Leaving Sebastian Beach we headed for Stuart to make our way across the Okeechobee. We were originally planning to go through the ICW to get to Marathon but we checked the wind and wave forecast for the days we would need to travel across the Atlantic and it didn't look good. We would end up waiting for several days for a weather window. After checking the Gulf forecast we made a choice to take a different route. So we headed for Pendarvis Cove to anchor near Stuart. As we got closer to the anchorage the train bridge went down. This is not a manned bridge but controlled by the trains. We had to wait forever for two trains to go by. On the other side of the bridge was Joe and Laura on Grand Wazoo waiting to cross their wake. We met them several times while doing the loop.
An abandoned boat in Pendarvis Cove that the birds like to inhabit.
Pendarvis Cove had several abandoned boats anchored there but there was still plenty of room for us and State of Grace. We didn't raft up because we weren't sure of the wakes in the area. As it turned out we could have rafted because it was so calm. The first trip to take Izzy to land was going across the channel to Shepherds Park. What a nice place to dinghy to as there was a low concrete wall along the park. There was at a boat ramp but the dock to it were locked by a fence. On the way back to the boat we checked out a pier on the same side as the anchorage. There were other dinghies abandoned there and a pier that lead into another park. This is where we went in the evening and the morning for her walks.
So serene and still in the canal.
Port Mayaca Lock
Since there were several locks to go through we left early. In the locks they had us put on lifejackets and turn off the motors. Turning off the motors was new to us. We never did that in all of our lock experiences. We got through the Port Mayaca Lock and entered Lake Okeechobee. It was a perfect day to transit the lake. Calm and clear. We arrived at the Clewiston Lock, which is technically not part of the OCWW, but gets you in to Clewiston which is where the Roland Martins Marina is located. We entered the lock and got situated, us, State of Grace and a bass fishing boat between us. The closed the gates but the gates in front would not open. It turns out that the lock stopped working. One of the eastern gates was broken. We ended up backing out and rafting up. State of Grace tied to a fence on the staging wall and we rafted to them to get the dinghy down for Izzy. A 32 foot center console tied behind State of Grace and a 50 boat tied on the other staging wall. We were able to dinghy to the boat launch dock to take Izzy to land. They tried working on it until around 8:00 pm unsuccessfully. We were grateful we hadn't locked through otherwise we would be stuck there. We left in the morning to get to Fort Myers.
Day marker in Lake Okeechobee
Rafted to State of Grace who was tied to a fence on the staging wall with a center console behind us.
Men working into the night to fix the lock.
Where I walked Izzy.
Herbert Hoover Dike
The bushes we broke through.
Approaching the Moore Haven Lock we noticed a wall of bushes floating in the lock. We had to push through and make sure it didn't get sucked up in the engines or stuck on the props. Thankfully it was fine. We locked through and continued on through the canal.
The canal reminded us a little of the Erie Canal. We even saw cows drinking at the waters edge and horses and cows grazing along the shore. So serene!
The Sweetwater Marina is in Fort Myers and has the Boathouse Tiki bar and grill on premises. They have a boaters lounge and restrooms but they were on the other side of the marina from us. We were met by Grace and Bob's friends, Marsha and Larry who live in Cape Coral. They were so friendly and joined us for dinner and took us to Publix. It was a pleasure meeting them. At the Sweetwater Marina we were able to get pumped out at our slip. The downside to the marina is that it is a cement wall with pilings to tie off to and a tide swing of 1.5 feet. Getting off the boat is not the eastiest thing for me of Izzy. At least she has a ramp.
The Boathouse Tiki Bar
The cruise through the Gulf was just beautiful! Calm and serene. We chatted with Mick Anderson who captains Phantom single handedly. He is a platinum looper on his 7th loop. He told us about a different route to take to get to Indian Key Russel Pass. However, we decided not to take it because it is shallow and worried about running aground. We rafted up in Smokehouse Bay with State of Grace. There is a dinghy dock to take Izzy to and walk around Esplanade. We discovered that there was going to be a dog parade/contest that night. The dock master was also really nice and gave us a 10% off coupon for one of the restaurants. We decided to go back for appetizers and drinks and watch the parade. There were some really cute costumes on the dogs and the owners. After bringing Izzy to shore one more time we were ready for relaxing. We have been traveling nonstop for several days now and have a few more to go to get to Marathon.
We love the sign but don't think the neighbors do.