St. Johns River '10

May 15 to May 21, 2010

May 15, 2010 - Titusville to Vero Beach, FL

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAYA! Well, the winds didn't drop off or change direction as predicted, so sleeping last night was like being in a washing machine. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep, so I moved to the sofa in the salon. That wasn't much better, but I did fall back to sleep. Bob slept through the night. Oh well, it's better the captain gets his sleep for the day ahead anyways. We pulled anchor and were on our way by 8:00. Our first stop would be to top off our fuel tanks at Harbortown Marina in the Canaveral Barge Canal. We had stopped there on our way north and knew that they had the cheapest fuel prices around. It was 13.7 miles from our anchorage to get there and was 10:00 by the time we finished fueling up and taking on water. The winds were 10-15 mph from the south, so we got a nice breeze as we motored slowly south, but we also got covered in a ton of salt spray. It was in the mid 80's, but the clouds kept it from getting too hot. Since it was Saturday, we saw a lot of people out on the water in their boats, jet skies, and wind surfing. We had a "go fast boat" (Fountain) jump our boat wake at high speed. It happened so fast that I never even got a picture. That's the first time THAT'S ever happened! It was a crazy day on the ICW! We arrived in Vero Beach at 4:00 and took a mooring ball at the Municipal Marina.

 
 
It was a LONG day on the water going slow, saving on fuel! We traveled a total of 74.9 miles today. No wonder it took so long to get here. We took the dinghy to shore to register at the office and returned to the boat to relax. We had supper and waited for the sun to go down. It cooled off nicely and will be great for sleeping tonight. Rain is predicted in this area for Monday-Wednesday. That would be a switch. I made it an early night after the sleepless one I had yesterday. We'll be here for a couple of days, so I can sleep in tomorrow.

May 16, 2010 - Vero Beach, FL

We slept in this morning with nowhere to go. What a treat! Bob made the usual Sunday breakfast and then we made our plans for the day. Since the free trolley didn't run on Sundays, we decided we would try to get to Publix by dinghy, if possible. We went online and checked Google Earth to see how we could accomplish that. It looked like there was a canal that would get us close to the store, but we would have to find a place to tie up the dinghy. We got our freezer bag and grocery bags ready and left. We dinghied down the canal that would bring us close to the store. Bob dropped me off to do some scouting as to where we were in the dinghy in relation to Publix. I was able to find out that I could walk across the boulevard to the shopping mall where Publix was located. Bob would hang out around there in the canal until I returned. I did the shopping and got back to where I left Bob about 45 mintues later, only to find Bob gone. I stood on the bank and yelled his name. No answer. I called again about 5 minutes later and he answered. He appeared on the bank a few houses away. What the heck was he doing over there? He picked me up and told me all about John, who had seen him drop me off and asked him to come and tie up at his dock. John invited Bob up to his house and Bob visited with John while I was gone. What a nice guy! While he waited for me, Bob had noticed a large sailboat in the canal with a fighting chair in the cockpit. That was unusual! He took a picture of it.

 
 
After he picked me up, we dinghied back to the boat and put the groceries away. Then Bob took me ashore to do some wash. I sat in the boater's lounge while the clothes were washing and did some reading. It was very pleasant. Bob joined me later after washing down the transom on the boat and rising off the dinghy. We finished with the wash and headed back to the boat to relax for the rest of the afternoon. It was warm today in the sun, but there was a cool breeze blowing. The clouds moved in before dinner and we thought we would get some rain before dark. We had dinner and checked the radar. The rain was moving to the north and south of us. We might not get any tonight. While we watched a DVD it started to drizzle. After the movie, we went to bed after a nice, relaxing day.

May 17, 2010 - Vero Beach

Another day of sleeping in! A person could get used to this. We had a leisurely morning. Bob worked on fixing our front hatch. The screen had come detached from the frame last night and let in a couple of mosquitoes. He figured out a temporary fix until we can get the parts for a more permanent one. We made plans to ride the free trolley to the beach for something to do. While we were getting ready we had a short rain shower and before you know it, the sun popped out again. It was warm and humid today, with mostly cloudy skies. We hopped in the dinghy, took it to shore, and caught the trolley to the beach. We got off at the Driftwood Motel and sat at Waldo's, the outside bar by the pool, to have some lunch.

