March 6, 2016..Fort Myers
We have been in a slip at Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers, Florida for 5 weeks. We knew going into this trip that we would be wintering in sunny, warm Florida until the season changed. We have rested and relaxed, and eaten in almost every café in this lovely city. It is an easy walk to Publix and into town.
Marinas are neighborhoods. We interact, we look after each other, we exchange information, we socialize, we share experiences, and ultimately, we get attached. As others leave for their homes north of here, and Loopers move toward the Atlantic, we must say, “Fare Well” and it hurts. We’ve met some charming, happy people. Will we meet again? No one can say. We exchange boat cards and promise to stay in touch, but inevitably as we all move on it is hard to stay in touch UNLESS we follow each other’s BLOGS.
It is time for Panacea to move on. We had planned to leave here March 1, but a severe wind alert kept us in safe harbor for another week. Now we plan to move up the Caloosahatchee River into and across Lake Okeechobee, then into the Atlantic Intercostal Waterway and eventually north to Cocoa Beach. Our middle daughter, Sarah K., and her husband live in Orlando and we will spend time with them before chasing the season north along the Atlantic.
This is an exciting time for us. We completed the rivers portion of the Great Loop and lazed in tropical southern Florida, now it’s finally time to complete our odyssey. This northern tract is the most exciting as we will be catching a rocket launch in Canaveral, cruising the Chesapeake shores, anchoring behind the Statue of Liberty and attending a Yankees game in New York City before traveling up the Hudson into the Erie Canal. Amazing.
Florida is crowded. Large populations, especially in the winter when all us Snow Birds cram the marinas and roadways. There are enormous bridges crisscrossing every waterway. The noise of traffic is ever present. I’m a country girl, population and traffic are an offense to all my senses; I am deliberate to avoid it and desperate to escape it.
March 8, 2017…LaBelle…City Warf
This morning we left Fort Myers, and traveled the Caloosahatchee River east to Labelle, FL where we anchored at the city warf. Traffic noise from the overhead highway bridge was so thunderous we couldn’t deal with it. So, after a nice lunch at Forrey Grille we move to the local park docks. There were two alligators cruising the shore around us. The docks are short and fixed (they do not float with the tide) requiring Joan and Inky to exit the boat through the bow hatch. Inky panics, Joan becomes a contortionist; all part of the experience.
Late afternoon after securing the boat to the docks, we took an exploratory dinghy ride up river where we noticed a Black Angus calf standing alone belly deep in the river at the shoreline. It just seemed odd so we cruised closer to find a 7-foot alligator cruising nearby. Our wake caused it to dive and we could then see that the calf was in distress. After determining that Inky was secure and the gator well away, Don pulled onto shore and Joan climbed out to investigate. The poor little creature was blind in both eyes and had been attacked, possibly by a panther judging from the open wounds on its flanks. It allowed me to approach and stroke its head and neck, but when I grasped its ears to encourage it up the embankment it balked in fear and swam toward the gator. What a rodeo. I finally ran a quarter mile up the hill to a neighbor who followed me back and after three of us making another effort to bring the beast to land decided to contact Animal Control, at which point we got back into the dinghy and made our way back to Panacea with heavy hearts. Poor creature. As I ponder what more we could possibly have done, I had to accept we had done all we could, short of taking it home with us. In retrospect, we had only two choices: provide comfort until the merciful end by man’s hand, or just close our eyes and drive on by. I will NOT sleep well tonight.
March 9, 2017…Clewiston
After a quick breakfast, we departed LaBelle for Clewiston. Nice trip along the Okeechobee Waterway, an 8-foot-deep trench that winds through farmland, sugar cane plantations, and cattle ranches. It was beautiful and put me in mind of cruising the Snake River. Ahhh. There’s no place like home. Idaho is paradise!
We arrived early afternoon and entered the marina through 30 foot?? seawall gates that remain open until there is a looming catastrophe caused by flooding from a storm surge when strong winds drive water over the mud dikes that circle the lake.
The Rowland-Martin Marina had floating docks and a great Tiki Bar. We took a long dinghy ride out on Lake Okeechobee. We saw many alligators basking on the shoreline and walking on the islands. Huge dragons. Scary.
March 10, 2017….Indiantown
After a huge breakfast at the Rowland Martin Marina in Clewiston we headed for the open water across Lake Okeechobee (the canal route along the southern shore was closed for construction) intending to enter the St. Lucie Waterway via Port Mayaca Lock. The lock was wide open and we passed through quickly on our way to Forrest River Marina, however arriving at Indiantown we found that the railroad bridge was closed for repairs. We dropped anchor in the canal along with other stranded boats on both sides of the bridge, and waited for news of the bridge reopening. Late afternoon Indiantown Marina, which had previously been booked, called to say they had an opening for us so we spent a peaceful night tied to floating docks with electricity and Wi-Fi and showers. Great place for Inky too. We have our own personal alligator too.
While fishing off the boat Don caught a big bass and as he reeled it in 2 alligators zoomed in to snatch it off the line, a fight ensured then ended with a 10 minute gator stand-off.
March 11, 2017…the bridge opened and we are moving on..