Leaving Fort Lauderdale and our disappointing decision

So..... the cliffhanger.....

Every day we spent in Fort Lauderdale sucked. The wind was relentless and always from the North. One day (woohoo!) it changed to the SSE but that only lasted about 6 hours and then it shifted back to the NW. It was during these days that the really cold weather came in. Here we were in a lovely resort Marina with a beautiful pool area and places to walk and explore. Nope, not one day was warm enough to enjoy the surroundings in the way we would have liked. As it was in the minus teens or worse up north, it was proportionally cold here. Seriously, it was 36 degrees for a couple of nights with highs of 40 something in the afternoons. For goodness sake, we had to put the heat on. Even after the supposed "warm up" it only got up into the low 60s, still with 25-30mph winds so it felt much colder. Admittedly, it was MUCH nicer here than up north but we were still stuck inside most of the time. We walked around some but were soon too cold to enjoy it. Enough complaining.... this is a tale about the disappointing decision.....

So......we just witnessed 6 days disappear from our approximate 21 day trip. We had just experienced 3 solid weeks of weather wherein there was not a single possible day to cross the gulfstream in less that 8-10 foot seas and many days were way worse than that. Sad to say, the Bahamas was out. It was just not going to be our year. With the way the weather was going we weren't sure when we could get over there, nevermind needing to get back before our friends arrived. Perhaps come late March, April and May it would be possible but February weather is always unpredictable. So, after all the waiting and wishing we decided to just pack it in and go home to Vero.

I will share with you a little about why this decision to go home made sense even though it made us feel like "quitters". Spoiler alert - this is a little bit of information from the under-belly or non-glamorous side of cruising. When you set yourself up at a "home-base" Marina you pay a monthly fee plus electrical for a full year lease. Because of that commitment, the rates are more reasonable than transient rates and you pay this rate whether you are there or not. Therefore, anytime you leave your marina you also pay for your dockage and electrical wherever you go. That means at transient rates while cruising you can expect to pay anywhere from $2 to $6 per foot per night plus a flat fee for electrical. Except at super premium places like ocean reef which are more like $12/ft. So, here we were paying all this extra and getting stuck inside because of the crummy weather. After 5 weeks of this it just didn't make sense to keep doing it. Some years are just not good ones. We can't control the weather. At least back at Vero we had our car and friends and were only paying a reasonable fee for the privilege. So, we decided to call it a season and go back to Vero. We could then look forward to our guests coming soon and relax in a place that is familiar and comfortable.

On our last day we had to make a plan on how to go north. Should we go on the "outside"? Should we do the ICW and the 22 bridges north of here? We decided on both...kind of. Since the inlet to the ocean was only 5 minutes from the marina, the plan was to get up early and go out the inlet to see what it was like. How bad could it be, right? The conditions were supposed to be 4-6' but the wind was already up to 25mph at 6:30 in the morning. It did not look good but we were willing to try.

We left the marina right on time, about 6:30. It had been getting light earlier recently so we had that extra half hour that a month ago was completely dark. However.....we miscalculate one thing - the cruise ships.

There are usually 5 cruise ships that come in the same inlet to Fort Lauderdale daily. Little did we know they often come in early in the morning so their passengers came awake to a new destination. I bet you can guess how we learned that... yes, just as we were approaching the turn into the inlet we see the very top of a floating building moving perpendicular to our position. A cruise ship coming in right in front of us. We stopped dead in our tracks. It was just before the turn that we saw them on AIS so we knew "something" was there. (AIS is a vessel identification system that shows a little triangle on your charts to indicate another vessel is there.) Then, another one came in right behind the first one. So we hung out until the coast was clear. So much for getting out early to test the waters....

This was the first cruise ship....

And this the second cruise ship....

Anyway, we did go out and....5 minutes later came right back in. It was awful! 5' beam seas slamming every 4 seconds. At 6:50 in the morning before the wind and waves could pick up. No thank you, we'll do the bridges. This is what it looked like inside the channel. Trust me, cameras always flatten things out. It was UGLY!

So we came back in and took the ICW route. We did bridges.....

and bridges......

....and more bridges. Twenty-something bridges in all until we reached Palm Beach which is our best stop-over before heading into Vero Beach, our home-base. It actually turned out to be a lovely trip. Bruce timed all the bridges perfectly so waiting when we had to was only a few minutes. The weather had warmed up and because we were on the inside the wind was very calm. We had a nice warm day up on the flybridge where we prefer to be and, this season, had spent very little time. It really was a lovely day. It was a good 10plus hour day so it was long, but it was lovely and nice to be warm and outside for a change.

That night we stopped at the Loggerhead West Palm Beach which is a sister-marina to our home marina. This is a nice bonus when we can get it because we only pay a small fee to dock there because we are "members" of the Loggerhead Club. I think our bill was $23 for the night. SWEET!