August 11-19, 1990: Finding a Condo in Fort Lauderdale
Return to the Index for 1990

May 5-13, 1990
A Week in Fort Lauderdale


This year is going to begin a new chapter in the lives of Grant and I, and what transpires this year will have an impact that will echo down at least the next 25 of them (from what I know in 2016). So it's appropriate that I put a bit of background here to set the stage for all of that.


Fort Lauderdale Enters Our Lives

This year was not the first time that either Grant or I visited South Florida in general or Fort Lauderdale specifically. I have been here numerous times on business, and Grant and I made a trip down here in 1988. But this year, as a result of events I'll talk about in a moment, Fort Lauderdale will become not just a more frequent destination for us, but actually a second home.

In my notes at the end of last year, I talked about the water damage we had and what we ended up planning to do to repair it. The repairs (putting down a new tile floor) brought us closer to a friend of ours in Dallas- Ty Ferel- who was a decorator with experience in these kinds of renovations and who we asked to have the job done for us.

Ty was originally Terry Leff, whom we had met when we first moved down here. When we first met him, he lived with another guy who turned out not to care for Grant and I all that much. For that and some other reasons, we lost track of Terry for a year or two, only to run into him again last year. At that time, Terry had a new home, a new partner and even a new name. Instead of the condo he was in when we first met him, he and his new partner, Scott Dole, had their own home out east of US 75 just off Northwest Highway- maybe five miles from our place. Terry had changed his name due to the fact that there is apparently a "Jerry" Leff in Dallas who has been through bankruptcy, and whose records were always getting confused with Terry's; Terry was trying to run a business and all this confusion was getting in the way of that, so he had his name legally changed. Once we reconnected, Grant and I began doing things with Ty and Scott, including dinners at both our houses and times out together. They are both very nice, and have become quite good friends with us again. They are both sympathetic and very helpful with understanding Grant's illness.

Anyway, Grant got with Ty, we all went to pick out some tile, and by the end of February, we had a new tile floor. Since the parquet was OK, the water damage insurance had just ended up allowing us to do something we had planned to do anyway.

In March, during dinner at their house, Ty and Scott told us that they were planning to move to Ft. Lauderdale. They had the idea that they could begin their own decorating business in an area with a huge influx of new residents and new money; they had also taken a trip down to see if they would like to live there. Their plan was to sell the house in Dallas and use the proceeds to buy a boat big enough to live on, and then to start their interior design business. They had already found a boat to buy on their trip down there, so they weren't just moving down blindly.

We didn't want to see them go, because we had started doing quite a lot with them, but it was something they really wanted to do. I could tell that Grant would have liked to do the same thing (especially the "living on a boat part", but what with my work and his support structure here in Dallas, that would have been nearly impossible to do. By April, the plans for their move had been finalized, and Grant and I helped them pack and load their truck one Saturday. They stayed with us that night, and the next morning were off to Ft. Lauderdale.

We continued to hear from Ty and Scott as to how much they liked Ft. Lauderdale, and about the boat that they were living on, and such. Although Grant's health was not great, he was on an even keel, so we decided to take a trip down to visit them.


Ty and Scott and Fort Lauderdale

I used some of my American Airlines miles and we got a couple of tickets down to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, May 5th.

Since Grant and I have been together, we've taken flights to a number of places- including California and Hawaii- and American has always been very good to us. (Of course, almost all the places we've been to have had high "boat concentrations", and boats are Grant's passion.

The flight down was pretty uneventful; when we got there, I rented a car and we drove up to the north side of the city to Atlantic Avenue, the boundary between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach. Ty and Scott had given us the address of the storefront that they have leased for their design business.

They were in the process of decorating their new little office and opening for business, and of course Grant was in his element with them, helping them make decisions. We spent the rest of the day at their store, and then they had us follow them down to the center of Fort Lauderdale where their boat was docked.

