Monday, November 28, 2016

11/28 to Vero and a technical crossing

The wind was still blowing but we decided to head to Vero anyway.  Because we were heading into the wind it was more choppy than rolly as we headed east on the St. Lucie River.   It was only 7 miles to the intersection of the Okeechobee and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.  The red nun in this picture marks the end of the St. Lucie River and Mile 0 of the Okeechobee and the red triangle marker is on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

As we turned onto the Intracoastal at Marker 240, we had a crossing of our wake of sorts. 
We bought the boat in Fr. Lauderdale in 2015 and took her home to Wilmington.  So from here to Wilmington, we have done this section of the loop.  But we will do an official crossing when we get to Wilmington.  I have our gold burgee and will think about flying it now.

The ICW is very wide here in FL.  There are even islands in the ICW.  The trees on the islands are all windswept.

We cruised to Vero Beach.  It is a lovely area.  Andi Backmeyer, my son-in-law Stephen's mom lives here and will meet us for dinner tomorrow night.  I am looking forward to her visit.  Here is tonight's sunset at Vero.

Lat 27 degrees 39.48 North
Long 80 degrees 22.22 West

Sunday, November 27, 2016

11/26-27 Stuart FL on the Saint Lucie River

We are at Loggerhead Marina on the St. Lucie River part of the Okeechobee Waterway.  We are only 7 miles from the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.  It is very nice here and we had dinner by the pool last night.  The Stuart Bridge looked spectacular all lit up.

Sunday, we ubered to church and then walked about a mile to the New England Fish Market.  It was both a fish market and restaurant.  John had seen that they had fried whole clams.  You just can't find those everywhere outside of New England.  We laughed at this Fishy American Gothic picture.
I had a lobster dinner and it was as good as it looked.
We walked to a Winn Dixie for a few items and then ubered back to the marina.  The wind had changed though.  It went from calm to very windy with gusts up to 20 mph.  Here is a picture of yesterday. 
And here is a picture of today. 
What a difference a day makes!  It isn't cold though.  It is still in the 70's.  It is just windy.

If it calms down tomorrow, we will head to Vero Beach.

Friday, November 25, 2016

11/24 and 11/25 How we spent Thanksgiving and Black Friday

11/24 Thanksgiving.  Another beautiful day on the Okeechobee waterway.  Thankfully, we had good cell phone reception and had nice calls from our girls.  We got pictures of the Tyrell Thanksgiving in Milton that Alicia was attending (she held Liz's baby daughter, Allison Mildred)  pictures of each of the Backmeyers making side dishes, and we skyped with the Reichert family and got a picture of  them on the way to deliver dinner to Mission Control.

We cruised along the Caloosahatchee River.  We could see the bee hives along the river that hold the bees that pollinate the orange groves.
 We went through a few more small locks.  Along the canal, there was much work being done on the dyke that holds back the water and prevents flooding.  This is called the Herbert Hoover Dyke.
 In some spots along the canal, trees were just off to the side of the canal.  Note to self; Do Not Aim for the Trees. 
The sawgrasses went on for miles around the rim of the Lake.

We saw many osprey on markers.

Eventually, we entered Lake Okeechobee.
Lake Okeechobee is a very large but very shallow lake.  We were fortunate that the winds were light and did not kick up waves.  The crossing was about 16 miles.  These gulls followed us all the way across the Lake.  I think they thought we would offer them fish.  Sorry to disappoint them.
Many people have asked if we fish along the way.  The answer is no.  You need to have a fishing license for each state and Canada.  There is not reciprocity among the states.  It is just not cost effective.

We entered the St. Lucie River on the other side of the Lake.  John found us a beautiful anchorage.  He had bought sliced turkey with gravy from Publix.  It was microwavable and was actually pretty good.  I was thankful for the opportunity to do this trip with John.  We saw alligators but they didn't come close to the boat until morning.

11/25 Black Friday.  The alligators came close to the boat this morning.  I got this picture before we pulled anchor and headed toward the east coast.
Our first lock on the Great Loop was the lock in the Dismal Swamp.  We have locked over 140 locks since then.  We have locked up 89 feet and 2 feet.  We have locked through the Peterborough Lift lock and the Big Chute and locks on the major rivers; the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and the Tombigbee.  But today we locked through the St. Lucie Lock.  This is our last lock on our Great Loop.  There are no more locks between here and Wilmington.  It was actually kind of bittersweet.
Here is the St. Lucie lock.
Here is the Hydrophilic in the lock.
The Hydrophilic was reflected in the lock master's office window with the lock master.
With 7 miles left on the Okeechobee, we arrived in Stuart, FL.  We will stay here for 3 nights.  It is very nice here.  I had to try out the pool and hot tub.  The hot tub was very relaxing.  It was much better than shopping.

