June 5 Moore Haven to Stuart

We were up with the alarm again so that we could be to the lock when it opened at 7 AM.  The Moore Haven lock is just around the corner from where we docked last night, so we were the first ones through the lock this morning (2′ rise) and on our way by 7:15.

This Hatteras was at the dock with us last night.  The captain and his mate were delivering this boat to Stuart.

From Moore Haven it was about 13 miles to Lake Okeechobee.  We kept our eyes open for gators that might be lurking on the shore in this part of the river, but we never saw one.   Well….well….well!  We also came upon the boat “Got the Life” that was in such a big hurry yesterday and waked our boat against the dock in Moore Haven.

So what did being in a hurry get them?  It got them a boat on the rocks!!!!  Note from Bob:  hitting the rocks at cruise speed took out both propellers, shafts and rudders and most likely severely damaged the shaft logs where the shafts enter the hull.  I would imagine that the boat was also holed somewhere else as well. Forcing the engines and transmissions to stop so quickly surely caused massive damage. It’ll take a barge with a crane to get it off.  Keeping it from sinking at that point is another whole matter.  Remember we are in the middle of nowhere and tens of miles from any repair facility that could handle this type of repair. I sure the damage is well over $100,000.

It’s like Bob’s t-shirt says, “I’d rather be in the boat with a drink on the rocks than be in the drink with a boat on the rocks!”  I’m not a vindictive person, but what goes around, comes around and that’s the end of that! We reached Clewiston about 8 AM –the last town before Lake Okeechobee.  They have this flood gate at the entrance to town.

The next section of waterway (3 miles) is the worst!  It’s the narrow, and sometimes shallow, channel that takes you out to deep water in Lake Okeechobee.  Stray out of the channel and hit bedrock!  It’s always a little nerve-wracking, but today was a beautiful day to cross Lake O.–sunny, with a light breeze. 

Sometimes Lake O can be rough, but not today.  The 25 mile crossing would be easy.  (Lake O is only 12 feet deep,so when it’s windy the waves really kick up.)  On the other side of Lake O is the Port Myaka lock—#2 for today.  There were a few fishermen out on Lake O this morning, but otherwise boat traffic was minimal.  At the Port Myaka lock, the lockmaster told us to drive right on though.  Excellent! 

This is the view of the lock open at both ends, looking back at Lake O.  From the other side, the Port Myaka Railroad Lift Bridge sets the overhead clearance for the entire Okeechobee Waterway at 49′.

After the Myaka Lock, we were on the St. Lucie Canal, a 40 mile, man-made section of waterway lined  by lush vegetation, interspersed with homes. 

This guy had just gotten home after the weekend and was taking his swamp buggies off of the trailer.  I bet he had a great weekend with those machines!

We had one more lock to go before Stuart—the St. Lucie lock–#3 for the day.  The closer we got to Stuart the more inhabited it became along the waterway.  Bob even spotted one small gator at the water’s edge. We entered the St. Lucie Lock at 11:15 for a 14′ drop and came out on the other side at 11:45. 

Good thing we were traveling east through the lock because the wait time was 2 hours going west after this tug pushing two barges got locked through. 

We passed this 100 foot sport-fishing yacht that was housed at the American Custom Yacht Center.   Now that’s one heck of a yacht!

After checking the weather and reviewing all our options, we decided to spend the night in Stuart and not continue on.  The tropical storm that is brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico is going to play havoc on our weather for the next couple of days.  We wanted to play it safe and be hunkered down somewhere until it passes by.  After 7 hours of travel today, 3 locks, one lake crossing, and the heat and humidity, we were wiped out.  Time to tie up, relax, and have a cocktail.  A nice cold shower would hit the spot!  We’ll continue to monitor the weather forecast and make good decisions to keep ourselves safe.  A line of showers and wind moved through Stuart about 4:30, so we closed things up on the boat and waited it out.  Later, as the sun went down, the weather improved and we could take Auggie out for his evening walk.  We’ll sleep good tonight!

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