Heading Home!

Well we have left the FL Keys and we are (finally) headed North on our final stretch of this Great Loop adventure. Very soon we will be home and some days it seems like we just left yesterday.

Here is the latest update of our activities:

Friday (4/1) – Card Sound, FL – We left Key Largo in the morning with a revised itinerary and a schedule which will have us spending the next few weeks making our way north.  It was bittersweet to leave Key Largo as we had a lot of fun and liked the neighborhood; plus the people we met here were so friendly.  However, we will not miss the blaring noise from Sharkey’s every night.

Leaving Key Largo

Leaving Key Largo

Our partner

Our partner

Leaving Port Largo entrance

Leaving Port Largo entrance

Key Largo homeowner

Key Largo homeowner

Houses at Ocean Reef Atlantic Side

Houses at Ocean Reef Atlantic Side

Angel Fish Creek Channel

Angel Fish Creek Channel

We had a nice day on the water, but our cruise was not long and in no time we were anchored in Card Sound, just off the northern shore of North Key Largo, east of Pumpkin Cay. As the wind was to blow out of the Southeast during the night we felt well protected. Our only concerns were passing boats which may wake us, or that the nuclear power plant (Turkey point) across the sound would melt-down while we were there. Obviously our chances were greatest with the passing boaters.

Power plant on Card Sound

Power plant on Card Sound

IO at anchor

IO at anchor

We made some lunch and then launched the dinghy and went for a ride. Our adventure took us through the canals and homes on North Key Largo which is part of Ocean Reef, a gated community that is very exclusive. The yacht club here requires you to have a member sponsor you in order to visit; reciprocity is allowed, but only with the sponsorship.  At $9 per foot per night and a 50’ boat minimum, it was not a place for us.  We did however enjoy riding around and looking at all the huge homes around the place. Here are a few shots from there:

Ocean Reef Houses

Ocean Reef Houses

Ocean Reef home

Ocean Reef home

Ocean Reef home

Ocean Reef home

Ocean Reef home

Ocean Reef home

Ocean Reef home - Vineyard Vines

Ocean Reef home – Vineyard Vines boat

Jets leaving Ocean Reef

Jets leaving Ocean Reef

We left the canals and ventured out into the sound to the northern shore of Pumpkin Key where there was another boat at anchor. The waves and chop were a lot worse out here, and we spoke with the people on the boat and told them it was calmer where we were anchored.  Shortly after we returned to the boat, they decided to move near us where they stayed the rest of the night.  Shortly thereafter we were joined by two other boats who anchored near us as well.  Fortunately, there was lots of room and we never felt crowded.

Mark driving the dinghy

Mark driving the dinghy

Enjoying the dinghy ride

Enjoying the dinghy ride

Enjoying Card Sound

Enjoying Card Sound

That night we had great protection from the wind and we were treated to a spectacular sunset. We also found all boat traffic ceased as soon as it got dark so all was quiet and calm.  This ended up being one of our favorite nights at anchor on the Loop.

Locals come out for sunset

Locals come out for sunset

sunset over Card Sound

sunset over Card Sound

Sunset over Card Sound

Sunset over Card Sound

Saturday (4/2) – Miami, FL – The sunrises here are just as beautiful as the sunsets, but we were only here for one night.

Sunrise over anchorage

Sunrise over anchorage

We had been in communication with our friends on “Sassified” and “Endoxi”, who left Islamorada earlier in the morning.  Once they cleared the Card Sound Bridge they called us and we pulled up our anchor in time to rendezvous on the ICW with them.  Together the three of us cruised through Biscayne Bay and into Miami. We were barely able to see the “Stiltsville” houses off the coast of Key Biscayne as it was quite hazy with salt in the air, and the wind was really blowing strong now.

Rondezvous with Endoxi & Sassified

Rendezvous with Endoxi & Sassified

Stiltsville house

“Stiltsville” houses

As we entered the Dinner Key channel to make our way to the Coral Reef Yacht club in Coconut Grove, we found ourselves in the middle of lots of Optimist Prams whose young sailors were enjoying the blustery wind. There was nowhere for us to go as it is too shallow outside the channel and their tack forced them across us.  It was a harrowing few minutes, but Mark handled our boat well and we made it through without incident.  Likewise, he docked Island Office on the end of the dock with the help of the dockhands at the yacht club.  Meanwhile our friends continued on to Grove Isle where they had reservations in slips there.

Dinner Key Channel

Dinner Key Channel

Dinner Key Channel

Dinner Key Channel

Miami Skyline from Biscayne Bay

Miami Skyline from Biscayne Bay

 

That night for dinner we met Pam, Pete, and Sharri & Rodney at Monty’s (formerly known as Monty Trainer’s) in Coconut Grove. It was a short walk from all our boats and the closest restaurant.

Dinner at Monty's with Sassified & Endoxi

Dinner at Monty’s with Sassified & Endoxi

This is old stomping ground for Denise from when she lived and worked in Miami. Oh how it has changed. The place now has outdoor dining and a large bar in what was the old place, and indoor dining in a new building that now is where the old parking lot was.  It is no longer just a neighborhood handout that Jimmy Buffet used to spontaneously show up at, but rather a tourist mecca that (naturally) sells t-shirts, etc.  We still had a good dinner and enjoyed each other’s company, for what will probably be our last time together; they are moving north to continue their Loop adventure and we are taking a slow route until we get Island Office back home.

