Friday – from Stuart we are now into the Okeechobee Waterway section of the ICW. Very little boat traffic here at Stuart, which is very good. We’ve been through here at other times when a plethora of boats are zooming all over the place, making Southwest Florida’s “Miserable Mile” seem peaceful. From just before the St. Luci lock to Indian Town, a good 15-miles, we saw only one bass boat boat out and about. Almost spooky. Paula made sure we had a reservation at Indian Town Marina anyway. Did you know there are several people living there in RVs? Also, Dee-Stefano’s only delivers pizza on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – so, we had another very good pizza. Very good, but not quite as good as Starvos’ pizza back in Daytona Beach.
Saturday – first came the infamous 49-foot Indian Town Railway Bridge. Freestyle (according to her specs) requires 47-feet bridge clearance. As everyone in Southern Florida knows, the Army Corp of Engineers is dumping huge amounts of water out of Lake Okeechobee. This, in turn, brings up the water level in the waterway we’re traveling on. Paula has been check the ACE’s website daily. Today’s measurement of this bridge clearance is 49.08-feet. We made it through without so much as a clinking of our radio antenna. Then out into the very brown and muddy looking Lake O. By late afternoon we were approaching the Moore Haven Lock into the Caloosahatchee. As we turned off the Rim Route into the river, we saw almost no water. Just 100-yards of bank to bank Water Hyacinths! As the lock gates opened, we could then see that the lock basin itself was nearly full of Hyacinths. It seems that neither the Army Corp of Engineers, nor Glades County believe in controlling the Hyacinths. Since the alternative was to turn around and go all the was back to the East Coast, then down through the Florida Keys, we decided to try to push through. And push we did. After about 20-minutes of pushing, we finally got into the lock. As the lock basin drained we did not have to hold line on the walls, our boat was going nowhere. When the downstream lock doors finally opened, at least there was someplace to push the plants. As we got clear of the lock, and cleared the Hyacinths from the outdrive, from between our hulls, and cleaned out the engine’s water strainer, the river was still a mess. Well, we were done for the day, and stopped for the night at Moore Haven’s city dock.
As many of you may know, there’s not very much to Moore Haven. A very nice dock with water and electricity, right by a nice park. But, that’s about it.
Sunday morning we were back to slogging through the Hyacinths again. Fortunately, as we crossed into Hendry County things really started to clear out. By the time we had gone the 36-miles to Franklin Lock, everything was fine. Obviously, Hendry County believes in Hyacinth control. Franklin Lock is a great place to stay. There are eight slips in a very nice campground. Maybe that is why our sailing club takes a cruise here every Summer.
At this point we were ready to get back home, so on Monday we pushed on to Fort Myers. Since we had no vehicle at our slip in Fort Myers Beach, we stopped off at Legacy Marina that is only about three miles from our house. The people at Legacy are so nice. The let us tie up for several hours while I rode a bike to our house to retrieve a car. By 4:00, Freestyle was snugly tied up to her slip at Fort Myers Beach.
Some Final Statistics:
- We were gone from home from April 25th to September 24th – exactly five months.
- By the GPS, Freestyle traveled 2,394.3 nautical miles. For land-lubbers, that works out to be 2,755.3 land based miles.
- We burned about 328 gallons of fuel, which works out to be about 7.3 MPG (very close to what one might expect from an RV). For the boaters, we got about 0.6 Gallons per Hour while running the engine.