The Las Olas Marina is one of several maintained by the city of Fort Lauderdale. All the others are found along new River, hard by the downtown section of Fort Lauderdale. The Las Olas facility also has the twin advantages of being directly on the AICW, and within walking distance of the beach.
I don’t normally supply a photograph of laundry machines for a story on a Florida marina, and if you’re not a cruiser and are reading this by accident, you might be thinking — is this what cruising is about? Well, yes, and no. It’s what makes boaters comfortable so that they can fully enjoy their cruising. To me, as a boater, this photograph speaks volumes. It says “respite”, it says “you can get your chores done and it will be a clean experience!” It says: Here’s a marina that cares about its boat-living customers.
I’m not sure why we never tried the Las Olas City Marina, but after recently reading veteran cruising writer Tom Neale’s glowing review of the city’s facilities at Las Olas, we decided to give it a try. Well, well, well. This is very different from what we’re used to. At first, as we spied the marina tucked under — literally — the Las Olas draw bridge, I thought, Tom, what were you thinking? But I was wrong and I now get it. This is yet another Florida city marina that shows what good government can and does do while keeping affordable and good facilities available to the transient boating public.
As I just mentioned, this marina oddly occupies both sides of the Las Olas bridge. Yes, that Las Olas, the last and huge opening bridge you encounter southbound that brings you into the heart of Fort Lauderdale. So, before you arrive, find out which side of the bridge your slip will be, North or South. The marina staff is very courteous — they offered us a slip on either side clearly explaining the advantages of each. The North side of the bridge brings you closer to the cruisers lounge and facilities and the South side gets you (a) past the opening bridge and (b) a little further from the bridge noise. One thing to note at the moment is that the pump outs on the South side are broken and there are no immediate plans to replace it.
So what’s it like living under a busy draw bridge? The bridge noise is definitely noticeable — the first night I felt like I was in a Woody Allen movie describing my childhood living under the Elevated train in Brooklyn. After a while, it became white noise. But, a bright side is that being under the bridge, you are in the no-wake zone — so there is surprisingly less wake here than from the apparently more-protected marinas we have stayed in here. Also, odds are a mega yacht will occupy the ICW T-head and lucky you will be protected even more from ICW traffic.
As for “amenities”, the cruisers lounge, laundry, heads and showers are first rate municipal facilities. They are far better than most facilities we have been offered on the ICW and certainly better than facilities we have used in neighboring private marinas in Fort Lauderdale, perhaps these facilities are designed for cruiser-customers and are not what I have experienced as barely sufficient for their purpose after-thoughts constructed for the crew of or day workers servicing a mega yacht. Euphemistically called “Comfort Stations” in Las Olas-speak, these really are.
In sum, Las Olas is an impressive facility and well located. It gets special Captain Jane Gold Kudos for its copious and accessible recycling bins (plastics 1 and 2, cans, bottles and paper!) Thank you, Las Olas for your commitment to recycling and for helping cruisers do their part to reduce our impact on the environment! This is yet another example of a Florida city marina that is in many ways superior to its privately-owned pricey counterparts.
S/V Lady Jane