Old part of Monty's

Old part of Monty’s

New part of Monty's

New part of Monty’s

Sunday (4/3) – Miami, FL – We started off the day by going to another new church St. Hugh’s in Coconut Grove. As we expected rain and didn’t want to get wet along the way, we got an Uber taxi to take us there. But the weather cleared up while we were in church, so we walked the 1.2 miles back to the yacht club, passing shops, parks and restaurants “the Grove” is known for.   Here are some pictures of St. Hugh’s:

Church of St. Hugh

Church of St. Hugh

Church of St. Hugh

Church of St. Hugh

Courtyard at St. Hugh

Courtyard at St. Hugh

Also along the way we stopped by the Fresh Market that is right near the yacht club. We needed milk for breakfast, but not much else as we expect to do very little cooking on the boat going forward – there are just too many great places to stop and eat at along the way.

Fresh Market in the Grove

Fresh Market in the Grove

The rest of the day we enjoyed just hanging around the boat and the yacht club. We watched the sailing instructor go out with his young students in the Optimist Pram boats.

Kids in the marina

Kids in the marina

Leaving for their lesson in Biscayne BAy

Leaving for their lesson in Biscayne BAy

We also enjoyed the atmosphere and hanging out around the CRYC.For dinner that night we patronized their snack bar and had a fish sandwich (Denise) & hamburger (Mark).  It was beautiful weather and we enjoyed sitting out by the pool taking in all the sights.

CRYC Dinner

CRYC Dinner

Here are some pictures we took of the yacht club over the last few days:

Sign on dock

Sign on dock

CRYC Entrance from Bayshore

CRYC Entrance from Bayshore

CRYC entrance at night

CRYC entrance at night

CRYC at night

CRYC at night

Coral Reef Yacht Club

Coral Reef Yacht Club

CRYC pool

CRYC pool

CRYC pool bar

CRYC pool bar

CRYC Dining hall & porch

CRYC Dining hall & porch

CRYC entrance looking to gate

CRYC entrance looking to gate

Victory in Sails

Victory in Sails

Monday (4/4) – Miami Beach, FL – Denise was motivated this morning to run around the Grove where she had run so many years before. She headed south on Bayshore Drive past the high rises and down to Main Highway for an out-and-back run.  This two-lane road runs along several of the parks and has 4 schools all within a one-mile stretch.  Needless to say at 7:30 it was full of cars trying to drop off kids for school and was very congested; there were 4 separate police cars directing traffic.

Grove traffic for schools

Grove traffic for schools

Here are some pictures from our time in Coconut Grove:

Condo building in the Grove

Condo building in the Grove

Coconut Grove peacock statue

Coconut Grove peacock statue

Peacock statue in Coconut Grove

Peacock statue in Coconut Grove

Park Bench in Coconut Grove

Park Bench in Coconut Grove

Sculptures in Myers Park - Coconut Grove

Sculptures in Myers Park – Coconut Grove

Historic State Park in Coconut Grove

Historic State Park in Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove sign

Coconut Grove sign

Coconut Grove Playhouse

Coconut Grove Playhouse

Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove

Post Office

Post Office

Commercial shoot The Grove

Commercial shoot The Grove

CG Sailing School

CG Sailing School

After the run and breakfast, we moved the boat to Miami Beach as we wanted to see the place when it was not crazy with the Boat Show crowds like we usually see. Along the way we passed by Vizcaya and some great views of downtown Miami.  We chose to cruise the eastern side of the bay nearing Fisher Island and the Port of Miami.

Vizcaya from Biscayne Bay

Vizcaya from Biscayne Bay

Downtown Miami from Biscayne Bay

Downtown Miami from Biscayne Bay

Fisher Island fuel tanks

Fisher Island fuel tanks

Miami Beach Skyline at port entrance

Miami Beach Skyline at port entrance

We rounded the corner through Government Cut and into the Meloy Channel, and went under the MacArthur Causeway.  We passed between Miami Beach and Star Island, location of mansions and homes for some known celebrities (Gloria Estefan) and CEOs (Lennar Homes). We also passed the Flagler Memorial Island (what Mark and his dad would call Monument Island when they would fish the Biscayne Bay together.

Boat looking like it should be in a Bond film

Boat looking like it should be in a Bond film

Star Island home

Star Island home

Flagler Memorial Island

Flagler Memorial Island

This path was fun and worked great until we got to the East Venetian Causeway Bridge that was locked down for maintenance. As a result we had to head west towards downtown Miami taking us south of the Venetian Islands and north of Watson Island. Along the way we got to see some beautiful homes, the Miami Yacht club, and many boats at anchorages.

Jungle Island and Miami Yacht Club

Jungle Island and Miami Yacht Club

We then had to wait 20 minutes for the next opening of the Venetian West Bridge.  All of this added about an hour to our journey, but we didn’t care as we were on the water and enjoying a beautiful day with spectacular sights.

We arrived at Sunset Harbor Yacht Club and had two very good dockhands assisting us for the tied up. We were one of the smallest boats in this mecca of large private yachts, many with registry in the Cayman Islands or BVI’s.

Sunset Harbor Yacht Club

Sunset Harbor Yacht Club

Although named a yacht club, this marina is open to the public, but they are actively seeking equity club members. On the east side are two large condominium towers and on the west side is the Biscayne Bay.  The place is absolutely pristine and the staff is awesome. After getting the boat secured we went to the marina office to check in.  “Daniel” the dockmaster immediately recognized us by our names; Mark had spoken with him on the phone and everyone in the office was most helpful.

