Boating in Palm Beach, Florida
The Best of Everything
Although the East Coast of Florida owes its origins in some measure to railroad and hotel magnate Henry Flagler, Palm Beach was his special project. Flagler arrived in disguise on a reconnaissance mission in 1888. He returned four years later and bought property to create a resort city.
He began construction of his Royal Poinciana Hotel on May 1, 1893, and it took his 1,000-plus laborers just nine months to complete the 1,150-room hotel and its 100-acre grounds fronting Lake Worth Lagoon. He built modest homes and public buildings at the settlement on the opposite side of the lagoon for his workers, and he donated land for churches and cemeteries. With this infrastructure in place, he split his new base away from Dade County.
Arriving by train or ship, wealthy tourists took to the perfect weather of Palm Beach, and before long he had to build another hotel to meet the demand. He built his Palm Beach Inn by the ocean. This "annex" was enlarged and eventually became The Breakers (561-655-6611), one of the grandest hotels in the world. It's worth a visit if only to see the Italian Renaissance architecture.
While you're in the neighborhood, visit the Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church (561-655-4554) next door for its Gothic arches and stained-glass windows. Whitehall, Flagler's own 55-room 1902 mansion, is now the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum (561-655-2833). His personal train car is parked outside.
Things to See and Do
Palm Beach still reflects the centuries-old migratory patterns of the rich and famous, but now the tourist season is longer. In Flagler's day it ran January to March. Today the season begins with Thanksgiving and runs to May. During the summer and early autumn, enough working rich remain to keep the social scene alive even without the gala balls.
Worth Avenue is at the heart of this area. This chic street of refined Addison Mizner architecture is a line of one haute couture shop, gallery, and restaurant after another. Because Worth Avenue wasn't big enough, developers created Royal Poinciana Plaza for the overflow. Bargain hunters know to visit Palm Beach in April when stores would rather slash prices than ship unsold inventory elsewhere.
If you really want to see where Donald Trump bought the mega-diamond engagement ring for his third wife, Island Living (561-868-7944) offers three-hour tours of Worth Avenue and Antiques Row in air-conditioned SUVs. A few steps away you'll find The Colony Hotel (561-655-5430), the winter address of King Edward VIII after he abdicated to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson. You can enjoy the serenity afforded the Duke and Duchess at the poolside Bimini Bar.
For culture of a different sort, attend a concert, lecture, or art exhibit at The Society of the Four Arts (561-655-7226). The beautiful gardens are maintained by The Garden Club of Palm Beach. The grounds were designed in 1938 to display the types of diverse tropical plans suitable to south Florida landscaping.
The Palm Beach Bike Trail offers another great glimpse of the endless mansions seen from the waterway. This paved strip runs five miles from the vicinity of the Australian Avenue docks to the northern tip of the island. If you don't have your own bikes aboard, you can rent them from Palm Beach Bicycle Trail Shop (561-659-4583) on Sunrise Avenue.
There are plenty of less ostentatious sights to see here that might have a greater appeal to your younger deckhands. The Palm Beach Maritime Museum (561-832-7428) opened in 1999 at the site of the former Coast Guard station on Peanut Island. Among the exhibits here is the restored bunker built for President John F. Kennedy, a frequent visitor to Palm Beach.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Seabees built an underground bunker for use as the nation's temporary command center in a time of crisis. It was constructed about 100 yards from the Coast Guard station, concealed underground in the woods. Tours take place on Saturday and Sunday. You can take your own boat to the Island or a ferry from Sailfish Marina (561-844-1724) or the municipal Riviera Beach Marina (561-842-7806).
Peanut Island (561-966-6600) was created with spoil from dredging the inlet but is now Palm Beach County's newest park. Its 86 acres smack in the middle of Lake Worth feature docks to land small boats for going ashore, 20 sites for tent camping, a protected lagoon for snorkeling, and picnic facilities.
John D. MacArthur State Park (561-624-6950) in North Palm Beach offers excellent ranger-led interpretive walks. The park's nature center has several aquariums and a spectacular boardwalk. The nature center offers two-hour guided kayak tours daily, and snorkeling trips on the second and fourth Saturdays each month.
In addition to Lion Country Safari (561- 793-1084) farther west in Loxahatchee, you can take a walk on the wild side at the Palm Beach Zoo (561-547-9453 or www.palmbeachzoo.org) at Dreher Park in West Palm, just 6.6 miles from the Palm Beach Yacht Club docks. This remarkable 23-acre conservation and education facility focuses on animals of the tropics. The Mayan exhibit is home to new baby jaguars, born at the zoo as part of its species survival program.
