On February 12th, 2001, we left Seattle and flew via Houston to Florida. Our goal was to catch up to the Visual Sea, our Nordhavn 46, which was waiting for us at a marina in Fort Lauderdale.

Our friend Erich Ringewald and his fiance Jennifer had arrived earlier and brought our boat to a slip at the Hall of Fame marina in Fort Lauderdale, taking the boat off of the Super Servant 3.

This trip was to be the beginning of a trip that we have planned for four years, something that I have dreamed of doing since I was ten years old. It did not turn out the way we wanted it to. Our actual cruise was slightly less than 13 nmi and took us only four miles offshore into the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean.

We turned around and came home because of many small reasons that combined made the hassles much larger than the joy. We were quite naive about many things and have learned a lot from the experience.

I am already looking for our next boat.

Most of our provisions were aboard the boat. Our final personal items were carried aboard the flights in the bags shown below.

Land's End Duffel bags

We left snow at our home in North Bend. This aerial photo taken as we were leaving the area shows Mount Si in the middle, with Rattlesnake Ridge in the foreground. The Snoqualmie Valley is in the middle left. (This photo is looking slightly east of north.)

North Bend Aerial Photo

We landed in hot and sunny Florida. Here is our new stern flag as we pulled alongside a fuel barge to refuel the Visual Sea.

Fuel Barge

While we were refueling, Eric and Jennifer aboard the Salty Dog came to refuel on the other side of the fuel dock. Here Erich is doing a "180" as Jeff helps hold his bow. Jeff was the fuel dock operator from South Carolina. You can see Erich up on the flying bridge.

Erich docking the Salty Dog at the fuel barge

Here was our view from the transom area while at our slip at the Hall of Fame Marina. The pelicans were always around.

View from slip 300 at the Hall of Fame Marina

Erich dropped by for a visit. Erich is the Captain of the Salty Dog, and a good friend of over 16 years. The tree behind Erich contains a large flock of wild green parrots!

Captain Erich visiting the Visual Sea

Fort Lauderdale has many canals, hence the nickname, the "Venice of America". The canals are serviced by a fleet of water taxis, which were great fun to watch. It turns out that one of the stops was located just behind our boat. Locals buy a yearly pass for $100 to ride the taxis all they want.

Water Taxi

Our boat was the smallest boat in the neighborhood! Most of the boats on our dock were 65-80 feet long and cost 6-10 million dollars. Impressive, and yet humbling.

Visual Sea in Fort Lauderdale

On Friday morning the 16th we left at 6:00 am for Bimini Island in the Bahamas. We only made it about 4 miles offshore (1 mile into the Gulf Stream), and we realized the conditions were too rough for us, and we turned around and headed back in. Here is what it looked like when we were returning.

Fort Lauderdale from several miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean

One really felt small when you saw boats like this one, the Limitless, owned by the head of the clothing store The Limited. It was about 280 feet long. Brigham considered it "his" ship.

The Limitless

Here is Andrew returning to the boat. The kids really enjoyed going on runs to 7-Eleven and such. Note the Rolls-Royce. Fort Lauderdale has more nice cars than even Newport Beach. There are at least 3 different Rolls-Royce dealerships, and the largest Ferrari and Porsche dealerships I have ever seen. We were constantly watching the cars. Convertibles and Corvettes were very common.

Andrew and Rolls-Royce

When water taxis would arrive, they would bump into the dock and then apply a bit more throttle to hold the boat in place while the travelers would embark and disembark using the ramp built onto the front of the boat. We never tired of watching them come and go. They would sound their horn - one long followed by three short blasts -- and Rachel ended up making a list of the various taxis by name.

Arriving Water Taxi

The marina definitely had a tropical feel when we saw, floating about in the water, coconuts!

Coconuts floating in the water

The Visual Sea turned out to not be the right boat for us at this time, so we packed everything up in 40 boxes and sent them home in two huge UPS shipments. This was not as much fun as going out to eat or going to the beach.

Boxing up

We had provisioned the ship with food for many weeks, so we packed it all up and donated it to a homeless shelter in Fort Lauderdale. There was a lot of good food here!

Food that was donated

Andrew really wanted to come home. He cheered up a lot once he knew we were coming home.


Dan was worn out. Here he was for the last time in front of the Visual Sea.

Dan and Visual Sea

Here is a final photo of the family in front of our little ship.

Family and Visual Sea

To salvage some joy, we headed south to the Florida Keys. Here we are waking up at the Marriott in Key Largo. It was idyllic.

Florida Bay side of Key Largo, as seen from our suite

We went on a glass bottom boat ride out to the 4th largest coral reef in the world, the John Pennecamp Reef. Here is a barracuda. We saw many.


At the top of this picture is a blue parrotfish, while you can see other fish in the lower left corner. It was so neat to see "aquarium" fish in the wild! Large yellow and white angelfish, butterfly fish, and the list goes on...

Parrotfish and the teeming life of a coral reef

Returning to the dock in Key Largo we passed many beautiful homes. The guide said that these homes demand 2-4 million dollars.

Key Largo waterfront home

We returned to Fort Lauderdale, where we continued to enjoy the many boats. Fishing boats as seen here are very popular. Most are Bertrams and Hatteras, with their "tuna towers" being the east coast equivalent of a crow's nest. One note on this photo: it was taken with my Kodak digital camera, through my Leica 8x24 binoculars!

Fishing boats with tuna towers

From our Marriott room in Fort Lauderdale, we could see large Bahamas-bound cruise ships come and go.

Cruise ship and the 17th Street bridge

The Fort Lauderdale public beach stretches about 3 miles. It is groomed by the city and the water was truly beautiful to watch, both on a sunny day with its many colors, and on an overcast stormy day with its amazing, crashing waves. We went to the beach most days since it was just a short walk from our slip.

Fort Lauderdale Beach

We returned home on the 22nd. Here is the Fort Lauderdale area from the air. The blue X at the very right is where our slip was located.

Fort Lauderdale from the air

The slip that the Visual Sea was at is pointed to by the blue arrow. It was a fun time, and we are thinking about how we can return to do the Intercoastal Waterway up the east coast.

Fort Lauderdale and the Visual Sea slip

Sometimes I just sit and wonder if it was all a dream. It ended the way many dreams do--incomplete.

What now?

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 Created: 25 Feb 2001
Modified: 24 Aug 2005