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Friday, 2 December 2011
Moore Haven,FL to Cape Coral, FL
Rhode Island to Florida - Day 40
We departed Moore Haven, FL just before sunrise at 0640 hours and continued west on the Okeechobee Waterway. TERRAPIN was still docked but I did see some lights on inside.

Today we had several bridges and two locks... the only bridge that I would need to open would be the Fort Denaud Swing Bridge... the others I could clear with my mast and antennas lowered. The locks were another matter... no avoiding them you just hope to arrive at just the right time so as to not have to wait too long to lock through.

About an hour or so after departing I could see TERRAPIN approaching our stern... they hailed and were going to pass on our starboard side... no problem... they must of left Moore Haven right after us to have caught us so quickly... :) Once past they did slow somewhat and it seemed as if we were running closer to the same speed today... we would arrive to each location... bridge or lock just minutes apart.

First lock was the Ortona Lock and we arrived at approximately 0840 hours and had to wait only a couple of minutes before we had the green light to enter the lock... we dropped 8 feet in this lock and we were back underway at 0900 hours.

Next was the Labelle Bridge... no opening required... slid right under with no delay... shortly afterwards we came to the Fort Denaud Swing Bridge... TERRAPIN was ahead of us and hailed the bridge and let them know that there were two trawlers coming... made it easy for me... I arrived just after the bridge had opened completely and without any delay slid through the bridge opening. Alva Bridge was next... again TERRAPIN hailed for an opening... I did not require one but they did... no delays... :)

Second lock was next... Franklin Lock and I arrived just as the green light to enter came on... slid right into the lock at 1215 hours... they lowered us 3 feet and we were underway again at 1230 hours... timing was working out very well today.

Was not long before we were in Fort Myers, FL and back in our home waters... a nice feeling but yet sad knowing that soon our cruising would end for a few months... :)

Susan asked where I had planned to stop for the evening... I had wanted to make to Pelican Bay and anchor out one last time before we would in a slip for months... she said we were out of beer... YIKES! NO BEER! We needed to make a pit stop... have to have a cold beer when you anchor... :) We were just passing the Fort Myers Yacht Basin... they had a ships store but I was not sure if they sold beer... Then it hit me... there was a Publix a block off the waterway just west of Legacy Marina... doubt they would let us stop to make a run to Publix for beer... but there were some old docks that used to be attached to a waterfront restaurant and bar... Shooters... the docks were still there and they were directly across from the Publix... so we made a turn to port and into the old Shooters docks and tied up... Susan walked a block to Publix... picked up some beer and we were off... stocked and ready for happy hour once we anchored for the night... :)

We had planned to go to Pelican Bay and anchor for the night... I did not have it plotted in so was not sure exactly how long it would take us but figured it was still about 28 miles ahead of us... 3-4 hours which was well past sunset... was not up to running at night today so we opted out of Pelican Bay and dropped into Cape Coral... Tarpon Point... a small bay named Glover Bight... TERRAPIN had told us they were going to anchor here so as we came around the last bend before the anchorage we saw TERRAPIN anchored and there were two other trawlers also anchored. I dropped the hook between TERRAPIN and one of the other trawlers and we were securely anchored at approximately 1645 hours at coordinates N26°32.264, W08°159.826.

We traveled today for 9 hours and 50 minutes covering 59.23 nautical miles and averaging 6.02 knots.

Trip totals to date:

Distance: 1594.06 nautical miles
Hours: 248 hours 5 minutes
Avg Spd: 6.43 knots
Days not moving: 12
Posted at 5:40 PM
Thursday, 1 December 2011
Stuart, FL to Moore Haven,FL
Rhode Island to Florida - Day 39
We departed from Stuart City Docks this morning at 0640 hours and head back out to the ICW... low tide and the depth sounder was not even registering a depth... just dashes... we weren't hitting bottom so we idled out to the channel... we made it to the channel and were again back in deep water... well deep for this area... 7-8 feet.

First goal of the day was to make the Roosevelt Bridge... just a quarter of a mile ahead of us but directly adjacent to it is the Britt Point Railroad Bridge... it's automated and is normally open except when a train is approaching and then it's down and the trains in Stuart are LONG... VERY LONG... so it can be a big delay if you have the misfortune of having a train pass by. This time we were lucky and no trains... hailed the Rooselvelt Bridge which is on request and we were soon under the bridge and passing by the Sunset Bay Marina and mooring field... they were packed full... must be a good place to stop.

Today we planned to go to Moore Haven, FL... about 60 nautical miles so it would be a shorter day for us. We had three locks to go through... St. Lucie Lock, the Port Mayaka Lock and the Moore Haven Lock. There are a few bridges (high rise) that pose no problem and two railroad bridges that are open most of the time.

I could see one boat ahead of us... looked like a Grand Banks trawler... so we would have at least one boat in the St. Lucie Lock with us. The St. Lucie Lock was only a few miles past the bridges so I was monitoring channel 13 on the VHF which is the channel the locks use in Florida so that I could be aware of the lock status... it's nice to arrive and not have to wait for the lock. I heard a hail to the lock from a boat traveling west as we were and the voice and boat named sounded very familiar... Susan and I both looked at each other and simultaneously said... "That's Dick and Barbara!" They were the Grand Banks trawler ahead of us... what a neat surprise... Dick and Barbara Brilhart were fellow MTOA members and were our neighbors last winter in Fishermen's Village Marina in Punta Gorda, Fl... with any luck they will be our neighbors again this year in Fishermen's... they are super people. As we made the turn and could see the lock Dick hailed us on the VHF and asked... Is that SAILS behind us?... we exchanged some chit-chat and a few minutes later we were behind them in the lock... what a great surprise to run into them... :) There was one other boat in the lock ahead of Dick and Barbara... a sailing trimaran named POPEYE from Solomons, MD.