I was not as familiar with Fort Lauderdale then as I am now, so on this first visit I didn't have my bearings all the time. But basically, Fort Lauderdale is one of the string of beachfront cities that stretch from Miami on the south to Palm Beach on the north- about 120 miles- with one city simply merging into the next. The major ones are Miami, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. Interstate Highway 95 runs north-south about five miles from the beach, US Highway 1 goes north-south about two miles from the beach, and Alternate US 1 (usually called "A1A") runs along the beach, north to south. (Actually, all three of these arteries run from Miami all the way north to Jacksonville- 300 miles north of here. I-95 and US 1 continue north all the way to Maine.)

This area of South Florida has major east-west streets about every mile or so that connect I-95 to A1A; Atlantic Avenue is one of those major streets. Coming south from there, along any of the three north-south arteries, you cross Commercial Avenue, Oakland Park Avenue, Sunrise Avenue and Broward Boulevard/Las Olas Boulevard. Each of these streets has a bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway just east of the coast that takes them onto the barrier island that stretches along most of Florida's East Coast. Finally, there are inlets every ten miles or so that allow boats to go from the Intracoastal Waterway out into the Atlantic Ocean. There is one just outside the view at right to the south called Everglades Inlet.

Broward Boulevard is one of the few major east-west streets that actually doesn't go all the way to the beach. The reason it doesn't is because of the construction of the group of artificial islands collectively known as East Fort Lauderdale. Beach traffic from that major street takes Las Olas Boulevard (Florida Highway 842 about five blocks south) over to the beach instead.

In the 1920s, developers saw great potential north and south of a dirt road called "Las Olas" ("The Waves") that connected downtown Fort Lauderdale to Fort Lauderdale Beach. North of the dirt road was a large swampy area of about a square mile. South lay more lowlands that ended in the Intracoastal Waterway and the New River, a tidal estuary that runs west to the southeast corner of the Everglades. These developers dredged both these areas and created a network of some twenty islands, ten or twelve of which were long fingers going north and south from Las Olas. These developers had Las Olas paved, and then ran new streets down the center of the se long artificial islands both north and south. The other islands are more oddly-shaped, but are also connected to Las Olas Boulevard.

Each island was wide enough for rows of homes on either side of each street, and between each of the islands were canals, wide enough to allow boats to be berthed along both sides and still have room to go north or south out of the canal and into the Intracoastal Waterway. After the construction of these islands, developers had many hundreds of homesites to sell, each of which could boast its own private boat dock with direct access to the ocean. By the 1940s, most of the plots had been purchased and homes built. As it turned out, the homes south of Las Olas were bigger and more palatial and became among the most expensive houses in the city- at almost all of them had large yachts (up to a hundred feet long) docked right in their backyards.

North of Las Olas, the homes tended to be smaller, and there were a number of low-rise apartment buildings as well. The boats at the docks here tended to be smaller, with the maximum being 40 feet or so in length. Many of the docks were designed for 25-foot boats, which meant that even apartment dwellers could dock their boats right nearby. Over the years, as the buildings were modernized, replaced and upgraded, property owners were left with some docks that they could rent out; Ty and Scott had rented one such dock at which they kept their 40-foot Mainship.

The aerial view at left is a closeup of how the section of Hendricks Isle where Ty and Scott's boat was moored looks today, in 2016. I remember when we were there this year, some of those taller buildings on the left side of the island were not there; the entire isle had small-to-medium-sized homes and a few one- and two-story apartment buildings. It was behind the building that you can still see in this picture, a two-story apartment building that had a nice open area just south of it, where they found an open dock space for rent. This happened frequently when multi-family buildings housed some residents who had no boat they wanted to dock there, or where there were simply more docks that a house needed. It was a nice extra income for the property owner.

These spaces that are rented out to boat owners come in two flavors. One is just a plain dock where someone can keep a boat they they might come take out when they want to. When such a boat is actually at the dock, there is no one on it. But other docks have water and electrical hookups, and these are referred to as "live-aboard" spaces. Larger boats can be docked here, and the owners can actually live aboard them or stay aboard them for a few nights if they wish. These docks are typically the larger ones, like the dock that Ty and Scott have.

So, we then went home to their boat, a very comfortable 40-foot Mainship. It had a large master stateroom in back, a small but comfortable living area, a galley and then a forward stateroom/bunk where Grant and I stayed. The boat was air-conditioned, which is a necessity. Their boat is large, and a bit difficult to get in and out of its slip, so we didn't take it out often.