 
 
After lunch, we took a walk on the beach. The water temperature was about 76 degrees and the tide was coming in. (Those are Bob's fingers in the picture.)

 
 
We stopped to watch some boys surfing on their boogy boards in the waves. It was warm, but the ocean breeze was cooling. We spent a couple of hours at the beach and then caught the 2:00 trolley back to the boat.

 
 
The dark clouds were moving in and the wind had picked up. The radar was showing that rain was on the way. We got back to the boat in plenty of time. We relaxed doing some reading for the rest of the afternoon. It rained for awhile before dinner. We ate a light dinner and watched some TV while the sun set in a blend of blues and pinks.

 
 
It was a beautiful evening. The evening air cooled off and it would be good sleeping tonight.

May 18, 2010 - Vero Beach to Ft. Pierce (Faber Cove)

The evening cooled off nicely and aside from a few noseeums, it was very pleasant. We slept with the hatches open and even used the door screen that we made for the first time. There was no need for the fan. We got up later than usual, around 8:00. We were in no hurry to go the short distance today to Faber Cove across from Ft. Pierce. There we would meet Bernie and Barb on Sitting Duck. They are just beginning their trip to the St. John's River, so while we are anchored together in Faber Cove, we will share our information with them. We untied ourselves from the mooring ball around 10:00 and went over to the gas dock dock for water and a pumpout. We snuck in just before the big yacht, Blue Khaki, pulled up to take on fuel. We passed them later on the ICW.

 
 
That would have been a long wait while they put on fuel for a boat that size. We were on our way by 10:15. It was partly cloudy, very warm, and humid. There was almost no breeze. Our friends on Gallivant, Pam and Don are now up near Beaufort, SC. They are keeping us abreast of their location, as they make their way north towards Chesapeake Bay. I took a driving lesson from Bob today, as we motored the 16.4 miles to our anchorage destination in Faber Cove across from Ft. Pierce. Traffic on the ICW was light , so I got a good lesson in using the GPS, reading the electronic charts, and driving the boat. I was pretty adept at driving the Ocean, but now, with the new boat, it takes a little bit of adjusting. We arrived in our anchorage at 12:00 and had lunch. We would do a little bit of exploring in Ft. Pierce while we wait for Sitting Duck to arrive. We took a ride out towards the Ft. Pierce Inlet and spotted a really nice beach along the way.

 
 
We dinghied over to the Harbortown Marina to look around. We stopped to have a beer at the Harbor Cove Restaurant.

 
 
We spotted a sailboat with an unusual name. The owners were unusual themselves, covered with tatoos.

 
 
From there we went to the Ft. Pierce Municipal Marina and stopped to look in the Ship's Store and the Tiki Restaurant and Raw Bar.

 
 
We had a beer at the bar and watched the ICW for Sitting Duck.

 
 
We took a walk around the grounds and spotted Sitting Duck coming down the ICW, so we got back in the dinghy and went back to our anchorage. There we found Bernie and Barb already anchored next to us.

 
 
We grabbed our charts at the boat and went over to the Sitting Duck. Barb and I got caught up on what's been happening, while the guys went over the charts and shared information. We spent a few hours together and went back to the boat to cook burgers. We enjoyed our visit with Bernie and Barb and would say our goodbyes tomorrow morning. They would be going north to Vero Beach where we just came from today, and we would be going south to Indiantown. We are coming to the end of our trip and they are just at the beginning. The breeze off the ocean remained cool and refreshing throughout the day until sunset. We enjoyed our evening with a little TV before calling it a day.

May 19, 2010 - Ft. Pierce (Faber Cove) to Indiantown, FL

We got up to clear skies and warm temps. We waved our goodbyes to Bernie and Barb and pulled our anchor at 8:00.

 
 
We motored out to the ICW and were on our way by 8:20. The water was like glass without a ripple on the surface.

