April 10 to April 16

April 10, 2011  Palmetto to Glover Bight, FL

Well, here we are again at the start of another marvelous adventure. We bid farewell to our neighbors and pulled away from our dock at 9:15 on Sunday morning, April 10, 2011.  It was a mostly sunny, humid day with temps in the mid 70’s.  The winds were out of the NW, calm to 5 mph.  There was a lot of boat traffic in Terra Ceia Bay which is not surprising for a Sunday and crab pots littered the tip of Anna Maria Island at Bean Point.  As we made our way to the Passage Key Inlet and the Gulf of Mexico, we felt it was calm enough to go “outside”, so we would miss all the crazy ICW traffic. The sun sparkled on the blue-green water as we motored south at 19 mph for 55 miles in the Gulf of Mexico. 
Bob spotted some dolphins up ahead.  When we passed them, one rode on the wave of our boat wake and leapt 5 times into the air.  What an amazing sight! As we neared Boca Grande Pass, it got a little choppy with all the boat traffic coming and going through the opening.  As we left the Gulf and entered Charlotte Harbor, we could see the beaches filled with sun worshipers and numerous fishermen fishing for tarpon there.  We passed the Boca Grande lighthouse, a very distinctive landmark.
We decided not to spend the night at Cayo Costa State Park since it was only 1:45 and continued on to Glover’s Bight near Cape Coral.  Now traveling on the ICW, the Sunday boat traffic was very apparent.  The Miserable Mile near Cape Coral was just that….miserable….with tons of boats going in all directions for one very long mile. 

With temps now in the upper 80’s, going at idle speed for that mile provided us with no breeze at all.  All the crazies were out on Sunday afternoon.  We finally reached Glover’s Bight at 3:30 and dropped anchor for the night.  We relaxed in the shade, read today’s newspaper, and tried to cool off.  Auggie finally relaxed enough to eat his breakfast and take his afternoon nap.  We had a cocktail, cooked chicken on the grill, and headed indoors when the sun set and the mosquitoes came out.  It was a beautiful first day traveling our first 110 miles.  We’ll all sleep well tonight.  Tomorrow we’ll spend the night at the town dock in Moore Haven.  

April 11, 2011  Glover Bight to Moore Haven

What a calm, restful first night we had.  We fell asleep to the rhythmic sound of frogs croaking and woke to the clicking sound of crustaceans eating algae off of the hull.  Auggie woke up Bob at 6:30 this morning with his whining to go outside.  He ran straight to his doggie potty tray and did his job.  What a good dog!  About a hour later he went to the door to let us know he had to go outside again.  This time he did his second job all on his own.  We were worried he had forgotten how to use his potty tray since the last time he used it 6 months ago, but he took to it like a duck takes to water.  What a smart boy he is!  Bob is so happy.  No more trips to shore with Auggie.  On a not so good note…our anchor light died sometime during the night after Bob had worked on it numerous times before we left.  I guess he’s got some more work to do.  We pulled anchor and got underway at 8:45 this morning.  The day was already starting to heat up with temps predicted to reach 90 today.  It was sunny…not a cloud in the sky.  We motored down the ICW toward Ft. Myers Yacht Basin where we picked up fuel.  From there we made our way quickly, the 13 miles to the W.B. Franklin Lock, to make the 11:00 opening.  This is the first of 5 locks on the Okeechobee Waterway.  With Lake Okeechobee levels below 12′, the first and last lock are on a scheduled opening every 2 hours, on the odd hour.  We arrived at the lock with 20 minutes to spare, but there were 10 boats already waiting to lock through ahead of us.  We were #11 and then 2 more boats pulled up behind us.  All 13 boats were able to lock through together.  It took us 30 minutes to rise 2 feet.  Man, it was slow!  Seven of the 13 boats were Tiaras doing the “Little Loop” from Naples through Lake Okeechobee, around the tip of Florida, and back to Naples.  They all pulled out ahead of us from the lock and were out of sight in no time.  They must be in a hurry!  We took a leisurely 28 mile ride down the river to the next lock….the Ortona Lock.  When we got there, 5 of those Tiaras were waiting to lock through.  I guess it didn’t pay for them to rush.  The 6 of us locked through together and rose 8 feet in this second lock.  This time it went much quicker.  Auggie finally relaxed and got into the groove, stretching out and relaxing on the seat next to me. 
We arrived in Moore Haven and took a spot on the town dock for the night.  We were the first one there and others soon followed.
The bank thermometer read 91 degrees and we were happy to have AC for the night. We got settled in and enjoyed the evening as the sun went down.  Bob grilled some steaks and enjoyed the cooler air outside.