Daniel - Dockmaster at Sunset Harbor Yacht Club

Daniel – Dockmaster at Sunset Harbor Yacht Club

Right after checking in we were looking at the pool and realized we knew the man sitting in the chair watching his young son play in the water. “John” was the former NY Firefighter Mark had met at Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island, NY, where he is a member. He and his family left shortly after us to start their Great Loop adventure, and we were surprised we had not run into them before.  We stayed talking to him for quite a while about places we had been and experiences along the way.

John & JJ in pool at Sunset Harbor

John & JJ in pool at Sunset Harbor

The good thing about this marina is it is walking distance to Publix, Fresh Market and just blocks from Lincoln Road where we went for dinner. John had recommended a place to us (“SPRIES”) that has a pizza “happy hour” and is supposed to be great NY-style pizza. So we went there to check it out. We found it to be good and with a shared salad, made for an affordable night in an otherwise very expensive dining area.

Lincoln Road

Lincoln Road

Dinner at SPRIES

Dinner at SPRIES

Elaine's old workplace on Lincoln Rd

Elaine’s old workplace on Lincoln Rd

Sunset Harbor Yacht Club Marina is a high-rent marina with lots of big yachts, including “A2” which was on the dock behind and perpendicular to our boat.

A3 - Private yacht near us at SHYC

A3 – Private yacht near us at SHYC

It is also the most expensive place we have stayed on the Loop at $4 per foot + $15/day for electric, + tax. Needless to say we only stayed one night, although we can see how people would like to stay for months on end.  It is convenient, well-staffed and immaculate. It has a beautiful pool and patio area, and a first class workout facility that we (unfortunately) were not here long enough to take advantage of.

Here are some other pictures from our short Miami Beach stay:

Sunset from SHYC

Sunset from SHYC

Washing the boat - SHYC

Washing the boat – SHYC

IO at SHYC

IO at SHYC

Tuesday (4/5) – Coral Ridge Yacht Club – Ft. Lauderdale – Not wanting to leave, but realizing we had to (or it would be like another mortgage payment) we untied the dock lines and headed North.  It had been a very long time since we have taken this part of the ICW; usually we go outside in the ocean as the going is very slow.  There are numerous no-wake zones and lots of boat traffic.  But the wind was blowing hard out of the north today, so we knew going outside was not an option.  Plus, we really wanted to see the sights.

Leaving Miami Beach

Leaving Miami Beach & SHYC marina

All along the water on the beach side are several communities with large homes and boats. As you approach North Miami it turns into condominium city, with numerous large towers, and many more under construction. And yet there still is some of the older one and two-story complexes which are now in the shadows of the steel monoliths.  It is quite a sight to see.

Miami Beach Home

Miami Beach Home

Sculpture at Miami Beach home

Sculpture at Miami Beach home

Miami Beach houses

Miami Beach houses

MB house

MB house

MB house

MB house

We continued north through Hallandale, Dania, Hollywood, and eventually into the Ft. Lauderdale inlet known as Port Everglades. Here are some pictures from this part of the trip:

Haulover Inlet sandbar

Haulover Inlet sandbar

Haulover Inlet

Haulover Inlet

Condos on Sunny Isles

Condos on Sunny Isles

Cool art on Hollywood Beach

Cool art on Hollywood Beach

5 O'clock Somewhere Bar - Hollywood Bch

5 O’clock Somewhere Bar – Hollywood Bch

Archaelogy Vessel

Archaeology Vessel

Nova SE University Oceaographic Center

Nova SE University Oceaographic Center

Signage at Port Everglades entrance

Signage at Port Everglades entrance

Coming into Port Everglades we saw that the Princess Cruise ship the “Coral Princess” was in port.  In 2007 we had taken this very ship out of this very terminal on a 10-day cruise to the Panama Canal with Claire (Denise’s sister) and her family.

Coral Princess

Coral Princess

Of course one of the first landmarks in the area is the famous Pier 66 with its famous rotating restaurant and 360˚ view; now operating as a Hyatt hotel.

Pier 66

Pier 66

The other landmark to know you are in Ft. Lauderdale is the numerous HUGE yachts that are everywhere. It is amazing that so many exist in one place.  If that is not enough, there are the numerous homes that line the ICW, as well as the canal that feed into the ICW.  So much wealth in one spot on this large planet.

Private Yachts

Private Yachts

Private Yachts

Private Yachts

Private Yachts

Private Yachts

Ft. Lauderdale canals

Ft. Lauderdale canals

Ft Lauderdale home

Ft Lauderdale home

Ft. Lauderdale Mansion

Ft. Lauderdale Mansion

Here are some other pictures from the trip today:

Ft. Lauderdale Water Taxi

Ft. Lauderdale Water Taxi

Port Everglades Entrance

Port Everglades Entrance

BahiaMar

Bahia Mar marina

Sandbar to west of channel

Sandbar to west of channel

iguna on bridge fender

iguana on bridge fender

Old and new condos - Ft. Lauderdale beach

Old and new condos – Ft. Lauderdale beach

We docked successfully at the Coral Ridge Yacht club which is directly off the ICW just north of Sunrise Blvd in Ft. Lauderdale. If you know this town, you know that it is a pretty great location as the Galleria Mall is in walking distance, as is numerous high end dining spots. Additionally, it is a short walk to the famous Ft. Lauderdale beach where the boys (and girls) really are.

We were met at the dock by the dockmaster, Sharon who helped us tie up and then instructed us where to go for check in.

