We have spent the last week in Stuart at the Waterways Marina which is the old Stuart Cay Marina. Krogen has been doing some warranty work on the boat. We have also had Bruce Goins from Bristol Technology working on some electronic issues and upgrades. Bruce installed all of the electronics on our boat last year. He is adding a weather satellite program called Weather Worx to our system. Now Jeff can watch this 24 hours a day instead of the Weather Channel. We also had him install a cell phone antenna and amplifier. We should now be able to get both cell and internet service up to 20 miles offshore. Bruce stayed for dinner on Thursday night.
On Friday evening we went to dinner at the Mexican restaurant, Dos Amigos, with Bill Harris, our Krogen salesperson, and his wife, Tracy. They have a cockatiel and wanted to meet our two birds. We enjoyed our time with them. Sebastian was even able to log some lap time with Tracy.
Bill and Tracy brought the dogs some pig’s ears to munch on. Sebastian and Daisy say thank you very much. The pig’s ears are a favorite of theirs.
There are two other Krogen owners here at the dock commissioning their 48 North Seas. Betty, aboard Lili, has graciously loaned us her car on several occasions. On Saturday, we went with her to the Ft. Pierce farmers market. It was quite an event. There you could find homemade breads, fresh fish, produce, flowers, and arts and crafts. We loaded up on the bread, vegetables, and fresh grouper. We even bought Daisy and Sebastian some homemade dog treats. We took the dogs into town on Saturday afternoon to the Puppuccino dog store.
Sebastian eyed a nautical dog leash that matched the collar which he received in Appalachicola. He just had to have it.
He wants to look spiffy on his daily walks into town. Daisy liked some of the squeaky toys but she is not the one to ask for anything.
We have enjoyed getting to know Betty aboard LiLi during our stay here. She is single handing her boat. Susie is quite impressed that she is undertaking such a feat by herself. She has had several other boats and is very knowledgeable on boat handling. Jeff has spent some time helping her with the Nobletec computer program and also sharing other helpful information with her on the Krogen systems. She is feeling a little overwhelmed with the whole process right now. We can relate to that. We felt the same way last year while commissioning IT and there were two of us. There is an overwhelming amount of information to learn about the boat and systems aboard.
Sunday, we rode our bikes over to Hutchinson Island. Fellow loopers, Nan and Bob on Bonas IV, are staying there. Bob introduced us to Jean and Pricilla on Ocean Flyer. They will finish their loop in Jacksonville sometime in March. We learned that Jean and Pricilla have just purchased a townhouse in downtown Chattanooga. They brought their boat to Chattanooga after the Great Loop Rendezvous in October last year and liked the area so much that they bought a townhouse there. We should see both Bonas IV and Ocean Flyer again in St. Augustine later this month. Stuart had a Jazz Concert on the river walk on Sunday afternoon.
It is about a mile walk from the marina. They have this the first Sunday of each month. We walked the dogs into town for this.
There was a very good turnout. Stuart has a very nice river walk along the water which starts downtown. The downtown area has many shops and restaurants. It still has the “Old Florida” charm. The city has also just added many sculptures in the downtown area.
We were washing the boat on Sunday afternoon when fellow Krogen owners, Ruth and Steve Jaroski, stopped by and introduced themselves. They own a 48 Whaleback named Sequel. They are docked at a marina not too far from here. They invited us along with Betty over to their boat on Sunday evening. Guy and Garry from Saturday’s Interior Decorating were also there. They have done the interiors on many of the Krogen boats. Guy was on our boat earlier in the week measuring our steps for some carpet. The dogs are having trouble navigating up and down the steps so we are going to put carpet strips on each step. Guy and Garry made our pilot house rug last year along with our porthole covers. They do a great job. We enjoyed getting to know them and also Ruth and Steve.
We are hoping to have everything done in the next day or two. We will then head toward St. Augustine. It will probably take two to three days of travel from Stuart to St. Augustine. We are anxious to get moving again.
Daisy’s Dairy #2
Hi again folks. We’re here in Stuart, FL for the next week. So far, my Security Officer (SO) job is going quite well, at least from my point of view.