Lat 27 degrees 12.73 North
Long 80 degrees 15.36 West

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

11/23 Ft. Myers and East on the Okeechobee

Monday, we took a walk to the Edison Ford Winter Estates and Gardens.  There was so much to see.  Edison came first to Ft. Myers.  Then Ford bought the lot next door.  There is a huge banyan tree located on the property.   That is not many trees; it is all one tree.  A statue of Edison stands below it.
Edison had a laboratory there looking for the best way to harvest latex to make rubber.  Ford's wife, Mina, was instrumental in the grounds and gardens.  Here is John on a bench with her. 

The docent that took us around the estates was excellent.  This is a huge bougainvillea.  He told us that it is supported with metal supports. 
The garden paths overlooked the Calasoohatchee River, which makes up the Okeechobee.
This tree had orchids growing all over it.  It was spectacular.
 Edison also experimented with bamboo as a filament in light bulbs.  So there were great stands of bamboo in the garden.
I learned why a pick up truck is called a pick up truck.  Apparently, when you ordered the early trucks, it would come in a wooden box by train.  The new owner would go Pick Up his new truck at the train station.  The wood of the box became the truck bed and the sides.  The engine and other pieces would be put together.

In the museum, there was the Ford car that Ford gave to Edison.
There were many inventions on display from both men.  I liked these sayings by both men.

In the afternoon, I got a mani/pedi in downtown Fr. Myers.  It was just a short walk up First St.

Tuesday morning,  I went back to Bennett's Donuts.  It was practically just across the street from the marina.  They have been featured on the Food Network.  The fritters were amazing.  We gave the boat a good scrubbing.  It was covered in salt.  We made a second reprovisioning run to Publix, too.  In the evening, a friend of mine, Wendi Stevenson,  that I worked with at Carilion who now lives in Ft. Myers, brought her family by to say hello and tour the boat.  What a good time it was.  Her twin daughters are 16.  They wanted their dad to buy a boat. 

This morning, we headed across the Okeechobee.  When we were first thinking about this trip we rented a small trawler and went a short way across the Okeechobee.  That was my first experience with a lock.  I remembered being so excited.  Today, we went through that same lock.  It only changed elevation by 3 feet.  After all the locks we have done, it seemed so simple.

The Okeechobee reminds one that not all of Florida is a city or Disney.  There were ranches with cows and horses.

Miles of orange groves line the river.
I loved the structure of this railroad bridge in the open position.
Manatees have found that power plants have warm water discharge and they move to the power plants for the winter.  Everyone winters in FLA.

Tonight we are in La Belle, Florida and will cross Lake Okeechobee tomorrow.

Lat 26 degrees 47.76 North
Long 81 degrees 17.65 West

Sunday, November 20, 2016

11/20 Our Southern Most Point and onto the Okeechobee Waterway

Last night about 3 a.m. the wind changed.  The wind was coming out of the north and was up over 25 miles parer hour.  That woke up the neighborhood.  John went out to reposition our fenders.  Other neighboring boats were awake repositioning dinghies.  So much for a good nights sleep.  We dilly dallied in the morning hoping the winds would lay down and they did lay down some.  Those same neighbors helped us to get off the dock and underway on the Intracoastal Waterway.

We have shown you pictures of the eastern, northern, and most western spots on our trip.  Today, we went to the most southern point of our trip.  We turned toward the Caloosahatchee River that makes up the Okeechobee Waterway at Lat 26 degrees 28.35 North and Long 82 degrees  05.7 West.  This pelican was ready to show us the way.

This is a busy area with boats heading out to the ocean and Ft. Myers.  There is even a convenience store along the waterway.

Traveling at low tide seems to be something we do well.  This shoal was just outside the channel.

We arrived at Legacy Harbor here in Ft. Myers for 3 nights before we continue across the Okeechobee.  It was after 3 and we hadn't had lunch.  A Joe's Crab Shack is right at the marina.  We had an early supper.  I got a Shark Bite drink that comes with a shark on the glass with grenadine "blood" in the shark.  You pour the blood into the glass.  John had a good laugh while I poured.

