“…here we are now, entertain us…”

(c) Carol Joy Shannon 2021
illustration from “Charlie & Jack & the Army of Angels”

Big parts of the last 17 months, left us locked into our apartments, houses, neighborhoods, states. Whether we had to work at home, had kids, or were already fully acclimated to 24/7 togetherness like us retired people, there were still more hours to while away than we ever had before.

The so-called “corona” forced people to find creative ways to spend their time and we all did. People learned to bake who’d never dared, and found it therapeutic. The stores were short on flour for months.

Down here in the Lowcountry, everyone was fishing and cooking fish, so Old Bay Seasoning was in very short supply. I had to buy two tiny cans just to do a boil. Things like that.

The garden centers were, and are, busy. People are doing things to make their homes and yards more comfortable for long term daily use. Even people who have gone back to work months ago, are not doing a lot of the things all of us used to do for entertainment.

Our world has changed and so we all learned ways to use time creatively.

Still, at some point in the day, you flop on the couch and watch the weather, or what I like to call “something mindless.” We watch a lot of serious stuff, documentaries and history, plus real life treasure hunts, “Swamp People” and “Deadliest Catch.” But when the gator tags are finished, and crab season is over, old salts like us are still looking for the ocean and the swamp. We used to watch fishing shows on Sunday mornings. Don’t know what happened to those.

A couple months ago we were so disgusted with satelite TV we cancelled it and bought a couple ROKU devices. I subscribe to PHILO, which offers live streaming content that does not include ANY sports and very little news. Heaven actually. Of course there are any number of ROKU options for streaming ancient movies and even older TV shows. And that isn’t a bad thing.

After a few months grazing streaming internet TV, we’ve settled into some patterns.

We can still find the History Channel on PHILO, but there is also the American History Channel, more war film and real documentaries; fewer pawnstars and pickers. We’ve also discovered that those 30 year old shows on the free channels — are pretty good! My husband watched the entire original Miami Vice, from the 80s. It was interesting to watch the progression of stories, cars and boats, spot the difference in South Beach 40 years ago, identify the stars who did guest turns, figure out if Sonny or Ricardo was going to fall in love with a woman who got shot or otherwise destroyed. Michael Mann made Miami Vice, and for the first two seasons it shows.

Then, because MV was so dark at the end, we started watching Magnum PI. It’s lighthearted, reasonably entertaining, has a predictable formula but also some thought provoking scripts, and some related to Vietnam and Vietnam vets. Not many TV shows addressed that in the 80s. (I know, M.A.S.H. did, but they called it “Korea.”)

We still watch old sitcoms on TVLand and old westerns on INSPIRATION, but here’s what the hubs discovered this week: the Haulover Inlet live cams. Hours of fun.

That probably sounds like paint drying, but let me explain.

Haulover Inlet is one of only a few inlets between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean between Coconut Grove and Port Everglades. It cuts through at the very top end of Miami Beach, under a fixed bridge which takes A-1-A further north to Dania. If you’re not going out Government Cut or Port Everglades, you’re going out Haulover.

Haulover is a busy inlet. There are probably hundreds of marinas on the bay side and several charter fleets right at Haulover. So, tons of boats.

And it’s tricky. It’s always been tricky.

It’s pretty shallow with a rock jetty on both sides and bridge bumpers further in, and the boat traffic creates a washing machine of wakes which you have to navigate to get to the “bar” at the end, where the waves are sometimes surf-able. (The actual surfing beach is above the north jetty.)

This outlet that is not for the faint of heart.

And yet idiots do it.

In lake boats.

In little whalers. With their kids in the front with no lifejackets. Sometimes it’s hard to watch.

But it’s addictive, if you like boating, of course.

It is also one of the most incredible boat parades every weekend than you could ever imagine. We are talking 40′ offshore racers that cost millions. The new style “party boats” that are sleek machines in monchrome black and flash. Fishing boats of every size and level.

And a lot of show-off boats.

Miami has always been a show-off kind of place. If you’ve got it flaunt it kind of place. And do they!

