If you're doing weekend trips and your boat isn't derelict, then Lake Sylvia is a good option. Nowhere to land your dink closeby, but it is a "cove" with protection from all sides. You'll have to pay for a mooring at Las Olas...the Lake (as locals call it) is free.
A bit tricky to get in if you draw more than 6 feet. DO NOT enter the middle of the lake entrance...you will go aground. There are two entrances...one involves getting almost to Bahia Mar by the Yellow Apartments and hugging the east side all the way into the lake then once you're in crossing over to the west side where there is a bit deeper water. Supposedly there are shallows right in the center of the lake as well, but I've never recorded less than 10 feet.
The other more adventuresome entrance (but one that supposedly has better depth) is to come in off the ICW/New River and hug the west shore...and REALLY CLOSE until you get to the sign (manatee or idle speed) and then cut over to the east shore and take the same course as above into the lake.
Trying to upload pics...hang on...
This is the general location of Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale
This is how you enter....REMEMBER DO NOT PROCEED DOWN THE MIDDLE...the locals all get entertainment watching sailboats ground themselves in the middle of the channel. Hug either shore and cut over to the east side by the Manatee/Idle Speed marker.