Weeks before my parents arrived, I received an email from my mom asking if we would be interested in taking a sunset cruise during our time in Fort Lauderdale. I was ecstatic to hear this, but also a little surprised as it can be hard to get my parents out for boat rides sometimes. Especially ones that lead to the ocean. Maybe it was because they knew we could book it the day of, making sure to watch weather conditions; maybe it was because they knew a company that caters to tourist probably wouldn’t go out in some of the conditions Matt and I have been forced to endure; or maybe it was because they must have known how much we’re missing our time on the water and wanted to give us a little piece of that back. Because my parents are awesome like that.
For awhile during our vacation it looked like we may not actually be able to get out on this excursion that I’d now been looking forward to for weeks. When we first arrived to Fort Lauderdale the winds were extremely strong, the seas were high enough to be bouncy, and even if the cruises were still running the ride would most likely be very uncomfortable. Once the winds died down the rain started up, and every day was a guess of when the showers would be in and for how long. This was not the November we were expecting in Florida, and it seemed we were stuck in summer-like weather patterns.
It took until almost our last day before leaving for us to make this happen. The morning and afternoon had all been off and on rain showers, although the evening looked promising. Visiting in the mid afternoon, just to get a feel for the area so we didn’t rush ourselves later, we purchased tickets and took a look at the boat. This part of the day was still sunny and they’d just come in from taking a group snorkeling and swimming the reefs just outside the inlet. Who knew those even existed in Fort Lauderdale? The office mentioned they go out rain or shine, and if we showed up to go, they would take us.
The late afternoon was quite questionable, but my favorite site of Passage Weather showed that precipitation would be gone, waves would be non existent, and winds would be very little. That sounded just fine to me. I didn’t need a thrill ride of a sunset tour, I just needed a good sunset and a full glass of champagne. And if the clouds indeed clear up, I’d be promised 2 out of 2. Luckily the universe did take a little pity on me and the clouds did part just in time for our departure from the condo.
Arriving at the Spirit of Fort Lauderdale, we found another surprise. We were the only ones to sign up for that evenings cruise. We had the whole catamaran to ourselves! I was hoping that meant each person on board each received their own bottle of champagne, but that request was quickly smashed down. (It’s ok, there was still Dos XX in the fridge for when I got back…) We had Captain Mike and Jason on duty that night, and as soon as they finished with the required safety speech, the dock lines where thrown off and we had the music pumping out of the speakers to whatever station we wanted. Since we had full run of the place.
The crew members quickly became our talking buddies, and we turned the cruise into a big hangout session instead of us by ourselves and them by themselves. Gliding down the ICW and closer to the inlet the sun was already dipping and the sky was radiating different colors of yellow and pink. As we passed by mega yachts and mega mansions, Mike and Jason were able to give us the history or some background on a lot of these boats and homes
One of the best parts of the trip for me, how lame is this, was coming up to the 17th St. Causeway and not having to lift a finger to get under it. No hailing the bridge tender, no controlling the boat so I could time our approach just perfectly, and no watching for oncoming traffic to avoid. I was able to just sit back and watch the waterfront restaurants begin to light up their decks, or finally get a good look at all these ridiculously large yachts we were passing by.
On the other side of the bridge we found ourselves right upon the inlet to the Atlantic and it was time to raise the sails. Another thing I did not have to lift a finger for. By this time the sun was fully down and we were surrounded by a soft pink lighting behind us, and a deepening blue as we made our way out into open waters. A slight chop was coming through, and I joined my parents on the trampoline up by the bow, and rode the small waves like a ride until a few began splashing up underneath us and trying to soak our pants.
It turned out that the little wind I had been watching earlier turned out to be much too small to fill our sails. Getting out into open water, we sailed close hauled for a bit as we slightly bobbed around in the small swells. The sail that didn’t want to stay full was smacking back and forth a bit, and very much reminded me of our sail from Miami to Bermuda.
Once the sky began to turn black, the consensus on board was that without much sailing happening there wasn’t a lot of reason to stay out in the Atlantic just to run up the clock. There could still be touring done inside the canals. Turning the boat around we had a slightly more comfortable and half a knot faster sail back inside the waterway. As soon as we were inside and the sails were lowered it was time for the champagne to come out.
Giving a big toast between ourselves and to our crew, we had a fantastic run for the last little bit of our cruise. With my full glass of champagne, we all stood out on deck and watched the bright lights of the city shining down on us. As a special treat, and since we had a little extra time, we made a run down a side canal to take a look at a few of the waterfront homes and took a little shock in realizing that most people did not put blinds into their living rooms or kitchens. And I have to say, a few of the meals I was able to see prepared looked really delicious.
Before we knew it we were sliding back into our slip at the marina and it was time to trade in our sailing hat for a land based one. Cruisers living on dirt once again. It was a great experience to get there once again, and if anything it’s going to give me more drive to work even harder on our boat to get here back out as soon as possible. But of course this night would not have been as special without my wonderful parents, for taking us on this cruise and enjoying their company while we were out. We were also blessed with a fantastic crew that made the experience incredibly enjoyable and made it feel as if we were out on the water with any number of new cruising friends we make along the way. The perfect way to wrap up another fantastic visit from my family.