The St. Lucie Lock took about 30 minutes to raise us 14 feet... we arrived at approximately 0800 hours and were exiting the lock at 0830 hours. Virtually no delay other than the time it took for the lock to bring us 14 feet and we were again on our way. After exiting the lock Dick hailed me on the VHF and we talked for a few minutes... determined that they were going to be running a little faster than us and would remain ahead of us and that their destination for the evening was also Moore Haven... told Dick we would be stopping at the marina just past the Moore Haven City Docks (Riverhouse Marina)... we agreed to get together and have a drink when we arrived.

Dick and Barbara were soon well ahead of us and could only see them in when we were in long straight stretches of the St. Lucie Canal. We soon slowly crept past the sailing Trimaran POPEYE and were bound for the for the next lock... Port Mayaka Lock located on the eastern edge of Lake Okeechobee.

As we approached the lock I was again monitoring VHF channel 13 and heard TERRAPIN (Dick and Barbara) communicating with the lock... they were just passing under the Port Makaya Railroad Lift Bridge... they were only about a mile ahead of us... I thought they were much further ahead of us... we would be able to make the lock with them... :) As we passed around the bend and cold see the lock and then I noticed a red flashing light on the railroad bridge... the one that is always OPEN... it was closing... and closing very slowly... we would not be making this lock with TERRAPIN.

We sat and waited for the bridge to fully lower and two maintenance men walk off of it... no train was coming luckily... once they were off the lift span they started the raising the bridge... but is was real SLOW... one it got high enough for us to pass under I moved ahead... I hailed the lock just ahead of us and asked if we would be able to make the west bound lockage... he said sorry captain the gates are closing and I would have to wait for the next one... it was 1130 hours. Luckily this lock does not lift you much... we only went up 2-3 inches... at 1205 hours we were exiting the lock and entering Lake Okeechobee.

The winds were northerly at 10-15 knots and the lake was a little rough but nothing uncomfortable... a couple of hours and we were across the lake and back into protected waters of the rim canal at Clewiston.

Normally, in the rim canal you see a lot of alligators so we had the camera ready and our eyes peeled for gators... we were a little disappointed... not one gator... :(

We arrived at the Moore Haven Lock at 1650 hours and had the green light and entered the lock with no delay. Lock master said we would be going down about 3 feet. We tied to lock wall starboard side to and waited... would take a while to go down 3 feet... I saw the lock gates opening in front of us... normally they crack the gates open and let the water out slowly... this time the gates just kept opening and did not stop... the water rushed out really fast and we were down 3 feet in a couple of minutes... can't believe how much turbulence in the water this caused in the lock.

We were at the Riverhouse Marina docks in a few minutes... TERRAPIN was already at the dock and Dick was out waiting to assist us with our lines. We were securely docked at approximately 1710 hours.

We traveled for 10 hours and 30 minutes covering 62.33 nautical miles and averaging 5.94 knots.

After getting settled at the dock we joined Dick and Barbara aboard TERRAPIN for cocktails and some snacks. We had a very nice evening catching up with Dick and Barbara.

Trip totals to date:

Distance: 1534.86 nautical miles
Hours: 238 hours 15 minutes
Avg Spd: 6.44 knots
Days not moving: 12
Posted at 9:16 AM
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Cocoa, FL to Stuart, FL
Rhode Island to Florida - Day 38
We departed early before sunrise at 0645 hours this morning... leaving Cocoa, FL bound for Stuart, FL... it would be another long day of cruising.

As we departed another large sailboat was leaving the anchorage just south of where we were docked... they eased into the ICW just ahead of us but we were moving a little faster and passed them quickly. Could hear several other boats on the VHF this morning early... normally the VHF is pretty quiet at this time of the morning and I was surprised to hear the radio traffic. It was from a couple of boats that from what I could tell were behind us... ended up they were beside us in the Banana River... they evidently had anchored there and were heading out. They were soon behind us in the ICW... a trawler named "Refuge" was one of the boats... the name seemed familiar to me and I looked it up in the MTOA online roster and found two boats with that name... a Marine Trader from Maryland and a Monk from Maine... they were catching us and soon they hailed on the VHF.. I assumed they were going to pass but instead informed me that they had slowed down to stay behind me and were not passing... I acknowledged and took a quick peek at what type of boat they were... it was a Monk... I was now curious if this was the MTOA members from Maine ??? I did not see an MTOA burgee flying.

The trip south continued a few other boats passed us... a SeaRay type cruiser and a large power cat... the cruiser had passed us the day before and we exchanged some chit-chat on the radio about seeing each other yesterday and they continued on their way "waking" everyone they passed... :) We had also crossed paths with the power cat a couple of times as we traveled south this year. In the Stuart area we of course got "waked" by several giant sport fish boats... typical of this area every time we have passed through.

The current boost today was not tremendous but it was consistent keeping us above 7 knots most of the time... the only time we dropped below our mean speed of 6.5-6.6 knots was when we turned out of the ICW into the St. Lucie River in Stuart... hitting 5.5-6 knots at the mouth of the river but as the waterway widened we got back to 6.2-6.3 knots.

We docked at the Stuart City docks at approximately 1829 hours. We traveled for 11 hours and 44 minutes covering 84.08 nautical miles and averaging 7.17 knots.

The pizza from Ryan's was great cold for breakfast and hot for lunch... but Susan said no pizza for dinner... we still have some left... looking forward to it for tomorrow!

Trip totals to date:

Distance: 1472.53 nautical miles
Hours: 227 hours 45 minutes
Avg Spd: 6.47 knots
Days not moving: 12
Posted at 6:49 PM
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