Dockmaster Sharon

Dockmaster Sharon

Dockmaster's office at CRYC

Dockmaster’s office at CRYC

After we got the boat securely tied for the forecasted wind, we were visited her office and checked in.  She then preceded to give us a tour of the yacht club and introduced us to the staff along the way.  All were very friendly and helpful and down to earth. We also got to meet the club cat, “Coral” who was equally hospitable and managed to get some affection from Denise.

"Coral" the CRYC cat

“Coral” the CRYC cat

As we had missed the opportunity for fine dining to celebrate Denise’s birthday in March, we splurged for dinner and went to the Capital Grill near the Galleria mall. It took us about 15 minutes to walk there and had a delicious steak and accompanying sides.  We were thankful for the walk back as it gave us some chance to exercise off our dinner.

Capital Grill

Capital Grill

Here are some pictures we took of the yacht club:

Front doors to CRYC

Front doors to CRYC

Pool at CRYC

Pool at CRYC

CRYC entrance at evening

CRYC entrance at evening

Inside CRYC

Inside CRYC

CRYC Pool bar

CRYC Pool bar

Wednesday (4/6) – Coral Ridge Yacht Club – Ft. Lauderdale – Denise spent nearly the whole day cataloging pictures taken in the last two weeks.  There was a lot to do as we have been so busy and we got behind a bit. In the meantime, Mark secured our marina accommodations for Palm Beach, Ft. Pierce and Vero Beach, and he identified anchoring locations in Hobe Sound and Stuart area.  He was also able to secure a home-port slip back into our old marina at Harbortown in Merritt Island, although not the same one. Before long we will have Island Office there and we can’t believe how fast a year has gone by.

That evening we decided to have dinner at the CRYC in their less formal dining area, the Wheelhouse. They had a reputation for good food and we always want to patronize the clubs when they are kind enough to let us stay on reciprocity.  Our food was really good and the service was superb.  We really liked the friendliness of this club, the amenities, and we wouldn’t mind staying here for a month or so next winter if they have space.

Boats across the marina at CRYC

Boats across the marina at CRYC

Thursday (4/7) – Delray Beach City Marina – Delray Beach – Today we were headed north, but not before Denise was able to get a run in along the Ft. Lauderdale beach area.  She ran along the esplanade and enjoyed seeing this beautiful beach and surrounding area.

Ft Lauderdale Beach

Ft Lauderdale Beach

State park near CRYC

State park near CRYC

Not wanting to leave, we procrastinated as late as possible, but finally got the boat underway and headed north, passing more beautiful homes through Ft. Lauderdale, Lighthouse Point, Hillsboro Beach and Boca Raton. When the homes were not big, the boats in front of them were, or in some cases both were huge. Here are some of the small shacks we saw along the way:

Ft. Lauderdale Home

Ft. Lauderdale Home

Ft Lauderdale Home

Ft Lauderdale Home

Ft Lauderdale Home

Ft Lauderdale Home

Ft Lauderdale Home

Ft Lauderdale Home

Ft Lauderdale Home - Denise's favorite

Ft Lauderdale Home – Denise’s favorite

Ft. Lauderdale home with funny statues

Ft. Lauderdale home with funny statues

Hillsboro Beach Home

Hillsboro Beach Home

Lighthouse Point homes & boats

Lighthouse Point homes & boats

Hillsboro Beach Home

Hillsboro Beach Home

Hillsboro Beach home

Hillsboro Beach home

Hillsboro Beach house

Hillsboro Beach house

Hillsboro Beach Home

Hillsboro Beach Home

Boca Raton House and boat

Boca Raton House and boat

Boca Raton house

Boca Raton house

Boca Raton condos on the beach

Boca Raton condos on the beach

Boca Raton home

Boca Raton home

Thinking of sister "Claire" in Boca Raton

Thinking of sister “Claire” in Boca Raton

We arrived at the Delray Beach City marina and were pleasantly surprised. Although there were no dockhands or city employees to greet you, one of the seasonal live-aboard boaters came out to assist us with tying up and told us the info packet and restroom key were in the dock box. He also told us about the restrooms and laundry facilities at the south end of the marina, which had a free ice machine.  Everything was in great condition and the rate was really reasonable, plus it was in walking distance to Atlantic Blvd where all the restaurants were.

Welcom banners

Welcome banners

IO at Delray City marina

IO at Delray City marina

Marina Sign

Marina Sign

Marina restrooms, ice & laundry

Marina restrooms, ice & laundry

We had Mark’s new AMEX credit card waiting for us across the ICW at the Delray Beach Yacht Club, where we originally were going to stay. However, the marina facilities were under construction and there were no restrooms, laundry, office, etc. and the rate was double the city marina. So, when we got into the city marina we cancelled the yacht club reservation, but still had to retrieve the already delivered credit card.  While Mark washed the salt off the boat, Denise walked across the bridge to the yacht club and in no time was back to the boat.

Shortly thereafter Jason from Ocean Air showed up to fix our salon hatch shade. We had been trying to get him scheduled to meet us since the Miami Boat show in Feb., but his schedule and ours never seemed to coordinate until today.  He came in an in 90 minutes fixed the shade, replaced a handle on another shade and showed Mark a few things to help us maintain these going forward.

Just has he was leaving, we had more company. Denise has an old high school friend who is a captain on a privately-owned yacht that is kept in West Palm Beach. “Barry” and Denise had reconnected on Facebook a few years ago and they have communicated occasionally, mostly as they are politically aligned, but they also share a love of the water.  Barry and his wife Staci live in Delray Beach, so he came by the boat and they had a chance to talk about his job and to get caught up.  Our conversations lasted way longer than we expected and it was too late to go out for a bit to eat, so we opted for leftovers on the boat for dinner.

