So for those of you that haven't been following:
Seven days ago I bought this new to me boat.
For the last 6 days I've been doing minor repairs and service maintenance.
Enough of the easy stuff
it's time to do some cruising. How about taking the boat from Stuart FL to Fort Myers FL. What better way to learn a new boat than a 150 mile 2 day trip. So I'm talking to Healhusler and neither he nor I have done any of the locks in FL ( I've never done a lock...period). So we drop his vehicle at the Indian Town Marina yesterday. The marina is below the St Lucie lock on the St Lucie water way.
Time for some firsts:
It's 7am; time to cast off from the marina in Stuart. Casting the lines off actually has no effect what so ever as I choose to leave at low tide and am sitting in soft mud.
No worries, with some effort we are able to point the bow into the channel and slowly motor / dredge are way out. What a feeling when you are no longer plowing. The boat speeds up and the rudder actually has some effect. Bare in mind, this is the first time I have run the boat other than a brief sea trial.
It's a beautiful sunny morning with calm winds. Healhustler and I are off on a glorious cruise to try our hand at going though a lock. We arrive at the St Lucie lock, position fenders, and wait a few minutes to enter the lock and receive lines from the operator. Boat is secured, this locking thing isn't so bad after all. It's a beautiful sunny day; the lock gates close behind us; and we ascend 14' into a cloud bank.
In the time it took to ascend 14', a fog bank rolled in from the North and left us with maybe 200' viability as we left the lock. The fog gradually cleared as we slow motored down the water way and was completely gone within an hour. Darnedest thing either of had ever seen.
With success in hand, I pulled in to Indian Town Marina, which was completely packed with boats. Executed a beautiful 3 point turn (if I do say so myself), and swung the swim platform next to the fuel dock for Healhustler to hop off. We waved good buy and I was off in search of other locks and adventures.
The St Lucie water way ends at lake Okeechobee, but you need to go through the Port Myaca lock.
Well I did my first lock ever a few hours earlier (with Help). Guess it's time to solo through a lock. Well I'm hear to tell you it was an absolute peace of cake.
Called the lock operator 30 minutes before I got to the lock. Asked which side he wanted me to tie up on so that I could position my fenders. He said to call him when I reached the train bridge and he would open both sets of doors as the lake and the canal were currently at the same height.
Is it still considered locking if you don't have to stop?
Just so you don't think I was getting to cocky, there was one more lock today and I knew my luck wasn't that good twice.
So I motored across the lake through 6" swells to Clewiston. I have a feeling it isn't going to always be that calm on the lake. Then entered the canal that goes around the west side of the lake up to the lock at Moore Haven. The wind had picked up to 15 knots out of the North. There are white cap ripples on the canal that hid a submerged log. No worries, I was able to find it with the bow of my boat.
No harm; no foul. The air of invincibility is gone.
So now I'm outside the lock waiting for the gates to open. Wind is pushing and spinning the boat around. It's real work to hold position. Gates open and I slide into the lock and for the most part out of the wind. Positioning the boat against the lock wall and securing 2 lines didn't go very smoothly, but I made it through relatively unscathed. This solo locking is doable, but it will take some more practice to be comfortable with it. There is more practice tomorrow, 3 more locks.
So tonight I'm tied to the Moore Haven town dock. It's an exceeding nice facility with rubber padded pilings, 30 or 50 amp shore power, water, and a bath house for only a dollar a foot. Great place to spend the night. Now if they only had a good restaurant and a coffee shop next to the dock.