Monday, April 7, 2014

The final Leg

We have made a complete loop and are now back to Palm Island Marina to take it easy for a week and get things ready to trailer home. Here are some trip statistics.
112.7 hours of engine time
698 miles traveled
179 gallons of fuel used
3.89 miles per gallon
Average speed 6.19 knots per hour or 7.12 miles per hour
100 days on the water

The trip from Vero beach brings you back to old Florida. Once you pass Stuart and enter the Saint Lucie River things get much quieter and more pristine. On your passage to the west coast of Florida you pass through small agricultural towns that grow mostly oranges, sugar cane and raise chickens. You go back in time to Florida of the sixties. Indiantown is a usual stop for many before crossing the lake. The marina there is a working marina and provides hurricane storage for boats. Many of the boats here seem like they have been abandoned and are black with mildew. Our favorite restaurant here is Destefano's. The owner is a Brooklyn transplant who came here once on a business trip and just fell in love with the place. I think he may be in the witness protection program. 
There are four locks you must go through to traverse from the East coast to the West Coast, St. Lucie, Port Mayaca, Moorehaven, Ornota and the W.P. Franklin Lock. These locks are run by the Corp of Engineers. Some of the locks provide campsites and slips for overnight stays and have some pretty good amenities. Also along the way a few towns provide free dockage for overnight stays, Labelle being one of them. 
Once you are up the St. Lucie River a way the water is fresh until you reach the mouth of the Caloosahatchie River in Ft, Meyers.
The scenery and wildlife along the way are pristine and plentiful. It isn't rare to see an alligator resting on a bank or see a manatee coming up for air. Sometimes there may even be a manatee in a lock with you. 
After you exit the Caloosahatchie the hustle and bustle of the waterway starts all over again and you wish you were back on the River, but nothing is forever and you can always go back. 
This trip we "buddy boated" with Rich and Cheryll Odendahl. They are avid boaters and true adventurers. They have traveled around the world and Rich even hiked to the base camp of Mt. Everest. This past summer they took their boat up the inner passage all the way to Juneau, Alaska. Besides the great comraderie buddy boating has great advantages, help immediately if you need it, another opinion on weather and route and best of all someone other than you to go shopping with the wife. 
Rich and Cheryll left a few days ago and their trip back trailering their boat was not a good one. They had 3 flats in two days. We have come to the conclusion that 3 years or 20,000 miles on boat trailers is the limit. 
So that's it for this trip. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventure. We are planning a trip this summer on the North Channel. So stay tuned for some more adventures of Mike & Jess

Exiting the Port Mayaca lock into the Okeechobee.

This is an old tree in front of the justice center in Ft. Meyers. The tree was alive for over 100 years, but after several years of trying to save it, it was apparent that it needed to come down. However they did not want to loose the history so Marlin Miller created a sculpture of and eagle and it still stands in front of the Lee County Courthouse.

While docked in Labelle we saw this distressed boat. We mounted my electric Torqeedo on Rich's dingy and went over to help. Not bad, we were able to tow them to the town launch ramp. I sent the story and picture to Torqeedo and they are sending me a fleece Torqeedo jacket and publishing the story in their newsletter. 

A final picture of the shop till you drop team. Our boats lost valuable  RPM's and added fuel consumption with the added weight of girlie things!