Friday (4/8) – Delray Beach City Marina – Delray Beach – We discovered early in the day that this was the weekend of “Delray Affair”, an annual arts festival located on Atlantic Blvd for which they shut down this main street through the town.

Delray Affair sign

Delray Affair sign

We decided to go check it out with the intention of spending a short time there.  However, we were so impressed and it was so much bigger than we expected. Additionally, half way through our exploring of the artists, Mark got a call from a client in Australia who had a critical systems issue so he had to stop and deal with it. He was on the phone for nearly an hour coordinating resources and trying to assist with the issue, all the while Denise found a few things to purchase.  Finally, the call was ended and we realized it was well past noon, we were hungry and we still had a third of the festival to see. Plus we had an errand we needed to do that would require us to walk another mile. So we opted for a quick bite to eat at “Doc’s All-American“, and pressed on through the rest of the festival. It was well after 2:00 before we got back to the boat.

Delray affair

Delray affair

Inflatable at Delray Affair

Inflatable at Delray Affair

Doc's All American

Doc’s All American

Grill cheese at Doc's

Grill cheese at Doc’s

Hamburger and fries at Doc's

Hamburger and fries at Doc’s

Mark got a little power-nap in and Denise did some emails before our old friends Irv & Marsha showed up to catch up. We met this couple in 1999 when we had our sailboat in the Bahamas and have stayed in touch ever since.

Irv & Marsh

Irv & Marsh

After some drinks aboard our boat and getting caught up on our lives, we went to dinner at Lemongrass, on Atlantic Avenue.  Our Asian dinner was good and afterwards Irv turned us on to ”Popbar”; an Italian gelato-on-a-stick place, It was good, but we both agreed a good bowl of ice cream would have been better for the same portion and calories.

Lemongrass restaurant

Lemongrass restaurant

Popbar

Popbar

After a walk around a bit we headed back to the boat when Irv suggested we come out to see their home. So we got in their car and drove about 15 minutes to their house.  They are pet-sitting Marsha’s daughter’s dog so Denise & Marsha took the dog on a much needed walk while Mark and Irv discussed boat things. Shortly thereafter they returned us back to our boat said our good-bye’s.  It had a very long day and it was late so we crashed right away.

Here are some other pictures from our stay in Delray Beach:

Marina Historic District marker

Marina Historic District marker

Christian Scientist church near marina

Christian Scientist church near marina – from Boca originally

 

Washing the lights

Washing the lights

Statue in Delray Beach

Statue in Delray Beach

House near marina

House near marina

House near marina

House near marina

Inn near the marina

Inn near the marina

Saturday (4/9) – Old Port Cove Marina, North Palm Beach – Wanting to see the sunrise on the beach, Denise was up and out the door early for a run.  She captured a few sights along the way:

Sunrise on the Atlantic - Delray Beach

Sunrise on the Atlantic – Delray Beach

Running path on Delray Beach

Running path on Delray Beach

The Delray Wreck historical marker

The Delray Wreck historical marker

Homes on Atlantic

Homes on Atlantic

Hibiscus and Ocean

Hibiscus and Ocean

Welcome Sign

Welcome Sign

Anchor Park

Anchor Park

Park sign

Park sign

Sand Bar restaurant

Sand Bar restaurant

We left Delray Beach marina at 9:05 to time the Atlantic Avenue bridge opening at 9:15, and wanting to get an early start.  The winds were forecasted to be strong and we knew we had to cross Lake Worth later in our travels, and didn’t want to face rough water when doing so.  We also had to consider the restricted bridge openings for two other bridges, one of which we discovered had a 15’ clearance and we didn’t need to wait for its opening.  We barely squeaked by, requiring 14.5 feet; it was close but prevented us from having to wait over 20 minutes and unnecessarily burn fuel.  We were grateful for our low clearance as we did not require any further openings.

We had originally made reservations at a different marina in the Lake Worth inlet area, but based on input from Barry & Irv, it was suggested we look at Old Port Cove marina in North Palm Beach. It is also where the boat that Barry captains is located. So, after their inputs and reading the reviews on Active Captain, we decided to switch if they could accommodate us. Mark made a phone call before we left the dock and we were in and made travel plans accordingly.

The cruise up the ICW once again took us past the lovely homes of Delray Beach, Palm Beach, and the downtown of West Palm Beach, including the “public docks”. Here are just a few pictures of what we saw:

Delray Beach home

Delray Beach home

Delray Beach Home

Delray Beach Home

Palm Beach Home

Palm Beach Home

Palm Beach Home

Palm Beach Home

Palm Beach Homes

Palm Beach Homes

Yachts at Palm Beach Docks

Yachts at Palm Beach Docks

Trump Tower - WPB

Trump Tower – WPB

Downtown WPB

Downtown WPB

Megayachts at WPB public docks

Megayachts at WPB public docks

"Limitless" - owned by Limited

“Limitless” – owned by Limited

Coming into the Lake Worth area, the boat traffic had picked up considerably, as had the wind which contributed to the choppy waters. We were glad we did not stay at the original marina as it was right off the ICW and we would have been very exposed to the chop. It would have been another “Grand Haven” experience and we were glad we had chosen differently.  We did however see a group of young sailors in an Optimist Pram regatta:

Optimist Pram regatta

Optimist Pram regatta

FP&L Eco Discovery Center

FP&L Eco Discovery Center

Fuel Tanks at FPL Discovery Center

Painted fuel tanks at FPL Discovery Center

To our east was Peanut Island, a county park which is in the middle of the inlet and attracts lots of weekend campers, boaters, kayakers, and paddle boarders (although not today as it was too windy). It also has hiking paths throughout and you can pick up water taxi to take you there from either Riviera Beach or West Palm Beach. You can learn more about the island here.

