Cruising down the Intracoastal for Marianne’s Challenge

Marianne of East of Malaga blog, has a new monthly challenge. She encourages us to think of a place that we’ve been meaning to go to, and then make the effort to take ONE TRIP EVERY MONTH and do a post about it.

Since we bought our home in Florida, we’ve been living here for six months of the year, and have kept saying that we really must do one of the sightseeing cruises, which leave twice daily from Delray, so last week, we boarded the Lady Atlantic for a two hour narrated tour of the Intracoastal Waterway, between Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

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Our trip would take us through three bridges, which would all have to be raised to allow our yacht to sail through. The first one is the Atlantic Avenue drawbridge. This is a real authentic drawbridge that opens every 30 minutes for boats to pass through.

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It was so fascinating to watch it open and close again. The original bridge was erected in 1911, and was hand-cranked. Wow, can you imagine how long that must have taken?

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As we sailed past some really awesome mansions, belonging to the seriously wealthy, our captain kept up an interesting commentary. He told us that many or most of these, are holiday homes, which are only occupied for a few weeks of the year. They are fully staffed at all times, some even with a barman in attendance, just in case the owners or their friends decide to pop down for few days relaxation.

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This curved house with a copper roof, was designed this way to make it hurricane-proof.

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There were still a few single storey houses sandwiched between the mega-mansions.

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These are know as ‘tear-downs’, because when they come up for sale, the new owners immediately tear them down and build a two, or sometimes three-storey residence in its place.

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This house might be classed as a teensy bit ‘over the top’, with its six kitchens and glass elevator.

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Not to be outdone, their neighbour had all his windows replaced, and paid $70,000 for new curtains, and $20,000 each for fully grown palm trees.

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Most homes had a boat moored outside. Some were quite modest,

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Whilst others were a bit bigger.

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This one had met a cruel fate during the heavy rainstorms in January. No one has claimed it yet, and residents are concerned because it’s leaking oil and polluting the waterway.

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Occasionally, our leisurely yacht would be overtaken by more exciting and faster craft.

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and youngsters having fun on their jet skis.

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Our captain said, “You may be wondering what sort of jobs these people do to be able to afford such a lifestyle. Well, you will be surprised to learn that many of the owners of these properties have never had to work a day in their entire lives. They have inherited the wealth, and can just play all day.”

Wayne Huizenga, who started his business with a single truck in 1968, and did work very hard, went on to become the founder of ‘Waste Management’, which he grew into a ‘Fortune 500’ company. He gave this lovely house for his daughter as a wedding present.

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Of course it wasn’t all about the mansions, although for me that was the most fascinating part of the trip. We saw beautiful birds flying overhead.

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and some rather untidy nests high up in the trees. Are they eagles or ospreys?  I’m no expert, but I’m sure our bird expert, Phil Lanoue will know.

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We got to peep down one of the side waterways leading to an even more expensive and exclusive community called ‘The Sanctuary’. This stretch of water, behind the mangroves, is patrolled 24/7  by armed security, and absolutely no-one is allowed down there without a permit. One resident, a former CEO of ‘Tyco Internationa’l, has recently been released from jail, after serving an eight and a half year sentence for fraud and corruption on a grand scale, and rumour has it, that he once spent $2 million on his wife’s birthday party. Must have been quite a party.

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We heard so many interesting stories, like how the Coca Cola family had a $24.5 m house built, but because of a kidnap threat on their daughter, they never moved in. The house was eventually bought by a movie company and was blown up during the making of ‘Bad Boys 2’, starring Will Smith. Then there is the cardiac surgeon who bought the neighbour’s house  for $4 m, and had it demolished so his kids could have a nice big play area.

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A really bizarre story, and the one I liked the most, was of a business tycoon who has a home here, and would take a short cut to the beach every morning through the grounds of an exclusive apartment block behind him. The residents objected to this, and when they complained about it, he showed them who was boss, by purchasing for cash, the most expensive condo in the building, and the only thing he kept there was his bathing suit.

All too soon, our two hour trip was almost over, as we passed through the second to last bridge. (What makes you think that our captain is a ‘Boston Red Sox’ supporter?)

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I hope you enjoyed coming along with me. Next time we’ll take the north-bound cruise.

To see more bloggers’ entries for Marianne’s challenge, just click on the badge below.

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