The Great Banana Incident was “case closed” by Dad and The Inedible Starfish Meal was quickly forgotten by all the crew. Before each of these cases, Sebastian said I got this really weird glazed look in my eyes just prior to them happening. I swear, I don’t remember anything- it’s like I black out and when I wake up, it’s all over and done. Very weird. Dad said nothing was put on my personnel record about each mishap so I’m not worried about keeping my job. Homer was trying to make these a big deal at our staff meeting last week and said I was unfit as the boat SO. Personally, I think he wants my position and is just trying to cause trouble. It’s been my observation that Homer is not a team player and is always complaining about something. He’s sooo crabby and unpleasant. Most everyone just ignores him anyways.
Meeting and greeting other boat SOs has kept me quite busy. Many boats employ dog SOs. (I haven’t seen any cat or bird SOs yet but I know there are some.) I will quickly compare notes with each new SO I meet by barking and sniffing each one. I have met many black and yellow lab SOs. They seem to have this market figured out. I did meet another sheltie SO in Ft. Myers but since his boat was about to leave, we couldn’t get together to compare things. A few quick barks back and forth to each other told me everything was going well with him and we left it at that.
I can report that there are no squirrels at any of the marinas we have visited. Because of this, I have made it my new mission to clear the docks of all large birds, especially in the early AM. Since this involves running, barking and acting excited, I believe this is a good thing to permanently add to my duties. Sebastian hasn’t shown any interest in helping me however. He says he’s been very busy as cruise director – you know, concentration tanning techniques, lap time planning, pondering food and snacks, etc… that he can’t be bothered with bird/dock clearing. Too bad, he doesn’t know what he’s missing.
Mom and Dad have been taking Sebastian and me for early morning runs each day. We both really enjoy this. It gives us a chance to check out each town we’re staying in. We like the beaches the best. So many smelly things. Some are even good to eat! Mmmh. Good to eat. It’s getting all dark and fuzzy around me. Mmmh, good and smelly. I can almost taste it now. Wow! What just happened to me? Sorry about that. Now where was I? Oh yeah, my report.
The trip from Carrabelle to Ft. Myers was long – 36 hours. The three crew members (Dan, Chris and Robert) that Dad and Mom had come with us were really friendly and nice. I got lots of petting. Sebastain got to log some major lap time with those guys. We all liked them a lot (except Homer; he kept trying to get at Chris and was trying to use his Teaf Technique on him. He said he and Chris go back a long ways and that he hasn’t forgotten him either.). We all wished they could have stayed longer. Dad said maybe they will come back later for other trips. We hope so.
Sebastian and I both held out for the entire passage despite Mom’s frequent urging to use the front deck. It just doesn’t seem right to use the boat deck as our bathroom. Dad says eventually we will get over it and begin to go aboard during long voyages. He said he doesn’t know very many females that can go for too long before having to find a restroom. He’s not worried like Mom is. Sebastian says that if we do use the boat that we will get special treats. I’m not sure about this. I’m going to hold out for now.
Well, that’s it for today. I’ve got to run down the dock- a large blue heron just landed at slip 36. Bye, Daisy.
This morning we find out that the twelve boats in front of us are all traveling in a group and will be leaving at 8:00 AM.
We decide to let them leave first. We have to back all the way down the canal which is very narrow.
It will be much less nerve racking with the boats gone (at least for Susie). We take the dogs for a run along the Hoover Dike and can see Lake Okeechobee off in the distance.
Lake Okeechobee is the second largest fresh water lake in the United States. Its name is derived from Seminole Indian words meaning “Big Water”. The lake covers over 730 square miles (467,200 acres). The lake is known for its excellent fishing. There are largemouth bass, blue gill, catfish, and black crappie in the waters. We have seen bass boats everywhere. It is very shallow averaging only 10 feet in depth. Right now the lake is at one of its lowest level in history. In places it is only 5.27 feet deep. We draw 5 feet and will have to be very careful not to hit bottom.
As we start backing out from the docks we hear a loud grinding noise by the propeller. We think we must have picked up a rock. We put the boat in forward and reverse several times and it seems to clear up. We continue backing out with no problems. We exit thru the Clewiston lock which is left open at all times and enter Lake Okeechobee.
We see Otter and Change of Pace up in front of us. We will travel 25 miles across the lake.
