As many of you know I recently purchased my first sailboat. It is a 1981 Com-Pac 23, which was located on the east side of the state and would have to be transported back to Tampa. As the boat didn't come with a trailer, and I had some time off for vacation, I decided to sail it home - solo! Overall it was a great trip, 8 days in all. Navigation was incredibly simple and I only broke out the GPS to track my progress and see my speed. The weather was perfect with temperatures ranging from 50's in the early mornings and reaching 70's and 80's in the afternoons. Not a drop of rain the entire week! My only complaint was how much I had to motor, as narrow channels and headwinds made sailing difficult for much of the trip.
Last month I picked up a copy of Dozier's Waterway Guide on clearance at West Marine for $10. That thing was so useful. Mile by mile info on navigation, marinas, achorages... Even if you pay the full price, it would serve any cruiser well.
Saturday November 22:
I got a late start on Saturday, as I had to do some last minute work on the boat. I ended up leaving the dock in Satellite Beach (statute mile 910)around 2pm. Got the sails up and made it about 20 miles south before anchoring for the night.
Sunday November 23:
Started out early, only to have my roller furler foul up on me. It had worked perfectly during the sea trial, but sometimes thats just the way it goes. Lukily, the haylard tension was just not tight enough, and now everything is working fine.
I made it all the way to Jensen Beach, which put me in prime location to enter the Okeechobee Waterway the next day.
The south pocket of Jensen Beach Causeway made a nice anchorage for the night.
Jesen Beach Sunset
Monday November 24:
After leaving Jensen beach I soon entered the St Lucie River and then the Okeechobee Waterway. The Waterway was an interesting experience, and unlike any other place I have been in the past. Very calm. Remote. Not many boats around.
The St Lucie lock was my first experience with locks. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was remarkably simple. A manatee came through the lock with me, which apparantly happens frequently. Over the week I saw countless manatees and dolphins, and a few gators. Unfortunately, none stayed around long enough for a picture.
Here is me at the Indiantown RR swing bridge.
I made it to Indiantown Marine, which is the last marina before the lake. Marina fees were only $1 per foot for the night. My cruising guide made it seem like a quaint little town with some general stores and restaurants. I was disappointed to find that outside of the marina, most people didn't even speak english. There was a burger king and some little mom and pop restaurant that didn't exactly look up to the my standards in terms of cleanliness, so I decided to just eat on the boat.
What disappointed me even more was the marina had recently removed their tanks, and no longer carried fuel. The staff were incredibly accomodating and provided me a lift to the nearest gas station so that I could fill my jerry cans. This was really above and beyond the service that I expected, and I would definitely recommend them to anyone, even though the town itself is somewhat lacking.
Here is a pic of an old tug in the marina.
Tuesday Novmber 25:
I left indian town and headed towards Lake Okeechobee. Mornings on the Waterway were generally foggy, but it lifted early.
The Port Mayaca RR Lift bridge has a clearance of 49' and is the height limiting brigde of the waterway.
Here I am passing through Port Mayaca Lock and into Lake Okeechobee.
Coming out the west side of Okeechobee you enter the Caloosahatchee Canal, which is remote at best. You pass by old fish camps tucked away in the swamps. Not exactly the place a solo sailor wants to anchor up for the night. It takes quite a lot to make me uncomfortable, but this place had banjo music written all over it. I motored through and made it to the Ortona lock just before sunset. Here I am tied up to the "dolphins" just before the lock.
Wednesday November 26:
This day was rather uneventful. Came out of the Okeechobee waterway back to civilization. I stopped at a marina in Cape Coral for dinner and fuel. I don't think the residents were used to seeing any boat that wasn't a stinkpot over 40' and less than 2 years old. Oh well, I still enjoyed some live music, cold beers, and stayed for free at their visitor dock.
Thursday November 27 (Thanksgiving):
I found the best little anchorage on the west shore of lemon bay which I forgot to take a pic of. Here I enjoyed a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner, cranberry sauce and all.
Friday November 28:
Up through Sarasota Bay to Anna Maria Island. The Gulf Intercoastal is beautiful, but the channels are norrow and there is extensive shoaling.
Saturday November 29:
I left Anna Maria early and headed into Tampa Bay. The Sunshine Skyway spans lower tampa bay. It is over 5 miles long and has a clearance of 175 ft.
Here is a pic of my boat in her new home.