Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Rock Shrimp at Dixie Crossroads
Summary of week:
The crew set out to cross over to the east side of Florida by crossing thru Lake Okeechobee, and then begin to head north along the coast. Monday, the crew anchored near Clewiston (1). Tuesday, the crew crossed the lake and anchored north of Stuart at Jensen Beach Bridge (2). Because of high winds, the crew left the anchorage on Wednesday in Stuart and pulled into Ft Pierce (3) to allow the weather to improve. The crew resumed the move north on Friday to anchor near Melbourne (4). Saturday, the crew pulled into Titusville (5) to relax for the weekend.
Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did discover one of the best restaurants in Florida this week.
This week’s video shows the crew of Still Waters II on their three day snowmobile tour in Yellowstone. Enjoy!
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
A special shout out and thank you to Dave and Barbara for their gracious hospitality while the crew stayed at Marina Doyle. But as the song says, “All good things have to come to an end…” And so it was time to say goodbye and head east towards Lake Okeechobee.
Pulling away from the dock
Last wave to Barbara in front of her home
The cruise went as well as could be expected with a couple of bridges to be opened and three locks to make. The last lock operation is at 1630 to allow the workers to end their day at 1700. We just made it under the wire at the last lock due to a delay at the RR Bridge, but we made it none the less.
On the way to that last lock we did pass many orange groves with the trees loaded with their luscious fruit.
Orange grove along the waterway
We also spotted an interesting piece of yard art that somebody crafted out of an old standing tree. Someone is crafty with the chainsaw.
Bald Eagle Tree
The bridge tender at the Ft Denaud Swing Bridge mentioned she was having a good day because her shift was about over and she was headed home to get in her PJ’s and relax.
Ft Denaud Swing Bridge Swinging open
The next bridge did not go as well. The RR Bridge is normally open, except when a train is coming of course. However, the bridge was in the down position when the crew arrived. After a five minute wait there was still no train in sight. The skipper began to look for a number to call to figure out what was going on. The cruising guides all say the bridge is now automated and no numbers are provided to talk with a human.
After a few more minutes, a train did slowly appear and move over the bridge at almost no speed. Then the train stopped right on the bridge and sat there for about 30 minutes. While waiting, the skipper called the Moore Haven Lock to request lockage after the train cleared the bridge. The lock operator said he would have the lock ready but could not guarantee the train would move any time soon.
Train taking a break smack on top of the bridge, notice another boat on other side also waiting for the train to move and bridge to open
Finally after 30 minutes the train started to move again and slowly cleared the bridge. The bridge swung open and the other boats started thru the opened bridge. The crew passed thru the bridge and headed towards the Moore Haven Lock where they arrived to open gates and the last lockage of the day. Oh the time you ask? 1625, a whole five minutes early, what was the skipper worried about?
After passing thru the Moore Haven Lock, the crew decided to cruise another two hours and make it to the edge of Lake Okeechobee where they could get an early morning start across the big lake before the winds picked up in the afternoon.
Dolphins, 60-70 feet apart
The crew tied up in between two sets of dolphins (a group of pilings sticking up out of the water). This was their first time to attempt this maneuver. First they pulled the bow up to a dolphin and secured a bow line. As the skipper backed the boat to the next dolphin, the Admiral played out line from the bow. The skipper then got a line around the aft dolphin and pulled forward to center the boat between the dolphins. The crew made the lines fast and had an relaxing evening.
The crew woke at first light and slipped the lines off the dolphins and headed across Lake Okeechobee in almost calm conditions. The winds were predicted to climb during the day to over 15 mph which would make for a lumpy miserable ride.
Crossing Lake O
The crew arrived at the other side of the lake in about three hours with the winds just starting to build over ten mph. The wind blown lake waves were only one foot which made for a pleasant cruise across the lake for the crew.
The early morning crossing did bring out the birds as they trolled behind the boat wake looking for an easy breakfast meal.
When the crew arrived at the Port Mayaca Lock, both gates were open and the lock operator said to just idle thru the lock. After exiting the far end of the lock into the St Lucie River, the skipper spotted a gator swimming across the river.
Mr. Al Gator
Big fish must have also been out feeding as well because the crew kept seeing mullet jumping across the water to try to out run and out maneuver the predator looking for breakfast.
The crew continued to cruise towards Stuart and arrived at the ‘crossroads’ with the Atlantic ICW about 1600. An hour later they had moved north up the ICW to Jensen Beach Bridge and dropped the anchor on the north side of the bridge to get out of the 15 mph south winds and waves.
Jensen Beach Bridge
This turned out to be a bizarre day. The weather took a turn for the worse overnight. The skipper woke about five a.m. to find the wind had shifted out of the north as expected but the strength of the winds was a big surprise. The winds were blowing at 19 mph with gusts up near 30. The good news was that the anchor was set good and the boat was not dragging anchor. The bad news was that the boat was pitching in the 3-foot waves and it was not much fun. Oh, did I mention it was also pouring down rain.
The skipper went to sit in the helm and stand watch to make sure the anchor continued to hold and make sure no other boats in the anchorage pulled up and slammed into them. By nine in the morning there was a break in the rain, so the crew decided to try and pull anchor and move over to the south side of the bridge for a calmer ride.
