big, Big, BIG Boats

Welcome back virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II.

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Painted by Kobra, a famous Brazilian street artist.  Found in West Palm Beach.

I would also like to welcome Five Experts aboard as our latest virtual crew member.  Hope you enjoy the cruise around America’s Great Loop.

Summary of week:

After crossing their wake in Ft Myers, the crew took a few days off to celebrate their Gold Flag achievement.

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On Wednesday, they headed out to start their second trip around the Loop.

They headed east across Florida on the Okeechobee Waterway.  On Friday, they turned south on the Atlantic Inter Costal Waterway at Stuart and anchored at Peck Lake.  On Saturday, they continued south and pulled into Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach.

Link to see a map of the travel stops, day-to-day travel log, and skipper comments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The crew set out on the Caloosahatchee River towards Moore Haven.  Unfortunately, it was raining when they left and the rain followed them as they made their way east.

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Looking out the front window, wishing for windshield wipers

Finally, about noon the clouds began to break and the sun rays found the water.  Interesting enough, it rained on the crew last time they passed thru on these waters.

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Looking out an open side window

However, the rain did not dampen the spirits of Still Waters II.  She had a big smile on her face when she docked at Moore Haven with her new Gold Burgee.  Day 1 of many in the books.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Today the crew would cross Lake Okeechobee.  The winds were favorable, meaning the crew would have light winds and following seas as they crossed the big lake.  Before they got to the lake though they had some good critter watching.

Many birds were out early feeding along the canal.  This one was caught in the act of catching a fish.

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They saw three alligators out sunbathing.  This was the first one of the day.

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Then just before entering the lake the crew noticed a crop duster in the air fumigating the local crops.  Then the plane took a course right down the canal towards Still Waters II.  The skipper thought they were going to get dusted.

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Then, just before the fly over, the plane pulled up to port and flew away.

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Soon after this little incident the crew turned onto the lake.

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Initially, the narrow channel is well marked.  But after the first several miles, the next twenty miles are met with fewer and fewer markers.  The last 7 miles only had one marker showing the way into the Port Mayaca Lock.

 

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Red and Green day markers at the edge of the channel

 



As the crew neared the Port Mayaca Lock, they heard a west bound vessel hail the lockmaster.  The lockmaster gave the vessel instructions to just motor through the lock.

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As Still Waters II approached the lock, the lockmaster gave her the green light and told the skipper that both gates were open and to pass through with No Wake.  After 9,500 miles, the crew is still experiencing ‘firsts’ on the Loop.  This was the first time to just motor thru a functional lock.

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Port Mayaca Lock, both gaates wide open

The excitement of no delay at the lock was short lived.  After clearing the lock, the crew noticed that the normally open Amtrak bridge was closed.  The skipper reached for the radio to request a bridge opening.  But before he could key the mike, he heard a train whistle and then the train appeared and crossed the bridge.  After the train was clear of the bridge, the bridge tender raised the bridge and allowed the crew to pass on down the Stuart Canal.

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Waiting for the bridge to fully open

The crew saw a couple more gators in the Stuart Canal.

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While turning around to get some pictures of a gator, the crew flushed a Bald Eagle out of his perch. The skipper watched the eagle till it landed on a power pole.   After the gator photo shoot, the crew headed back east and took a few pics of the Bald Eagle.

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After docking, the skipper ran into a young couple from Texas who has stopped working, bought a 36 foot Cabot, and are cruising these Florida waters.  They just completed their shakedown cruise to Miami and back to Indiantown.  They have a list of things to fix and then they will head out to explore some more.  They plan to head over to the Bahamas for their next adventure after needed repairs.

Also at the Indiantown Marina, there was a bunch of French being spoken.  Turns out there were a half dozen boats down from Montreal spending the winter here.  The skipper spoke with them as they gathered around the table to enjoy docktails.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

The crew set out on the Stuart River and headed to the beginning of the Okeechobee Waterway at mile 0 near Stuart.  As they approached the Stuart Lock they saw this Texas flag flying off a sailboat leaving the lock.  The skipper flashed the hook ‘em horns sign and the sailboat crew smiled and flashed the sign back.  The sailboat’s homeport was Houston, Texas.

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As they entered Stuart, they had the challenge of making three bridges in a bunch of traffic.  A large floating barge crossed in front of Still Waters II and it was more than a little disturbing trying to figure out what the barge’s intentions were.  By the time the bridge started opening the barge had dropped an anchor and was out of the way.

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After the bridges, the crew headed for the Stuart Inlet which ends the Okeechobee and connects with the Atlantic Inter Costal Waterway (ICW) at mile 988.

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Stuart Inlet, Crossroads of Okeechobee and Atlantic ICW

The crew turned south and started down the ICW.  This is the first time the crew has seen these waters by boat.  This also marks the official first side trip of the second Loop.

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The cruise south witnessed many boats on the water.  This was one of the many interesting boats the crew saw.

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After dropping anchor in Peck Lack, the skipper launched the dinghy and rowed the crew over to shore.  They pulled the dinghy up on shore and walked through an interesting tunnel to the Atlantic.

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Beached dinghy near here
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Tunnel to the Atlantic
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Atlantic Ocean

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The crew weighed anchor and headed towards West Palm Beach in the morning.  Initially the run was through Mangrove lined channels.

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As the crew moved further south they began to leave behind the Florida Wilderness and more into the south Florida mansions.  This was an early taste of what was to come as the crew headed south.  Makes you want to ask the question, “Is that boat really bigger than their house?”

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When the crew arrived at the Jupiter Inlet the water had turned a beautiful turquoise blue.  There was a dredge operation in progress at the inlet due to constant shoaling in the area.  The skipper was busy navigating the busy construction area as they passed this lighthouse.

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The manuevering and navigating through the S-curves at the Jupiter Inlet finally gave way to more straight line cruising.  The crew passed some interesting yard art, or is that two chairs on that point?

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Cruising on Saturday was bound to result in many boaters as the morning wore on. More and more boaters continued to come out and enjoy the day.  This bridge tender announced that no boats were to pass until the bridge spans were fully open.  Even the little boats had to wait.

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After the bridge the crew entered Lake Worth.  The lake was one of the few spots that was not posted NO Wake today.  That lead to many boats speeding by constantly throwing all kinds of nasty wakes.  The crew was happy when they got across the Lake and back into a No Wake Zone.  Maybe the skipper will stop the moaning about No Wake Zones.

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As they approached West Palm Beach they saw this mega yacht.  The little boat anchored in the foreground is 36 feet long.  Not sure how long the big blue boat is, but she is well over 150 feet.

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After docking the crew went walking around West Palm Beach.  The main drag in town is named Clematis St. but it was dead in the early afternoon.  The locals claimed that it will start hopping when the sun goes down.

In the meantime, the crew found the local ice cream store.  They missed it the first time walking by though.  The store is decorated in stuffed animals, and the crew mistook it for a toy store.  After correcting the error of their ways, they discovered the store specialized in Italian ice cream.  The crew took a chance and tried some.  It was good, but still not as good as the Kawartha Ice Cream in Canada.

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Next Week

The crew will be in route to Miami where they will rendezvous with some friends who are flying in from Texas.  After these folks get onboard, the crew and friends will head south towards the Florida Keys and eventually Key West.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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