Category Archives: Gulf intercoastal

Lake Okeechobee Waterway REVISITED

Feb 11

We left Fort Myers Beach at 8:30 and arrived at the City Dock at Labelle at 4:30, passing under several bridges, including one swing bridge, as well as through many Manatee Zones. Elaine also got her experience of locking and we went up a whole 2.5 feet.   We saw a paddle wheel boat also go through the Franklin lock, turn around and come back through it;

Feb 12

On Friday we walked up to the McDonalds for breakfast and then headed out onto the Caloosahatchee River at 9:45 .  We went  through the Ortona lock at about 1130.   The captain claims he saw to gators—but the Admiral missed seeing them- so no pictures   These would be the first gators that were spotted & we’ve been in Florida for over 2 months.  We arrived at the River House Marina in Moore Haven at 1:15 and tied up.


Moorage at this dock is $1 per foot and it’s on the honour system- you take an envelope put in cash and drop it into a locked box.  We actually met Jude, who is taking care of the marina currently and she seemed like nice enough- she refers to Moore Haven as Hooterville.  We went to City Hall which is very close to the dock to find out what they recommended we see in town—not a lot here—the clerk said there was only a couple of restaurants and a Family Dollar and 2 thrift stores.   We went for a walk in search of  lunch – and the first restaurant we stopped at closes between 2 and 5- so we were out of luck as it was 2: 15.  We then went to the Anglers Reef bar.


This place was a bar, restaurant and package store run single handedly by one woman while we were there  we saw a few of the locals including a dog that had a pink tail and toe nails because Valentine’s Day was coming—Go figure! We ordered lunch and had beers while we waited—food was great.  We saw that they had Crown Royal  Northern Harvest  at the bar- so I took this picture as apparently it is pretty scarce in Canada ever since it was named the best Rye in the world.

IMG_0634We had bought a bottle of this earlier in our trip in Appalachicola, but had left it with Kitty Nicolai in Cape Coral as neither of us are Rye drinkers.

There was also signage on the wall- showing what age you had to be to drink here and seeing as how it was Caitlyn’s birthday today- she would have been able to drink here for the past year- as the drinking age is 21.



We returned to the boat and enjoyed the sunshine and read on the sundeck.


Feb 13


Saturday morning the sun was shining and there was very little wind.  We’ll continue our trek Eastward today.

We’ve completed the mini-loop of Southern Florida

   Our mini loop  consisted of leaving  Fort Myers Beach on January 16th and returning on February 8th, having gone across Lake Okeechobee to Miami, Key West, Marathon and up the Western shore of Florida .

Feb 7-10


We ended up going for a walk in Naples to see the Tin shed shopping district and then the shops on 5th Avenue.  We met Mic for drinks at the Chickee Bar (Tiki-hut) near his marina.  We later went to the Dockside restaurant for supper and to watch part of the Super Bowl game and ½ time show.

On Monday after we filled up with gas in Naples the Starboard engine would not start. Andy figured it was a battery issue, and he tried to boost it- but no luck- he then switched the battery with the spare we had for the generator.  Still wouldn’t start.  In the end we decided to go on to Fort Myers Beach, using the Port engine only, as a storm  was  predicted later in the day with   WEST WINDS AROUND 30 KNOTS. SEAS 12 TO 16 FEET. BAY AND INLAND WATERS VERY ROUGH. A SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS.  It turned out to be a rocky night- thankfully we were tied up to a dock at Salty Sam’s.  

 Here’s the centre marker in Naples harbour.


While enroute to Fort Myers, Andy contacted a mechanic who agreed to come to the boat on Tuesday morning to look at the battery issue as well as help us resolve a diesel leak that had recently started.   A new starter battery and a couple olive rings in the fuel injectors seemed to correct our problems.  In the afternoon we rented a car and did some reprovisioning.

On Wednesday it was Canada Day at the Bootlegger Bar near our Marina.


We drove to the Tanger Outlet mall to check out the stores on our way to Sanibel Island- only Andy made a purchase.  We met Dawn at Gramma Dot’s Restaurant for Lunch- we had heard that food was great here- so wanted to try it– Andy and Elaine’s Mom’s name was Dot- so another reason we had to go there.



This was my blue cheese burger- which was great- I didn’t eat the orchid but was told that they are edible.

We then drove over to the Sanibel Park and lighthouse


and walked along the beach and picked up shells.


