East Coast of Florida
Lake Worth, West Palm Beach to Lake Peck, Hobe Sound
Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Florida (July 14-July 17, 2009)
We departed Ft. Lauderdale on July 14. Headed back out to the Atlantic Ocean for a leisurely run up the coast to Lake Worth. More of the same... hot, no wind... had to motor. Uneventful trip. Traveled 45 miles... 10 hour trip. We came straight in the inlet to Peanut Island and dropped the anchor in 10 feet of water. As its name suggests, Lake Worth was once a freshwater lake. Now, it is brackish, connected to the Atlantic Ocean by tiny Boynton Inlet and larger Lake Worth inlet. According to a 1925 account, a runaway soldier began the transformation of Lake Worth to a saltwater lagoon. The story tells of a deserter from the Confederate army, fleeing as far south as present-day Palm Beach, where he dug a connection to the ocean with a conch shell. The wave action deepened the canal and began the influx of salt water into Lake Worth.
This was a beautiful spot to anchor. Each morning, the tide came in and with it brought gorgeous clear blue water.
Our anchor could be seen right down the chain to the bottom.
Lake Worth is now full of luxury palatial homes and yachts with easy ocean access. Today the lake is dredged and is flanked with bulkheads to shelter thousands of deep draft boats at its 28 marinas.
Palm Beach and West Palm Beach were developed by Henry Flagler as complementary towns. West Palm, on the west or mainland side of the Waterway was originally the commercial and less pretentious part of Palm Beach, saving Palm Beach as the playground for the wealthy. Below are scenes from the revitalized downtown area. Worth Avenue, south of Royal Park Bridge, is Florida's Rodeo Drive, the place to people-watch and window-shop. No place for a cruising budget!
We visited Peanut Island Park, an 86-acre island open for swimming, rafting up, and exploration. The name Peanut Island was given to the island when Florida gave permission for use of the island as a terminal for shipping peanut oil, which was abandoned in 1946.
There was a nice walking trail all the way around the island. We fixed margaritas on the boat and dinghied over for a little swimming and took advantage of the nice outdoor showers at the islands (in bathing suits, of course!).
The Palm Beach Maritime Museum opened in 1999 at the site of the former Coast Guard station. Among the exhibits on the island is the restored bunker built for President John Kennedy.
In 1961, this tiny island found itself at the center of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In December 1961, the US Navy Seabees arrived to covertly build an underground fallout shelter for President Kennedy and his family. The site was so secret many of Kennedy's closest advisors didn't even know of its existence. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the president and his family could be moved to Peanut Island from their nearby vacation home in Palm Beach in the event of an imminent nuclear disaster. The facility is a stark reminder of how close Kennedy and his advisors feared the nation was to nuclear war with the former Soviet Union.
An interesting fact about Lake Worth:
"Body Heat".... Almost thirty years ago, a group of no-name actors, including Kathleen Turner, William Hurt, Ted Danson, Richard Crenna and Mickey Rourke, arrived in Lake Worth to film Body Heat (1981), directed by Lawrence Kasdan. The plot... Ned Racine (Hurt), an inept and sleazy Florida lawyer becomes entangled with Mattie Walker (Turner), who is plotting to murder her wealthy husband (Crenna) and collect his entire estate. Racine murders the husband, enlisting the help of one of his shadier clients, an expert on incendiary devices (Rourke) to help him cover up the crime. All seems to have gone well until an unknown person begins feeding the prosecutor's office DA (Danson) bits of incriminating evidence. The George Bush Boulevard Bridge at STM 1037 in the Intracoastal Waterway is the bridge in the movie where Oscar the cop is stuck waiting on his way to arrest Ned (William Hurt) at the home of seductive Mattie (Kathleen Turner). This film launched Kathleen Turner's movie career and was Lawrence Kasdan's directorial debut.
Palm Beach, home of Tropical Shipping Company:
Serving markets throughout The Bahamas and the Caribbean for 47 years, Tropical Shipping began with a weekly service from the Port of Palm Beach to Grenada. The "Tropic Unity" is one of their largest vessels.... a 500 ft. long container ship.
At the dock, we watched cargo handling equipment lift huge containers used to ship machine parts, garments, and fresh produce. Today, they provide a 7-day transit that departs every Thursday to ports all around the Caribbean.
Check out the "life" raft on this ship. It looks like a little submarine waiting to be shoved down about 100 feet from its rack. I'm pretty sure the impact alone would kill you. No thanks, just go ahead and let me go down with the ship.....
Lake Peck, Hobe Sound (July 17-July 18, 2009)
We decided we would do a little traveling on the "inside" (as opposed to the "outside", the Atlantic Ocean). Traveling the "inside" means traveling in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), which in east Florida also means bridges... bridges... and more bridges. The kind that aren't high enough for us to travel under in Genesis.
So, what's the problem, you ask? Well, bridges have to be "hailed" on the VHF radio to request an opening. And, many bridges have a particular schedule to open... which means they only open on every 1/2 hour. But now, let's don't be simple here... sometimes that half hour is 15 minutes past the hour and forty-five minutes past the hour, but sometimes it really is on the half-hour and hour (confused yet? Don't worry... it gets even more confusing). There are many bridges and some of them are very close together (as in 1/2 mile apart) so, you have to know the actual name of the bridge in order to hail it. Are there signs on the bridges to tell you the names? Yes, sometimes, but if you are close enough to read the sign, you are TOO CLOSE to the bridge in a sailboat. You don't want to get too close to a bridge that has not yet opened for fear of crashing into the bridge and dismasting your boat. Sometimes there are a lot of currents near bridges that can turn your boat this way and that.... well, you get the idea. So what's a sail boater to do? Buy a cruising guide for the ICW, that's what. And, have a first mate (me), that keeps up with where you are, which bridge you are heading for, hailing the bridge tender, and letting you know how long it is until the next bridge.
We spent one night at Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1969, it is a coastal refuge bisected by the Indian River Lagoon into two separate tracts of land totaling over 1000 acres. We visited the 735 acre Jupiter Island tract, which provides some of the most productive sea turtle nesting habitat in the United States.
We anchored in the little lake, took our dingy to shore and walked right over the sand dunes to the Atlantic Ocean.
The beach was deserted.
A storm was brewing, so we headed back to the dingy. Just wind... no rain.
We met a couple from New Zealand on a Mantas 42 catamaran. They had just bought the boat the DAY before in Stuart, Florida and were getting ready to head around Florida and back up to St. Petersburg, Florida, where they were going to keep the boat. That's something... New Zealanders wanting to come to USA for their sailing vacations!
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