I relaxed in the AC and took a walk after dinner with Auggie once the sun went down. We went a total of 68.1 hot, slow, sweaty miles today. Tomorrow we’ll do one lock, cross Lake O., and do two more locks before ending up in Stuart for the night at Manatee Pocket anchorage.  Once we get through the lake and across to the other side, we can take a more relaxed attitude and enjoy the ride. 
April 12, 2011  Moore Haven to Stuart, FL (Manatee Pocket)

The morning air was cool and refreshing as the crowing of the roosters welcomed the day.  Where are we anyway?  We decided to get an early start to beat the heat.  We entered the Moore Haven lock at 8:00 and we were raised all of 6″.  Why bother?  We were the only boat on this stretch of the river to Lake O., but the alligators floating like logs across the river kept us company.  It was sunny with a high expected in the mid-90’s.  There was no wind to speak of, except for the breeze we created by our movement.  It was 15 miles to Clewiston where we turned left and made our way into Lake O.  This picture is looking into the entrance to the town of Clewiston.  This is the storm-gate that protects the town from a hurricane. 
As we motored slowly along, we saw many different kinds of shore birds inhabiting the lowland areas, including the infamous white pelicans.  The water level at the entrance to the lake was between 5 and 6 feet.  We draw 33″ so we were good to go.  Once in the lake we had an average depth of 10′.  We motored the 14 miles across Lake O where we had 2′ waves and entered the Port Mayaka Lock at 10:45.  We dropped all of 6″ there.  Again, why bother?  Oh well, on to our last lock at Port St. Lucie.  By now the day was heating up and there was still no wind to speak of.  We timed our travels on the river in order to reach the lock at their scheduled 1:00 opening.  Apparently, so did 5 other boats.  We arrived with 20 minutes to spare and entered the lock to drop 11.5′ in 15 minutes.  Now, that was worth it!  We finished the 15 miles of the Okeechobee Waterway to arrive at the Manatee Pocket anchorage where we spent the night on the hook.  We finally had a nice breeze to enjoy and relief from the sun when a cloud blocked its rays.  The anchorage was just off the St. Lucie River and when we arrived at 4:00 we joined 5 boats already anchored there.  We relaxed in the shade after traveling 62.7 miles today and doing 3 locks.  Bob had to fix the anchor light again.  We’ll need to use it at this anchorage. We’re also having trouble getting the boat up to cruising speed.  This has become an intermittent problem.  More on that diagnosis later. Tomorrow will be a shorter day of 45 miles where we’ll take a mooring ball in Vero Beach for the night. It was a beautiful night.  The lights in the houses came on as the sun set and the stars popped out as darkness fell.  The big dipper hung upside down in the sky.  There was a slight breeze to keep things cool and quiet was all around.  You couldn’t ask for a better night at anchor than this.

April 13, 2011  Manatee Pocket to Vero Beach, FL

We had a calm, restful night and the sun slowly rose in the sky.  It felt cooler this morning.  It was partly cloudy and the temps today should only reach the lower 80’s.  Now that’s more like it!  We started to pull anchor at 8:30 and by 8:50 we had it stowed and were on our way.  We had been delayed by a brief rainshower and by having to rinse off the anchor and chain of all the caked mud that was on it.  The raw water pump that we used to rinse off the anchor died, so now Bob has more work to do.  The skies to the north were clear and sunny once we got out from under the clouds in Stuart.  We motored slowly at 10 mph up the Indian River (AICW) encountering many boats in transit.  It seemed there were a lot of boats migrating north to places up the East Coast.  We surmised this by reading their hailing ports from ME, Toronto, NC, PA, DE, NY, and MD.  I saw a great boat name yesterday.  It was Aloan At Last… a cute play on words.  It was now sunny…. a cloudless sky, no humidity, and lower temps.  The breeze was very refreshing. 
We arrived in Vero Beach at 12:45 and went to pick up mooring ball #28 as assigned by the office.  No wait…..there is a boat attached to mooring ball #28.  After a brief conversation with the office, we were reassigned mooring ball #42 for the night and settled in.  We had traveled an easy 38.1 miles today. 
After lunch, we took the dinghy to shore to give Auggie and ourselves a chance to stretch our legs, get some exercise, and register with the marina office.  We hadn’t been ashore for 2 days since Moore Haven.  Auggie enjoyed  the chance to run….and run he did!  I never knew his tongue could stick out so long from perspiring! 
We took a dinghy ride down the river before returning to the boat.  We enjoyed the afternoon hours reading and watching the boat traffic come and go.  After dinner, we sat in the cockpit and savored the evening calm and cooler winds before turning in for the night.  Tomorrow we will pick up gas in the Canaveral Barge Canal and spend the night at Harbortown Canaveral Marina to do some needed repairs and maintenance of the boat. 
The setting sun colored the sky pink and the evening breeze calmed off.  The anchorage was at rest for the night.   

