On Friday the 15th we departed Titusville at 7:20 and motored into the wind down to Dragon Point, where we turned up the Banana River and docked at Telemar Bay Marina at 12:45. We were very sheltered here in this lovely little river, but did have some traffic noise from the bridge.
On Saturday, November 16th, we cast off at 7:40 a.m. We wanted to get inland before the next bout of strong winds arrived, so we left despite the light rain. About the time we reached the bridge at Melbourne, Phil Dolsen called. It seemed that they were attending the SSCA GAM at Melbourne and stayed on a friend's boat two slips from us at the Telemar Bay Marina! Lorraine had seen Passage when they got back from the GAM at 8:00 p.m.; but they didn't stop by, so we missed them!
Anyway we bypassed Vero Beach, a usual stop for us on a trip up or down the ICW. There were many lovely homes along this stretch of the waterway.
We arrived at Fort Pierce and docked at Harbortown Marina at 3:15. Our dock was right next to the restaurant, so we enjoyed live entertainment all afternoon and evening, as well as a wonderful meal on the deck overlooking the marina.
Despite strong winds on the nose, we decided to try to finish the Indian River and get inland. We cast off at 7:35 and pounded into the waves, throwing salt all over the boat. The seas smoothed out a little after the first hour, and we turned up the St. Lucie river by ten. The ride was much better the rest of the route, although a tug and barge forced us into pretty shallow water just after we passed Stuart. We locked through the 16 foot lift of the St. Lucie Lock and docked on a short dock at the St. Lucie Campground.
Since we docked at 12:30, we had time to explore a little. The locks on the Okeechobee Waterway are interesting because the let water in or out by partially opening one of the lock doors. The lock doors are shaped like a piece of pie to make this type of water control possible.
The ruins of the original lock were also evident.
It was eerily quiet at the St. Lucie Lock Campground, and we slept very well. The weather forecast for tomorrow was very light wind, so we anticipated perfect weather to cross Lake Okeechobee.
At 7:01 on Monday, November 18th, we were the last of the four boats to leave the dock. When we got to the railroad bridge a mile before the lake, we were forced to wait as a train went by. Trains are rare, so this was unusual.
The bridge was agonizingly slow to raise, and then we squeezed under. Thank goodness our mast is only 46 feet off the water.
Passing through the Port Mayaka Lock was very exciting. Lake Okeechobee was only a foot higher than the St. Lucie River, so the lockkeeper just opened both doors and said to motor on through. He also warned us to keep our speed up. Boy did we need to, since water was really pouring through the lock. At 2700 rpms we were making only four miles an hour through the lock, so the current was about 3.5 miles per hour; and we were relieved when we made it out into the lake.
Lake Okeechobee was flat, and we had an uneventful crossing. We reached Clewiston at 2:15. We were greeted by Little Man, the dock master, who helped us tie up and presented us with a copy of a newspaper article about him! Interesting gentleman. We showered and had a wonderful dinner from the restaurant. We got it "to go" because it is an open air restaurant and the mosquitos were nasty here.
On Tuesday morning, November 19th, Passage motored away from the dock at 7:35. Two hours later we passed through the Moore Haven Lock, and entered the Caloosahatchee River. At 9:57 a.m. we reached the Glades Boatyard. Our Canadian friends John and Brenda were working on their Gemini "Some Dream", and they came down to the dock to wave and say hello as we passed.
At 2:15 we tied up at the WP Franklin Lock campgrounds dock after a 47.9 nautical mile day which included two locks and four lift bridges.
Wednesday, November 20th was a lay day. We washed Passage for the first time since Cape May, New Jersey, and then rested the remainder of the day. The campgrounds are peaceful and beautiful, making it a restful spot to charge one's personal batteries.
Thursday, November 21st, the crew of Passage enjoyed a leisurely morning preparation to cast off, finally leaving the dock at 8:30 and passing through the Franklin Lock shortly thereafter. 90 minutes later the crew could see the bridges of downtown Ft. Myers and the condo towers next to their destination.
30 minutes later Passage docked at C 28 at Legacy Harbour Marina. We will spend two months here, recovering from our long voyage from Lake Erie. The trip included 55 travel days, including 18 of the last twenty days. 2,231.4 miles passed under Passage's keels, and both she and her crew are looking forward to some rest and relaxation. We will get both while enjoying the company of many friends here at the marina and in the city of Fort Myers.