July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

Okeechobee Bound
By Kismet, Monday, March 1, 2010

Ultimately Lisa and I will be in Key West, Florida, for two months this winter, but instead of heading straight down the east coast of Florida, our plan is to cross the state via the Okeechobee Waterway route. We wanted to revisit the splendor of the west coast of Florida that we have enjoyed so much on previous visits. The east coast portion of the waterway starts in Stuart, Florida and provided us an opportunity to visit friends from home who were wintering in the Stuart area before we made our trip west to the sunset side of the state.

Everyone was all smiles at the Dolphin Bar, where Lisa and I had lunch with the Ways.

Scott and Angie, friends from Charlevoix, Michigan, along with their three children Hilary, Amber and Tyler are in the middle of a year long educational traveling adventure (http://waybigadventure.com) and had just arrived in the Stuart area the day before our arrival to Nettles Island, which is about 10 miles northeast of Stuart. Scott waved to us from the tip of the island (he knew we were approaching) making us feel like we were returning to the warm familiarity of our homeport where friends would welcome us from shore. Shortly after docking we had time to catch up on our respective adventures before Scott helped me transport our sad, deflated dinghy to the repair shop in Stuart. We dropped the dinghy off, making arrangements to pick it up the next day. The repair research I found told me the 5-inch tear needed first a patch on the inside of the inflatable pontoon, adhered with a two stage adhesive, letting it dry overnight and then repeating the same process on the outside of the pontoon, which is exactly what was done.

It looks pretty ugly but this patch is doing the job and it’s great to have the use of the dinghy again.

Scott and Angie have been coming to Nettles Island as guests of Angie’s mother, Theresa (Scott affectionately calls her Mother Theresa) as she’s had a place here for the last 22 years. We took advantage of Scott’s local knowledge when he suggested we go to lunch at Shucker’s, an open-air restaurant with the sight, sound and aroma of the ocean’s salty, breaking waves. The next day Scott, his son Tyler and I went to retrieve the repaired dinghy and then met all the girls for lunch at the Dolphin Bar and Shrimp House. Francis Langford first started the Dolphin Bar as the Outrigger Restaurant back in the early 1960s. Francis was not only a big name movie and radio star but also an avid boater. She and her husband Ralph Evinrude had owned an island in Canada’s North Channel at the end of Baie Finn and it was here they cruised for over 45 years. Although Lisa and I have been to Bay Finn by boat we never did see the Evinrudes or their 108-foot Burger called Chanticleer. It was fascinating dining at this landmark restaurant on the water with the Ways. Without local knowledge we would have missed visiting this restaurant on our way through this area.

Lots of movie and radio memorabilia at the Dolphin Bar.

On the way back to the marina I asked Tyler if he missed his friends from home, since he’s been exploring the country since last October with his family. He stated that he’s been so busy learning about our country, going to museums, national parks, etc. that he has not had time to miss his friends and home. I thought this was such a mature answer for a kid his age and quite frankly this is pretty much how Lisa and I feel about our time away from home, while on our current boating excursion. We keep fairly busy with new experiences, though we do miss our family and friends back home very much.

Leaving the AICW at MM986, we headed into the St. Lucie River, just west of Stuart, en route to Lake Okeechobee and the west coast of Florida. The Okeechobee Waterway is a 144-mile short cut across Florida. It provides mariners the ability to save time and money since it is 157 miles shorter than having to navigate down to the Keys, and then northwest past the Everglades and up the west coast to the Fort Myers area where the ICW begins again. We don’t find many short cuts like this on our travels and this one not only saves time but it’s a very scenic, rural alternative. Lake Okeechobee is the second largest fresh water lake in the continental United States and is the headwaters for Florida’s Everglades.

Mooring dolphins are built to hold off much, much larger vessels than Kismet; we had our bow tied off to this one.

The first day of our waterway crossing was spent navigating from Stuart, 40 miles west on the St. Lucie River; which included a trip through the first of five locks that we would eventually lock through on the three-day trip across the state. Once out of Stuart the surrounding scenery turned from metropolitan to more open, residential areas and finally to farms, marsh and swamp lands. The most interesting part of the first day was our arrival at the Port Mayaca Lock, which is the entrance to Lake Okeechobee. As we were at the end of our travel day we received permission from the lockmaster to tie off onto the mooring “dolphins” (these are sets of six pilings, spaced 45 to 60 feet apart, situated by locks for barges and pleasure craft to tie up to while waiting to be locked through) for the night. Tugboats and barges typically use the dolphins but when not in use and with permission from the lockmaster smaller boats like ours can moor overnight. No water, electricity or access to shore but a perfectly secure tie up for the night at zero cost. Sometimes it’s the things you get for free that are just priceless.

The Mayaca Lock shown with both ends of the lock open, it made for a very quick locking experience.

First thing in the morning I radioed the lockmaster to request a lock through and a few minutes later the lock doors opened and we were given a green light to enter. A typical locking situation would have had us enter the lock, secure the boat while the lock doors would close, water would enter or empty the chamber, depending on whether you were going up or down, and after the lock process ended the exiting door would open for a departure. Much to our surprise the exiting doors to the Mayaca Lock were open as well and we simply drove through the lock. This happens when the canal and lake are at the same levels, and was a first time experience for us.

We had a perfect day to make the 25-mile crossing of Lake Okeechobee and that’s a good thing. Good because the water was calm, therefore making the passage very pleasurable, which makes Lisa happy. With the lake waters relatively shallow, an average depth of about 11 feet prevails; the waters can become rather turbulent with foul weather and higher winds. It would have been a very long three-hour crossing with rough waters, but the day we made our trip, it was as smooth as could be.

The rim route skirts the southern portion of Lake Okeechobee and is an alternative route to the open lake waters.

Once across the lake we entered what’s called the Herbert Hoover Dike, appropriately named after our 31st President. It was in the 1920s, while Mr. Hoover was President, that authorization was obtained to build a 20-foot high dike around the circumference of Lake Okeechobee. The dike was commissioned to prevent the low-lying areas from flooding out after high waters caused by hurricanes. We cruised next to the dike from Clewiston to the lock that separates the lake from the Caloosahatchee River at Moore Haven. Just past the lock is a railroad bridge that is manned by an unusually stationed bridge tender. This bridge tender's workstation is his very own pickup truck. Apparently he sits in his truck all day until his services are needed to open the swing bridge.

We had a pleasant conversation with this bridge attendant as we were moving through the open swing bridge.

It’s a good thing this dock in La Belle was wide open for our unconventional overnight docking.

We made our way to La Belle to secure moorage for the night. According to the travel guides there are two options provided by the city of La Belle for the free overnight dockage of transient boats. We found the one next to bridge, where one has to dock med-moor style, but it was full. We continued downstream to the next dock and found it was replaced by very nice floating docks with a dozen or so slips, all available at no cost. No cost is a great deal and appreciated by the boating community and when we find and use these free services we return the favor by spending money in these towns, a pay back of sorts. The new slips were all for 18-foot boats so obviously our Kismet would not fit by docking the normal way. Since it was too late in the day to make it to the next town and with nowhere to anchor we had to improvise. We couldn’t pull Kismet into the slips so we tied up sideways and straddled two of the finger docks by tying up to the ends of the docks and pilings parallel to the shore. We were as secure as if we had docked conventionally and we were able to get a good evening's rest for the final leg of our shortcut through the state of Florida to Fort Myers and the west coast of Florida the following day.