South Florida Sun-Sentinel
It’s a sight rarely seen in these parts, where boats come and go all day long without incident: A 137-foot party yacht wedged under Fort Lauderdale’s busy Sunrise Boulevard Bridge on a balmy Saturday night.
Neighbor Mark Addison started recording the spectacle after hearing screaming passengers and a loud crunching noise.
The Sun Dream was attempting to dock at the Doubletree Suites hotel next to the Intracoastal when the boat slammed into the bridge. The crew blamed it on wind gusts and a mechanical problem.
“As funny as it was, thank God no one got hurt,” said Suzee Bailey, president of the Nurmi Isles Homeowners Association. “But did it do any damage to the bridge? And will our city do anything about it?”
The boat probably took more of a hit than the bridge, said John Fiore, a boating expert and longtime member of Broward County’s marine advisory board.
“I hope they have insurance,” he said. “The state’s going to want their bridge fixed if they damaged it. At a low speed I would suspect the damage would be minimal. I would think the boat took the brunt of the damage. Bridges are built really solid and boats are built light. So the boat’s going to be the loser.”
City officials initially told the South Florida Sun Sentinel they were unsure whether the bridge had been damaged.
But late Sunday, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said state officials told him they’d already been out to inspect the bridge and found no damage.
The company website for Sun Dream Yacht Charters says the family-owned business has been hosting weddings, holiday parties and elegant celebrations for more than 32 years.
Bob Brantmeyer, president of Sun Dream Yacht Charters, said a mechanical problem caused the the bow of the vessel to travel under the bridge.
“The crew quickly identified the issue and docked the vessel safely,” he said. “There were no injuries to crew or passengers and light cosmetic damage to the vessel.”
Brantmeyer says he has coordinated with the relevant authorities and safety remains his top priority.
“Apparently they had some transmission problems and the boat got away from them,” Fiore said. “A boat like that might weigh around 100 tons. And it doesn’t stop easily. The bottom line, apparently no one was hurt. That’s the good thing.”
Longtime resident Tom Godart chalked the whole thing up to a freak accident.
“I’ve been in Fort Lauderdale 34 years and I’ve never heard of that happening,” he said.
Godart wasn’t too worried about damage to the bridge.
“I just went over the bridge,” Godart said while on his way to a park with his daughter. “I went over the bridge and we were safe.”
©2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.