It feels so fricken good to be back to our cruising lifestyle!
Leaving Miami was a huge milestone for us after 5 weeks ‘living on the hard’ then juggling storing the boat while we pursued our RV trip to Texas.
We passed our sea trial with flying colors, and then just like that – we were free!
Starting The Cruise Up the ICW
First, the video version of this chapter (at about 14m long) with some cool time lapse videos taken with our new Garmin VIRB camera:
First Stop: Halouver Anchorage
Our first night resuming cruising nicely coincided with recognizing our 1-year wedding anniversary (we’ve been life committed for most of our 12 years on the road together, but we decided last year to ‘make it legal’ now that marriage equality is a reality).
Two milestones worth commemorating with a special first stop.
We decided we were definitely getting out of Miami proper, and eyed a few anchorages. The first one we pulled into was across from Haulouver Beach, alongside Ortega State Park and was just what we wanted.
Nicely protected, dinghy trips to make and decent holding.
We dropped the anchor and immediately felt … at home. Ahhhh. Perfection.
After an involuntary ‘cat overboard’ drill that got our hearts racing (turns out Kiki found a new hidey hole to explore on the boat) – we popped a bottle of bubbly that our friend’s Kim & Don had sent us last year to celebrate our nuptials.
It was wonderful to be back swinging on the hook, feeling the gentle breeze and NOT hearing non-stop airplanes take off over our heads.
Oh yeah. THIS is what we signed up for!
Stop 2: Ft. Lauderdale
Staying right in urban city centers is one of the appeals of cruising the Great Loop for us. It’s just something not as common while RVing.
We love having things in walking distance to explore. The city marina of Ft. Lauderdale had been one of the top stops on our list of places we wanted to visit.
To get there, you have to navigate up the New River.
Which is kinda tight, has lots of curves, a bit of traffic, lots of boats tied to the side (which IS the marina) and has some wicked tidal currents to contend with. After having just come down the Miami River, we felt we were up for the challenge.
We timed our arrival perfect for slack tide (which is the time between high and low tide shifts – when there is minimal current) – and made our way up the river.
We dodged tour boats, mega yachts and had to bob in the river for a bit awaiting a train bridge opening. But we did it – and glided perfectly into our riverside seawall dock.
We got together with our buddies Chris & Jim of the Geeks on Tour, who now split their time between living in Ft. Lauderdale and RVing to events to teach their technology courses. We decided to hop on a water taxi for the afternoon to explore the town – kinda ironic after having just arrived by boat ourselves.
But hey, there was a bar – meaning we could all kick back, relax and catch up.
It was a lovely day for sure! And we enjoyed wandering around town by foot too.
Unfortunately, with our late departure from Miami we didn’t have the time to really linger around as much as we would have liked. For a marina with such great South Florida access, it was pretty affordable at just $75/night for our 47′ length.
Stop 3: Lake Boca Raton
While we could have easily talked ourselves into another night or two downtown, we knew there were many adventure awaiting us.
Plus, we also wanted to get to wider water further up the coast by the weekend.
For you see, the Intercoastal Waterway down in this area is more like a canal. Wider than the New River, but still somewhat narrow. During the weekdays – no problem usually. Just normal boat traffic.
But on weekends, especially during Spring Break (which it was), the wake of so many boats can make for washing machine conditions with waves ricocheting off the walls.
If we have a choice, we’ll take sublime over butt-check clenching any day – so we decided to keep moving.
We had contemplated going outside for this next stretch – meaning exiting out Port Everglades into the Atlantic Ocean and making the 48 mile transit up to Lake Worth. A popular option for avoiding the washing machine canal and waiting for endless bridge openings.
But weather conditions were deteriorating for an ocean passage so we opted for the protection of the ICW. Besides, following the ICW is the traditional Great Loop route and all part of the adventure!
Even then, our transit was a bit on the windy side with 15-20 mph gusts – which made awaiting bridge openings a good learning experience in holding station (the act of keeping your boat in place when there are currents and winds pushing you around.) We both got pretty darn good at it!
It turned out to be a very pleasant transit, and we loved the architecture tour up the waterway – quite scenic actually. You just don’t get to see the backyards of so many fancy-schmancy houses that often.
And we found if we kept a consistent 6-6.5 knots speed between bridges, we didn’t have long to wait for the timed openings.
We arrived to our anchorage for the night at Lake Boca Raton, setting anchor in the northeast corner for optimal wind protection.
Shortly after we dropped the hook, a party boat showed up next to us and we were amused all day long with this charter cruise for some sort of family reunion. It was non-stop music, swimming, open bar (they didn’t share) and jet skis zooming us.
We decided to take a break from it with a dinghy trip ashore – where we were able to walk around town, grabbed a bite to eat and took a walk on the beach. By the time we returned, the party cruise was packing up and pulling anchor (and they had switched the music to the sweet sounds of old blue eyes!).
A lovely evening and another lovely anchorage!
Great Loop Log (4/6/2018)
- Distance: 404.5 nm
- Stops: 30
- Marina Nights: 242
- Anchored Nights: 20
- Bridges: 70
- Locks: 0
Other Travel Posts in this Great Loop Travel Series:
- The Keys:
- South to the Keys:
- The Great Loop: South to the Keys (Part 1) – Ft. Myers to Naples
- The Great Loop: South to the Keys (Part 2) – Naples to Marco Island
- The Great Loop: South to the Keys (Part 3) – Cruising Ten Thousand Islands
- The Great Loop: South to the Keys (Part 4) – Everglades National Park – Little Shark River & Cape Sable
- Sometimes Nomads Need to Grow Some Barnacles (Two Months in Fort Myers)
- Starting the Great Loop – First Adventure: Punta Gorda, FL to Fort Myers, FL
View all our Great Loop Posts
on our new Interactive Map!
We had two more fun anchoring stops before our arrival to Ft. Pierce – which we’ll catch you up on next episode.
The MTOA Rendezvous was a blast and is now long over – we’ve been in Ft Pierce for a month, and have been deep in on some big boat projects & upgrades.
We’ve also been thoroughly enjoying this little sunrise city!
Our projects should be wrapped up in the coming days, and we hope to be shoving off sometime mid next week to continue our cruising northward. Don’t worry.. we’re fully documented them and will catch you up.
Have I mentioned it’s REALLY good to be back to cruising?!?!
PS. Woah! I just noticed the date! May 10 – that means today is my 11th Nomadiversary! (Chris had his 12th last month, and I officially joined him full time 11 years ago after several trial runs).
Alrighty.. time to go open a bottle of wine to celebrate! Cheers!