Sailing Adventures

The Land of Plenty

It is a short run across the Straits of Florida and the Gulf Stream from the sleepy fishing villages of the Bahamas to West Palm Beach. What a difference 50 miles can make!

In West End on the Grand Bahama Island there was one tiny store a mile or two away that carried a few basics. We landed at Old Port Cove marina to find ourselves in the middle of a thousand square miles of shopping malls. There was a big West Marine, Costco, Home Depot, Harbor Freight, several high end grocery stores, and dozens of restaurants all within a short drive. The number of car dealerships was overwhelming. Who could possibly buy all those cars? (Hint: only Americans!)

The Palm Beach area is beautiful. Everything looks like it was just built. The landscaping is beautiful. People are exceptionally friendly. There are honeycombs of high rise condos, only partially occupied during our visit.

The marina at Old Port Cove is first class. It is also home to what is probably the largest gathering of Nordhavn yachts in the world. After being orphaned in a world consisting almost exclusively of sailboats for the past year, it was wonderful to find ourselves in the midst of the Nordhavn family.

I had a bit of a shock the next morning. As usual I got up early and stepped outside to have a sniff at the weather. Staring down upon me were about a thousand condos. Note to Self: Must put on clothes before stepping outside...

The Florida coastline generally consists of the ocean beaches, a sand dune that may be several miles wide, then miles of lowlands, estuaries, and swamp land. (The tallest point of land in Florida is about 80' above sea level.) Given lots of retirees with money to spend and plenty of land developers, there has been lots of dredging of the estuaries and swamps, with the tailings piled between the channels to form building lots. Lo and behold, anyone can have waterfront property with a dock for the boat.

And boats there were - by the thousands... We crossed the bar at the Lake Worth Inlet on a Saturday afternoon and were suddenly surrounded by boats of all sorts and sizes. Ski boats, runabouts, floating docks on pontoons with an outboard, paddle boards, tall big game fishing boats, tugs, and more. Some of them even understood the basic right of way rules (including the Law of Gross Tonnage, which says that big boats are constrained in their ability to turn or stop in a hurry...) The sandbars were covered with beached runabouts and bikinied young beauties. Jet skis raced about, trying to see how close they could come to our stern in order to jump our wake. After weeks of seeing perhaps a couple of boats a day on the water, we were in shock.

After a few days relaxing in the Land of Plenty we hauled the boat at Seminole Marine, painted the bottom, and performed a number of repairs and improvements under the watchful eye of James Knight, a famed guru of Nordhavns and owner of YachtTech. Back in the water and fully provisioned we were ready for the next grand adventure, exploring the Intracoastal Waterway aka ICW. Stay posted for our tales of gaters, swamps, and these strange foreigners called Floridians!