Keep Calm and Carry On: The Bridges of the ICW

in Intracoastal Waterway / Life at Sea
intracoastal waterway bridges fort lauderdale

Ryan was glad to hang up the VHF radio when we finally got to Fort Lauderdale. There were 27 bridges that needed hailing between Riviera Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and only a handful of those bridge tenders were in a good mood. In fact, the last bridge we hailed before pulling into Cooley’s Landing Marina shot us a snarky, “I see you, but you should have called in earlier, so I’m closing the bridge.” After which Ryan handed me the radio and declared his day’s defeat to miserable government employees.

Originally, we’d planned to make the 46-mile trip from Riviera Beach Florida to Fort Lauderdale in one day. But we ended up having to slow down so much for the bridge schedules that we fell short by about 15 miles. So, instead, we anchored in Lake Boca Raton for the night, which turned out to be a gorgeous spot for its views of multi-million-dollar mansions with private docks and fancy water toys.

The next day proved to be a record-winning crawl, though, with even more restricted bridges than the day before, resulting in Hideaway covering a pathetic fifteen miles in four hours. But at least while we maneuvered under the ICW bridges and up the New River, we got to experience the wild ride of motoring through the back yards of some of Florida’s wealthiest home owners. As we coasted past the manicured lawns of Fort Lauderdale’s riverfront homes and waved enthusiastically at mega yacht captains who barely glanced at us, it became clear that this town was WAY out of our league.

But the good thing about arriving on your little boat to a fancy port like Fort Lauderdale is that you have everything you could possibly need for provisioning within walking or cycling distance. West Marine, Publix, Save a Lot, Home Depot, Staples, you name it. Not to mention the crazy college bars where you can get 6 drinks for $15! Which is how I ended up dancing in a “Keep Calm and Gangnam Style” t-shirt, courtesy of my generous friends Justin and Anastasia.

turf to surf hideaway catalina intracoastal waterway

With the sun setting on the ICW, we headed for Lake Boca Raton to anchor.

sunset on the florida icw

The ICW bridges may be a pain, but the sunsets sure are pretty.

intracoastal waterway florida house

There were some pretty spectacular houses on the ICW to Fort Lauderdale.

hideaway catalina turf to surf

Hideaway, docked at Cooley’s Landing Marina, Fort Lauderdale (Photo by Justin Dent)

sailing with cats turf to surf

Celia and Charlie, checking out Fort Lauderdale (Photo by Justin Dent)

turf to surf sailing blog hideaway

Thanks for the t-shirt, Justin and Anastasia! Doin’ Korea proud… (Photo by Justin Dent)


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  • Leigh January 18, 2013, 5:33 pm

    When we bought SolMate, she was in Fort Lauderdale, docked along New River less than a mile from Cooley’s. We ended up staying 2 months there making repairs and such. We liked the convenience of everything, but found Fort Lauderdale to be, in general, not the friendliest of places (oh, the bridge tenders!).

    On our last night there, we decided to walk down Las Olas to get gelatto at this place we loved. This was just after Hurricane Sandy had come through, and as we were walking down the sidewalk, a guy in a sports car sped up just to hit a huge puddle that sent a ginormous wave cascading over us. Who does that?!?!

    We left the next morning, which happened to be just after the boat show ended. New River was crazy crowded with power boats and yachts, none of whom felt compelled to give a little leeway to a sailboat trying to turn around from her dockspace in the narrow river. They just kept on a’comin’.

    My last memories of Fort Lauderdale… 🙂

    But, we have a couple of friends there, so we’ll definitely be back!

    • Tasha January 18, 2013, 5:37 pm

      Hi Leigh!
      So sorry about your crappy experience in Fort Lauderdale! We actually made some fast and immediate friends when we arrived, which means of course we love the place! But the bridge tenders…ugh!

      It’s been a great last stop off before the Bahamas, but we’re looking forward to bluer waters! Can’t wait!



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