FL to CT Day 5
Moore Haven, FL to Stuart, FL
We departed from the Riverhouse Marina, Moore Haven, FL at approximately 0900. As I looked behind us I could see a trawler approaching… it looked like it might have been our friends Peg and Jim Healy… sure enough, I was hailed on the VHF and it was Jim aboard “Sanctuary”… a 36’ Monk… they were just a quarter mile away. We exchanged some chat on the VHF and headed together toward the Moore Haven Lock.
We had to wait only a few minutes at the lock and were given the green light to enter the lock chamber. 14 minutes later we had risen 3.5 feet and were underway. I thought Jim would run a little faster so I told him to take the lead and I would follow.
Weather was nice… forecast was for 6-10 knot winds and a moderate chop on Lake Okeechobee… which we would be crossing today. There was not a lot of boat traffic… few fishermen and a couple of other boats.
We saw maybe three or four alligators… thought we would see more but with Jim running ahead of us… they were most likely getting spooked before we got to them.
The lake was surprisingly calm for the forecast… almost glass smooth so the crossing was really very nice and soon we were approaching Port Mayaca Lock… and another surprise… Jim hailed the lock and they told us that they would open the outer gate and we could continue non-stop through the lock chamber. We had done this several years ago but the last few years we had to stop and lock through… never seemed like much of a change in water level but we still had to go through the whole locking process… was really cool to just zip right through the lock non-stop.
We had not gone a mile and the wind suddenly started to pick up…. Saw gusts to 24 knots and we had steady 15 knot winds… and these winds stayed with us the rest of the day… we got across the lake just in the nick of time… with those winds the crossing would not of been on glass smooth water.
We had planned to stop at Indian Town Marina which was about an hour past the lock… Jim was going on to St.Lucie Lock or Stuart depending on time. We came to the marina about 1500 and looking in their entrance channel we could see there was plenty of room but we made a last minute decision to continue on... not sure how far but it just seemed to early to stop.
Jim was just ahead of us maybe a 1/2 mile and passed through the Indian Town Railroad Bridge… just after he passed the RR bridge started to swing closed… it’s very rare to see this bridge closed… but today I guess we were lucky to be there just at the right time… I hailed the bridge but received no response… that is until we were sitting at the bridge and the bridge tender hailed us and said… “I should of hailed him and let him know I was coming… he would of held it open for us… now you’ll have to wait 15 minutes for the train to pass…” I just acknowledged him and did not pursue that I had tried to hail him… it would of accomplished nothing… so we sat for maybe 10 minutes and the train passed and the bridge was swinging open for us to continue on our way.
We decided at this point to go the St. Lucie Lock and anchor just before the lock across from the small park / campground that is adjacent to the lock. At this point “Sanctuary” was from my estimation was about 3 miles ahead of us… I heard him hail the St. Lucie Lock about locking through. We talked on the VHF and I told him we were planning to anchor just before the lock.
We reached the lock and Susan was not thrilled about the anchorage location nor the park… we again made a last minute decision and opted to continue on to Stuart for the night. I hailed the St. Lucie Lock and told him we were waiting for eastbound… he responded with he had an eastbound boat in the chamber now and no westbound traffic waiting so we would be next… wait for the green light.
When the boat exited the lock it was “Sanctuary”… I thought they had locked through already… they hailed us and asked where we were going… I told them Stuart… he acknowledged and said they would be watching for us.
Soon the lock was open and ready for us to enter the chamber… there was one other boat waiting and we locked through together… 14 foot drop… went by fairly fast for such a large drop in water level…. 47 minutes after arriving we were once again underway heading toward Stuart.
I called Jim aboard “Sanctuary” on the phone and asked where they were… they had anchored just a few minutes ahead of us… I told him we were heading toward the Stuart City Docks… he said he would look for us to pass and follow us there… there was some concern that the anchorage area he was in was not big enough for both of us so the dock sounded good.
