Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Okeechobee Waterway

Bob and Ken's Excellent Adventure

Ken purchased a sailboat on the East coast of Florida. It was in dry dock in a Marina in Stuart, Florida. It's a 32 foot Catalina with radar and a lot of other sophisticated electronics.

Ken  invited me to help him move it about 250 miles to his slip in Bradenton on the West Coast. The trip will prove to last five days.

The Okeechobee Waterway is a combination of rivers, canals, locks, bays and Lake Okeechobee that cuts 150 miles across Florida running generally east to west. The lake is about 35 miles wide. It is  the second largest lake located entirely within the US.

The mosquitoes begin to swarm at twilight each night. We're on the edge of the Everglades as we motor four days along the waterway. One night we park in the intersection of a bunch of busy channels. The police come and politely suggest that we relocate.

We pass though five locks and get raised and lowered as much as 14 feet. My job is mostly to steer once in a while, move the fenders from port to starboard, wash dishes and help with the mooring lines.

Our first scare comes the 2nd day in the middle of lake Okeechobee. We've been motoring on the diesel for about 12 hours and the fuel gauge hasn't moved off full. We begin to suspect the the gauge is broken and wonder if we might be running dry.

We find a marina and refuel. It turns out that the diesel only burns half a gallon per hour at a cruising speed of six nautical miles per hour.  The gauge hasn't moved much because the boat hasn't burned a lot of fuel.

There are many nice homes along the canal in the middle of nowhere.

We swim in the canal and later in the Gulf of Mexico. Ken is scrubbing stains off the boat during his swim time..

The second day we discover that the boat was purchased with a full holding tank and a completely clogged sewage system. Fortunately,  Ken is very handy  at problem solving and he gets all the lines unclogged. We get pumped out at the City docks in Fort Myers.

We pump out again and refuel in Sarasota at Marina Jacks after spending the night in Venice and sailing with the jib and main sail along the West coast.

We arrive in Bradenton at low tide and run aground in the shallow canal leading to Ken's boat slip. We spend four hours waiting for the tide to come back enough to raise us off the bottom.

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