Fare thee well Choices

We sold Choices this morning. She is on her way to Texas with new owners Mike & Claire Messengill. We had special times on Choices, sometimes stretching us far outside our comfort zone, but always new and exciting. We were happy with our choice to adventure via the sea and now look forward to adventures via land: an RV is in our near future.image

Another Loop Completed

We headed out today as the sun rose.

Sun rise over the Calousahatchee River.

Sun rise over the Calousahatchee River.

All day we dodged thunderstorms, but thankfully they always stayed ahead of us or behind us creating some beautiful rainbows.

A rainbow over the Gulf of Mexico.

A rainbow over the Gulf of Mexico.

For our last day on the water we were rewarded with sights of lots of dolphins, several big spotted rays, and a great Loggerhead sea turtle sighting. The waterway was busy with lots of other boats – more than we expected for a Friday.

We knew we were approaching home when we saw the Palm Island Ferry and the bright turquoise roof of our friends’ condo. Then surprise, Chuck & Michelle were on their balcony waving to us.

Palm Island Ferry - a sign that we are almost home.

Palm Island Ferry – a sign that we are almost home.

We pulled into Cape Haze Marina and completed our south Florida loop. Chuck came over to catch our lines, tour the boat, and chat. He left & we got busy securing lines & packing things up. Then Chuck was back with 2 cold bottles of water & 2 pieces of fresh-out-of-the-oven peach pie for us. Big smiles – we dove right in & devoured the delicious pie. Now that’s a homecoming we never expected. Thanks Michelle.

Hot, tired, but so happy to be eating fresh homemade peach pie.

Hot, tired, but so happy to be eating fresh homemade peach pie.

Tim drove down & shuttled Rich back to get our car. As we unloaded, Mary came over with our mail. Such great friends and neighbors. We are truly blessed. Continue reading

A visit with Kitty

Transited our last lock this morning as we headed west on the Calusahatchee River. Fort Myers came into view, then we were back on a wide river with highway bridges arching above us.

The tall buildings of Fort Myers appear in the distance.

The tall buildings of Fort Myers appear in the distance.

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Passing under a web of bridges.

Our destination today was the home of our friend Kitty Nicolai. Since we started our boat travels, we’ve been here twice by car and 3 times by boat. Kitty welcomes all Loopers to her dock & we always enjoy our visits. A swim in her 82 degree pool felt refreshing – the coolest water we’ve been in for 2 months.

We enjoyed a great dinner at a seaside restaurant then retired to Kitty’s house for coffee and artistically embelished key lime pie – yum. Thanks Kitty.

Rich & Kitty enjoying a laugh.

Rich & Kitty enjoying a laugh.

Now that's key lime pie!

Now that’s key lime pie!

Franklin Lock

At Forest River Yachts we did a lot of walking – exploring the neighborhood. Meanwhile, several local alligators swam in the marina basin & came over to see if we’d give them a handout. We kept the cats locked inside.

One of several alligators who visited Choices looking for a handout.

One of several alligators who visited Choices looking for a handout.

Today we moved to Franklin Lock Marina – one of our favorite places. It’s quiet & peaceful & cheap. The Army Corps of Engineers gives a half price discount to us seniors ($15/day). Just off our bow there’s a rookery with parents feeding fluffy babies.

The rookery just off our bow.

The rookery just off our bow.

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Choices docked at Franklin Lock Marina.

Across Lake Okeechobee

We were up before dawn & traveling before the sun actually rose. Our goal was to cross Lake Okeechobee in the low wind morning, before the afternoon thunderstorms began.

We had a very quiet & smooth crossing – absolutely delightful. As in the St. Lucie Canal, Lake Okeechobee had periodic curvaceous whisps of blue-green algae. But, nowhere did it for a mat (like shown on TV) and there was never a discernable odor. Once we reached Clewiston, even the whispy remnants of the algae bloom dispeared.

Whisps of blue-green algae beside the shadow of Choices.

Whisps of blue-green algae beside the shadow of Choices.

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Approaching Mayakka Lock before Lake Okeechobee.

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Onto nice placid Lake Okeechobee.

We went through 2 locks today, one on each side of the lake. The elevation changes were minute (about a foot) but the process still took a half hour each. The locks up north with huge drops operate much faster.

Approaching the far side of Lake Okeechobee, near Clewiston.

Approaching the far side of Lake Okeechobee, near Clewiston.

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Lots of ospreys around here – on sign posts, on snags, flying overhead, carrying home a fish breakfast.

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The lock before Clewiston was wide open but we didn’t enter, we turned right & followed the rim canal toward the lock at Moore Haven.

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The dike around the lake was encircled in puffy clouds all morning.

The next lock in line is undergoing repairs and only opens 3 times per day. Rather than push on, we ducked into a marina & will transit that lock tomorrow. Good thing we did. The usual thunder clouds hadn’t built all day, but they did shortly after we docked & pummeled us with stong winds & bolts of lightening much too close for comfort.

Indiantown

We’re now docked at Indiantown Marina. It’s the staging spot for crossing Lake Okechobee tomorrow. We have found the blue-green algae that made the news. We saw little whisps of it on the South Fork but even more today, especially below the St. lucie lock. It’s not bad, just a thin layer floating on the surface, kind of like duck weed on a pond. We haven’t noticed any smell or any irritation from it. So far, so good.

We were proud of ourselves. Even though it has been a long time since we last went through a lock, we remembered all the components & did it flawlessly: life jackets on, gloves on, fender hooks placed at ready, a special locking line with a plastic sleeve ready. We’ve transited many locks and it’s mind boggeling how many tie-on configurations they come in. We never know as we approach a lock what type of tie-on will be required. This lock tender dropped lines to us from the top.

Exiting St Lucie Lock.

Exiting St Lucie Lock.

Two horses were standing in the water along the St Lucie River.

Two horses were standing in the water along the St Lucie River.

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We spooked the horses as we passed, they moved to land and walked, then galloped along the shore.

Our voyage today was impeded a bit. We got to a high highway bridge with a railroad bridge just after it. The railroad bridge is usually open. Not this time. We could see a big fishing boat dancing on the far side. According to the bridge tender, they had just installed new software. The train was stopped down the track but the new software had him locked out. He could not override it & open the bridge. So, we tied to the highway bridge fenders, prepared & ate lunch, and waited for the issue to be resolved. After more than a half hour the railroad bridge swung out of our way. No word from the bridge tender if the software was revised or the train was moved. Either way, we got to continue very quickly into Indiantown Marina. The delay made us nervous because as we waited, a big thunderstorm formed above us. All ended well.

We're tied to the highway bridge, waiting for the railroad bridge to open as ominous clouds form above.

We’re tied to the highway bridge, waiting for the railroad bridge to open as ominous clouds form above.

After tying to the dock, we both rushed into the showers – so refreshing!

Stuart Yacht

We like the neighborhood that Stuart Yacht is situated in. The houses often line channels off the river & they didn’t bulldoze all the trees when they built the homes. The yards are full of stately old live oak trees, lots of palms, and plentiful lush greenery. It was a fun area to hike around.

We saw this in someone's front yard.

We saw this in someone’s front yard.

Tonight we went upstairs to watch a natural light show. Two major storms raged over the Everglades, lighting up the clouds & sending streams of lightening earthward. It was pretty to watch from afar & we were very grateful to be far away. Directly above us the sky was lit with starlight.