Windy conditions overnight wreak havoc on sleeping conditions aboard Cutter Loose. Gusty northeasterlies push us against the face dock at Palm Harbor Marina. The six rubber fenders protecting the hull from the dock are noisily earning their keep.
Today’s 11 AM departure from Palm Harbor coincides with slack tide. Boat chores, including a bath for Cutter Loose, consume the morning hours.
Our journey today takes us to Boca Raton, 21 nautical miles to the south. This is a tedious leg that requires passage through eleven restricted bridges. A few of the bridges open on demand, but most of them are scheduled openings, usually on the hour and half hour. Our fourth bridge of the day is the Lantana Bridge that opens on the hour and half hour. We arrive at the Lantana Bridge 20 minutes before the opening. The protocol involves a VHF radio conversation with the bridge tender to formally request an opening. The bridge tender reassures us that the bridge will open at 1 PM. However, a motorist enters the bridge but fails to clear the restricted area before the traffic gates are lowered. The local police and fire department arrive with sirens blaring. From the water, it is unclear to us whether the problem is mechanical or health-related. After 30 minutes, the issue is resolved. But the queue of traffic waiting to cross the bridge is now lengthy, and the opening is delayed further to alleviate the traffic jamb. Finally, we pass through the Lantana Bridge at 1:45 PM, more than an hour after our initial arrival. While this is not a life-threatening or stressful event, it adds to the cumulative tedium of waiting for bridge openings on the ICW.
Today’s segment of the waterway is known as “the canyon”, a densely developed area with concrete walls that line the waterway. On busy days, the reverberation of wakes from passing boaters creates a chop on the waterway. The magnificent homes and boats docked here are suitable for the cover of a Frontgate catalog.
Cutter Loose is anchored in Lake Boca Raton, a basin surrounded by luxurious homes and condos adorned with Christmas lights and decorations. The scenery is outstanding, but the anchorage is crowded and our late arrival relegates us to the less protected, shallower section of the basin. At low tide, there is less than a foot of water under the keel. One would assume that such a compact basin surrounded by 20 story condominium towers would be calm and protected. One would also assume that winds would subside after sunset. But neither assumption is correct. Easterly 18 knot winds gusting to 25 knots portend another rolly, noisy night.