 
 
The only breeze we had was the one we made ourselves as we moved across the water. We spotted some dolphins up ahead, so we sped up a little to draw their attention to us. Sure enough! Within a minutes or two, they were 3 of them swimming and jumping alongside the boat.

 
 
I stood in the back, snapping pictures and taking a movie of their antics. (I tried to load the movie, but it was too big. Too bad.....it was a great movie.) One of them liked to swim on his side and look at me.

 
 
He would twirl in the water, swim on his side or his back, and jump quite often.

 
 
They stayed with us for about 10 minutes. Then something else (probably food) caught their attention and they were gone. Approaching Jensen Beach, we crossed under a bridge where the city has a great fishing pier, boat launch, and park.

 
 
There is an anchorage north and south of the bridge near Sundance Marina with access to a grocery store across the street and well-known Conchy Joe's Seafood and Restaurant. We entered the St. Lucie River which took us past the St. Lucie Inlet at the "Crossroads".It was a good day to go outside on the Atlantic Ocean with perfectly calm seas.

 
 
Boat traffic was light under hazy skies. We entered the St. Lucie Canal around noon and motored the 7.5 miles to the St. Lucie Lock.

 
 
In the lock, we rose 14 feet. It took about 30 minutes to lock through with another boat and it was like a sauna in the lock. Whew! Our shirts were stuck to our skin as we motored on towards Indiantown for the night. We arrived in Indiantown at 3:00 and tied up.

 
 
After we checked in at the office, we looked around. The marina was a lot emptier since that last time we were here about a month ago.

 
 
We walked back to the boat and noticed a big alligator just lurking in the water behind our boat.

 
 
We relaxed in the comfort of the AC for awhile just to cool off. We enjoyed our happy hour in the coolness before dinner. It was extremely humid, but the dark clouds to the south warned us that rain might be on the way. We did have a few rain drops before dinner, but the weather forecast said we might have more tonight. We traveled exactly 52 miles today and would have another day tomorrow of about the same. Our trip tomorrow will take us across Lake Okeechobee.

May 20, 2010 - Indianhead to Moore Haven, FL

Today marks the day when we've been gone exactly 2 months from the house. Time went by slowly as we visited many places and saw many sights. When I think of all the places we've been and all the things we've done, it seems like we were gone much longer than 2 months. Either way, it's been a great adventure. This morning the sky was cloudless and blue. The air was absolutely still and humid. The predicted temps would be in the 90's for the next couple of days. Yikes! The water was like a mirrow reflecting the shoreline of trees and wilderness..

 
 
We left the dock around 8:00 and continued on the St. Lucie Canal of the Okeechobee Waterway. We kept a keen lookout for alligators and spotted a couple swimming along the banks. A large catamaran came up behind us and followed us for about 5 miles into the Port Mayaka Lock.

 
 
A bald eagle swooped down right ahead of us in the canal and plucked a fish right out of the water. What an amazing sight to witness! We pulled into the lock with the 50' cat and spent about 5-10 minutes waiting for the water to rise 1", yes I said 1 INCH! Why bother? Bob asked the lock master about it and his answer was "because Water Control sets the policy and they told him to. They are trying to lower Lake Okeechobee for hurricane season." Once out of the lock, we moved at our normal cruising speed of 20 mph across the lake. The Lake Route #1 will take us about 22 miles across the southern portion of Lake Okeechobee. The lake was calm with an average depth of 12 ft.--up from last year at this time.

 
 
The "cat" cruised behind us all the way. We passed 6 boats going east as we went west. That's the most traffic we've ever seen crossing Lake Okeechobee. In crossing the lake, we saw the white pelicans which make this area their home in the winter time and migrate north in the summer. It took us an hour to cross the lake and at 11:00 we turned the corner at the lock that leads to Clewiston and traveled along the southwest rim of the lake towards Moore Haven at 9 mph.

 
 
We were cruising along slowly when we heard and felt a "clunk"! Bob took the boat out of gear and we just floated to see if we could tell what we hit. After a few seconds, something popped to the surface, but even using the binoculars, we couldn't tell what it was. We put the boat back in gear and motored slowly along checking for vibration. Everything seemed fine, but time will tell. We saw a variety of birds and quite a few gators. This family of osprey was feeding their young and chirped a warning as we went by.