Peanut Island

Peanut Island

Peanut Island

Peanut Island

We continued North through Lake Worth until we came to the marina, located just to the right of where the ICW makes a left turn. It was tucked back into a cove and was well protected.  Around the place are several condominium towers, and the marina is home to some very large yachts.  The staff was at the dock ready to help us tie up, and they were incredibly friendly and courteous; it didn’t matter that we were probably the smallest boat in the place.

Condo near boat

Condo near boat

IO at Old Port Marina, N Palm Beach, FL

IO at Old Port Marina, N Palm Beach, FL

We checked in at the marina office, located just inside the entryway of the Sandpiper’s Cove Restaurant and bar, which also houses a small café and gift shop. Here we learned of their shuttle service and met “Ed” the driver.  We immediately arranged for a pickup in the morning to take us to the closes Catholic Church for 9:00 am mass.  All this was coordinated by terrific marina staff who also presented us with a bottle of wine; one of the many perks to staying at this first-class marina.

Mark immediately got to work at washing the boat as it was covered with salt while Denise opted for doing a few loads of laundry. In the process she checked out the adjoining fitness center and met “Greg”, a guy from Memphis who keeps his Hatteras sport fishing boat* in this marina and has for 17 years.  They chatted for a while before she headed back to the boat with the clothes all folded.

Copper Leader - Greg's boat

Copper Leader – Greg’s boat

In the afternoon Denise went for a walk along the docks and ran into Barry where they chatted for a bit until Barry had to go back to work as the owner’s family was onboard the yacht for the weekend. We made plans to try and get together either later that day or the next. We hung around our boat and met some of the other boaters on our pier, including Karen & Fred Sage from Newport News, VA on their Catalina 47 sailboat named “Southerly II”.  They were very friendly and really enjoyed talking with them. There were several other boats that came into slips near us, but we really did not have a chance to get to talk with anyone else, except the couple on “October Moon” – a sailboat in the slip next to ours, but whom we did not share boat cards with, and therefore cannot remember their names.

The marina is in a gated community that includes several high-rise condominium buildings, as well as the restaurant and several offices for yacht brokers. Nearby, but not close is PGA Blvd and A1A that has everything from a Publix, CVS, West Marine and other similar stores.  There is also a Duffy’s Sports Bar, Carrabbas, Bonefish Grill and other eateries, but we didn’t want to go to a chain for dinner.  Without a car we were limited so we chose to visit the Sandpiper restaurant at the marina; it was convenient and came with a good review.  Mark got a Cesar Salad with Salmon and Denise got a roasted beet and goat cheese with grilled shrimp.  The food was good and the service excellent so we too would recommend the restaurant.

Sunday (4/10) – Old Port Cove Marina, North Palm Beach – We got up in time to make our 8:30 am appointment with Ed, who shuttled us to “St. Paul of the Cross” for the 9:00 am mass. This is a lovely church and is one of the “Doors of Mercy” churches we have been to since the start of the “Year of Mercy” announced by Pope Francis.  The church was less than 3 miles from the marina, so we arrived quite early and had a chance to take a few pictures:

St Paul of The Cross

St Paul of The Cross

St Paul of The Cross

St Paul of The Cross

Doors of Mercy

Doors of Mercy

Font at St. Paul of the Cross

Font at St. Paul of the Cross

Alter - St. Paul of The Cross

Altar – St. Paul of The Cross

Stained Glass Stations of the Cross

Stained Glass Stations of the Cross

After mass we walked around the western area of the marina, including a section where there were several 100+ foot yachts and a bunch of other boats that were being offered by yacht brokers.

Mega Yachts in west docks

Mega Yachts in west docks

Condo buildings at Old Port Marina

Condo buildings at Old Port Marina

We had also been in communication with Barry who said we could come look at his owner’s yacht*.  It is an 85-foot Berger that is old (circa 1980’s) and in need of interior updating. But, it is a classic and he loves driving it.  We chatted with him and met Stan, the CIA-trained chef that is also full-time crew for this boat.  They talked of their jobs and the owners and we gained some amazing insight into how the “other half” lives.

Denise & Capt. Barry on the Berger

Denise & Capt. Barry on the Berger

The Berger boat

The Berger boat

Barry also told us about one of the mega-yachts* in the marina we had seen; that it was owned by the DeVos family (co-founder of Amway, and current owners of Orlando Magic, Amway Arena, and the RDV Center). It was an amazing morning and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

*Note: We are intentionally not sharing the names of these boats in order to protect the privacy of the owners.

In the afternoon we hung out at the boat and watched The Master’s Golf tournament, while working on this blog post and talking with friends and family. We had decided we were not up for a walk to go out for dinner, but had not taken anything out of the freezer for dinner. So we opted for a pizza and calzone from the marina restaurant’s “express” café. After a 40 minute wait, Mark went up to pick up our order and we ate a very late dinner. Unfortunately, Denise’s calzone was mostly pure dough and only a quarter of it contained any of the filling.  It was not very good and we would NOT recommend the café for dinner.