Two sailboats broke free and were up against the shore
Raising the anchor was much harder than expected because the high winds were shoving the boat all over the place. However, the crew persevered and raised the anchor. They then motored to the south side of the bridge and set the anchor again. Well after two tries. About the time they got the anchor set the rains started up again, but at least it was much calmer since the wave action had no time to build up.
Around 1530, the Admiral noticed that the rain had stopped again, and the winds seemed to have died down a bit. The skipper checked the weather apps and confirmed that the winds were down to 15 mph. The crew decided to try and make a short two hour run up to Ft Pierce and take a marina slip for the night. The weather forecast calls for 20 + mph winds thru the night and tomorrow.
After ensuring they could get a slip at a marina, doing engine checks and weighing the anchor, it was 1630 before the crew got underway. The rain started again after they got the anchor up and the rain stayed with the crew until they arrived at the marina. About the time the crew arrived to dock, the rain stopped. That was fortunate. The crew got the boat secured just as the sun set and dusk fell for the night.
The crew was exhausted physically and mentally after the long day rocking and rolling, wresting the weather, and trying to figure out the best moves to make during the day. They were sure glad to be in a marina protected from those pesky north winds.
With the winds still north of the 15 mph scale, the crew decided to sit the day out and enjoy the sunshine aboard the boat without cruising. However, as the day unwound the crew made an interesting discovery.
They saw a boat in the marina, not all that unusual, but this boat was Glorious Dei. The last time the crew saw this boat they were in Canada back in 2016. They wondered if Thad and Cindy were still the owners. The skipper went into the office and asked, and sure enough, Thad and Cindy are on board.
The crew went to visit, but nobody was onboard. Later in the day the skipper saw Cindy. After a few minutes of talk a dinner was set up for 1830 at 2nd Street Bistro’s in Ft Pierce.
And what a dinner it was. Thad and Cindy told a story how they were leaving the Bahamas in July 2018 and went aground, on a rock, that ripped 10 foot long hole in the bottom of their boat. Luckily they were only in 3 feet of water so the boat did not sink far.
The insurance totaled the boat and paid off the hull value. Thad and Cindy bought the boat back for $2,000 and have been busy getting her back ship shape. They had only recently re-launched her in the water about 2 weeks ago. They have a few more projects to complete and they will take her on a good shake down cruise.
What a Looper story that was. Amazing, they both have great attitudes about what happened and are eager to get back to cruising America’s waterways. Thanks for sharing your Valentine’s dinner with the crew. May God continue to richly bless you.
The crew shoved off from Ft Pierce and headed north on the Indian River towards Melbourne. Along the way they met, passed, and were overtaken by many boats taking advantage of the nice weather today.
The crew did see some things that they do not normally observe along the route. First was the Goodyear Blimp that overtook them around Sebastian. The Blimp was headed north. The Daytona 500 is scheduled to run this weekend, so maybe it was headed there for the race.
Then there was a plane flying low over the water and buzzing by the boaters. In some instances he was getting awful close to the boaters.
Right on top of Still Waters II
The day ended on a strange note. The Coast Guard was working with a boat in distress. The boat had no GPS and was having a hard time explaining their location. Finally, the Coast Guard was able to triangulate their position based off their radio transmissions. The boat was 10-15 miles offshore of Cape Canaveral. To make matters worse, the boat was a 20 foot center counsel fishing boat. The Coast Guard was sending out a rescue crew to try and locate the boat as Still Waters II was dropping the anchor for the day.
Will be interesting to find out how the search & rescue goes.
The crew got off to a good start and headed towards Titusville. They once again saw a bunch of boats on the water enjoying the good weather. The only troubling thing about the day would be where to stay. The Titusville Marina could not confirm a reservation for Saturday and Sunday night. The dock master directed them to call back this morning after 9 to see if they could get the crew a slip.
The skipper called at 0930 and the marina was still not sure if they had a place for Still Waters II. The skipper told the dock master they would at least come in for fuel and a pump out and find a place nearby to anchor.
Passing thru Cocoa
Once the crew arrived at the fuel dock, they were informed that the marina had found them a slip. After taking on fuel and pumping out the holding tanks, the crew moved to their assigned slip. Docking turned out to be more exciting than it should have been.
When the skipper went to toss a line to the dockhand out the back of the boat, the skipper leaned a little to hard on the door. The latch popped open and the skipper began to fall out the back of the boat.
The failed door
Somehow he managed to push off with his left foot and clear the swim platform and dinghy. He also was able to grab his glasses before splashing in the water. A bit embarrassed but not hurt, he climbed back up the swim ladder and finished securing the boat.
After a fresh set of dry clothes, the Admiral and skipper headed out to try a new restaurant recommended by Dave and Barbara. Barbara said it was her favorite restaurant in Florida.
After a 30 minute wait the crew was seated for a great meal. They start you out with a tray of corn fritters covered with powdered sugar. Boy, were they good. The Admiral ordered rock shrimp and the skipper took an order of cod. Both dishes were very good.
So good, the crew thinks they will go back again tomorrow.
The crew will travel north two more days and should arrive in Palm Coast on Tuesday. They plan to stay at the Hammock Bay Resort for a month entertaining family and friends before continuing north mid March.