Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Running the Wiggles......

We departed the Lake Worth Anchorage last Friday. Unfortunately, the weather was not conducive to running outside in the ocean (winds 20-25 mph with gusts to 30; seas 4-7 ft). So, we had to remain in the intracoastal and negotiate over twenty lift bridges in a long 50-mile stretch to Ft Lauderdale. Some cruising guides refer to this stretch as “the canyon” because both shores are lined with concrete seawalls much of the way and waves bounce off them and back to the boat to get us a second time.

Once we reached Port Everglades (Ft Lauderdale) we had an even longer 4 ½ mile crawl up the New River. The New River is a very narrow, serpentine waterway with strong tidal currents and multi-million-dollar yachts lining both banks. Of course they are docked in front of their owner’s multimillion-dollar mansions. Now, we did not know this at first. You see Vicki, our “Commander-in-Cheap” discovered a marina up this river that was 1/3 the cost of marina’s in the Ft Lauderdale basin; and, a diesel delivery truck with a reasonable rates.

So, up the river we headed, already exhausted from a long days run from Lake Worth. At first it was beautiful. Wide, tree lined with manicured estates and no bridges—very scenic. Then around a hair pin turn was a bridge that we needed to have raised. The current was on our tail and pushing us into the bridge. The wind, while somewhat buffered in this waterway chasm, was nevertheless a bit of a menace. “Yes skipper, I’ll be glad to open the bridge for you” was the response from the bridge tender, “just as soon as this Friday-afternoon-at-4:00-pm-traffic clears”. Rickshaw was behind me and a 60+ footer was behind her. The space to the bridge was diminishing fast as the three of us were being sucked forward by the wind and currents. I could not back up much—only hold position. I envisioned a pile-up at the bridge like the ones you see on an icy roadway. The battle was almost lost when we heard the banging of metal—the bridge was rising! Where’s the rum?

About a mile up river was a railroad bridge. This bridge was open most of the time and only closed for an oncoming train. It’s all automatic, we think. We were just about to the RR Bridge when a lighted sign on the abutment flashed “Bridge coming down in 30, 29, 28…..” A train was coming! Not again. Should we make a run for it? Yes; but, there is not enough time for both Rickshaw and us. So we put on the brakes. As we began to “pile up” again, we noticed an empty public dock. We headed for it and tied up for the wait, which can sometimes be 45 minutes. We’re not sure what the 60+ footer did because we and Rickshaw took up all the dock space. Also, we had our hands full in the currents and wind. Then after a brief wait, the RR Bridge began to lower—NO TRAIN!! What was that all about, we wondered?

It was now 4:22 PM. All bridges close at 4:30 PM for rush-hour traffic. The last of our five bridges on this stretch was still a mile or two away. We put the pedal to the metal and made a rush for the final bridge. Norm radioed ahead telling the bridge tender that there were three boats bee-lining for the bridge and to please hold it for us before the 1 ½ hour shut down. A couple of minutes later we heard on the radio, “Trawlers, where are you?” So, it seems that we phoned ahead too early and the tender opened the bridges thinking we were just around the bend. Fortunately, he was a kind soul and left the bridge open for all of us.

Well, we made it to Lauderdale Marine Center and docked in very nice modern slips; after which, we immediately went on search for the rum.

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