We passed Jim and he fell in behind us and we proceeded toward Stuart… we traveled another 30 minutes or so and we came to the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart. I hailed the bridge and the bridge tender was one of the most pleasant bridge tenders we had ever experienced… she was delightfully nice.
Just past the bridge we turned to starboard and headed into the Stuart City Docks… I docked first and “Sanctuary” pulled in ahead of us. We were secured at the docks at approximately 1935. Our location for the evening…. N27°12.137’, W080°15.217’. We traveled for 7.58 hours covering 62.2 nm. I figured our average moving speed was 6.5 knots. I removed just over an hour of time that we sat waiting for or in the locks.
Posted at 10:07 PM
FL to CT Day 4
Owl Creek Boat Works to Moore Haven, FL
We spent that last 12 days at the boat yard… bottom job… used a new product on the market… Eco-Clad… it’s new and time will tell how good it is.
Today we departed from the Owl Creek Boat Works at approximately 0730…. About an hour before low tide and it was very shallow exiting… depth sounder was at 5.0 feet and flashed “LAST” all the way back out to the Okeechobee Waterway (Caloosahatchee River)… a turn to port and we were on our way back at what appears to be faster than normal cruising speed for the RPM… but it could be that it’s just been so long since we had a nice smooth bottom… but it was nice to be moving at 7 knots and well under cruising RPM.
The weather was great for the most part… bright and sunny all morning and becoming partly cloudy in the afternoon with the winds picking up… had 10 to 22 knot winds out of the NE most of the afternoon.
There was quite a bit of boat traffic out… it is Saturday so I expect more than during the week but this area is not a huge weekend boater area… except for the fishermen… but we did see a lot of larger boats moving in both directions.
Several obstacles during the day… 3 bridges and 2 locks… Franklin Lock went smoothly and we locked through about 0830 rising approximately 2.5 feet… total of 23 minutes from arrival point to exit. Alva Bridge was next and little to no wait… same with Labelle Bridge… can’t say the same for the Fort Denaud Swing Bridge. I started hailing the bridge tender at about 1/2 out and did so several times… finally arriving at the bridge dead stop before he answered. Then they have to walk out from the shore to the center of the bridge to operate the swing… The bridge tender was… well being nice… walked very slowly. We did make it through but it was a good 15 minute wait. Ortona Lock was our last obstacle and we arrived and did wait here quite a while… the lock chamber had been used last for east bound traffic so he had to lower the water level in the chamber… 8 feet… so this took some time… we had one other boat waiting with us by the time the we got the green light to enter the chamber. We were both in the chamber and secured when I heard a sailboat also east bound hail the lock asking if he could hold it open for them… they were just 9 minutes away… well the nine minute wait was closer to 20 minutes by the time the sailboat was in and secure. We were also joined in the lock by two small 20 foot runabouts for a total of 5 boats locking through. Then we had an 8 foot rise… and with the smaller boats moving to the front of the lock I think it caused the lockmaster to let the water in more slowly than normal…. Anyway, 46 minutes after arriving we were exiting the lock continuing eastward.
We were not going far today with our evening destination being Moore Haven. We arrived to the Riverhouse Marina and were securely docked at 1445. Our location for the evening…. N26°49.860’, W081°05.446’. We traveled for 7.25 hours covering 40.2 nm. I figured our average moving speed was 6.51 knots. I removed just over an hour of time that we sat waiting for or in the locks.
Posted at 3:26 PM
FL to CT Day 3
East Fort Myers, FL to Owl Creek Boat Works
Not much of a journey today... left Jack's Marine South at approximately 0930 and cruised slowly back to Owl Creek Boat Works... I called them on the phone to be sure they knew we were coming and there was some place for us to actually tie up...
We arrived at just before 1000 and I could see they had freed up the lift bay and they were waving for me to come directly into the lift bay.
We were secure in travel lift bay at 1000. Now we only have to survive the boat yard... probably the worst thing we will have to do on our entire trip north.
We traveled for 30 minutes covering 2.16 nm and averaged 4.32 knots.
Posted at 10:12 AM