Across Florida on the Okachobee Waterway

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March 30th 2010
Published: March 30th 2010
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March 27 Day 20 Naples to Ft. Myers Traveled 52 miles

We started the day by sailing with several other boats that were headed out to the Gulf for a sail boat race. They all went to the start line and we continued north towards Ft. Myers Beach. We had east winds again so were able to hoist the gennaker and have a fun sail for several hours. The wind died about 1:00 PM so started up the iron spinnaker and motor sailed for the rest of the day. Since this was a Saturday and the weather was beautiful everyone in Ft. Myers was out on their boats. We had very congested waters in the channel where we entered the Caloosahatchee River. We were traveling at 6 mph and every one else was going 30. And a few cigarette boats were going 60. Then when we came to a Manatee slow zone every one had to go 6 mph. This is the first time we ever experienced a traffic jam on the water.

We found out that the owners of our friendly marina at Barnum Bay and the Lure, Tom and Joni, were at their winter home in Ft. Myers. We gave them a call and they told us where to anchor. When we went into the anchorage we touched bottom for the first time on the trip. We got off with out a problem. Tom and Joni and their friend Deb, came out in and boat and hauled us to their lovely home on a channel just off the River. We had a good visit and Tom took us back to Amber Lee. They will be heading back to Barnum Bay next week to get the docks in so Amber Lee has a place to go when she gets back to Wisconsin. Thank you Tom and Joni for the nice evening. We love your Florida house!

March 28 Day 21 Ft. Myers to La Belle 33 miles traveled.

We started the day with a breakfast of bacon and eggs that Rick cooked up. It made for a good way to start the day. We had SW winds so we could sail until we got to the first lift bridge we have encountered since Miami. Rick called his Barnum Bay neighbors who stay at an RV park near La Belle during the winter months. We caught
Breakfast on the BoatBreakfast on the BoatBreakfast on the Boat

But not in bed!
Fred and Cheryl on their way back to the RV from several days of birding in the Everglades. WE were invited to stop for a visit and a steak cook out. We couldn’t turn down this social event so we found a public dock to tie up to and Fred came and picked us up. Where they are staying is River Bend, a very large and exclusive Motor Home Park. They have a beautiful 45 foot Country Coach motor home, finished in cherry wood with 2 bath rooms and a dish washer. Rick and I were ready to move into their guest house, but needed to get back to Amber Lee before the thunder storms arrived. Thank you Fred and Cheryl for dinner and the motor home experience.

March 29 Day 22 La Belle to Clewiston Traveled 37.4 miles

It rained a lot over night, but we were dry and comfortable on Amber Lee. We continued our voyage east on the Caloosahatchee River to Lake Okeechobee. We passed through 2 locks and were raised about 12 feet. We locked trough the Moore Haven lock with 2 power boats with couples on from Wisconsin. It seems like there
A Sea of GrassA Sea of GrassA Sea of Grass

Our first sight of Lake Okeechobee.
are a lot of Wisconsin cruisers in Florida. We had NW winds all day so we were able to sail most of the day. When we entered Lake Okeechobee we expected to see blue water. What we saw instead, was a sea of tall grass. We sailed down a channel on the SE side of the Lake to the town of Clewiston. We saw many birds of every description. Eagles, ospreys, ducks, kites skimmers and a lot more. We tied up to Roland Morton’s (famous fisherman) marina in Clewiston and immediately made friends with the only other sailors at the marina. The Aquila is going the same way as we are so will cross Lake Okeechobee with them in the morning. The Tiki Bar and grill was located at the dock where we tied u so we proceeded to visit it. We struck up a conversation with an alligator hunting guide. He explained why we hadn’t seen any alligators. It’s too cold. They don’t feed when it’s under 60 degrees so don’t venture out in the open. He showed us pictures of an 800 pound gator that some guys from Wisconsin got. After this alligator conversation we just couldn’t
Birds Birds BirdsBirds Birds BirdsBirds Birds Birds

Some of the many birds we saw at Okeechobee.
turn down a chance to try gator tail appetizers. They tasted like tough chicken. We expect to make it back to Indiantown and complete our circumnavigation of Southern Florida tomorrow. We probably wont get out another blog until we are on our way home.

It’s been a while since we had a question of the day. So why is Clewiston, FL called the sweetest city in the USA?

Additional photos below
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Boats, Boats, BoatsBoats, Boats, Boats
Boats, Boats, Boats

Boat traffic near Ft.Myer.

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