We left Stuart on 1/29/09 bound for Ft. Myers, FL. Crew included Ann and Bill Miller, Paula and Mike Schlich from Stuart to Indiantown. At Indiantown, we picked up Theresa and Bob Bishopp for the trip to Ft Myers Beach.
Our trip from Stuart to Ft, Myers was not through the ocean, it was through a series of rivers, lakes and canals that cut all the way across the state of Florida through Lake Okeechobee. We had to pass through 6 locks to transit the state. We all thought is would be an easy first trip with no heavy seas or weather to contend with, but a stong line of rain showers gave us dense fog, strong winds and very rough conditions for our 4 hour ride across the big lake. The boat in front of us at the Port Mayaca lock (the westbound entrance to the lake) decided to turn around and try another day.
Thank goodness for stabilizers! Okeechobee is only 11′ deep, and the North wind really kicked things up in the South part of the lake. We saw a typical cruiser headed east about halfway across the lake, and couldn’t believe how this large boat was getting tossed around. What a difference in a 60,000 lb. boat with a 4500 lb. lead keel and hydraulic stabilizers!
We were all glad we decide to cross that day. After we got across the lake, the trip through the canal and river was beautiful.
The second night, we anchored at Lollipop anchorage. It’s a very beautiful and desolate anchorage with great current protection. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to set an anchor in the basin. We ended up putting out two large anchors which were not set all that great, but held us just fine for the night.
The next day we did a 6 hour run (7 hours if you count the hour we were boarded by the DNR for speeding) to City of Ft. Myers Yacht Basin. This is a great marina. A little pricey, but really nice people and a great place from which to explore the city of Ft. Myers. We spent the night at a local pub or two and had a great time.
Early the next morning we made a 5 hour run to the Big “M” marina on Ft. Myers Beach. Also a nice marina, and Ft. Myers Beach is a better place to hang out. We had warm sunny weather, cold beer and we spent two nights cruising the local establishments. We watched the super bowl at Yucatan Bar and Grill with a bunch of Canadians. Good food and lots of TVs.
It was time for the first big run across the open water to Key West, but I had to wait for a new crew. Ann, Mike, Paula, Bob and Theresa had other responsibilities to deal with. They left the boat at 8:00 a.m. and the new crew was due in at 11:00 a.m. Unfortunately, the weather was not planning on cooperating, but that will be the subject of the next Blog.