CT to FL Day 35
Port Mayaca, FL to Alva, FL
We untied SAILS from the dolphins this morning and were standing by ready for the Port Mayaca Lock 0700 opening. There was another boat who also spent the night on the dolphins waiting with us.
We entered the lock 0700 on the nose with the other boat behind us... it was a bit windy and forecast was for north winds 1t to 20 knots... lake choppy. Well when the lock gates opened to fill the chamber to raise us to the lake level... it became choppy in the lock... the waves from the lake were creating a 1 foot wave in the chamber as it filled... never experienced this before in this lock.
I told the other boat they could exit the lock first since they would be running faster than we would be... they agreed and once we got the green light form the lockmaster he was heading out... he was having some difficultly maneuvering his boat in the waves and wind as he exited the lock... I really thought he was going to hit the fenders before he cleared the lock... but he made it... now it was our turn... with the chamber doors fully open the chop was had become solid 2 foot waves... it was nasty getting out of the lock for sure. Once out into Lake Okeechobee and clear of the lock we had 2 to 3 foot waves on the beam... very nasty indeed.
Winds were blowing out of the north at about 18 knots and as we made our turn to head toward Rocky Reef the attitude of the waves and boat were horrible... hitting us at 45° on the starboard rear quarter... not a very nice ride but doable... only 4 hours more to cross the lake.... YIKES
about 30 minutes out we started getting gusts to over 30 knots and steady 25 knot winds... it was getting very nasty... seas were soon 4 to 6 feet and all we could hear was thing moving about in the boat interior that should not be moving at all... options... abort and return back through lock...NO Abort crossing the lake and divert to Pahokee on the eastern rim of the lake... trickly entrance and shallow water entering the marina might not be a good idea... so we opted to continue on... wave soon were steady at 6 foot with much larger rogue waves every so often... I would estimate at 8 footers. The biggest problem was the attitude of the waves to SAILS that was making for a very unsettling ride... we had 2 hours to Rocky Reef where we would turn due south and have the waves on our stern which would not be horrible... we again thought of aborting... it was about the same time to Pahokee as it was to Rocky Reef... so we continued on... to ease the ride I started tacking back and forth across our course... 40° left for 1000 ft and then back to 40° right for 1000 ft... this was great except for when we made the turns... caught a couple of rogue wave in one turn that really rolled us... so for the next 2 hours we continue tacking and finally we reached Rocky Reef and made our turn due south... once on the other side of the reef the waves subsided to 2 to 3 ft waves... the reef is only about 3 to 4 feet deep and really broke the wave action form the winds... another 2 hours and we were in Clewiston and the rim canal... flat calm with only a ripple being raised form the wind.... very nice and welcome change. This was the worst conditions we have had the entire trip... new respect for Lake Okeechobee.
We had 2 more locks today and would arrive to our planned destination W.P. Franklin Lock State Park. Locks went smoothly... 5 foot drop at Moore Haven Lock with no wait to enter the lock and 8 foot drop at Ortona Lock with maybe 15 minutes wait to enter the lock.
We arrived to the our destination for the night at the W.P. Franklin Lock at 1820 and anchored in a small cove just off the state park. There used to be docks here but they were destroyed in Hurricane IAN... we were securely anchored at 1830. Our location for the night N26°43.436',W081°41.484'
. We traveled today for 11.5 hours covering 71.5 nautical miles averaging 6.2 knots.