Fort Meyers is full of surprises, Cindy ever the beadaholic found a fantastic bead shop, in fact one of the nicest we have come across to date. Turns out its a chain store with a number of shops across the US.
We spent another week here to wait out some wind and really liked the place, there was a grocery store within walking distance and lots of shops and restaurants.
The marina itself was first class with a great staff and of course the most important item a great shower and restroom a standard to which all marinas are judged.
We were placed on an inner concrete wall with a great view of the river and got a really good view of the moon with Venus and Mars in near proximity…I wonder of the saying the stars aligned applies here, it certainly feels that way these days.
This guy hung out for an hour or so trying to stare us down… he has no neck lol!!
The City of Fort Myers is never without action during the weekend they had the annual Thomas Edison lighted parade. Its the largest lighted parade in the US.
Streets lined with chairs in preparation – different charities sell them to raise funds , I’d not seen that before its a great idea.
The weekend started Friday with better that a hundred vendors selling everything imaginable, yes even beads!
There was a fabulous salsa band playing and we took them in for a bit while I indulged in a decadent lunch…
On the Saturday the marina hosted a nautical yard sale and allowed Cindy to set up a table, she sold her Nauti line to fellow boaters and was well received.
So at the marina we were so lucky to have fellow loopers Chesapeake ( Joe and Connie). Gran Vida ( Jeff and Susan) and Twelve Stones (Elaine and Russ). Chesapeake had front row seats to the parade as they were docked stern in to the main street.
We all met on their beautiful Krogen Manatee and had a great party!!
They had a 5K fun run and the starting line was right in front of us, so we yelled encouragement and had a beer!!!
We had a great sunset that night, perfect night for a parade.
The parade started with a 20 minute fireworks display which was truly outstanding.The parade lasted somewhere around 2 hours and included trick motorcycle police and the Shriners and a giant light blub of course.
Before we left I had a craving for Chinese take out and having been away from any sort of major centre took this opportunity to order in a pile of food and treat Joe and Connie (Chesapeake) as they had treated us way back in Cedar Key on or crossing.
A great couple Joe and Connie
Once again it was that time, the ever dreaded hair cut …. nothing makes me break into a cold sweat more than Cindy saying simply…ah..Grant I need a hair cut… well the speed has increased , the confidence and I often now find myself saying..Cindy I got this LOL !!
Ta Da !!!
Say adieu to Fort Myers and our great company we struck out for The Okeechobee crossing headed for Stuart FL on the east coast.
Our first day put us in Port Labelle Marina and we were warned not to cross Lake Okeechobee in any kind of wind with a north component as they say. So we sat for a few days here … this is a no frills marina , 20 bucks a night no power. It has been described as “Old Florida” which pretty much sums it up.
It was filled with wild life
This was a very inexpensive place to store a boat in the water , 3 bucks a foot per month so for us it would be about 108 a month. So as a result lots of folk leave their boats here long term, which results in a black mold all over the boats, there were a lot of derelict boats here and this one ….
The turtles had a new home on this sunken vessel.
Our next section of the 125 some odd miles was to Rowan & Martins Marina on Lake Okeechobee, a famous fish camp that introduced bass fishing to the lake. Take holds monster bass in the 10lb range are not uncommon.
We had to pass through a swing rail bridge which is always open UNLESS…… there is a train ….. Cripes we were 1/2 a mile from the bridge when we heard it … we look at each other … what are the odds .. I gun her … pushing a blistering 7 miles and hour we push on…..Cindy is saying WAIT WAIT…..I’m like NNOOO DAMN IT…. WE CAN MAKE IT … they must have thought those crazy Canadians are going for it ……. well they held the train … we felt pretty special and waved like mad to the guys thanking them!!!!
Then we were over run with bass boats – like buzzing bees
We chose to do the ring route a channel that runs the shore line south around the lake that is protected for almost 3/4 the distance. This lake is the second largest fresh water lake in the US second only to Lake Michigan ..not to be taken lightly.
We had been reading about Dolphins to tie to…which I thought was kind of weird lol … we hadn’t heard that term before and had no clue what they were – they are the pilings
Sail boat tied between Dolphins
There is a swing bridge on the canal – still manually operated like most of the Canadian canal locks – fun to watch.
There is a section of about 6 miles where we are exposed to the lake, it was rough and rainy and we were glad to be back into the protection of the eastern canal section.
The lake -it’s BIG !!!
Our stop for this day was intended to be Indian Town but when we called they were full , not a lot of transient slips as its more a storage /working yard so we pushed on to Port St Lucie lock a Core of Engineers maintained camp ground with a few slips. At 30 bucks a night it was a deal and we stayed a couple of days to relax after the huge day previous.
The boat beside us was another Krogen Manatee – with only 99 built it was amazing to see three in the last week. They are becoming my new favorite boat – beautiful inside with tons of living space. Nice folks too on this boat “Swanee” – took us for a tour of Stuart and for groceries – gotta love folks with a car!!
The two days went quick, we struck out in perfect weather headed for an anchorage off the state park at St Lucie, however we need a little boat TLC first and bait …. 🙂
St Lucie Lock – last lock on the Okeechobee waterway, back into salt water and tides
I’m running down the dock with a bucket full of live shrimp …going beach fishing WOOT!!!!!
