June 4 Ft. Myers to Moore Haven

We set the alarm for 6:00 so that we could leave by 7:00.  We have to do the Franklin Lock, which opens on demand, and about 71 miles to get to the Ortona Lock at 11:30.  The Ortona Lock is being repaired and opens on a schedule during construction.  We don’t want to be late for that opening because the next opening is at 4:30.  The skies were cloudless  and the day began heating up with the sunrise.

We headed east on the Caloosahatchee River to our first lock–the Franklin Lock.  We arrived at 8:30 and locked right through with a change in water level of 1′.

 Traveling east in the morning does a number on your eyes with the glare of the sun off the boat and the water, but it was a gorgeous day!

Our mission today was to be at the Ortona Lock by 11:30 due to its scheduled opening, but when we talked to the Franklin Lockmaster he said that the Ortona Lock was opening “on demand” today.  Well…..just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, somebody goes and screws it up for you.  That Ortona Lockmaster didn’t give us the correct information or we could have kept going farther yesterday.  Oh well!  We got to visit with our good friends and that was worth the stop.  We passed these kids having a blast with their rope swing and dropping into the cool water.  They were fun to watch!  

Next up was the Denaud Swing Bridge with a clearance of 9′.  We needed to have that bridge open for us and the nice lady bridge tender was kind enough to do so.  

This guy and his black lab passed us twice on the river.  Can you see the dog laying down on the side running board of the jet ski?  I’m sure the dog was lovin’ it!

You see all sorts of unusual things on the river and this was no exception–a motorized canoe that can also be a sailboat.  This guy had all the bases covered.  

We got to the Ortona Lock with 45 minutes to spare (even though it opened on demand) and locked right through.  In this lock we rose 8′.

Once we were on the other side, we passed these 2 sportfishing boats.  This blue-hulled one was nothing we’ve ever seen before.  With 4 motors that boat could really scream.

Auggie was taking it all in stride as we neared our evening destination. 

The radar showed a thunderstorm in the area, but it would move off before we got there.  Like I said….you see everything on the river.  This was a homemade catamaran.  He bolted a 2×4 to the hull to hold his outboard motor.  His tiller was gone on the rudder so he fashioned a new tiller from a 2×6.  His bimini top was fashioned out of a blue tarp.  As Bob would say, “What a piece of nautical sh—-!  It’s a wonder he could actually maneuver it.

We arrived in Moore Haven at 12:30 and tied ourselves to the city dock for the night. 

I promised Auggie I would let him spend sometime on shore today with an opportunity to hunt some geckos.  He was excited and enjoyed every minute of it.

While we were tied to the dock a parade of boats came by with this guy leading the way.  We wondered where they were going.  We assumed it was a led trip across the lake with smaller boats.

Later in the afternoon while we were sitting in our lawn chairs enjoying the shade on the lawn, a 47′ SeaRay came by at full speed creating a huge wake which started to slam our boat up against the dock.  After a lot of waving, screaming, and yelling they noticed us on the dock, but by then it was too late.  All we could do was protect the boat from hitting the dock and causing damage.  They continued past us as we got their boat name (Got the Life–Ft. Myers) and called them on radio with a few choice words.  The woman apologized and said that they didn’t see any “slow, no-wake” sign.  Really???  Luckily, we were there to fend our boat off from hitting the dock too violently, but it was still unforgivable!  Most boaters know better to slow down when passing boats tied to a dock.  We couldn’t believe someone could be so stupid.  I guess it was karma when we heard from another boater a couple of hours later that “Got the Life” ran aground on the rocks entering Lake Okeechobee.  The other boaters heard them calling the Coast Guard on the radio with a “may-day” call.  I guess “Got the Life” isn’t too happy now, but we didn’t have any sympathy for them.  I guess they got what was coming to them.  Maybe we’ll see the boat tomorrow when we cross Lake O.  By the time the lock closed at 5 PM, the 200′ dock in Moore Haven was full with 4 big yachts besides us.  We’ll turn in early tonight and get another early start tomorrow.  We have 3 locks, besides crossing Lake O, to do tomorrow and get settled in at Stuart before the weather turns bad.  We’ll find a place to hunker down for a couple of days and wait out the wind and rain. 

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