June 23 Indiantown to River Forest (LaBelle)

Last night, we had a star-filled evening sky.  Awesome!  This morning, it was very humid and everything on the boat was wet.  No thunderstorms are expected to pop up along the coast today, but there may be a stray shower this afternoon.  We left Indiantown Marina at 8:15 to get an early start on what’s going to be a hot day.  We had the waterway all to ourselves.  There were no other boats for as far as we could see. 

After awhile, we came upon this sailboat.  It had left the marina about an hour before us and we passed him on the St. Lucie Canal at 8:30.  It’s got to be brutal traveling so slow on a hot day like today. 

At least by going fast, we can create a breeze for ourselves.  The Port Myakka Lock at the entrance to Lake Okeechobee was open so we didn’t have to lock through.  This picture shows us looking through the Port Myakka Lock into Lake Okeechobee.  You can hardly see where the horizon is.

Lake O was like glass–not a ripple. 

It was almost eerie–like you were floating in mid-air.  It really did a number of your brain.  We have NEVER seen Lake O this flat.

Unfortunately, the entire lake surface was covered in green algae.  Yuck!! 

We came upon a sailboat out in Lake O.  It almost looked like he was floating on air.

The ride across Lake O was absolutely blissful. Bob put the boat on autopilot.  The first time this trip.  About 2/3 of the way across Lake O we came up on this barge and tugboat.  As a courtesy, we called the captain on the radio to ask him if he wanted us to slow down as we passed.  He said “yes” so we slowed down to a “no wake” speed  and proceeded on.

The algae in the middle of the lake was light, but near Clewiston, on the other side of Lake O, it got thick again.  We saw no algae on our trip north when the lake temp was below 80 degrees, but after the 90 degree heat we’ve had the last 3 weeks, the lake temp has risen to 85 degrees now and therefore, the algae bloom.  I don’t want to think of the ramifications the green algae has on the fish and the other wildlife.

We reached the other side of Lake O at 10:15 and approached Clewiston on the other side.  Clewiston has a hurricane gate at the entrance to town.  

The lake water level has remained pretty much the same (14.91 ft.) during the month we were gone.  We’ve crossed Lake O during the drought years in the past with as little as 4 ft. in the channel entrance.  After Clewiston, we were on the Caloosahatchee Canal.  The boat that we had seen on the rocks on our way north, was nowhere to be found.  We did see one gator swimming across the water in front of us, but he submerged himself as we approached.  We didn’t remember seeing this sunken vessel on our trip north.

The cypress trees along the edge of the waterway, are pretty unique.

We arrived at the Moore Haven lock at 11:45 and locked through quickly with a drop of 3 feet.

Once we got through the lock, we had a short distance to go to reach Moore Haven’s city dock where we thought we were spending the night.  

We got all tied up, got the electrical cord plugged in, and I made lunch while Bob checked Google Earth to see how far away our next lock was for tomorrow.  In doing so, he discovered that the marina that we thought was on the other side of the lock, was on THIS side of the lock. That meant, that if we stayed there for tonight, we would be very close to the Ortona Lock which is under construction and opens at scheduled times–7:00, 11:30, 4:30.  If we stayed at the River Forest Marina tonight, we could make the 7:00 lock opening without having to get up REALLY early.  I liked that idea, so we untied the lines and moved 14 miles further down the waterway.   Auggie was a little confused, but he settled in and would enjoy a long walk later. 

Just when we thought there were no other boats on the waterway today, 7 boats passed us from the west–one after the other.

This unusual boat was propelled by 2 paddle wheels.

Twice we bumped something in the water.  There seemed to be lots of plant debris and even an old tire floating in the water that we avoided.  Luckily, nothing damaged the boat.  We pulled into River Forest Marina at 1:00 and got all tied up for the night.  This time we stayed put.

Looking south from our boat, the clouds were building and some of them had a yellow tint.  That usually means some kind of weather is coming.

After we took some time to cool off, we took Auggie and our two chairs up to the lawn and sat in the shade of a tree for awhile.  Auggie had a blast sniffing around and hunting geckos.

He even sniffed out a nest that some bird had built on one of the lawn chair seats.

While we were relaxing there on the lawn, a 120 ft. yacht made the turn into the marina. We were told that one was coming.

It looked very tight coming into the canal to the marina and slowly made its way to the basin. 

It turned and used its thrusters to place itself against the wall near us.  Dream Weaver had arrived.

I also noticed an alligator swimming around near the back of our boat.  He wasn’t very big—maybe 4 feet. 

When we went to the office to check in, Bob asked the office girl if the blue-hulled SeaRay that ran up on the rocks had come here to be repaired.  She said “yes”, so Bob went to look for it in the boatyard.  He found it and will show me the boat after dinner.  While we were sitting in the shade, one of the other boaters in the marina came up to visit with us.  After we talked awhile, Bob mentioned the episode about the blue-hulled SeaRay that ran up on the rocks during our trip north.  The gentleman said he was here in the marina when the boat was brought in by SeaTow last Saturday.  The boat was taking on water, but they got it here and it was hauled out of the water the same day.  The boat sat on the rocks for a week.  The gentleman we were talking to said that both of the pod drives were sheared off of the bottom, (which they are made to do), but it still created a leak in the hull.  We were told the repair cost is $55K for each pod drive x 2, plus installation, and fiberglass damage repair.  The total bill came to $180K.  Yikes!  Supposedly, the woman was driving the boat while the husband went down below to use the bathroom.  While she was driving, she was looking down at the GPS navigation system and ran it up on the rocks.  The gentleman told us that she came in with the boat very humbled and embarrassed.  SHE SHOULD BE!  She was the one who yelled back at us on the radio when we told her to slow down.  She also yelled that she didn’t see the “slow, no wake” zone and that their wake wouldn’t do any damage to our boat.  She was pretty cocky and rude then.  I guess she got what she deserved.  End of story!!  Back at the boat, we relaxed a little before dinner.  Bob cooked burgers and we took a walk to look at the boats in the boatyard.  In the boatyard, Bob showed me the boat that ran up on the rocks a couple of weeks ago.

Bob showed me what the pod drives look like on another boat.  Those were like the ones that got sheared off.

This is the hole in the boat where the pod drives were.  The water came into the boat through the cracks in these openings where the pod drives were.

The hull didn’t have as much damage as we thought it would.  There were some scrapes and gouges, but no holes to speak of.

After we looked around, Auggie got to run free.  He definitely made use of the space and his freedom.  He ran like the wind.

We walked back to the boat and noticed the sky above the boat basin.  It was pink and blue as the sun was setting.

Bob noticed that our alligator friend had come back to visit.  He was sitting so still behind the boat that we almost missed seeing him.

It was a beautiful calm night. 

Tomorrow we have to get up early with the alarm to make it to the Ortona Lock for the 7 AM opening.  Today we all had a great day on the water.

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