They are getting ready for Thanksgiving here at Legacy.  This boat even had a turkey aboard.

Lat 26 degrees 38.52 North
Long 81 degrees 52.54 West

Saturday, November 19, 2016

11/19 A Whale of a day on the Captiva Island

What  beautiful day!  It was clear and sunny without a cloud in the sky.  The breeze off the Gulf of Mexico kept it from feeling uncomfortable even though it was in the 80's.  The boat needed a good inside cleaning.  Yes, we do vacuuming and wash the floor just like any other home.

The best of the day was yet to come.  We took our beach chairs and walked across the street to the beach on the Gulf of Mexico.  It was so relaxing to sit quietly and look out over the Gulf.  At this point, we are directly across from Mexico.  Some boats went back and forth and we saw some dolphins.

All of sudden, I realized the animal I was following off the coast was a WHALE!!!!!  Yes, a real whale.  It was much bigger than any dolphin with a huge spout.  I had seen them in Alaska but didn't expect to see them here.  So I did a quick Google search and learned a lot about this.  According to National Geographic, over 500 Orca whales live in the Gulf of Mexico.  The University of Texas counted 28 different mammal species in the Gulf.  Many of the mammals were dolphin and whale species.  The list included manatees.

We had lunch pool side with frozen drinks.  I spent time at pool side talking with my sister and reading.   John took a swim before supper.   We had an early dinner.  The stars are out and so clear in the sky.  The breeze has picked up too.

Tomorrow, we head for Fr. Myers to stage for our crossing of Florida on the Okeechobee Waterway.

Friday, November 18, 2016

11/17-18 from Loggerhead to Venice Beach to Captiva Island

We headed out from Loggerhead early in the morning heading for Venice Beach.  The river that led to Loggerhead Marina was so calm and peaceful as we left.
We experienced different types of waters.  We entered Tampa Bay which was very wide.  There were boats coming and going from St. Pete.  We crossed under the Sunshine Highway Bridge twice.  Once at the beginning of the day to get into the north of Tampa Bay and again after going south to get back on the Intracoastal.  The structure looked so geometric going under it. 
This Pacific ocean going vessel was headed out to sea.  These vessels are so huge a camera lens does not do them justice.

Dolphins were everywhere.  I got several videos but they were too large to email or post on Facebook.  Many times the dolphins were jumping, slapping their tails on the water, and swimming along the side of our boat in our wake.

We passed this stunning home.  We both loved the architecture.  We could live there.

As we went along some parts of the Intracoastal were more unpopulated than others.
With our radar mast down, we can get under most bridges. But we came up to one bridge that was being worked on and would not open until 4 pm.  It was just after 1.  So we pulled off the GIWW and found a dock where we tied up for a while.  John took a nap and I read a book while overlooking a mangrove.  What a great way to spend a few hours. 

We arrived at the Crow's Nest at Venice Beach.  It was lovely area.  We were surprised when we saw a boat on our dock named Our Time from Wilmington, NC.  We knew that boat.  We had even put a bid on it that did not go through.  The current owners are two women who are very happy with it.  We shared our boat card and wished them well.   We enjoyed our dinner at the Crow's Nest Restaurant which caters to Venice Beach as well as the marina.

Today, 11/18 we left the Crow's Nest and continued further south on the GIWW.  Again, we saw so many dolphins as we crossed Sarasota Bay and Gasparilla Bay.
It was low tide and these waters are not deep to begin with.  In many places, we saw birds walking on land spits in the water.

As we passed a more narrow area, on Channel 16 the Hydrophilic was hailed.  We answered back.  It was George and Caroline on Lydia!!  We first met them in Canada and had hopscotched with them down the coast of Michigan and through the rivers.  They are going to spend the winter in FL but we reminded them to call us when they pass through NC next spring or summer.  It was great to catch up with them.

We arrived at Tween Waters Marina on Captiva Island.  It is located between the GIWW and the Gulf of Mexico.  The pool was calling our names, so we headed to the pool.  For dinner, we went to the more casual restaurant.  I joined the crowd that stepped outside to watch the sunset.  It was so breathtaking.  It was a terrific way to end the day.

Tomorrow, I am going to cross the road to the beach and frolic in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lat 26 degrees 30.57 North
Long 82 degrees 11.28 West