Outside

It’s all about the weather.  We love it inside, traveling the twisting turning ICW that occasionally blows out into huge bays and sounds.  The traffic – every conceivable kind of boat, coming and going.  Being close to the scenery and smelling the marsh, the riverside cedars.  A friendly wave hello from front yards and docks along the way.  It’s quaint and we never feel hurried.  We don’t worry about the weather.  Strong gales can whip the bimini and rattle the eisenglass, but the water never gets rough.  2 – 3 foot seas in the sounds.  It’s easy sailing.

Southeast US Coast
Atlantic Ocean

 

Outside it’s different.  At the dock when we’re near an inlet the discussion sooner or later comes around to “going outside?”  “What kind of seas are expected?”  We listen intently to the stories, and there are many, where the forecast was for calm seas and it didn’t quite work out that way.  At best the predictions we’ve followed rarely get much above 30-40% accuracy for more than 24 hours out.  “Which App do you use?” is a common thread over docktails.  And there are many to choose from.  We’ve become weather watchers unlike any other time in our lives.  And it’s always, always about the wind. Continue reading “Outside”

Okeechobee Gone

Destination, Clearwater Florida.  Our goal is to make it up the west coast of Florida and visit friends in the Tampa area.  There are three routes.  Down through Key West and up across the Gulf of Mexico, coming in near Naples. Or, with a bit of luck, one can sneak through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and hug the Everglades around the bottom of the mainland.  The third option is the Okeechobee Waterway.

Okeechobee map
Okeechobee Waterway Map, click to enlarge

At over 150 miles long, with 5 locks and a massive lake in the middle, it’s unlike anywhere we’ve been so far.  We’ve driven down by car to the St. Lucie Lock to see how it works and talk about how we would enter, maintain control and exit the lock.  We got to see a few boats go through and this helped alleviate some of the mystery.  With this excursion under our belt we begin the trip.  South from Vero Beach to Stuart FL, where we take a hard right off the ICW and head up the St. Lucie River.  Away from the ‘big water’ boats on the ICW.  We’re feeling rather out-of-place at first.  Lots of runabouts, water skiers and small fishing boats zipping about in all directions.

The channel through this area isn’t all that wide and we have to concentrate a bit harder to be sure we don’t get distracted.  After several hours, the river narrows and we begin the actual trip across.  Our goal is to make it to that first lock before they close at 4:30 PM.  If we don’t, we’ll spend the night anchored out below the lock and dam.  Jan nails the schedule and before 4 PM we are nudging our way into a cavernous box.  It is a bit intimidating.  Shangri-La has a lot of momentum and my worry is keeping her ‘quiet’ while getting close enough to the lock wall where we will grab the lines hanging down over the side.  I leave the girls (Pam and Sarah, our pet names for the Port and Starboard engines) idling, in case we lose control. Continue reading “Okeechobee Gone”