A good many boat travelers really enjoy the peace, freedom, and quiet of anchoring. We all have similar lists of important features for a good anchorage. However, in Florida, pleasant quiet anchorages during the week become weekend party spots for local boaters.
Arriving in Lake Boca, right on the ICW in Boca Raton, FL, on a Saturday afternoon, we knew it would be crowded but… wow! Not only was it Saturday afternoon, but it was also quite warm with a light ocean breeze and plenty of that endless blazing Florida sunshine that calls us all to come out and play. There were a gazillion boats, all filled with loads of people. There were floaty toys, people standing in the knee-deep water in the center, and plenty of music of all volumes and varieties. We have even seen floating food truck type boats selling snacks and drinks out here.
This is such a nice anchorage for so many reasons. The lake has a sandy bottom instead of mud, and it feels great on the toes. There’s also a narrow ocean inlet about half a mile out one corner of the lake, so there is ample ocean water flooding in, but it’s far enough away, and around a curve, so it doesn’t bring the heavy wave action rushing past. These features make for crystal clear blue and inviting water drawing tons of people.
When we arrived, we dropped our anchor into too little space among so many other boats and made the best of the situation, watching for whatever crazy unknowns might happen. This many small boats, many of their captains inexperienced and distracted, crammed into such a small space felt like a recipe for misadventure. We stayed onboard because we were concerned about what the other boats might do and wanted to be around to mitigate any situations.
With the main channel along the west side and the north east corner’s deep water far enough off the channel to be peaceful, there’s enough space for a dozen or more bigger boats to anchor comfortably in that deep water. Experience told us all that the small boats would be leaving by dark, so we planned to make sure we were moved and anchored up in that northeast corner before the crowds came back for the same adventure on Sunday.
Much as we might feel as though the crowds of local boaters invade this great anchorage on the weekends and jam it up, those weekend crowds also have the power to keep the derelict boats out. If anything can screw up a good anchorage more than party crowds, it is derelict boats. They fill up a space, look messy, and make it unavailable for any other boaters. This area is fairly affluent and the residents exercise their power to ensure this place is preserved for them to have their weekend sun and fun adventures, which also makes it possible for travelers to enjoy it all week long. As long as we get in and anchored before the weekend crowds arrive, we can add the lack of derelict boats to the list of things that make this a great anchorage.
Many travelers stop here with some regularity, so this is a bit of a gathering spot for transient boaters as well as locals, and we saw some friends across the lake when we pulled in. As the crowds thinned, and we all began to feel more relaxed, they pulled alongside on their dinghy and said, “We knew that red bottom boat had to be you” (we use fairly distinctive red bottom paint). We invited them onboard to share stories of our adventures and some sunset cocktails, feeling more at ease with the quiet we had been anticipating all afternoon. Our friends had been here for a while, so there was much discussion of the other benefits the lake has to offer for boat travelers.
On the northwest corner, a few hundred yards up the main channel, there is a city park with sanctioned dinghy access. Silver Palm Park opens out into a nice walkable area of town. There’s a hig amount to see; it feels safe with abundant shopping, restaurants, and activities. The beach is just a half mile away, too. For the average boat traveler, we always need to be mindful of where the nearest groceries and marine supply stores are. There are plenty of options within walking distance, and if you feel like venturing a little further afield, the park is an easy Uber pickup spot.
Today was just Saturday and so the crowds would be coming back tomorrow. And come back they did. We tried to have a pleasant quiet afternoon at home, while the hordes of boaters around us were having a wild party afternoon on the lake. It was a bit of a surreal kind of feeling, like crowds of unknown people showing up to party in your yard, while you go merrily along with your normal afternoon activities. Then, predictably, as they did on Saturday, the crowds were gone by dark and we looked forward to the quiet, pleasant week on the lake.
When the lake was extra crowded, we stayed onboard trying to enjoy the beautiful spot and ignore the crowds. However, my fella commented, “We’d mind the crowds less if we get out there and played too,” so off we went to have fun. During the work week the only boats here are a few travelers pausing for a while to appreciate the great anchorage. Sparkling blue-green water, the lack of abandoned boats, deep enough and space enough for anchor swing, dinghy access to the shore, and all the right stuff in a safe neighborhood when you get there. This area even has an open Wi-Fi available from a nearby hotel. Lake Boca has all the items on any boat traveler’s inventory of great attributes for an anchorage, and they far outweigh any inconvenience to be dealt with on the weekends.
About the Author: Elizabeth Kelch is a digital nomad and tree hugger, traveling with her captain cruising on an Oceania 42 Motor Yacht (a boat perfectly designed for social distancing) with no real home port. They often stop in at Kent Island, MD, and Cocoa Beach, FL, where they found themselves trapped for the spring shutdown. You can read more at her website elizabethkelch.com.