Here are some other pictures of the area:

Old Port Cove Marina facitilites

Old Port Cove Marina facilities

Old Port Cove Marina Capts Lounge

Old Port Cove Marina Capts Lounge

Laundry facitilty

Laundry facitilty

Monday (4/11) – Peck Lake, Hobe Sound – South of Stuart, FL – Knowing the Captain wanted to get an early start so we could meet a fuel truck at a private marina a few miles up the ICW, Denise got out for a run as the sky was just getting light.  She ran out of the gated complex and down US1 and back, taking in all the shopping center sights we had missed.  Shortly after returning, Barry came aboard for a pre-arranged tour of our boat and we enjoyed chatting again until it was time for us to go.

We hated to leave this very nice marina and the terrific staff. It is first-class all the way, with floating docks, moveable cleats, great facilities, and close to many amenities.  Since it is close to Lake Worth inlet, there is a high probability we will come back here.

We left the dock with the intention of stopping to meet the fuel truck and take on 100+ gallons of diesel. However, when we approached the area, the small dock was totally occupied by the sport fishing boat that was the primary buyer of the fuel, and there was no real place for us to tie up to.  Additionally, the fuel truck had broken down and was just arriving.  We would have to wait for the other boat to get their fuel, and as they were taking on a lot more than us, it was going to be at least a 45 minute wait. Oh if only we would have known…..we would not have left Old Port Marina so soon.

However, we decided the wait for fuel to save a few dollars was not worth it, and continued north on the ICW through the rest of Palm Beach county. Again we passed a few homes not quite as large as the ones further South, but these were still quite nice.

At one point we saw a Grand Banks coming towards us that had lowered the canopy on their fly bridge so they could get under more bridges without requiring an opening.  We had commented that they were smart to do this when they passed and we noticed the boat name: “Patriot” from Mobile, AL.  It was about then that we realized it was our Looper friends Chuck & Vicki Stapleton whom we met in Norfolk and whom we last saw in Mobile where they crossed their wake.  We chatted on the VHF for a bit and learned they are headed to the Bahamas if the weather holds for a good Gulf-Stream crossing in a day or so. Otherwise, we may see them up the east coast.  What a small world!

We cruised past more beautiful homes and into Jupiter, passing a Wyndham resort along the way – causing Denise to think of her running friend Susan M. who works for Wyndham.

Jupiter area home

Jupiter area home

Jupiter area home

Jupiter area home

Jupiter Home

Jupiter Home

Jupiter area homes

Jupiter area homes

Jupiter homes

Jupiter homes

Admiral's cove near Jupiter

Admiral’s cove near Jupiter

Jupiter Home

Jupiter Home

Osprey's home near Jupiter

Osprey’s home near Jupiter

Wyndham Harbourside

Wyndham Harbourside

Wyndham Harbourside

Wyndham Harbourside

Just beyond this point is Jupiter Island Park and then the ICW takes a turn east on the Loxahatchee River, and then turns north around the inlet. It was really windy, but clear and we had a chance to get some pictures of the Jupiter Lighthouse as we went by.

Jupiter Lighthouse

Jupiter Lighthouse

Jupiter Inlet

Jupiter Inlet

After the turn north we entered the Indian River and cruised past Jonathan Dickenson State Park to our west, and some very nice old-Florida homes to our East. Eventually we came to Peck Lake, which is part of the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, and our intended anchoring spot for the night. As we arrived early in the day, we had an opportunity to find a great spot that would buffer us from the East wind, and set anchor without issue.  There were already a few boats in the anchorage, but it is large and there was plenty of space for even more.

IO at Peck Lake

IO at Peck Lake

All morning long we had heard the calls by the Coast Guard who were in search of passengers from a vessel offshore from St. Lucie inlet that had ended up in the water. All mariners were requested to keep a sharp lookout and assist if possible. As there had also been numerous small craft weather alerts, we were concerned even though we were in the ICW and not offshore. Around mid-morning the “pan-pan” had been cancelled and shortly thereafter we heard on the news that the Coast Guard had rescued a mariner.

The eastern shore of the anchorage is a mangrove island that has a sandy path that leads directly to a beautiful beach on the Atlantic. In the afternoon when the winds died down, we launched the dinghy and cruised over to the island to explore.

Path to the beach

Path to the beach

Park welcome sign

Park welcome sign

First we met “Dan” who runs a local paddleboard business, mainly for guests at Loblolly– a marina/condo complex on the western shore of Peck Lake.  He gave us a brief history lesson of the area including the naming of Peck Lake, and then told us about the rescue earlier in the day.  The surviving mariner was rescued not but a few hundred yards from where we were standing, and he had witnessed the helicopter land on the beach.

Paddleboard rentals

Paddleboard rentals

Paddleboard "Dan"

Paddleboard “Dan”

We left Dan for a walk to the beach and found that it was mostly deserted. There were a few other people in the water, but for the most part it was like having our own private island.  We walked along the shore for about half a mile, picking up seashells when the still thunderous surf allowed.

Atlantic Ocean - towards St. Lucie Inlet

Atlantic Ocean – towards St. Lucie Inlet

DSCN1946c

Soon we came upon a dead Portuguese Man-O-War, took pictures of it, and decided to turn around and head back.

Portuguese Man-O-War

Portuguese Man-O-War

We spotted some small jelly fish in the sand, and combined with the rough surf and cool water temperatures made us not want to venture into the water.  So we headed back to Peck Lake and the dinghy.