We then returned to the Marina and went to the Canada Day celebrations at the bar.


There were quite a few people there- mainly from Ontario—I think  we were the only Manitoban- but we did see a couple other people wearing Jets jerseys.

We called Jack tonight, as it is his 7th birthday- he loved the pirate socks that we had sent him as a present.

Our plan for tomorrow is to once again start the trek across Florida on the Lake Okeechobee Waterway, as Elaine flies  out of Miami on Tuesday.

Moving North, arrived in Naples today

Feb 3-7- It doesn’t matter where we go the weather in Florida is atypical—COLD! 

We left Key West and traveled to Marathon on Wednesday.  We anchored out for the night,


and left early the next morning to head north.  The original plan was to only go as far as Shark River, but with the threat of a front coming through we traveled further north.  It was a nine hour day on Florida Bay/Gulf of Mexico, after several hours we found that the water changed from the aqua blue color to more of a dark brown- like Lake Winnipeg.  We each took a turn driving and playing tip-toe through the crab pots. We ended up anchoring out in Indian Pass, and the wind swung the boat throughout the night.


In the morning we called the Everglades Isle Marina and secured a slip for the night.  It was only about a 45 minute trip across a choppy Chokoloskee Bay


and up the Barron River into Everglade City,  the marina is part of an  high-end RV park- we were the only boat in the 50 plus  available slips- apparently it’s not well advertised.



After going for lunch at the Camellia Street Café,


we walked around town and toured the Everglade Museum.


We then went back to the bar at the RV Park for a ”meet and greet” and met several couples that had done parts of the Loop in boat but were now RV people.  We also met a couple from Winnipeg, who were staying in the park.  We went to City Seafood for supper and  returned to the park for Karaoke in the evening.

We departed Everglade city around 9:45 in the morning and returned to the Gulf.  Because it was low tide- here’ a pic of an empty  crab pot in Chokoloskee Bay. It was a relatively calm day with few waves.  We followed the shore until we reached Coons Pass, just before Marco Island.  We had opted to take the scenic/inside route towards Naples.  At lunchtime we pulled up to the dock at the Old Marco Lodge, and enjoyed more seafood.


By about 2:00 we were starting to look for an anchorage as the wind had picked up and there was now rain in the forecast.  We ended up anchored behind an island in Rookery Channel.  It was windy and the rain began to fall.  At about 7, Andy moved the boat more into the channel as we were swinging fairly close to shore.  In the morning  the sun came out and I took this picture, very soon after the winds started to blow.


Since it was low tide, we had to wait until after 11am before we could pull out of our anchorage.  We were only travelling as far as Naples today, which was less than 8 miles- so it didn’t matter when we left.  With the gusting winds, it was quite rocky going down the channel, but there weren’t as many other boaters out- so not a lot of additional wakes to manouver around.  We arrived at the Naples City Dock marina  just after noon.   After checking in, Andy contacted Mic who we had spent some time with in late November on the Rivers and Mobile Bay, We’re going to meet him this afternoon for a drink.  So I’ll be spending my Birthday in a Naples bar and will likely have to be watching American football.



February 1, 2

Arrived in Key West on Monday at 4:00,  the start of our trip was a little rough, so  we checked out the marina and then went for supper and relaxed.

We played tourist today in Key West.  We took the 90 minute Conch tour train, and travelled around Old town Key West.  We saw many old building that had been standing for more than a century.  There was a variety of architecture- wooden structures, Bahamian, gingerbread, etc.


This  had purple shutters- so it had to be included in today’s post.


We saw the homes of Truman, Hemingway as well as several old churches.   We were taken to the southernmost point in continental USA- we couldn’t get off the bus there- so I had to snap this picture as we went by.


We were told that there is no discrimination in the Keys- everyone is part of the human family- and here’s the proclamation stating it.;




Following the tour, we had a little drinking & shopping tour of our own- we had cocktails and listened to musicians in Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Willie T’s bar ( this place was covered in $1 bills) and then in Sloppy Joes bar.

IMG_4647 IMG_4654 IMG_4659

I saw this sign board outside of a french bakery and had to include it….


This evening we went to the sunset celebration that happens nightly in Mallory square¸where there was close to one thousand people watching the sun go down.   There were many street performers and   I had fresh coconut water, cut open with a machete.





