Leaving Fort Meyers Beach we navigated our way out of the Northern entrance Channel.
We made a last-minute decision to skip Captiva Island in favor of entering the Okeechobee Waterway.
Upon entering the Caloosahatchee River we passed many interesting sights.
Like these folks who just beached the boat and were enjoying the day.
Then this house boat that I think had mannequins on the upper deck and an “Open for business sign”
Soon we were looking for a place to anchor and found a nice little turn in the Caloosahatchee right next to FPL – Florida Power and Light Power plant.
at night the Plant could be seen against the night sky.
The next morning we weighed anchor and headed further down the river. We passed many houses..
Some homes for sale included an airfield so you could simply fly in for the weekend.
Some farms had cows.
Some had horses.
Some like this home had a beautiful blue hulled Flemming trawler docked on the river.
We passed under and requested a few bridge openings.
One particular bridge required contacting a woman over the VHF and waiting for her to walk out to the center of the bridge and have her swing the bridge open. She was very nice and wished us a safe passage as we motored through.
We soon passed this young girl who seemed to be hiding from the world.
We had to passed through many Locks. Some were a walk in the park but one was full of DRAMA.
At one lock, I was working the lines by myself when I realized that I could not cleat both bow and stern and run fast enough between them to slip the lines. As the water poured into the lock chamber it pushed our full keel away from the concrete lock wall and I lost hold of the bow line. MV Simple Life instantly started to go sideways in the strong current. I had to quickly let go of the stern line and run for the helm. I quickly got the boat in gear and reversed the sideways spin.
Next the thrusters shutdown due to thermal overload and left me with a full-keel and a single engine, fighting to keep the boat from hitting the lock walls or the boats behind us. It was a drama filled full forward / reverse, hard over from stop to stop with the wheel. Kelly came running up and asked what she could do but at that point there wasn’t anything to be done but keep the boat from smashing into the walls, boats, or lock doors. By the time the drama ended, a lesson had been learned. I’ll call that “experience” one day. Never take the lock lines of the cleats and place the fenders as far forward and stern as possible and lastly, use the boat hook to fend-off the concrete walls as the boat twists in the current.
I don’t have a video of the moment of drama but I do have this videos of much more serene lock passings.
We arrived at Lake Okeechobee before sunset but had to tie to a dock because the last lock was closed for the evening. We tied to a small dock next to the larger Moore Haven City Docks. We had to google to find the small dock owner’s name and phone number. We called and found out that he was out-of-town on a family emergency but we found a way to pay him through the DockWa app.
The next morning we shoved off the dock but had to wait for a train bridge that was in the down position.
Since we were waiting on the train anyways, I decided to pull into a marina near the bridge and see if they had any ice. What an interesting stop. I walked up to the marina shack and found a group of men just kicking back in chairs sharing some beer and watching the day pass. They greeted me with a smile and complemented my docking skills. I reminded them that when you have a bow & stern thruster it can make a spinning docking maneuver look easy. They were so friendly, I sat down and talked with them for a while. The marina owner explained that he recently purchased the marina and I asked why he was not on ActiveCaptain.com? He said he was sure that he was on AC but after I showed him I had the latest copy of the AC DB and he was not on it.
The friendly gentleman asked if I could help get him into AC. I spent some time trying before finally emailing AC with my request and I received an email back from Karen Siegal, who I recognized as one of the co-founders of AC. I explained that AC as well as DockWa were two applications that will drive 90% of all transient docking business and we departed with a bag of ice and some fishing gear that I purchased while there.
Once in Lake Okeechobee it was beautiful. Full of amazing trees, birds and alligators.
Lake Okeechobee was very windy and choppy. The crossing had spray hitting the pilothouse windows be inside we were warm and dry.
Out the back you could watch the brown lake water as it boiled up from below.
There are two Easterly routes to the St Lucie river on the Eastern side of Lake O. We decided not to take route #2 often called the Southern Rim Route as it traverses the small towns on the south lake shore. Instead, we took route #1 which crosses in somewhat of a straight line directly to Port Mayaca lock on the Eastern shore.
Upon arrival at the Eastern shore, the lock was closed so we simply dropped anchor right next to lock entrance channel.
The sunset was amazing. We watched as it slowly sank beneath the lake. Then it was gone.
The next morning we entered the St. Lucie river and passed several interesting sights.
At one point the weather turned bad and local radar images showed we were getting hit with some strong winds and rain. We lowered the flags and closed the windows and pushed on till it passed over us.
Soon we exited the St. Lucie River right at the Saint Lucie Inlet and found a nice little anchorage spot just North of the inlet.
Next stop Vero Beach.