Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Wednesday, October 30, 2002
We left our anchorage early (for us) at 8 am and headed south across Charlotte Harbor.  Kay decided that she was tired of the dust coated venetian blinds, so while Pearce guided Kibon, she cleaned the cabin and the inside of the windows.  We stopped at the intersection of the ICW and the channel south to Sanibel Island.  Several past commodores from Narrasketuck Yacht Club live there, and one, Myton Ireland has a marina and sells trawlers.  We wanted to say "hi" to him, but he was over in Fort Lauderdale getting ready for the boat show.  As we were about to continue on our way, we spotted Seaburds behind us.  Since they had left Sarasota a day before us, we're not too sure how we passed them.  Pearce contacted Howard on the radio.  Their destination was Moore Haven at the edge of Lake Okeechobee.  We were headed for Fort Meyers.

We tied up at the City of Fort Meyers Yacht Basin to get some milk.  The wind was bouncing Kibon all over the dock, and we decided that we preferred to look for a calmer and less expensive place.  Their milk was $2.89 a half gallon (we bought it) and their dockage was $1.25 per foot (going up to $1.50 on November 1).  We passed.  Pearce decided he wanted to fish.  No bait was available at this marina, so we headed into the Caloosahatchee River where we found a bait store several miles up river.  We went through the Franklin Lock.  The lockmaster threw us each a line.  They prefer a starboard tie up for the eastbound vessels.  The doors behind us closed, and the doors in front of us opened a foot.  It was a bit un-nerving, but luckily the rise was only about 12 inches.  We headed 100 feet or so up stream, turned to port, and entered a fabulous marina maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.  There are 8 boat slips for "boats up to 35 feet" but we fit in there fine at 38 feet (bow in).  The price?  $16 per night, or $8 for those with a Senior Golden Pass.  Because we didn't have reservations we could only stay the one night.  There was a group of boats coming in for Halloween and the weekend. 

While Pearce was walking up to the office to register for our slip, he met Howard Nicholson, the owner of a runabout that had locked through with us.  "Nick" said he lived just around the corner and had plenty of dock space if we couldn't spend the night in the marina.  We were able to register, but he invited us to come visit anyway.  His wife Barbara drove up just then with the boat trailer, they loaded the boat on, gave us directions to the house, and drove away with a "don't forget to bring your bathing suit."  After a late lunch and a brief nap, Pearce unloaded the bicycles, and we went for a ride.  We enjoyed visiting the Nicholson's house.  He said he's thinking of opening a bed and breakfast by boat for those people who want a night on land with a swimming pool and hot tub handy.  We left with an invitation to stop any time we're traveling from the east to the west coast.

Thursday, October 31, 2002
Happy Halloween!  Kay said it's the first time in 20 plus years that she didn't have to dress up in a costume.  We reluctantly left the marina at the Franklin Lock and headed out on the Caloosahatchee River/Okeechobee Waterway.  It is a beautiful river flowing through palm trees, live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, orange trees, hibiscus and other flowering plants.  Boaters don't like the water lilies and hyacinths that can clog propellers, but they are certainly pretty.  We watched fish jumping and looked for Manatees.  Kay had already spotted an alligator in the marina this morning.   The houses lining the waterway range from manufactured homes to colossal estates.  This is horse country and it's not unusual to see horses on land and boats in the water on the same property.  The land was originally cattle ranches and there are still cattle along the way.  

We went through two more locks.  The method of raising the water by opening the upstream lock door is a bit daunting when you see the surge of water rolling toward your boat.  The Ortona Lock raised 7 feet, and the Moore Haven lock raised the water level 5 feet.  At that point we entered the part of the Waterway that rims Lake Okeechobee.  We had read that the Army Corps of Engineers had killed off the Casurina trees which were brought to Florida from Australia.  All that is left of these feathery trees is their ghostly trunks.  Palm, bamboo, and other greenery edge the waterway while the dike rises on the right side.  Birds are the only wildlife that are evident, but the water roils and bursts with something every so often.

We stopped at the marina in Clewiston.  On our trips by car across Florida we had stopped at the Clewiston Inn for lunch, and we thought we'd like to have dinner there.  The Tiki bar at the marina was gearing up for a Halloween Party as we left to enjoy dinner at the Inn.

Friday, November 1, 2002
Last night the Clewiston Inn lived up to its reputation again! The Prime Rib was more than superb as were all the trimmings and the service was true Southern elegance. The Inn had sent a car for us and the ride was interesting. Being Halloween, we were treated to a slow ride through crowds of  little devils and angels and clowns... (Kay wanted to join them, but, of course, she didn't have a costume).