Our new home for four days – a really nice anchorage with the beach on the other side of the key – 20 yards away.
On the beach
The beach was covered with jelly fish which we were told were Portuguese Man O War … not to be touched , stepped on or otherwise a nasty sting/burn can result.
They start like this
then the sun gets em..
It was a beautiful beach and the fishing was … um not so good – rough and dirty water ..brings catfish and crabs …got one of each
After 4 wonderful days we headed north for Fort Pierce City marina for a couple of days of tied to a dock, take on water, clean out the boat and give her a good wash. It was a first class marina, had a farmers market and Save a Lot grocery store near by and yes a BEAD SHOP!!!
The farmers market
A quaint town
Then on to Vero beach city marina- and we passed 3000 nautical miles a whopping 3300 miles …wow what a trip!!
We are well into civilization now the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) is lined with big beautiful houses .. we laugh and say oh its just our winter home
This stop was to be our first mooring ball … yes our first. These are often large blocks of concrete with a chain fixed to them an a floating ball with either a ring or a rope with an eye to tie to. Being newbies we were a little apprehensive but it turned out to be a piece of cake, Cindy grabbed the floating line with the boat hook and tied it to the Sampson post on the boat and there we were , hell we looked like pros ….(remember this for later)
Now this is a cruiser community and it was the first time we had come in contact with such a thing… congestion at the dingy dock … where to park???
The Nina and Pinta where here for the weekend adding to the people ashore … going from a quiet beach to this …WOW
The beach was crowded but fantastic …
Next up Melbourne Beach – an anchorage off the public jetty , very large open bay that can kick up pretty good in anything but easterly winds.
We took the dingy in and visited an incredible market store with every imported food imaginable, the bait store and of course the beach.
I met a couple of surf fishing guys and they were a wealth of knowledge
The one fellow was on the beach the next day and taught me a couple new knots, I caught my first Pompano..he caught two and then seven whiting … right beside me …sure showed the new kid lol!
It was a great spot with showers to rinse off the sand ..showing a little leg for my bride
The wind swung over to the south and it must have really been blowing as we returned to find the boat rocking like crazy and our ALGCA burgee gone …. must have been blown clear off the boat.. darn it had been with us for 3000 miles. So we hauled anchor and ducked behind a bridge for the night, to our delight we were treated to a aerobatics show!!
WARNING THE NEXT PICTURE MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME VIEWERS – VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED
Cindy thinks I need to work on my farmer’s tan… comments?
Ok nuff said about that… on our way again, we are headed to Titusville to another mooring ball ..no problem we are seasoned pros (remember?)….. well maybe not so much … all I can say is I’m thankful for the small audience … 13 ton boat + 20 Knot wind + line with eye = 6 tries … as soon as we got a hold of it you had to slip a rope through the eye ..only the wind would push us away – the up side was there was no yelling – nobody got hurt and Cindy managed to get us tied off – it was truly a team effort…atta girl Cindy proud of ya !!!
The offending ball
We are here for an Atlas V rocket launch and we have front row seats, these are the largest rockets used now that the shuttle has been retired. We didnt know what to expect ….
Our view of Canaveral
The launch – INCREDIBLE!!!!!
They were scheduled for 10:44 pm and at exactly that time the entire sky lit up like daytime, no sound for the first minute just the light, then came a low rubble like a giant train. We watched as it rose then it flickered and then the second stage kicked in and it continued for maybe 3 minutes and it was over just like that… TOTALLY AWESOME!!!
From here we are headed to Daytona Beach to meet up with our good friends Grant & Pam and Don & Lois all from the Napanee area. They will rent a condo on the beach so we will take a marina slip for a few weeks.
We traveled through a canal between Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon, man was it rough on the river, only the third time on this trip we have been bounced around like that, water crashing over the bow!
The canal is pretty cool as it’s where every Manatee in Florida comes to vacation, we crawled through the 1 mile canal with Cindy on the bow watching out for them – there could have been easily 50 of them.
As we traveled we passed New Symra Beach and restaurant on the water where the year before we had sat had an ice cold beer (or two) and dreamed aloud to each other what it would be like to embark on this grand adventure. Its been nothing as I had envisioned, it’s simply been beyond my wildest dreams, traveling with my best friend in the world, seeing incredible sights and meeting incredible people some of whom have become very close to us. We simply had no idea what was in store for us.
We first stopped at the point at the south end of Daytona beach,near the light house for the tail end of bike week. Nice Marina and a good place to store our boat.
I fished the point having to clear a spot of the jelly fish – apparently this is where they come to die.
We have since moved to Seven Seas Marina for the next two weeks, we will see our Napanee friends and will be joined by King and Sharon on Blue Moon and Pierre and Jennifer from Wild Raven Adventures – its a fitting end to this segment of our life.
We are heading to Ontario in May for 6 months. Don’t really want to go but the dollar is killing us!! I got a job in my field and we are fortunate enough to get a house sitting job in Paris Ontario looking after a 18 year old cat! Going to put the boat up here in Florida. When we come back in October heading south – wedding in Dominican in November and then the plan is the Bahamas!!
Hopefully we will cross paths – Cheers for now – thanks for following!!