Once in the middle of the lake we almost feel as if we are in the ocean. You can’t see land at all.
We pass a sail boat and he then hails us on the VHF. He asks us if we are headed for the Port Mayaca Lock. He was not sure he was going the right way??? There are only two routes on this lake, East and West. It makes you wonder how some people navigate. Otter then raidos us and has just talked to Change of Pace who is a few miles ahead. They told him that the Port Mayaca lock is open at both ends also due to low water levels and we will not have to lock thru. That is good news. After all my worrying about these locks they have turned out to be nothing at all. Maybe next time I should not read the guide books until afterwards. At 12:15 PM we enter the Port Mayaca lock. The shallowest depth reading on the lake was 6.5 feet. Again, I worried over nothing. After exiting the lock we are in the St. Lucie Canal. The Railroad bridge just ahead is raised so we pass on thru.
We see a variety of wildlife in the St. Lucie Canal including peacocks, otters, and several alligators. At 2:00 PM we pass looper Betty B heading west. They have now completed their loop and are on their way back to Tennessee. Congratulations Betty B!
We arrive at our last lock on the Okeechobee, The Saint Lucie Lock, at 3:30 PM. We wait for the west bound traffic to lock up. When the doors open, we spot a Krogen coming out. It is Le Reve a brand new Krogen 44. They have just finished commissioning and left Stuart today. We arrive at the Waterway Marina in Stuart at 4:30 PM. This will be our home for the next week while we have some warranty work done by Krogen. We will enjoy some time ashore to catch up on things. We will also try to get some much needed exercise in.
For the next two days we will be traveling on the Okeechobee Waterway. This waterway was opened in 1937. It traverses 165 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. The waterway has five locks which are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
We are up this morning at 5:30 for our departure to Clewiston. The dock master comes by at 6:30 with a Sunday paper. We pull away from the docks at 7:15 AM.
We have 75 miles and three locks today. We learned last night that our first lock, The Franklin Lock, has a new opening schedule. Due to the low water levels on the Okeechobee, it will only open for east bound traffic on the even hour. It is 19 miles from Ft. Myers. If we do not make the 10:00 AM opening we will have to wait until noon for the next opening. We really need to get thru at the 10:00 AM opening in order to make it to Clewiston before dark.
At 8:00 AM we pass thru the Beautiful Island Railroad Bridge.
It is open so we have no wait. We see several manatees in the water. Just as we are going thru the bridge, Jeff sees a shark fin on top of the water. This stretch is a no wake zone. From Nov. 15th to March 31st you must go at idle speed due to manatee. Other times of the year you must go 25 mph or less.
We are not quite sure what to expect at the locks. These locks are much different than those on the TN River that we are used to. Instead of tying off on a floating bollard, the lock master throws you a bow and stern line to hold on to. On the TN River, Jeff would stay in the pilot house and use the bow thruster to keep us off the wall. Since there are only two of us, he will have to handle one of the lines. I have also read that there is more turbulence in these locks. To let water out or in, they open the doors part way. On the TN River, water was let in or out by pipes under the lock. We arrive at Franklin Lock at 9:00 AM. We have an hour wait until the 10:00 AM opening. When the lock finally opens at 10:00 AM, there are six boats waiting for lock thru. Once we pull in the lock, the lockmaster throws us two lines, one for the bow and one for the stern. He instructs us to cleat off the lines as we will only be raised 3 feet. A fellow looper, Change of Pace, ties up right behind us.
They will be completing their loop in Stuart. Locking thru turns out to be a piece of cake compared to the locks on the TN River. We will see how the next lock goes.
At 11:50 we reach the Fort Denaud Swing Bridge. We wait several minutes for an opening. At 12:30 we pass thru the town of La Belle. They are having the Swamp Cabbage Festival today.
There were several hundred motorcycles parked along Main Street. Boats line the shore. Swamp cabbage, also known as hearts of palm, is the growing part of the sable palm. La Belle is also known as the “Honey Capital” as the Harold P. Curtis Honey Company is located here.
The festival looked quite interesting and I would have liked to have stopped.
After leaving the town of La Belle, the countryside changes from residential communities to a mixture of orange groves and beef cattle grazing land.