April 14, 2011  Vero Beach to Harbortown Marina, Cape Canaveral, FL

The sun felt really hot already this morning.  We released the pennant that was attached from the mooring ball to our boat and were on our way at 8:30.  Again, the skies were clear and there was a slight breeze.  That will be useful today.  The weather report stated that the humidity was 90% with a temp. of 76 this morning.  The boat traffic seemed busy in both directions.  We passed two sailboats early in the day. Whisper was going north with a home port of Newfoundland and Kelly Girl was headed south with a home port of Fairbanks, AK.  Both of them seemed far from home. This is the sailboat from Newfoundland.
As we motored north at 10 mph, the humidity dropped and the breeze felt cool.  Bob even put his fleece on for awhile.  It was a fairly uneventful day.  We kept ourselves amused by listening to the radio, doing crosswords, and a little trip planning.  The gas tanks were getting pretty low, but Bob calculated we’d have enough to make it to the Canaveral Barge Canal where we would fuel up and spend the night at Harbortown Marina.  Gas is very inexpensive there, $3.90/gal.  We entered the barge canal at 2:30 going at idle speed and pulled up to the gas dock at 2:50.  We finished fueling the boat and headed to our slip by 3:45.  It was a long day on the water.  Let the cocktail hour begin!  We traveled 61.5 miles, but it seemed to go forever and ever.  Auggie slept most of the day on the boat and enjoyed a romp in the grass once we arrived. Our plans are to spend another day here so Bob can work on the anchor light and saltwater washdown pump.  Both are needed for extended anchoring out.  I’ll give the boat a good bath, do some wash, and tidy up the inside. We’ll be able to sleep in tomorrow before the work begins.  What a treat!  The evening came quickly and we enjoyed the security of being tied to a dock. 

April 15, 2011  Harbortown Marina, Cape Canaveral

What a treat to be able to sleep in!  Bob got up early to begin his day and let me sleep.  What a guy!  The day was overcast, with dark clouds in the distance.  It was breezy and humid.  Bob began work on replacing the anchor light which took a lot of wiring, sawing, and deep thinking.
Much to his surprise after measuring, measuring, and remeasuring, then sawing carefully and using all of his 14-16 AWG butt connectors (9), he successfully assembled and attached the light.  (You boaters will know what that means.)  I went to the outside laundromat and began the wash.  While it did its thing, I cleaned the inside of the boat and did some trip planning.  We walked Auggie and checked out the boats in the marina.  He got his exercise and then took that needed nap.
The skies had been threatening rain all morning and we finally got a shower later in the afternoon. We planned to spend another day here because of the weather forecast of 15-25 mph winds tomorrow.  That will give me a chance to wash the boat and Bob will be able to work on the saltwater washdown pump.  We relaxed a little, watching some TV during the rainshower and played with Auggie.  Bob gave Auggie a Salvadore Doggie (Dali) look.  He didn’t seem to mind it.
At 4:00 we walked up to the restaurant/bar for happy hour.  We had a couple of drinks and some appetizers before ordering dinner.  It was a treat to eat out tonight.  I took Auggie for his evening walk and then we relaxed with some TV before calling it a day. 

April 16, 2011  Harbortown Marina, Cape Canaveral

Good morning and what a good morning it is!  A restful sleep, a good breakfast, and sunshine make for a very good day.  Being a Saturday, there were a lot of people out and about on the docks early this morning.  Bob started right in on the saltwater washdown pump and got that to working.  Yeah!  We’ll be able to use that for washing down the anchor when it gets all mucked up, instead of having to use the fresh water from our water tank.  That will be nice.  Once he was done working in the cockpit, I began the job of washing the boat.  It was caked in salt from the other day and it needed it….badly. 
It was humid and the breeze was from the south, so we didn’t feel much of it from where we were….yet.  We checked the radar and saw a huge storm going through Wisconsin today.  Did it bring snow…or rain?  Many people in the south were hit by tornadoes and strong winds from that storm yesterday.  We are getting the tailend of it with our winds today.  I cleaned the hose (it was all gummed up) while Bob cleaned the black streaks on both sides of the boat. When we were done, the boat looked spotless, at least for a day.  We relaxed in the AC before lunch.  The winds picked up later in the day as predicted, but it was still very humid. We decided to go for a swim in the pool.  That was SO refreshing!  It was very relaxing to sit around the pool in the shade, with a cool breeze blowing.  Later, Auggie and I took a run around the property.  I don’t think that dog knows how to walk!  He’s always going at a full speed run with his nose to the ground. We all needed to cool off after that.  On the way back to the boat, two of the boaters across the way discovered a baby alligator that was swimming alongside their boat.  I had to get a couple of pictures. 
Someone must have been feeding it, because it seemed really tame and stayed right along the dock as more people came to observe.  It was about 3 ft. long with beautiful markings on his body.  One of the guys sat on the swim platform of his boat and dangled his feet in the water.  Then the baby gator swam quickly over towards him.  I bet the gator was thinking he would be having toes for dinner.  No such luck!  That guy pulled his feet out of the water so fast!  The gator hung around for quite awhile and then disappeared underwater.  That was our excitement for the day.  After dinner we enjoyed the cooler temps and lower humidity.  Tomorrow we’ll leave for New Smyrna Beach, about 50 miles north of here.