June 24 River Forest Marina to Ft. Myers

Ready, set, go!  We were up at 5:45 with the alarm and scurried to get ready.  We wanted to be first at the lock for the 7 AM opening and beat the yacht there.  We didn’t want to miss out on this opening because the next opening would be 11:30 AM.  The sun was not up yet, but it was light out.  There was no movement or lights on in the yacht so everything looked good–until it wasn’t.  Before we knew it, the yacht was untying the lines and using the bow thrusters to push away from the wall.  It was about 6:30.  After 4 failed attempts, the captain let the boat sit there while he decided what to do.  At the same time this was going on, we had untied our lines and shoved off from the dock in hopes of beating him to the lock….except that the yacht’s bow thrusters had created a strong current which caused Bob to have trouble maneuvering the boat.  We were getting pushed around in the basin and coupled with the windshield and windows being fogged up from all the humidity, we decided to abort our plan, get out of his way, wait, and let him do what he needed to do.  Finally, the captain decided to back the yacht away from the wall and all the way down the entrance channel.  He could not get the yacht turned around in the basin.  Once he was out of the channel, we exited, and joined Dream Weaver at the lock.  It was now about 6:45.  The sun was up now and we could see thunderheads forming in the distance.  

To our surprise, there were 5 dropline fishing boats waiting near the locks, too.  They must have spent the night tied to the bollards just outside the lock.  As we passed them, they were untying their lines to join us for the 7 AM opening. 

Seven of us had to make this 7 AM opening.  You never saw so many captains jockeying for position to enter the lock.  There was a lot of testosterone flying around.  We called the lockmaster on the radio to alert him that we were all there for the 7 AM opening.  I’m sure he was surprised to see the number of boats waiting to lock through.  At 7:05, the gates finally opened and Dream Weaver was nice enough to let us enter first.  He would pull in behind us and the 5 dropline fishing boats would stack behind each other on the opposite side of the lock wall.  We were the first to load into the lock, then the 5 dropline fishing boats, and lastly the yacht. 

One fishing boat had a heck of a time getting his boat to the wall and tied up.  Finally, we were all loaded, the gates closed, and we started to drop of 8 feet.

After a few minutes, Bob noticed that one of the fishing boats had tied the lock ropes tight on the boat.  As the water drained from the pool, the boat was left hanging there. We heard a scraping sound and fortunately, the lockmaster did too.  He quickly closed the gates to stop the outflow of water.  Once the fishing boats’ lines were untied and the boat was loose again, the lockmaster reopened the gates and the process continued. (The boat was hanging from the wall, listing 30 degrees.  For as many times as we’ve been through the locks, we’ve never seen that happen.  We’ve read about it, but not actually seen it.) It was 7:40 before the gates opened, but we were the first to exit the lock.  We were finally on our way after a hectic morning.  The Caloosahatchee Canal was like glass and everything on the shore reflected off the water like a mirror.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.

It was still early, so there was no one out and about.  We had to have one bridge open for us, but otherwise it was smooth running.

As the morning wore on, we saw a few more boats more boats moving about.  We timed the Franklin Lock perfectly.  One boat was exiting the lock, so we could drive right in.  We dropped 1.1 feet and were in and out of that lock in 10 minutes.  Fastest time yet!  We saw the familiar skyline of Ft. Myers and knew we were almost there.

 We pulled into Ft. Myers Yacht Basin at 10:30 for fuel and a pumpout.  

Once that was done, we tied up to the wall for the night.  It was early in the day for us to stop, but our next stop would be another 4 hours down the road and we had had enough for one day.  It was 11:30 by the time we settled in and got tied up.

We cooled off in the AC and relaxed a little.  After lunch, I took Auggie for a walk in the park.  I had to carry him there because the pavement was way too hot for him to walk on.  The day heated up, but the afternoon storms moved on past us.  Later in the day, the clouds blew in again and we heard thunder, but the storms stayed to the south of us.  We planned an indoor dinner just in case the rains came back.  After dinner, Auggie and I took a walk downtown.  We walked along the waterfront where there are some unique statues.  I really liked this one.

People were enjoying themselves on the second floor at the Firehouse.

We took a nice long walk and then retired to the boat to watch some TV.  Tomorrow we move north to Palm Island for the night, with plans to be home on Sunday. 


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