First, a few pictures from the very beginning.
In the yard:
The first night on the boat (on the hard in Indiantown)
Left the dock at 1240. Winds from the east at about 10 kts. Easily made 4.5 knots without running the motor too hard. I was passed by one Viking motoryacht. Then, at the 49' railroad bridge just east of Port Mayaca, there was a ~45' ketch being loaded with blue poly barrels to induce a list and thus allow the boat to pass beneath the bridge.
Arrived at Port Mayaca Locks at 1440. I advised the lock-keeper that I was singlehanding on a new-to-me boat, and he promised "no problems". Well, I could see why he could make that promise, there was only an 8" level change between the canal and Lake Okeechobee. He also advised that it would be pretty rough out there, but I decided to give it a try. Geez, they'll sell a boat to anybody these days!
That didn't last long. With rain and 15-20 (higher gusts) right on the nose, my little 6hp was barely making ANY headway. I got about a mile out, and headed right back to the locks. 45 minutes out, 6 minutes back in.
At 1550, I dropped anchor, just east of the "52" red marker. I was offered the use of the "dolphins" (pilings lashed into a pyramidal shape), but I declined. I didn't want that black crap all over Journey (named "Revival" currently, but renaming in Key West when I get the letting made).
So far, everything is going great. The crappy little danforth anchor didn't want to set in the goo here in the canal, so I had to monkey around with in for about half an hour in the rain. That wasn't a lot of fun. Made quite a mess on the foredeck with the ooze that they call a bottom here in Deliverance-land. After that, I headed below, dried off, and finished watching "Troy" with Brad Pitt. One annoying thing about that movie. In some scenes, Achilles (Pitt) has a wound on his left bicep. In others, he's got a smallpox vaccination scar. Good to know that ancient Greece was up on its biotechnology.
Anyway, I'm going to hang out here tonight, then head across Lake Okeechobee in the early AM.
Note at 2000: I'm very glad I decided to head back into Port Mayaca. All evening I've been able to see the flag at the lock rippling straight out from strong winds out of the southwest. Now, at dusk, I would be in the middle of the lake, pounding into the wind, with the added bonus of thunder and lightning. At least I have a great view of the storm while protected from wind and wave. Also, with gasoline at $4/gallon at the marina, I'd really rather do a little better than .01 - 2 knots.
Boat Notes: The little 6hp Evinrude Sailmaster seems to be very smooth and reliable. It took about 6 pulls to get her to start, which isn't bad at all for an engine that's been sitting in the yard for 6 months. It's possibly underproped, as a little wind and wave on the nose seems to easily stop all forward motion under power. Thank goodness for this awesome custom dodger (Natty of Ontario is on the label). With the low freeboard, this is a pretty "wet boat" in rougher conditions. Before I head to Key West, I'm going to have to move some weight forward, there's quite a bit of stern-squat under power. It's a little disconcerting to someone who's never had this little freeboard! Otherwise, everything is working perfectly. Having a bilge that's so dry that it's dusty is going to take some getting used to though. At the end of tomorrow's leg, Journey is going to get a good scrubbing to get the yard filth off of her. I was going to do it today, but between the chilly rain and frustration at the danforth, I called it a day after sloshing the bottom-goo off of the foredeck. A WHOPPING 10 nm net movement today!
Underway at 0740, there were no problems going back through the lock at Port Mayaca.
The trip across Lake Okeechobee was completely uneventful. It was like glass 90% of the time, the rest of the time, there were faint ripples. There was no breeze, and it was HOT! Every ten minutes or so I'd dump a bucket of lake water over my head. Very refreshing! I was passed by a single large Sea Ray at about St. Mile 45. Other than that, I just listened to MP3s or made phone calls. Oddly enough, once I was about 5 miles into the lake, my cellular phone beeped, indicating that I had a message. I figure that the cell tower must be in Clewiston.
I arrived at Clewiston at 1345, and made the right at the Red 20 to continue along the Okeechobee Waterway. From this point on, it drizzled off and on.
I alternated between being hot enough to pour water on my head and shivering in the drizzle. When the rain would stop, I saw one little pontoon lake boat and a barge/tug combo. Of course the barge/tug came around one of the few bends in this stretch of waterway, just as I was approaching from the opposite direction. I got around him on the outside of the bend, but it turns out he was trying to pivot, which left a huge swirling mess behind him. I had to throttle up and just ride out of it. It wasn't too bad, but because I didn't know what to expect, it was bad enough!
Following the western shore of the lake, there's a large levee to the left and nothing but brush and dead tree trunks to the right. Plenty of wildlife though! I couldn't count the alligators and herons. I saw several osprey, and I THINK I saw a bald eagle, but I couldn't make sure. As usual, I took a lot of pictures.
The lock at Moore Haven was also a breeze, but I had a little bit of last-second running around on deck to move my fenders from the port side to the starboard side. Under power, even idling, Journey wants to ease to port. Frank (the previous owner) left a Tiller-Tamer for me in the drawer, but I didn't have the hardware to install it. So I'm able to leave the tiller for 5-10 seconds to perform quick tasks.
I exited the lock at 1700, and decided to just go on for another hour. When that hour was up, I was by Lake Hicpochee (according to the chart). This alleged lake wasn't visible to me, as the sides of the waterway were all grown up and looked just like the rest of the banks. BUT, it was right at this point that my route was clogged by a LOT of floating vegetation. I throttled back some, and decided I'd just get past all of that crap before I anchored. Getting past the bulk of it took almost an hour (3 miles of this garbage!).
So here I sit, anchored in 22' of water, right next to the northern bank of the Caloosahatchee River. I backed down on the anchor, and it seems to be holding, but when I killed the engine, I'm just floating somewhere above it with slack rode hanging down. No current and no breeze... the mosquito coils are lit. I'm going to eat, watch a movie, and go to sleep. Long day (but a good day). 41 nm covered today.Next Entry