You can smell the oranges in the air. Interestingly enough Florida is the 4th largest beef producer in the U.S. We see very few homes along this stretch of central Florida. We now feel we are in Florida, as the temperature has warmed up to 84 degrees. We take the dogs up to the fly bridge where they enjoy the sights and sounds of the river.
At 2:00 PM we arrive at Ortona Lock. We lock thru with Change of Pace and also Otter, a 30 ft. Grand Banks. On this lock we are raised 8 feet. This time we have to grab the lines ourselves. There is a manatee in the lock with us as we lock thru. I guess he wanted to visit the other side also.
At 3:30 we arrive in Moore Haven. We say goodbye to Change of Pace as they are staying at the More Haven City docks this evening. They will travel to Stuart tomorrow to finish their loop. They said it was bitter sweet to be finishing the loop. They plan to continue cruising this summer with a trip to the Chesapeake and then to the Bahamas again in January. We will probably cross paths again. We call the Moore Haven Lock and ask for a lock thru. The lockmaster says to wait for the green light then proceed on. We round the bend and see the lock in front of us. As we get closer we see the green light. We also see clear thru the lock to the other side.
We have never seen a lock left wide open on both sides. I call the lock master to confirm that it is o.k. to pass on thru. He confirms and says this is an easy lock thru. Probably the easiest we will ever have. I guess the lake is so low now that there is no need for a lock. The guide book had said we would be raised 5 feet. However, the Okeechobee is at its lowest level in many years due to no hurricanes in this area last year. As we exit the lock and make a turn to starboard, the landscape changes dramatically. We see old forest with bark less dead trees mixed with 12 ft. high grassland.
It is incredibly thick and dense.
This continues for the next 15 miles. On our starboard side is the Herbert Hoover Dike, a flood control levee that circles the lake.
At 4:30 we arrive at our destination of Clewiston and the Roland Martin Marina. He is a well know Lake Okeechobee fishing guide who has been on many television fishing shows. The dock master who goes by the name “Little Man” instructs us down a narrow canal past 20 boats already berthed against a face dock.
We have only a few feet between us, the boats, and other side of the channel. Susie is worried about how we will leave in the morning. There appears to be no place to turn around since the canal is less than 50 ft. wide. Plus we have boats only a few feet in front and behind us. She will worry about this all night.
After a quick dinner at the marina restaurant, Jeff takes the dogs for a walk. As they are walking down the pier, Sebastian thought the lily pads next to the dock were solid ground and tried to walk on them. He immediately sank out of sight.
Jeff quickly reached down and grabbed him by his collar and hoisted him back on the dock. He was quite surprised. This was the most scared we have ever seen him. We were just glad he was not gator bait.
Today is a non travel day. We are spending the day in Ft. Myers catching up on sleep and doing some sight seeing. This morning the dockmaster brought us a paper to our door. A few minutes later he showed up with a plate full of pastries and treats for Daisy and Sebastian. We are really getting the royal treatment here at the Royal Palm Yacht Club. About 9:00 AM we say goodbye to our crew and friends. We are sorry to see them leave.
We take the dogs for a walk along McGregor Boulevard which is lined for 15 miles with 2,000 royal palm trees for which the yacht club is named. They were first planted by Thomas Edison. The Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Homes are right next door to the yacht club. We look out from our boat onto the grounds of these two estates. We have quite the view.
After doing some chores around the boat we tour the Edison/Ford estate. At the entrance there is a 400 foot banyan tree which was a gift to Edison from Harvey Firestone.
This tree is an acre in diameter and is the largest banyan tree in the U.S. When planted in 1925 it was 4 ft. high and 2 inches in diameter. The grounds of the estate are filled with many tropical plants. We toured both the Edison and Ford Homes.
We also toured the laboratory which was set up by Edison, Ford, and Firestone. One of their many projects was to manufacture synthetic rubber from Florida’s native goldenrod weed.
In the afternoon, we walked down to the Legacy Marina to visit fellow loopers, Nan and Bob, aboard Bonas IV. We had met them at the Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler. We enjoyed catching up with them and seeing their dog Chamie. They will be leaving for Stuart on Monday. Dinner is onboard the boat tonight.