Fort Meyers, Okeechobee Locks (uh hmm ..we almost sank!)
We left Marco bright and early as the sun was rising. We needed to travel the outside and the winds would be up later in the day so best to beat that.
It was a quiet 7hr trip up today and we always use this time to catch up on some work, blog, workout etc while underway. We have auto pilot so the boat takes us to our anchorage but we stay up on the helm (our favorite place to be anyway) to keep an eye on things always
We anchored at lunch time and later prepared all of fenders and ropes for the locks for the morning. We easily went through the first two locks and arrived at our marina for the night at Moore Haven, only to find out from the dock master that the bridge at Stuart, where we exit to head up the east coast, is closed until the 22nd of the month! There were a few boats here who intend to do the same or up to the Bahamas, who were now stuck too.
We toyed with the idea of heading back and sailing around the Keys but it would take the same amount of time and we’d sail an extra 430 miles, so that idea was quickly put to bed. We would also have to wait at Marathon to go up on the outside for the weather and that could take us much longer. We decided, after every strategy and a lot of conversation back and forth, that it is best to forge ahead and wait it out in Stuart until the 22nd. We watched the history making Coronation of King Charles while here too.
It was cinco de mayo and we decided to make our remain in Moore Haven for a three night stay instead of one. The weather was going to be so bad across the lake. It is very shallow and whips up quickly which makes for a horrible sail, much like a cork on the ocean
So we went to the local Fraternal Order of Eagles pub and grill for dinner. It was interesting and we met the mayor of this little one mile square town. In the morning we did a complete wash off of the boat both inside and out. It felt great after all the beach visits and sailing as well
We bought lunch at the biker event in the park on Saturday, had a swim in the pool with Cali and had a picnic on the beautiful grassy park at the marina right next to our boat. Our Saturday was quiet and blissful and we decided there and then that we really like it here.
Monday was perfect and we set out early arriving first for the first lock opening at 7am. There is the Indian Town Railway Bridge that only opens twice a day and we had to make the two locks and cross the lake to get there on time.
Once through, as we nearing the bridge with perfect timing, our alarms starting going off. I captained the boat while Shaun rushed to check. Water was pouring into the starboard engine bilge and he couldn’t see where it was coming from. His first thought was a shaft seal had gone. Soon the serious second alarm started going. Shaun quickly turned on the generator and put the big pump on with a hose out of the bathroom window to evacuate the water. It was going out slightly faster than its was coming in.
He quickly called Indian Town Marina and told them we’d need an emergency haul out. Within the hour we were out and we quickly assessed that the boot on the exhaust had burst. It’s much like a giant radiator hose which, thankfully, was a quick fix that Shaun could repair by the evening. We were just in time for this haul out. The water was already covering our fuel tanks and about to come up to floor level! We used the time to clean Happy Wife's bottom, check all the through holes etc and had dinner up on the helm that night and toasted to our bavery
They splashed us again at 9.30am in the morning and we anchored at the bridge for an hour or so until it opened for us.
By 3 pm we were officially on the ball at Sunset Marina on the East Coast right next to the bridge we have wait to open for boaters on the 23rd of the month.
We had had dinner at Sailors Return right in the Marina which was lovely complete with a perfect sunset. A good end to that chapter! What a sweet little old town Stuart has that is filled with boaters, locals and unique shops. We spent mothers day here too and had a wonderful sunset dinner at a restaurant called Waterfront
We had to return for a planned week to Tampa anyway and so we left Happy Wife on the hook until our timely return to continue to head on up East
The lesson for this part of our journey is…Go with the flow! Thankful, grateful, blessed!