Thursday, April 18, 2013

It’s Great to Be Back on the Water

Monday April 15th, 2013

We pulled out of Regatta Pointe Marina in Palmetto, Florida under partly sunny skies (or was it partly cloudy skies?) at 8:00am and headed out of the Manatee River. Upon reaching the last channel markers at the river’s mouth we made a left turn for a short leg over open water to the opening of the ICW.

Going down the ICW on this leg we passed Longboat Key, Cortez, St. Armands and downtown Sarasota, all places we have come to be very familiar with from the land. We hadn’t been out in these waters save for the short trip on Sarasota Bay for a failed sea trial on Dunwurkin, the original boat we had considered to buy. After passing downtown Sarasota we continued past Siesta Key and wound around all of the shoals and mini-islands. And since we were in southern Florida we were once again in the land of drawbridges. Fortunately most of them were high enough we could scoot under without an opening. Of course the exception to this was the last bridge we had to pass which was a swing bridge at Blackburn Point. Fortunately it opened by request rather than on a timed schedule so the bridge tender had it open and waiting for us when we approached.

Our anchorage for the night was a lovely area called Blackburn Bay. We pulled off of the channel to the west into a nice, large area with plenty of depth and great hold. It was a tad breezy buy the hook held just fine and the breezes cooled the inside of the boat nicely, which was a good thing as it was a hair over 90 degrees. Gentle winds blew throughout the night gently swinging the boat around through almost all the points of the compass. The only downside of the day is that Lisa is still feeling pretty lousy but she is soldiering on.

Tuesday April 16, 2013

It was time to haul up the anchor at sunrise and head on down the channel. During the late afternoon at Blackburn Bay two other boats joined us at the anchorage. One of the boats, a trawler, Morning Star, got a thirty minute head start on us. We had communicated by radio and they had the same destination as us except they were going to go outside into the Gulf of Mexico instead of the ICW. We hadn’t really toyed with the idea much but as we approached Venice Inlet we decided to sort of poke our head out into the Gulf and see what it was like. To our pleasure it was pretty smooth. There was a ten knot wind from the east and gentle swells which made for some great boating. While eventually going out like this would only save us one mile in distance we are sure it saved us at least ninety minutes of time. It was great.

We saw Morning Star out in front of us a good distance off. We radioed them and let them know we were tailing them. They seemed pleased with that. Their boat, a Kaden Krogen Manatee, is a bit slower than ours so with about seven miles to go to reach the Charlotte Harbor entrance we caught up to them. As they were familiar with the area we followed them through the harbor. Charlotte Harbor is a very large harbor and over the radio the crew of Morning Star told us about how much they have always enjoyed boating there and that we would do well to return there someday and spend some time. Sounds good to us.

Admiral Lisa at the helm

On the Gulf of Mexico


Here’s an example of what can happen when you do not follow your first intuition. As we approached our anchorage at Ding Darling Park at Sanibel Island Morning Star continued on to some other destination. We pulled into the bay and decided for some reason that it could be too exposed for some of the higher winds coming from the east. The forecasts were fluctuating from hour to hour and it was hard to get a firm grip on what the night was going to be like. We left Ding Darling and went off on a search for an alternate location. Lisa went onto ActiveCaptain and found that there were other anchorages in the area but none of them were getting glowing reviews, so we went back to Ding Darling. We dropped the hook and got a good hold. But something was unsettled in my mind. While we were secure I didn’t like it. We decided to pull up anchor and head up to Legacy Harbor Marina for the night which added about 15 miles to our trip for the day. We were surprised that the weather on the Caloosahatchee River was abysmal. High winds and very choppy conditions dogged us the entire way up to the marina. After we arrived and got tied up the winds that were of such concern pretty much died away. We would probably have been fine at the anchorage. Oh well. At least our day on the river up to Moore Haven on Lake Okeechobee is now shortened by 15 miles. That’s a good thing. It was a long day and we didn’t last very long before falling asleep.

Another downer on the whole day was that we discovered that the generator is acting up again. We’ll get it looked at in Vero Beach.

And in the “that sucks” department, the Caloosahatchee River gods must have been angry. Our AGLCA white burgee with its flaws, frays and ragged condition was unceremoniously ripped from the boat at some point and flung into the drink somewhere. Fortunately we’ll have a nice new gold one to replace it with soon but it would still have been a great souvenir.

Wednesday April 17, 2013

We pulled out of Legacy Harbor to head up the Caloosahatchee River towards our next scheduled stop, the city dock at Moore Haven. We passed through two more locks in an otherwise routine day.
Moore Haven at night
Special mention should be made about the aforementioned city dock. Its really nice!: sturdy wood dock with rubber bumpers on the pilings and good electricity. You pay for your night’s stay at the city hall which is right across the street. But don’t fall victim to the lies that the city office workers spew. They are, I guess, dock masters at heart. They suffer from DMDD – Dock Master Distance Delusion. They made sure they told us that the supermarket and post office were “just a few minutes away” and “just a couple of blocks” from the riverfront. Baloney. I had to take a hike to drop some letters at the post office which was 11 blocks away, not “a couple”. To me that means two blocks away. You see dock masters have never personally walked any of the distances they tell us boaters about. When they say “just over the hill” they mean “somewhere over the Ozark Mountains”. When they say, “just a few minutes” they mean “45 minutes to an hour”. When they say, “a short distance” they mean four miles. Oh well. During my walk to the post office I did get to see the high school and the Glade County Rodeo grounds.

Thursday April 18th, 2013

The Moore Haven Lock which puts you into the rim canal of Lake Okeechobee is less than a half a mile from the dock. As it was Thursday there was no waiting. The rim canal skirts along the rim (thus the name) of the lake. At Clewiston we made the sharp left turn that first takes you through a swamp (the real deal here, folks) for a short distance until you are out on the lake itself. It is a very large lake and transiting it takes a couple of hours. At the end of the charted Route 1 is the Port Mayaca lock which had a lift of a whole whopping six inches. Whew! Upon leaving the lock we were in the St. Lucie Canal. We followed it for eight miles to our stop for the night, the Indian Town Marina. (Not a very PC name, is it?) It is a, shall we say, cozy marina but it has a huge facing dock – just the kind we like!

Cruising through a swamp on Lake Okeechobee

A cow! There is some kind of waterfowl standing underneath the cow. Cow = shade.
 And with this stop we are in position to make our last day on this Great Loop adventure. As soon as we leave here we will go through Port St. Lucie and Stuart where we will join up with the Atlantic ICW officially crossing our wake and closing our loop. Awesome! One little hitch though. A storm system is coming through tomorrow (April 19) and will not blow out of the area until late Saturday. There won’t be much rain but the winds will be significant. So much so we have to stay here in Indian Town. Sunday looks like our goboat day.

Can you believe it? One day left and we have to sit it out until conditions get right. ONE STINKING DAY! 

1 comment:

David said...

Thanks Darrell, I'm enjoying following your route using Google Maps. I'm hoping to make the trip in a couple of years and am trying to gain some knowledge. Don't know if you remember but we met last Fall at the Joe Wheeler Rendezvous. Oh, congratulations to you both on the marriage last week, my wife and I celebrated our 11th on the 13th.
Life is good!