On the sloop “Klyo,” in the New River Sound, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were President-elect Warren Harding (in white pants and white shoes, standing in the middle with cap doffed in right hand) and owner, Commodore Avylen Harcourt Brook (short-statured, standing in the middle of two taller men in the stern with flat captain’s hat (1922)). Courtesy, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Historical Society. The event, or “stunt”, attracted coverage from newspapers across the country, inciting action for a second renaissance in inland waterways construction and improvements. More than thirty citizen groups coalesced to lobby for waterways throughout the country.
The author rows a 21′ long ultra-lite Alden Star rowing shell the average person can lift and launch into the water. The oars are top-of-the-line oars hand carved from light wood in Vermont. A pair of oars will set you back about $400 but, in the opinion of the author, the cost is well worth it.
While more expensive than oars made from PVC, the slightly heavier weight lends more stability. And with experience, the combination of the ultra-lite shell propelled by the wooden oars create an experience that is just this side of heaven. The shell flat flies over water when the wind is down and the water flat.
Rowing on the New River Sound, or almost any tidally-influenced inland waterway, is a rough way to row. While I have rowed as fast as 10 knots in ideal conditions, those instances are few and far between. The best conditions are those found in flat water low or no wind such as lakes or closed non-tidally influenced water.
The New River Sound is a portion of the Intracoastal Waterway that runs from Lighthouse Point south through Fort Lauderdale to Hollywood, Fla.
The author took up rowing when age no longer accommodated running. I enjoyed running. But after discovering rowing, I’d say that rowing is a better conditioning experience with less stress on the feet, ankles, and knees. One caveat: talk to your physician before undertaking any exercise regime and find the right one for you.
In the 1930’s, Commodore Avylen Harcourt Brook, second chairman of the Florida Inland Navigation District, diligently worked with community leaders to bring the Amphitrite, a floating hotel and restaurant to Fort Lauderdale. Actually, the Amphitrite served as a warship in the Spanish-American War and the First World War; later, she was decommissioned and sold to investors, who converted her into a floating hotel and restaurant. In Greek mythology, Amphitrite was the wife of Poseidon.
The Amphitrite seen here in the New River Sound, a large body of water of the Intracoastal Waterway, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with its bow facing north. The floating hotel boasted a number of amenities in addition to serving as a hotel and restaurant.
Ultimately, the ship was not financially successful. The coups d’grace was delivered when a hurricane blew her from her mooring to another part of the Intracoastal. Over the years, the ship became something of an ‘eye sore’ from lack of maintenance. She was not missed by local residents when the old vessel disappeared during World War II, according to local legend.
As fantastic as a floating hotel may seem, Palm Beach County investor Harry Seymour Kelsey, developer of Kelsey City, now Lake Park, Fla., planned in the early 1920’s when he bought the Florida East Coast Canal from the estate of George Ł. Bradley to install a string of floating hotels along the Canal. His sale of the waterway to the State of Florida for later transfer to the federal government for conversion into the Intracoastal Waterway interrupted his master plan of “floating hotels” along the waterway.
William G. Crawford, Jr., Esq.
Author of “Florida’s Big Dig”