Friday, March 13, 2009

Still Hanging on the Caloosahatchee River

It is now Friday and the reconditioned diesel injectors are being installed on Norm's boat, Tidehiker. We have a friend who can fix anything on boats in Stuart and, if the problem persists, Norm will ask for his help when we get there. We hope to leave Franklin Lock on the Okeechobee Waterway tomorrow morning, Saturday, and make our way east to Clewiston on the SW Shore of Lake Okeechobee. The journey to Stuart will take 2 overnight stops, so we hope to be there on Monday.

In the meantime, we are really enjoying our time here. Our RV neighbors, John and Nell, were so kind to lend us their car on Wednesday and we did some more provisioning. Rick and I bought wetsuits because we've been told that we will need them to snorkel in the Bahamas this time of year because of the water temperature.
We have started looking at the Bahamas charts and are getting psyched about going. The general plan is to head back to Stuart, then south again to Key Biscayne, and wait there for a weather window to cross to Bimini. From there we plan to make our way SE to Chub Cay, then across the Tongue of the Ocean to New Providence Island and Nassau. From there it's a relatively lazy cruise down the Exuma chain.

The weather has been beautiful all week, finally Florida weather! Rick captured this amazing shot of the moon from the back of the boat. We had hoped to see the shuttle launch but it has been delayed until Sunday. If we are lucky, we may see it along the way.

There is a very, very small island near our boat where the most amazing number of birds roost every night. They vie for space as they land and there is a lot of squaking going on in the evening. What a great place this is!

Yesterday Norm and Vicki took down their kayaks and went exploring. Lynnie gave it a go in Vicki's kayak when they came back. It was lots of fun.

Here are a couple of videos (click on the "Play" arrow) of Lynnie trying to get off the kayak. It isn't as easy as you might expect and pretty funny to watch. The video of Norm getting back on 'the big boat' shows how it should be done! Nice work, Norm. More later as we get into Lake Okeechobee and on to Stuart.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hanging out on the Caloosahatchee River

We left the anchorage on Thursday morning, 3/5, making our way past Fort Myers and into the Caloosahatchee River. This river ends at Lake Okeechobee, in the middle of Florida, and then the St. Lucie Canal on the west side of the river takes traffic out to Stuart, FL on the east coast. It is a man made canal which provides a shortcut for vessels. This trip is about 152 miles vs. the 350 miles it would take to go back down around the southern part of Florida and through the Keys to the east coast. There are 5 locks to traverse and 24 bridges to get under, luckily, most of them we can get under without having to wait for an opening.

Friends had told us of a National Park after the first lock that had 8 slips for boats at a very reasonable price ($24/night) We went through the first lock and turned to port into the little body of water where the slips were. There are numerous large RV's camping here. It is a beautiful little park which is very well maintained. Our plan was to stop for 2 nights. We needed a day off to clean the boats and do other chores.

Saturday morning we got up bright and early to start making our way the 51 miles to the second stop. Norm, on our buddy boat Tidehiker, found that he had a problem with one of his engines so we stayed put and Rick and Norm tried to diagnose the problem. Unfortunately, it was Saturday and we couldn't get a mechanic out to help. On Monday a mechanic came out and stayed for several hours on Norm's boat working on the problem. It turned out that fixing the problem required the removal and renovation of all his diesel injectors in both engines. The good news is that it happened here vs. in the Bahamas. The mechanic will be back with the cleaned injectors on Friday or Saturday so we are here for the duration.

But what a place to be stuck!! We met a lovely couple, John and Nell, from Indiana who have been so nice to us. Nell took Vicki and I to the grocery store on Saturday and they lent us their car to go have dinner on Sunday night! Last night Vicki had us all over to Tidehiker for dinner and it was great fun to get to know Nell and John better. We couldn't be in a better place. Below is Nell, John, Rick, Vicki and Lynnie. What a great time we had.
Captain Rick enjoying the down time. Our view from the back deck.

Captain Norm enjoying a beautiful day in his new kayak. Forget about all those engine troubles!

So, since we have 4 or 5 more days here, and except for the stress of Norm's engines, we are really enjoying the down time. We are taking walks, reading books, catching up on the to-do list, etc. If we leave on Saturday or Sunday we will be in Stuart, on the east coast, on Monday or Tuesday. Here is a picture of Nell and John's RV and one of Tide Hiker and Rickshaw in the slips.
Tomorrow night the space shuttle is going to have a launch so we hope to get a picture of it. More tomorrow!