Because I assure you, everyone knows the camera is there. I’ve never seen so many million dollar boats with one guy and 6 or 8 babes in bikinis, or less. One boat we saw yesterday was huge, and there was a single older man, 8 beautiful women twerking at the camera and a captain in livery driving the boat. It’s another world.

It’s like looking in an open window. A window people know you’re looking in.

The thing with Haulover, and it has always been this way, even before the YouTube cameras and twerking — anyone can have a really bad time getting through it so there’s always a lot to watch. People come there to watch people fail. Not to sink or drown, just screw up. There are so many TowBoats USA and boatcops all around that rescues are as interesting as the screw ups.

There’s also the sound of the water – few of the filmmakers add commentary, although one guy always identifies the boats, and even has a special reel with just the boats, how much they cost and how much to charter….no stuffed bow pulpits or grandma overboard in that reel…just ginormous amounts of luxury.

Depending on the wind, you can often hear people talking as they go by. You can hear the girl screaming at her boyfriend to slow down, before they pound a 10 foot trough and she flies out. Many people (wisely in most cases) turn around. Many get out and come right back in. After awhile, you see a certain kind of boat, with too many people, and not going fast enough, and you start making mental wagers as to whether they’ll get out, if they should get out, too — because what will they do on the open water in a boat too small with too many people.

And in Haulover Inlet you don’t stop. It’s always been the rule there. You can see why on the rough water videos. On the mild-mannered days, newbies must wonder what all the fuss is about – but most of the time, it is challenging and the trick is speed. Honest.

So this is where the guys with the big drugrunneracersleds come to show off, too. The really hot thing is how many matching high-powered motors you can line up on the stern. The top number seems to be 6 but that can add up to insane horsepower – 6 Merc 400s is 2400 hp. Some of these speed demons have rows of seats with seatbelts along the stern. I can’t even imagine the Gs they pull.

So, here’s some diversion.

here’s a link to a rough day

here’s some little boats on a big day

and here’s a link to some of the big beauties I especially like this one, because it’s just big ole quiet luxury rolling along, like a movie, with the sound of the water and the birds, and not much else.

We used to follow F1 auto racing, and I lived in Monaco (centuries ago). The other morning we were zoning out over coffee, and one of these monsters rolled quietly past on the big screen TV. My husband said, “That one would not be the smallest yacht in Monte Carlo,” and he was right. (Check out the Vanquish 45 belowdecks – videos abound — for a streamline “picnic boat” for the 21st century. These, along with the Pardo and Van Dutch are the new “day boats” for the player with a million to sink in a fancy hole in the water.)

I lived in Miami off and on, a few years here, a couple more there, starting in 1970. I watched it go through a lot of crazy changes, and these days it must be one of the richest cities in America. Or, to be more precise, the northernmost city in South America! It is like nowhere else in the world right now, and that boat parade in front of Brickell at the end of the “big beauties” video says it all.

Remember “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”? This is the boat version. It’s harmless, entertaining, sometimes shocking or amusing, it’s nearly always sunny, and people are laughing and having fun. Some of them are even beautiful. Many of the boats are.

And it’s a LOT easier than hooking up the trailer on our own 23 footer. Much simpler than buying bait and ice and finding parking at the boat ramp. A lot more relaxing than hosing it down and cleaning fish at the end of the day, too. Not that we didn’t love to do that for a long time. Flying out to the Gulf Stream to hunt billfish in our own boat was always fantastic. I miss it. But I also don’t want to do exactly that any more. Maybe some flats fishing in the Keys.

Now , we’re like the old people on the porches of South Beach back in the 70s and 80s. Except, instead of watching the parade of dealers and hookers and pimps from our rocking chairs – we’re watching boats. From the comfort of the couch. Best boating in years.

About Carol Joy Shannon

A former sailor of the seven seas, living in my beloved Lowcountry, between the blackwater swamps and the saltmarshes, surrounded by pre-revolutionary history.....thinking about current events....painting dinosaurs and other whimsical animals for children, with the occasional abstract or new cityscape for my delightful collectors. The best thing about being a seasoned old salt is sitting down not running around, so...
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