The start of the river is lined with many beautiful private homes. Then, as you round the bend after crossing over the Federal Highway Tunnel, downtown Fort Lauderdale comes into view. That quaint old wooden building on your starboard side (which so contrasts with the many highrises sprouting up around it) is Broward County's oldest surviving structure, built in 1901. Stranahan House (named for its original inhabitants, Frank and Ivy) is now a museum. Besides being their home, it was also a trading post and ferry landing. It's an easy walk from the city docks upstream.
Right in the heart of the city, Riverwalk stretches along the banks paralleling the city docks from just below the Third Avenue bridge to a short distance above the Andrews Avenue bridge on the south bank and to The Broward Center for the Performing Arts on the north. The Museum of Discovery and Science (and its 3D IMAX Theater) is also a short block's worth of open park space from the west end of Riverwalk on the north bank.
Just upstream of Andrews Avenue, Riverwalk and the river passage itself are interrupted by the right of way for the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC). A pedestrian crossing handles Riverwalk strollers and the railroad bridge is usually not a problem for river traffic because it remains up except when a train is due. Then, a warning horn sounds and a large digital clock on the fenders counts down the minutes left until closing. There's also a traffic light that flashes green when passage is clear and changes to red when the bridge is down. Because you'll find the bridge open more often than not, it's easy to disregard it when planning a trip upriver, but there are times when several trains running close together can keep the bridge down for a while. (See note on Chart 10.)
Between the RR bridge and the Performing Arts Center you'll find The River House, a restaurant located in one of the historic Bryan Homes that are Fort Lauderdale's second oldest surviving structures.True to Fort Lauderdale's “Venice” image, this place may be easier to find by water than by land and limited dockage may be available at the city’s new floating docks all along the river. They call it day dockage, it’s free on a first come first served basis. If you can’t find a spot, call the City’s dockmaster — 954-828-5423 they will try to fit you in.
Just a block north in Himmarshee Village (along SW 2nd St.) there's an eclectic group of restaurants and watering holes. There also a multiplex cinema between Andrews Avenue and the FEC. Limited dockage is available, first come-first served.
In front of the Performing Arts Center, the river widens and forms a gentle S curve that is known as Sailboat Bend. Perhaps the most spacious turn of the entire river, it is home to the last of the city's three marinas, Cooley's Landing. The bridge across the river at this point is officially known as the SW 7th Avenue Bridge.
A short distance beyond Sailboat Bend, the New River forms a T with the North Fork going to the right and the South to the left. There's not much of interest to cruising people up the North Fork, other than the one remaining swing bridge in the area, so the left turn leading to all the river's facilities is definitely the better way to go.
After the junction, the South Fork makes a very sharp bend around a mini peninsula whose form bears a close resemblance to the state of Florida. Tour guides on the Jungle Queen sight-seeing boat like to point out that the property's swimming pool is about where Lake Okeechobee would be if it were Florida. We call this Florida Bend on our chart. It's about the sharpest on the river. Several others are nearly as tight and none is a good place to meet the Jungle Queen or any of the other large vessels that ply the New River's waters. The same may be said for each of the several bridges that cross the often narrow river. Cruising upstream to visit any of the facilities or to take an interesting side trip is well worth the time and effort, but keep your eyes and ears open and stay out of the way of the big guys! (Monitoring Channel 9, even if you don't have to open a bridge, is a good idea.)
As the south fork winds its way slowly inland, the river narrows somewhat, but remains wide, deep and straight enough that megayachts frequently venture up here for the many first rate service options available.
Next, just east of I-95's high bridges, there's Lauderdale Marine Center where they can accommodate vessels to 170 feet. As you head farther upstream, follow the channel that bends to the right around their outer pier. This will take you under I-95 (clearance 54.5') and the new high bridge (same clearance) right next to it, which has been built to handle Tri-Rail, and through the CSX railroad bridge which remains up unless a train is due. MariTech Services boat yard is to starboard; to port, across the river, are Marina Bay and Marina Mile Yachting Center.
Marine businesses, roughly from I-95 west (most with State Road 84 frontage) have grouped together to promote the strip as “Marina Mile.” (The stretch of SR 84 along here is now officially-named Marina Mile Road.)
And there's still more! A bit farther upstream you'll arrive at Yacht Haven, a comfortable combination of marina and R/V park. Among others, there's Cable Marine and Billfish Marina. Then there's a fork, with the North New River Canal, home to Bradford and Roscioli, going off to starboard. The South New River Canal goes to port and at the northeast corner of the SR 84 Bridge, is the twenty-plus-year-old New River Marina, still providing repairs and services for both sail and power.
There are a few more businesses just south of the bridge. The South New River Canal then becomes narrow and sometimes shallow, therefore negotiable only by smaller boats. It eventually connects with the Dania Cut-Off Canal and goes east, ending up at the ICW just south of Port Everglades. The western reaches of the Dania Cut-Off are not navigable by boats needing more than eight or ten feet of clearance, spoiling a good side trip past some truly wild scenery. You might go by dinghy! So, back to 17th Street...(Continue...)
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