 
 
The "cat", Fat Bottom Girl, finally caught up to us when we slowed down to 9 mph on the canal and followed us up to the Moore Haven Lock.

 
 
They took the lead into the lock, as they would be going on to LaBelle and we were spending the night in Moore Haven. We entered the lock, dropped 3.5 feet, and were on our way in 10 minutes. Two big yachts were waiting to lock through in the other direction.

 
 
We also spotted a helicopter that was crop dusting in the area. He came in to refuel by sitting on top of the truck. Interesting!

 
 
We got tied up to the Moore Haven City Docks by 1:00 and turned on the AC to cool off a bit before registering at the City Hall across the street. We had traveled 48.8 miles today. We relaxed awhile before taking a walk in downtown Moore Haven. The last time we were here it was a Sunday, so everything was closed. This time we wanted to see what the city had to offer, but we would wait until it wasn't so hot. Around 4:00, when the town thermometer near the Public Library read 92 degrees

 
 
and it had cooled down (ha), we took a walk down Main St.

 
 
Moore Haven happens to be the Glades County Seat with a beautiful courthouse.

 
 
We walked farther into town and discovered a laundromat, Mexican restaurant (maybe closed), Burger King, bait shop, convenience store, and a nicely stocked grocery store.

 
 
We bought a couple of things at the store and an ice cream to treat ourselves before the walk back. When we returned to the boat, the clouds told us that somewhere east of us they were possibly experiencing a different kind of weather.

 
 
Back at the boat, Bob helped another boat tie up and then we enjoyed a couple of cocktails before dinner. Two other boats arrived to stay the night.

 
 
We stayed inside in the AC until the sun set and things REALLY cooled off. We watched some TV and turned in early. The heat really zaps your energy. We would get an early start to make it to Ft. Myers at a reasonable hour and avoid the hottest part of the day.

May 21, 2010 - Moore Haven to Ft. Myers, FL

We woke up to another hot and humid day. We were the last to leave the dock by 8:00 and were moving down the river. Bob took the boat up on plane to check for vibrations at a higher speed and everything was good. Thank goodness! The smell of oranges was in the air as we looked for signs of sleeping gators on the banks. We called to make a reservation at Ft. Myers Yacht Basin for tonight. They told us something very interesting. Four boats have come in recently from the panhandle to avoid the ensuing oil disaster. I wonder if more boats will follow as the threat increases. As boaters, we've talked about what we would do to protect our land and our boat if we lived in the endangered area. I'm sure it has lots of people concerned. Along the banks, we saw 3 huge black otters running through the grass.

 
 
One dove into the water as we motored by and eventually the other 2 disappeared to take refuge in the water as well. We reached the Ortona Lock at the same time as "Coping", a 65' Outer Reef (who was at Moore Haven with us last night) did.

 
 
We went into the lock together and dropped 8' in about 5 sweaty minutes. We were on our way by 9:30. Traveling on the Caloosahatchee River we saw a little boat traffic and at times, there was a slight breeze, but mostly it was just HOT and HUMID. "Coping" stayed with us most of the day through the last 2 locks and into Ft. Myers.

 
 
We stopped at the gas dock to fuel up and get a pumpout. Then we proceeded to our slip for the night. We got all tied up by 2:30 and settled into the comfort of the AC, after wringing out our clothes from the perspiration. Good gracious! I once read that if you cruise in FL in the summer, start early in the morning, cruise until dusk, and take a long siesta in the afternoon. I wholeheartedly agree. It can get HOT! Bob worked on the air conditioner. It seemed to have a water flow problem. We relaxed until dinner and grilled salmon. After supper, we watched some TV and stayed inside to remain cool. Last night, we sat outside to watch the sun set.

 
 
We were never so glad to see the sun go down and give us some relief. The heat of the day subsided and the light breeze felt refreshing as we enjoyed that time after sunset until darkness falls. We went to bed at 9:00 to get an early start tomorrow.

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