Punta Gorda to Fort Myers (Florida to Rhode Island - Day 1)
We started the first day of out trek north for the summer. Our final destination will be Block Island, Rhode Island where we will spend the summer months anchored in the Great Salt Pond. The trip will take about a month. We do have one layover planned in Stuart, Florida where we will be attending the MTOA Southern Rendezvous. We will be docked for a week in Stuart at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Resort Marina for the MTOA Rendezvous.
On the way to Stuart we will be crossing Lake Okeechobee which at this time the water level is really low… end locks opening on restricted schedules… every 2 hours on the odd hour… anyway, we needed fuel for the trip but because the lake level is low we only wanted tp take on a few hundred gallons to minimize our draft requirements… we draft 4’-8” but will full tanks it’s more like 5’ draft… at the current lake level the route 1 navigable depth is 5.53’… going to be slow going in a few places where this 5.53’ depth will be… luckily there are only a couple of spots to watch out for… ?
We departed from Fishermen’s Village Marina in Punta Gorda Florida at 0800 hours and headed south… We had to rendezvous with one of the Reliable TowBoatUS boats at Pelican Bay to hand off my paperwork form the last few days towing. Then we started the search for the best price on diesel fuel… the price at Fishermen’s when we left was $4.19 per gallon… we found lower prices in Fort Myers at several locations… just under $4.00 per gallon… best price we found was at Jack’s Marine South… they quoted us $3.70 per gallon and with BoatUS discount $3.40 per gallon… so that was where we decided to get fuel… one problem… they closed at 1700 hours and we would have a hard time making it to them before 1700… they said to call when we got closer and if it was only a few minutes after 1700 they would wait for us… so we picked up the speed a notch and crossed our fingers we would make it in time… ?
The other issue this placed before us was that Jacks was about 10-15 minutes from Franklin Locks which was only opening every two ours on the odd hours… so they would be opening at 1700 and not again till 1900… we could not make the 1700 opening so we would have to wait until the 1900 opening… it would take a several minutes to take on the fuel but not anywhere near the hour and a half we would have after fueling.
The tide and currents were in our favor and we made it to Jack’s for fuel at 1650 hours… we did have a small issue in that there was a trawler at their fuel dock that had engine problems and could not move so we had to raft up to them to get fuel… the rafting placed the port fuel tank fill at just over 30 feet off the dock… so getting the fuel hose to reach posed a problem for a few minutes… but after some creative routing of the hose over the trawler we managed to get the fuel hose to reach with maybe six inches extra. Put 150 gallons in the port and switched to the starboard tank and wanted to out 150 gallons in it also… when we hit 147 gallons the pump started spitting and sputtering and managed to squeeze out another couple gallons and that was it… we had drained their tank.
We departed from Jacks at 1730 hours and had 90 minutes to go 1.8 miles to the lock for the 1900 opening… the wind was on our stern so I let SAILS be pushed by the wind towards the lock… used the engines to keep us straight and we spent the next 60-70 minutes “sailing” towards the Franklin Locks… we arrive at the arrival point with about 20 minutes to wait for the opening… we sat and watched the tarpon rolling waiting for a green light to enter the lock.
At 1700 promptly we got the green light and we entered the locks… we were joined by a large catamaran sailboat. The lock raised about 2 feet and we exited at 1717 hours.
We had made a reservation at the Franklin Locks State Park docks for that night and it is located just on the northeast side of the lock…
took us a few minutes and we were docked. At the docks we were met by Peter and Nancy Colket that were also heading across the lake to attend the MTOA rendezvous. It was Nancy’s birthday and they invited us to join them that later that evening for birthday cake… we got settled and ate some left over Chinese food from the day before and we were off to join the Colket’s for birthday cake. We had a very nice evening with Peter and Nancy and did not get back to SAILS until 2200… time for bed!
Posted at 10:16 PM by:Jay