We headed out through the lock at Clewiston, which was an easy pass through with no locking, and continued straight out to the passage across Lake Okeechobee.  The day was sunny, the wind was from the north but diminished from an early morning 10 to 15 to a mid morning under 10.  Since we prefer to leave docks about mid-morning, we were fortunate to have an easy passage.  We were all alone on this passage -- did not meet any boats and did not pass any -- but as we approached the Port Mayaca Lock we encountered eight boats exiting and starting their passage across the Lake.  We continued along the Canal through Indiantown and past the homes along the waterway.  There were various enterprises along the way -- sugar cane was the prime crop in the early miles, followed by cattle and citrus.  This still continues to be a beautiful passage.

As we approached the St. Lucie Lock, we heard Howard Burdick talking to the lockmaster as they were locking down.  We had to wait until the lock could be turned around for us, so Kay walked up to the campground/marina office to get the reservation number for the campgrounds run by the Army Corps of Engineers.  If you want to stay at the $16/$8 sites, contact 877-444-6777 or on the internet  Howard invited us to follow him to his brother's marina at Stuart Yacht.  The entrance is very convoluted -- more so than on the Tombigbee or the Mobile Rivers -- but we arrived safely and spent a quiet night.  The marina contacted a diver to look at our props.  He would arrive tomorrow morning.

Saturday, November 2. 2002
The diver arrived soon after 9 am and within an hour had removed our old props and installed the new ones we had carried from New York.  He also removed many feet of crab pot line that looked just like the line that Pearce had taken off the props in Cedar Key.  It really looks like the vibration that we had been experiencing came from that time.  One of the props had a really pretty lacy look on one side, but the other one was good.  We left them to be reconditioned, said our good-byes to Howard and Jane Burdick, and continued back out through the loops and turns to the St. Lucie Waterway.  The passage through Stuart and across the St. Lucie Inlet to head south on the East Coast ICW takes an alert captain and crew.  We motored around a sailboat race and avoided boats zooming from all angles.  We had just passed this area and were passing the State Park at the required "slow, little wake" .   Buoy #18 allowed us to increase our speed, and as we made a line to the next Red buoy, we ran aground!  Pearce landed on the wheel, and luckily, Kay was on the cabin floor putting garbage in the can in the bilge.  Everything flew past her head and landed against the galley walls.  Lucky, the bird, ricocheted off the windshield, but was soon chirping and asking, "What happened?" Apparently a new shoal had decided to ease its way out into the channel. The local folks seemed to know about it, but we were in the dark. After setting the anchor, Pearce waded out into the water to assess the damage.  He couldn't see our new props, but he was able to feel that they were in the mud up to the shaft.  That is the bad news, the good news was that we had just passed low time.  High tide was due about 5 pm.  We sent another aft anchor and waited. 

What does one do when at anchor just off the channel in an area lined with mangrove swamps?  Fish!  Pearce caught some very big catfish which he filleted for our dinner.  After 3 hours we had come up enough to get off the shoal -- we ought to name it "Baker's Shoal"!!  Daylight was fading, so we continued a mile or so to Peck's Lake on the eastern side of the ICW.  There were many boats already anchored there that had taken advantage of the dinghy dock that provides access to the Atlantic Ocean.  We spent the night with all the windows and ports open so we could enjoy the sound and breeze from the Ocean.

Sunday, November 3, 2002
The sun arose on schedule, but since we hadn't closed any blinds last night (who is going to look in at us?) we awoke to the bright rays coming through the aft door.  We headed out from the anchorage early and proceeded south through Hobe (one syllable says the guide book) to Jupiter.  It is a shame that so many people have to live in such splendor.  The houses are bigger than four or five normal rich homes.  That does not count the out buildings!  We also saw some boats that could hoist ours for their dinghy.  We proceeded through the many bridges.  Our advice is, if you do decide to come south on this ICW, do it on the weekend when the bridges open on demand.  Otherwise, you may sit for 15 to 30 minutes (or wait forever during the rush hour).

We finally arrived at our dock in the marina at Palm Beach Yacht Center, tied up, and took a taxi to our condo in Boynton Beach.  We had to call AAA because the car battery was dead, and we decided that it was too late in the day to transfer everything from boat to condo.  So we decided to spend another night on Kibon.  After a side trip to see Kay's mother at her Assisted Living, we returned to the boat, had dinner, and are headed to bed.

Tomorrow we move into our condo, say goodbye for a while to Kibon. We'll rest this web log, maybe add a thought or two over the winter. We'll then come back with daily reports for the remainder of our loop back to Long Island in the Spring. In the meantime, Kibon is up for sale. She's a great ship who "won" the race down the rivers, but we're looking for something slower... a trawler type like Howard's and Jane's. Hope we can find it. We're starting our look tomorrow at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show.

See you all in the Spring.

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