We then went to Red Fish Blue fish for dinner and tried the famous Hogfish, crab cakes and conch fritters — the hogfish can’t compete with MB pickerel.

Marathon- the birthplace of Andy and Elaine- but not this town.

January 31, Feb 1

Sunday morning was relatively calm as the sun came up .


We left our anchorage at 9:15, and followed the ICW to Marathon, arriving at about 1:00.  Once again our route was plagued with crab pots everywhere. Elaine took over driving for a time and got the opportunity to dodge the pots.


We saw these birds sitting on posts along the path.


Once we got to Faro Blanco, we went for showers and then trekked into town ( 1.9 miles) to get some groceries and lunch.


Being in the Keys which is sometimes known as the Conch Republic- we tried the conch fingers-deep fried.

On our way into town  we saw the Turtle hospital and this ambulance



Since Andy and Elaine were born in Marathon ON, we wanted to get some pics of them with a Marathon FL sign.





We later went out for supper with our friends Dick and Pat from Dream Catcher who  are in Marathon until March.  It started raining during the night and as of 9:30, it is still overcast and spitting.


The plan today is to move on to Key West for a couple of days.



We are near the Atlantic


Last night we had drinks with Ed and Lucy Guillard, who gave us lots of good advice on anchorages in Florida; they had done the loop several years ago, and liven on their boat for over 10 years.


We left Clewiston at 7:45 and followed Ed and Lucy from I love Lucy for most of the day.



The  lake crossing was about 25 miles,  the weather forecast had said their was a light chop.  I agree there was a light chop in places, but in other places  it was quite rough.


We were followed by  these seagulls across the lake- I’m not sure if we were maybe cutting down on the air current/wind and that’s why they kept so close.


We made it to Port Mayaca lock mile 40   just after 11:00.   We followed the St.Lucie channel for most of the afternoon, and reached the  Port St. Lucie lock at mile 15.0,  at 2:30, and made it through by 3:30 with 5 other boats.    IMG_4517

We saw several canals which were  bringing run-off  into the St.Lucie channel.



We’ve now completed the Okeechobee Waterway and crossed the state of Florida from East to West in 3 days.


We are at the Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart for the night, as we needed to do laundry and get pumped out.  We thought we were having an issue with our heat pump, but it seems to be working tonight.

We will be heading South tomorrow and will be anchoring out for the next few days.

The Okeechobee Waterway Adventure aka Crossing Florida

The Okeechobee Waterway is a 154  statue mile passage from the   Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.  To  actually cross Lake Okeechobee  there are 2 choices either the open water crossing   (39 statute miles)or the rim route (50 statute miles), which skirts around the shore line, the route you take depends on the lake depth and your boat’s draft.


We left CapeCoral at 10:20 and made out way down the Caloosahatchee River, passing the city of Fort Myers.


We continued on and passed through the  Franklin Lock at  mile  121.4 at  1:30.    In this lock we only went  up 2.5 feet; nothing compared to the locks we had encountered on the   river system earlier in the trip.


Near the lock there were some wooden structures- which are referred to as Dolphins, which you can tie up to.


We passed through several bridges, one of which was a swing bridge.


We arrived at the free city dock at LaBelle at 3:40, where there were 5 boats tied up.


We went for a walk and found a Dollar General and bought a few provisions.  In the morning we went to McDonalds for breakfast and to check our emails.

We left at 9:05 and passed through the Ortona  (rise of 8 feet), and Moore Haven locks, most of the trip today was  through a channel with farmland on one side, and tall grasses/swamp on the other.

IMG_4495Near this second lock I saw this sign, which I had to include—we have seen so many boaters since we arrived in Florida, but rarely have I seen anyone wearing a lifejacket. IMG_4494

We arrived at Clewiston at 2:15.  We ended up rafting with a boat called I Love Lucy on park dock, which we had met in LaBelle and had followed for most of the day.

Tomorrow we plan to cross the Lake.

Cape Coral vacation

It was a warm day  on Saturday in Fort Myers Beach and many people were out enjoying the sunshine


I think everyone that owned a boat was  also out on the water.


We left the marina at 11:15 and took our time navigating the channel and staying out of the wakes of the go fast boats, we  arrived at Kitty’s at 2:00.  Kitty Nicolai, is a volunteer Harbour host for American Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA).  She has a dock outside her house in Cape Coral that she offers for free to loopers for a night or two.