If you want to watch Marlins and Cardinals-here we mean the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals-you'll find them during spring training at the Roger Dean Stadium (561-775-1818) on Donald Ross Road. The Jupiter Hammerheads, Class A affiliate of the Florida Marlins, and Palm Beach Cardinals, Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, play ball here from April through Labor Day.
On the mainland side, West Palm Beach is experiencing a renaissance. Twenty years ago downtown was an undesirable area. Today, million-dollar apartments can't be built fast enough. It's all about performing arts centers, pedestrian thoroughfares, green space, excellent shops and restaurants, and, oh yeah, the waterfront.
The Clematis Street District is a parade of popular and specialty stores and galleries. On Thursday evenings, the street comes alive for Clematis By Night, a fusion of live music, arts and crafts displays and street-side food vendors in front of the public library on the waterfront. At City Place (www.cityplace.com) just two blocks away, Legal Sea Foods (561-838-9000), Mark's City Place (561-514-0770), and Brewzzi (561-366-9753) are just a few trendy places to visit. Nightclubs like Blue Martini (561-835-8601) offer late-night dancing. Harriet Himmel Theater (561-835-1408), referred to locally as "the Harriet," hosts jazz concerts the last Tuesday of each month and many other performances in what used to be a church sanctuary.
The Norton Museum of Art on South Olive Street (561-832-5196) is a major cultural attraction in Florida. It is internationally distinguished for the quality of its permanent collections and traveling exhibitions. The Norton's collection of Chinese art is a favorite with visitors.
Palm Beach County and its municipalities have very active sports programs. For example, if you're looking for a competitive water-ski course, Okeeheelee Park (561-966-6600) has it. United States National Water Skiing Championships are held there in August.
Palm Beach Gardens is home to the Professional Golfers' Association (561-624-8400), and there are more than 160 golf courses in this area. The National Croquet Center (561-478-2300), the largest croquet center in the world, is located in West Palm Beach. Tournament-winning croquet professionals provide instruction, and there is free croquet golf on Saturdays.
Restaurants and Provisions
Start your day at the luncheonette inside Green's Pharmacy (561-832-4443) on North County Road and work your way down to Hamburger Heaven (561-655-5277) on South County Road for lunch. Prepare to blow the budget at L'Escalier (561-659-8440) or at The Breakers or Café L'Europe (561-655-4020). For those who plan well in advance, New York celebrity chef Daniel Boulud has established an outpost, Café Boulud, (561-655-7740) in the Brazilian Court Hotel for French-inspired, totally hip haute cuisine or tasting menus. You must make reservations a month in advance.
There are several great, distinctive restaurants galore in the Palm Beaches. Delray Tea house (561-278-1956) is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for tea, tiny sandwiches, and petit fours. The highly regarded seafood restaurant 32 East (561-276-7868) is on Atlantic Avenue. The Palm Beach Fish Market and Bistro (561-835-0300) on antiques row in West Palm sells and serves fish and wine. Carmines Gourmet Market on PGA Boulevard has a very nice restaurant attached. Café Chardonnay (561-627-2662) on PGA Boulevard is worth the drive for its elegant presentations and ambitious menu.
Provisioning is easy in the vicinity of the Palm Beach Yacht Club (561-655-1944) or Palm Harbor Marina (561-655-4757), which has a convenience store on site. Both are less than a mile from Publix at City Place. The free Palm Beach Trolley, which stops at the Palm Harbor gate, makes all of the downtown area easily accessible. In Palm Beach, the Town Docks are less than a mile from another Publix, the Gourmet Galley (561-833-2412), and Toojay's Original Gourmet Deli (561-659-7232).
The marinas on Palm Beach Shores are close to a small market called Grator Gator (561-844-0733). But if you're stopping at Sailfish Marina, the onsite Sailfish Marina Restaurant (561-842-8449) is so convenient you'll probably want to declare your galley closed.
There is a Winn-Dixie less than one mile from North Palm Beach and Old Port Cove docks. In Palm Beach Gardens, you'll be close to the gourmet's paradise Carmines (561-775-0105) and a Winn-Dixie. You'll also find Paul (561-493-8495), perhaps the ultimate bakery. They whip up awesome sandwiches and weekend brunch at the new downtown mall on PGA Boulevard.
Use ChartKit Region 7, pages 37 and 38, and Maptech electronic and NOAA paper chart 11472 (1:40,000).
