, JOD had a noticeably dull oxidized hull, so we knew we needed to do something.

You can bring back much of the shine by buffing and waxing the hull but it’s a big job, even for just a 38-foot boat. Well, we met a local guy here on the dock named Dave who owns a boat detailing company and after checking out his references, we contracted with him to do a full buff and wax job on our boat. He and his crew (one of whom was from St. Vincent and The Grenadines and was surprised to find out we’d actually been there…twice!) worked for four days rubbing, buffing, waxing and polishing our boat and renewing our two teak toe rails. Cindy and I helped where we could and took note of the finer points of boat detailing so we could do much of this ourselves in the future. Now, JOD looks bright, shiny and new and we intend on keeping her that way.

Spring Break has been in full swing since we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and though the crowds are notable and young, it really hasn’t been as bad as I feared it might be. You can hear the occasional liquored-up primal scream drifting in from beachside and the sounds of sirens and over-revved engines dance on the breezes daily but all in all the masses have been pretty well behaved.

Traffic on A1A can be pretty bad, though and it’s the only way out of our marina. One night Cindy and I decided to go see “Insurgent” at a local theater. We left an hour and 15 minutes before the show was scheduled to start since this AMC theater offers dining at your seat. We figured that this would give us plenty of time to go over the menu, ring up the waitress and order our cocktails and food before the movie started. Instead, we found ourselves moving at a crawl in bumper to bumper beach traffic on A1A, sharing the road with guys cruising for girls and low riders trolling along in their classic “uphill” stance. It took a solid hour for us to go 1.7 miles from the marina to Sunrise Blvd, the first opportunity to cross the ICW and get away from the beachfront. Fortunately, we still got to the movie before it started.

The other day we got Missy, fired up our dinghy and puttered over to Coconuts, a popular waterfront eatery on the ICW, for lunch. Like many of the restaurants that we’ve visited in Florida, Coconuts welcomes well-behaved leashed dogs (i.e.; Missy) on their outdoor patio. While we were both hungry, Cindy and I also wanted to see how Missy would handle a ride in the dinghy. Its 2-stroke Tohatsu outboard is kind of noisy and I was afraid Missy would end up barking at it and trying to jump out of the boat to get away.

We pulled Missy’s snazzy yellow lifejacket over her head and buckled its straps around her waist, then I got into the dinghy and Cindy passed her down to me. Cindy then stepped into the dinghy and kept a firm hand on our baby while I fired up the motor. Missy, I’m happy to report, handled it all in stride. She sat in Cindy’s lap and just watched the water and the boats passing by as I steered us out of the marina and over to Coconut’s floating dock.

On the patio, she had a quick meet-and-greet with another puppy and then settled in under our table. We ordered smoked fish dip (which just about every restaurant in Florida seems to offer) and split an order of jambalaya. The food was good but we both felt the jambalaya was just too spicy. A lot of restaurant chefs seem to think that if you call a dish Cajun, it needs to be really hot and that’s just not true. The seasoning should augment the taste of the dish, not be so hot that it overpowers all of the other flavors. Still, we enjoyed sitting on the waterfront in the warm afternoon sun and watching Missy fret over the pelicans.

On April 2nd our friends Jamie and Shari came up from Miami where Shari had been attending a Raymond James conference. We met up for lunch at Lulu’s Bait Shack, a popular place on the beach about a mile north of the marina. It’s a very open, rambling airy second story bar with an expectedly beachy décor and a nice feel to it. We sat on their second story balcony which gave us a beautiful view of the beach and the ocean. My margarita was good and my barbeque sandwich, though unremarkable, was tasty. After lunch we wandered down Las Olas Boulevard, one of the ritzier shopping areas in Fort Lauderdale and window shopped for a couple of hours.

Rather than walking back to the marina, Jamie summoned up a car using Lyft, an Uber clone that lets you catch a ride in a private vehicle for a flat fee of $6.50 (80% of which goes to the driver). That’sconsiderably less than a cab would have charged us. The app lets you see what cars are near you and track your car as it arrives. We were picked up in a BMW SUV, very nice (though Jamie said this wasn’t common) and driven back to the marina. We downloaded the Lyft app after we got back and will look into it ourselves. Since our boating lifestyle means we are without wheels unless we rent a car, this may be a good option for getting around.

After Jamie and Shari headed back to Miami, Cindy and I got cleaned up and walked up the beachwalk to Casablanca Café for dinner. Casablanca has been one of our favorite dining spots since we first came to Fort Lauderdale for a zydeco dance festival many years back. The food is excellent and the Northern Italian style stucco-walled restaurant is open, airy and homey. Since April 2nd marked our 10th anniversary, we wanted to celebrate at our special place.

It was dark by the time we left the boat and a nearly full moon reflected off of the ocean as we strolled along the beachwalk. It was only Thursday night but the tourists and spring breakers were out in force and the sidewalks were bustling. Arm in arm, we wove our way through packs of boisterous young men in board shorts drinking from koozie-clad cans and gaggles of young college-aged girls dressed up for a night of partying. Cars slow-rolled down the boulevard, stereos thumping as pedestrians darted between them to cross the street.

In spite of it already being 8:30, there was a waiting line at Casablanca and I despaired of being able to get in. The hostess told us it would be a 45 minute wait. I don’t do waiting lines at restaurants very well but since it was our anniversary I relented and we went into the bar to get a drink while we waited. It turned out that most of the line was a party of 15 and once they were seated we got a table for two nicely situated on the patio.

For starters we ordered fried calamari, long as favorite of ours. It came out light and crispy, just the way we like it. For our entrees, Cindy ordered the Deep Sea Linguine and I got the Eggplant and Goat Cheese Ravioli. Both dishes were excellent, though I thought the tomato sauce on my dish was a bit more acidic than it needed to be. The tartness of the goat cheese really called for something a bit richer. Cindy and I enjoyed our meals and talked about how it was hard for us to believe that it has been only 10 years. Neither one of us can even remember what it feels like to not have the other in our lives. Not to have a hand to hold, a gaze to meet, a life to share. And all of this started from…just one dance.

After dinner, we retired to the bar where a piano player was leading sing-alongs with the bar crowd. We both love piano bars and joined in on the singing until nearly midnight. At that point, we were both done and strolled back to our boat, arm in arm, as we plan to do for many more years to come.

Our original plan had been to leave Fort Lauderdale at the end of March but when we returned from our trip, we saw a flyer on the bulletin board at the end of our dock announcing that on April 11th and 12th parking would be tight due to folks coming in to the hotel and marina for the Tortuga Music Festival. Hmmm. A quick check showed that the festival was going to feature the likes of Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown, the Doobie Brothers, Trace Adkins, The Band Perry and Little Big Town and was going to take place on the beach right across the street from us. Now, Cindy has long wanted to see Zac Brown in concert and the rest of the lineup wasn’t too shabby either. Having this event right across the street just iced it for us and by that afternoon, we had already made plans to stay and bought two VIP tickets.

Stay tuned for details on how the concert goes…

Total Distance Traveled: 377 miles