Cape Coral is along the Caloosahatchee River which is the first segment of the Okeechobee waterway.

She has a lovely home, with a west wing for guests and a pool – kept at 89o, where we spent the afternoon visiting ,partaking in docktails, followed later by supper.



Our great hostess- Kitty Nicolai

As we were leaving to go back to the boat for the night the rain started; at about 2:00 a.m. the winds started gusting as a system was blowing through, we went out and checked the ropes.  About  3:30 the cell phone rang- it was Kitty saying there was a tornado warning and that we should come up and spend the remainder of the night in the house.   I tried to sleep while Andy watched a rerun of the Packers –Cardinals game.

Around noon today , we met Kim Russo, who is the AGLCA Director, she had come to Fort Myers for the Gold Looper Reunion, and had stopped by to see Kitty.  In the afternoon we went out to get some provisions.  I suspect we will be turning in early tonight.   Plan for tomorrow if the winds subside is to get to Labelle.

We survived Salty Sam’s squall

January 15

The day started with rain beginning at 5:00 a.m., it continued for many hours, and the wind started to increase.IMG_4464 At 10:30, we were advised on the radio that there was a tornado watch for several counties in Florida including where we were.   At 10:45, we left the boat to seek shelter in marina buildings.  I was in the ladies washroom with several other women and 2 dogs.  The winds and torrential rains came and lasted about an hour.  We heard several large bangs, and the power went out a few times.  We returned to our boat by 12:15, to discover that one of the large bangs had been a transformer being hit & we had no shore power.  Dawn came about an hour later to take us shopping and sightseeing.  There was quite a bit of water over the road, coming out of the marina.


After shopping we went to one of Dawn’s favourite places for some beverages and French fries.

Ft Myers

Peter called and he and Andy are now discussing things to keep them busy  now that they are  both retired.


Today the sky is blue and the humidity is  at 97%; we plan to leave Salty Sam’s and go to Cape Coral to  start the Lake Okeechobee waterway tomorrow.  There is a pirate ship here- so took another picture.


Saw this sign  we’re a long way from home….


Update to January 14th

January 8-14

We ended up staying 4 nights at Regatta Point Marina.  We had hoped to leave Monday morning but there were 4 to 5 foot waves on Tampa Bay, so we opted to stay another day.

While in Palmetto, we spent time with the Gillespies, and walked into town and did some shopping.  I also caught up on laundry and read another book.  The internet at the marina was only accessible in the boaters lounge—so wasn’t able to do too much on the blog.   Check out this house  boat it use to be a wedding chapel.



On Tuesday we traveled with Dream Catcher through Sarasota

IMG_4427 - Copy

I think this is the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum – it was purple so I took the picture.

IMG_4428and up  until Venice where they went into a marina


and we opted to go another 20 miles to an anchorage in Cape Haze at mile marker 36,  there were two other looper boats in the bay, and one of them was  from Montreal.  We travelled  under 12 bridges that range from 65 feet to 9 feet ( this was the  Blackburn Swing Bridge)

IMG_4430 - Copy and saw a car ferry,

IMG_4437 we also went through several Manatee zones, but didn’t see any.



On Wednesday we left Cape Haze at 9:00, and found the water to be moderately choppy across Charlotte harbor so we only went about 15 miles to a sheltered   anchorage behind  Punta Blanca island.


IMG_4440 We spent the night there with another boat called Frost Free.  While checking the oil; Andy noticed that we had a fuel leak.  This morning when he started up the engine he found the leaky hose.  Here’s his solution to collect the leaking fuel while we travelled- it’s amazing what you can do with tin foil and clothes pins and string– maybe his last name should be McGyver


When we got to Salty Sam’s Marina in Fort Myers beach,

IMG_4445 we called  Dawn; who is Peter Westhead’s partner—she was able to drive us to a hydraulics shop with our leaky fuel intake  hose; and they made us another one while we waited.  We then went out for supper, and then to Dawn’s condo to meet their cats Kirkby and SeftonIMG_4458 IMG_4462

We  also found a loaner car to use for the weekend. Just kidding Peter- we’re not going to use it.


We crossed mile marker 0 of the gulf  intercoastal waterway today ,  When we go back out on the water will turn East and cross the state of Florida  on the  Lake Okeechobee waterway.

It is suppose to storm tonight- so we may be here for a day or two.