Navigation and Anchorages
The north end of the Palm Beaches features a combination of dredged waterways and small creeks south of the Loxahatchee River and Jupiter Inlet. There is a substantial concentration of marine services and dockage between Donald Ross Road Bridge at SM 1009.3 and PGA Boulevard at SM 1012.6. It can be very busy during the winter season, especially around the waterfront restaurants of Waterway Café (561-694-1700) in Palm Beach Gardens, Panama Hatties (561-627-1545) in North Palm Beach, and River House Restaurant (561-694-1188) in Palm Beach Gardens.
Near the Parker/US Route 1 Bridge at SM 1013.7, the North Palm Beach Marina (561-626-4919) is located in a well-protected basin that backs up to Giuseppe's (561-626-5242), one of the best authentic Italian restaurants anywhere. Enter Lake Worth and jog to port at Fl G 4s 12ft "27" and you'll arrive at the channel to Old Port Cove, the largest marina facility in Palm Beach County. It has been in operation since 1973. Adjacent to an exclusive gated condo community, Old Port Cove Marina (561-626-1760) frequently hosts yachts well in excess of 100 feet for the season.
North of Lake Worth Inlet you'll find dockage at several marine facilities to choose from. The options at Palm Beach Shores will put you in close proximity to the inlet and Singer Island's world-class beach. Among them is Sailfish Marina, the first facility inside the inlet to the north. This is a full-service resort with a restaurant on site and a full offering of amenities including fuel, bait and ice. The sunset celebrations held each Thursday evening are a great chance to survey arts and crafts from more than 30 vendors, listen to strolling musicians and sample conch fritters and grouper dogs from a stand set up by the Sailfish Marina Restaurant.
Cracker Boy Boat Works (561-845-0357) is in Riviera Beach. Located opposite the inlet, Cracker Boy is the first facility north of the Port of Palm Beach. This do-it-yourself yard can haul out yachts up to 100 feet; the yard crew here offers a full array of skilled repair services if you'd rather let someone else do the work.
The all new New Port Cove Marine Center (561-844-2504) is located in Riviera Beach and offers dry storage for 300 boats up to 40' feet in a new building built to withstand hurricane force winds, as well as slips for boats up to 65-feet. The on-site mechanics and a new marine store will take care of any needs you may have.
Farther to the south, you can haul out on a 300-ton travelift at Rybovich (561-844-1800). They offer every professional repair service imaginable.
One-half mile north of the Lantana Bridge at SM 1031, Loggerhead Club and Marina operates two updated facilities near old standby Murrelle Boatyard and Marina (561-582-3213). Loggerhead South (561-721-3888) accommodates vessels up to 120-feet in an amenity-rich setting, while Loggerhead North (561-582-4422) offers primarily dry storage with a few slips for 30- to 40-foot boats. All three facilities are west of R "38."
The Palm Beach Yacht Center (561-588-9911) in Hypoluxo is located one mile north of the Boynton Inlet between G "43" and G "45." The marina has new floating docks as well as electrical and mechanical services including a lift for boats to 80 tons. E & H Boatworks and The Ways were sold for redevelopment in late 2006. Should you find yourself in need of assistance, Sea Tow Palm Beach (561-844-8056) is always nearby.
Lake Worth Inlet is a major access point to the ICW and the entrance to a busy ship terminal. Approaching from the sea you'll see the towering orange-and-white stacks of the power plant. Shoaling in the vicinity of the north jetty means you should be lined up for the approach before reaching G "3" westbound. If you are southbound, steer for Fl R 4s 16ft 3M "8" and keep it to starboard and Fl G 6s 16ft 4M "9" to port. To travel south on the ICW, follow the marks west along the southern shore of Peanut Island and cross the turning basin to pick up Q G 12ft 4M "1". To enter the ICW northbound, continue past Peanut Island, gradually turning to starboard at Fl R 4s 12ft 3M "12" until you see ICW markers G 43" and Fl R 4s 16ft 3M "42." Farther south is Boynton Beach Inlet-avoid it. There is a fixed bridge over the inlet restricting clearance to 18 feet. The current can exceed 5 knots and that makes the turn inside the jetty a controlled slide. Dive boats use it every day but, unless you meet the clearance criteria, have plenty of power, and can follow a commercial boat through, it's best to use the much safer Lake Worth Inlet.
Shoreside and Emergency Services
Palm Beach International Airport 561-471-7420
Palm Tran 561-841-4200
Greyhound Bus Lines 561-833-8536
Lake Worth Inlet 561-844-4470 or VHF 16
Palm Beach 561-233-1080
Police, Fire, Ambulance:
AAA Taxi 561-655-6332
A & B Jitney Cab 561-820-8812
Sea Tow 800-4SEATOW