From there we cruised over to the Loblolly marina and see what else was there. Here we discovered several two-story condo buildings surrounding the marina that was full of high end boats.  Although not the mega yachts of Old Port, there was still plenty of wealth in this area and it was apparent by the types of boats, and their hailing ports.

By this time we were ready for our requisite happy hour, so we headed back to the boat for showers and a cool refreshment. While relaxing before dinner we saw a tug go by that reminded us of many we had seen along our Loop adventure. For some reason this just looked so out-of-place here in Peck Lake, but seeing it brought back a flood of happy memories. It was also about this time that we heard the whistle of a passing train; the first of several we would hear throughout the night.  It too brought back thoughts of the Hudson River and Erie Canal towns where the sound was a constant for so many days.

Passing tug at Peck Lake

Passing tug at Peck Lake

We watched a beautiful sunset and then prepared for dinner. We had taken leftovers out of the freezer, so all we had to do was crank up the generator and presto, we had a 15 minute microwaveable feast!

Peck Lake Anchorage

Peck Lake Anchorage

Peck Lake anchorage

Peck Lake anchorage

Sunset at Peck Lake

Sunset at Peck Lake

Tuesday (4/12) – Mariners Cay Marina – Stuart, FL – Today marks our 366th day on the Loop (one official Leap year), and it started like many before it; Denise was up early waiting on Mark to wake.  Just like many mornings at anchor, she wished he would hurry and wake up so she could turn on the generator and make a pot of coffee!  Finally he woke up and she disturbed what would otherwise have been a very peaceful anchorage.  During the night the wind had picked up and Mark had to let out more anchor chain, but this morning things were incredibly calm and we saw a terrific sunrise.

Sunrise on Peck Lake

Sunrise on Peck Lake

While enjoying the cup of coffee, Denise got caught up on the morning news and learned of the boating catastrophe that had played out the day before. Apparently the boat had been reported missing on Sunday as they had not reported in to family.  The boat was offshore and began taking on water; 4 people were aboard and all but one had perished, including a 9-year old boy and his father.  The only survivor was in a state of shock when rescued and taken to a nearby hospital.  There are a lot of details of the story that have mariners scratching their head, but mainly everyone wants to know why you would take a small boat offshore when such weather conditions exist.

We left the anchorage and headed the short distance to Stuart, passing several park areas along the way including the St. Lucie Inlet State Preserve, and the Twin Rivers Park.

We originally intended to anchor in an area known as Manatee Pocket. This is just off the ICW and the St. Lucie River where many mariners queue up to go through the Okeechobee waterway, and there are several marinas, homes with private docks, and a hotel resort (Pirate’s Cove).  It is quite congested and we found that both anchorage areas were pretty full. Having anchored out the night before, we decided to try and get into a marina.  As luck would have it Mariner’s Cay Marina had an available slip, so we pulled in and tied up before anyone knew we had arrived.

We immediately met Joy, the woman in the boat two slips down from us who claimed she did not even hear us come in. She and her husband Steve are on their Fleming 55’ (“Meandering Joy”) and are from Athens, GA.  We spoke with her briefly and learned that our Looper friends on “Patriot” had been in the slip between us the night before.  Again – small world.

After we got the boat settled and checked into the marina office, we ate lunch and Denise went to work on finishing this blog post while Mark washed the boat; it does get salty even when cruising in the ICW.

In the afternoon, a PDQ (motor catamaran) came into the slip next to ours and we recognized them from the Peck Lake anchorage. Bill and Fran on “Easy Riders” are from Ocean City, Maryland and are preparing their boat to be put up in storage for the summer at the Hinckley Yacht Services right here in Manatee Pocket. This seems so strange to most boaters that they would put their boats in the water during the summer, but it is not unusual for those wishing to not be on the water during hurricane season.

"Easy Riders"

“Easy Riders”

In the evening we were invited aboard Joy and Steve’s boat (“Meandering Joy”) for cocktails as they wanted to pick our brains about doing the Loop as they too would like to do it. We talked for a long time as they knew several people we have met on the Loop, including Kathy & Kenny on “No Zip Code”.  It was way past dinner when we got back to the boat, but Joy had put out some appetizers and we didn’t feel the need to eat more. Tomorrow we will leave and head to Ft. Pierce for two nights.

Meandering Joy

“Meandering Joy”

Here are a few pictures from our short stay at this marina:

IO at Mariners Cay Marina

IO at Mariners Cay Marina

Mariners Cay marina pool

Mariners Cay marina pool

Mariner's Cay marina

Mariner’s Cay marina

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Some comments about South Florida – from South Miami, Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and north to Palm Beach, the amount of people who live in this very densely populated area scares us and is a real travesty to us natives. Overdevelopment has ruined a spectacular area and continues on without any resistance.  If there is ever a direct hit by an Andrew or Katrina-sized hurricane, no insurance company will be able to survive the loss.  Florida residents will be hit with huge homeowners’ insurance bills to bail them all out as there would be record losses.

And then there is the traffic, water, and infrastructure issues; too much and not enough now (respectively) and will only get worse. Don’t get us wrong, we are not against development per se. But it is the destruction of a single or two-story building and replacing it with a 20-story, 500 unit high rise that has us so baffled. And there are hundreds of these in this area, with more being built every day. The sad part is that there is no cry for people to stop building and it just continues on and on. Thank goodness for our state and local parks along the way, or we would not see anything but cement in this state that we call home.

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