An Outing on Ty and Scott's Boat

Ty and Scott did take their boat out a couple of times while we were there, and on one of the outings Grant brought his camera along to take some pictures. I recorded where they were taken, but it would be some time before I got familiar enough with Fort Lauderdale to have been able to pinpoint where each picture was taken. For now, though, let's just have a look at them:

Of course there are beautiful, expensive homes along the Intracoastal Waterway, and this is one of them.

These are some of the larger yachts moored at the Bahia Mar Marina on the east side of the Intracoastal just south of the Las Olas Bridge over that waterway.

The Bahia Mar Marina is the place where the Jungle Queen is docked. Grant and I took a ride on it when we were last in Fort Lauderdale. All three of them- Grant, Ty and Scott- can look at boats forever, but after a while, one boat looks the same as another to me.

Here is Grant on the bow of Ty and Scott's boat. We are heading north up the Intracoastal. The weather was almost always sunny, and Grant loved it.

This is Scott and Ty on the upper deck of their boat; they have brought it back to their dock on Hendricks Isle.

As you can see, there is not a lot of maneuvering room between the fingers of land on which the houses are built. Sometimes, Ty had to try two or three times to get into the slip; it can be a bit nerve-wracking. But I could tell that they were enjoying themselves, and of course Grant was in his element with all the boats around.

At left you can see Ty on their boat (which they have named "La Di Dah") and a view up the canal alongside Hendricks Isle. All the spaces along both sides of each canal are full of boats; there are not very many spaces open.

Some of the boats belong to the people who own the houses and apartments along the canal, but many belong to people who rent space from the landowners to dock their boat there and live aboard it.

Ty and Scott rent a space from a lady who owns a small apartment complex on Hendricks Isle. They park out on the street and then walk along a walkway back to their boat. They can use the swimming pool if they want, and there is a shower on the dock just in front of their boat that they can use too, if they want.

There is even a barbecue and chairs for them to sit in on the dock. It is a nice life, and Grant thought Ty and Scott would never want to leave. I didn't think Grant wanted to leave, either.

We spent quite a bit of time on the boat- actually all the time that we weren't up at the storefront with the guys. I could tell that Grant was really, really enjoying himself.

On another day, we took the boat out again, and here are myself, Ty and Scott aboard the La Di Dah. On this excursion, Ty and Scott decided to take the boat and head North to Huntington Inlet, head out into the ocean, and then return through Port Everglades. Here we are heading North along the Intracoastal.

The ride was a lot of fun, but there were times when I thought the waves out on the ocean were too big, and got a bit nervous about the capabilities of the boat and of the people piloting her (including me, at one point). But all was well, we got back to their dock a few hours later and we all had a great time.

The week went by quickly; working with Ty and Scott was fun and staying on the boat was very enjoyable. We also went out with them almost every night for drinks, dinner or both. But I had to leave at the end of the week to go do a class, although I knew that Grant didn't want to go home so soon.

We all talked about what we might do, and we also put in at least one call to Rich Olson, Grant's doctor. We decided that Grant could stay longer if he wanted to; he had all his medications and didn't have any doctor appointments that couldn't be rescheduled, and he was enjoying it so much that I thought he might just as well stay if he wanted to.

The biggest problem Grant has, other than his the CMV that often upsets his stomach, is a KS lesion that has appeared on his shin. At first we thought it was a bad bruise that he got on Lake Ray Hubbard on the boat, but when it didn't get better, Rich Olson did a biopsy and found it to be that form of skin cancer that most of us repel easily but to which weakened immune systems are susceptible. There is not much that can be done about it, but Rich says that if it gets worse, or spreads, then chemotherapy would be called for.

Anyway, it wasn't a problem right now, and everything else seemed manageable, so in the end I went back to Dallas on Sunday while Ty and Scott very graciously allowed Grant to stay on with them aboard the La-Di-Dah. He turned out to stay for another week before coming back home to Dallas.


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August 11-19, 1990: Finding a Condo in Fort Lauderdale
Return to the Index for 1990