A sailor in heaven in Fort Lauderdale | April 16, 2013

Position: 26°06’N, 80°10’W – Riverbend Marine Center, Fort Lauderdale

With over 60,000 boats harboured in its maze of waterways, Fort Lauderdale is one of the world’s largest yachting centres and has a booming marine supply industry to boot. For every marine supply you could ever possible need, from simple sail repairs for regular sailboats to a luxury Jacuzzi for superyachts, you’ll find it all here.

And if they don’t stock it, some suppliers even offer to custom-make it for you instead. To understand this fully, I've been told that it is like shoe-shopping. You see the perfect pair of shoes but the store doesn’t stock your size and to be honest, you have always wished you could have one shoe a little bit smaller than the other. The assistant apologises (!) and offers to custom-make a pair for you instead for just another few dollars. This, apparently, is what a sailor feels like in Fort Lauderdale.

New solar panels soaking up the sun
And so, after seven months and over 10,000 miles, Ashling is finally getting her well earned R&R and TLC. Nothing is broken as such but the Skipper has noticed the telltale signs of a boat that needs some love. Every day we tackle the never-ending list of jobs and visit one supplier after another in search of parts, like new solar panels or a replacement gas burner for our cooker or a fiddle for our main sheet (translation fails me, try Google!).

In sailor-speak, each of these jobs is called a ‘Project’ and just 
Skipper finally finds a quiet spot
like in the corporate world, it’s a challenge to keep it in budget and delivered on time. Unlike the corporate world (one hopes!), as soon as one Project is completed, it’s replaced by another two. It’s an expensive process but usually the bank statement helps us to draw the line between ‘want to have’ and ‘need to have’. However at the very least, we will leave Florida next month with the boat rigging (ropes and wires that hold up the mast) replaced, the boat-bottom repainted and anti-fouled, and a brand new spray dodger (wind shield) to keep us dry in the cockpit as we cross the Atlantic. 

Our home in Fort Lauderdale is Riverbend Marine Center, a boatyard that is like a marina without the perks. It’s dusty. It’s noisy. It’s busy. Without a doubt, we are the smallest sailboat in the yard and every day we are reminded of this. A 106 foot motor catamaran beside us has been under refurbishment for the past 18 months. (Fred, the French foreman, calls it an old boat as it was built in 2004. What would he call Ashling, built in 1982?!) This week we spent two days researching and installing two solar panels. Fred spent two days installing a full Miele kitchen, the size of which would fit twenty of our solar panels!

Small boat, big boat


  1. Great news you two! Such fantastic experiences you've been able to share thus far; a remarkable adventure indeed. Enjoy the 'break' in Florida and hopefully get some true R&R yourselves :-)

  2. Hi from Swinford
    Your log/blog is very enjoyable - you two are beginning to outrival Bill Bryson as travel writers!