February 23. After being docked here for 2 1/2 months, we are leaving Fort Myers. It was a great place to be with lots of diversity within the city itself, and close to interesting areas where we could drive to with a rental car (not to mention warm weather). We may come back someday. We left the docks of Fort Myers Yacht Basin at 8:30am allowing for the fog to dissipate to a safe level. As we left Fort Myers and traveled the Okeechobee Waterway the landscape turned to more of a country setting. Our destination is Moore Haven City. We traversed two locks (W.P. Franklin and Ortona Locks) and arrived in Moore Haven at 5pm. We met Lady Royal on the way (another Looper) and will probably travel with them for the next couple of days. – On this trip we have only three more locks to go. I’m embarrassed to say that we have lost count, but on this trip we went through over 125 locks, some being 100 feet deep and we wondered “where’s the sun”. When we look back on this trip we are amazed at all that we saw and did, and now it is coming to an end. Is it really almost a year?
February 24. Left the docks of Moore Haven at 9:30pm; again we waited for the fog to lift. It was a very enjoyable cruise down the Okeechobee Waterway with all the wild water birds and yes, lots and lots of alligators, too. We could see the alligators on the rim route and when we approached, they ducked under the water. It was great fun seeing how many alligators we could spot just above the surface of the water before they went under again. We saw at least 25. – Needless to say, Artie didn’t go swimming this morning. We took the rim route to Clewiston and then crossed the Lake Okeechobee toward Port Mayaca. Lake Okeechobee is the largest lake in Florida and seventh largest in the United States covering 750 miles (half the size of Rhode Island). It is exceptionally shallow with an average depth of 9 ft. – Indiantown Marina is our destination for tonight. We went through two more locks today: the Moore Haven and Port Mayaca Locks; docking at 3pm. Around 5:00pm we were walking to the marina office and we saw a group of people and wondered why they were looking up at the sky. And then we heard “there it is!” It was purely by accident that we saw the last Discovery shuttle take off. The space shuttle program is retiring and there’s at least one and perhaps two more shuttles left to go.
February 25. Left the docks of Indiantown early morning with Lady Royal.
HOORAYYYYY! WE WENT THROUGH THE LAST LOCK OF THIS TRIP (ST. LUCIE LOCK), we think…. We arrived at Stuart’s Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage with Sam greeting us and helping us with our lines. This was an especially friendly Marina; it was a large marina, but they treated you like a small marina (personal attention). We called Mrs. Greany to make a date for tomorrow. She is the mother of our “best man” (best friend, Pete).
February 26. We left the marina at 11:30am to meet Mrs. Greany. Sam, the manager of the marina, made sure that we had a ride right to her door. It has been 33 years since we have seen Mrs. Greany and we are so looking forward to our reunion. When we knocked on the door, she opened it and it was big hugs all around. What an incredible woman!! She shared with us that she is now 91, and she’s just as bright as a new penny. We had a wonderful visit with her and met her sister, Lois and her husband (Mike), who were in town from Massachusetts. After a visit at her home, we left for the marina for lunch and a tour of “Magoo”. We had a wonderful time and it didn’t seem like it’s been 33 years at all.
February 27. Carole and Sonny came to visit us. Stuart is having an Art festival and Carole and I found some really nice jewelry and a fantastic clothing store (but everything we liked was not in our size or color which Artie and Sonny seemed pretty happy about). Oh well, next time, right Carole!
February 28. Left the docks of Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage, Stuart, Fl at 8:30am. Today we have a 50 mile jaunt and hope to avoid the rain that is coming our way. – ”Phewww” – that was a close one. Just after we left Stuart we went under the Roosevelt Bridge, and then we got a radio call from the bridge attendant to adjust our course by taking a hard left NOWWWWWWW! Which we did. We were about to run aground. What happened is buoy #23A was missing, which made our heading to the shallow water. Wow!! That was a close one. Thank you bridge tender. Shortly after this episode, we heard the coast guard call a securite that buoy #23A was missing; better late than never. – As we moved along and reading the charts, we found we were approaching “Hell Gate”. Oh no, I thought we left all those zig zag narrow channels with its rocks up in Canada. Time for another cup of coffee to keep us sharp!! – Arrived Vero Beach at 3pm. Got our bikes off the boat and went to check out the beach. Pretty nice. We had a nice dinner on the beach at Mulligan’s Restaurant, after dinner we rode our bikes to Boardwalk Ice Cream. The Boardwalk was there but the Ice Cream was closed – We ain’t in Canada anymore (ice cream at every stop, except anchorages, of course).
March 1. We left the Vero Beach docks at 8:25am heading North. When we got out onto the water we were surprised that it was windy so early in the day. After 4 hours, we docked in Melbourne at 12:30pm where “Smiley” took our lines (enough said). We took the bikes off the boat after lunch and explored the town. Hey, we found ice cream!!