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