Sleeping with Alligators

Trip Start Jan 11, 2010
Trip End Apr 14, 2010

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Where I stayed
Indiantown Marina

Flag of United States  , Florida
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today we crossed Lake Okeechobee. It was wavy and filthy dirty but we did it! It is the second largest freshwater lake wholly in the continental US (after Lake Michigan) and the centrepiece of Florida’s water resource system. We used the open water route of approximately 25 miles. The chart plotter was so helpful in this crossing especially helping us find marks in the bright sun. We could see land at most times especially as the shoreline is frequently punctuated with dark plumes of smoke from the burning of sugar cane fields.

Our morning started with a lock at Moore Haven (Mile 78) and then we followed a canal to Clewiston (mile 75.7) before we took off into the lake with depths of 11 to 17 feet depending upon the season. Thankfully Florida is not now experiencing the drought we benefited from in Feb./March 2009 so we had good water levels relatively speaking. The canal from Moore Haven to Clewiston is pretty boring except for the waterfowl that are in abundance. Sadly the Corps of Engineers has eradicated the Casuarina trees on the Lake side of the canal and destroyed the former beauty as well as a great windbeak. Thankfully the bass fishermen were not a nuisance for us although we did see a number of them.

We were the second smallest boat we saw during our crossing. There were at least two vessels registered in the Marshall Islands so you know they were large! But overall there is not a lot of traffic.

The Port Mayaca lock had the gates closed when we approached but opened them for us and there was no water level difference so we “sailed” through although it was a bit tricky with the gusty winds. The St. Lucie Canal is much more picturesque (read vegetated!) and we arrived at Indiantown (Mile 29) near 2 p.m. The first order of the day was to wash the dirt off from Lake Okeechobee. Then we walked into Indiantown (about a mile) where the piece de resistance is the Seminole Inn. It was built in 1925 by S. Davis Warfield, a railroad executive, and used by his niece, Wallis Warfield Simpson, on her honeymoon with the Duke of Windsor.

We enjoyed spaghetti and salad on board tonight . There is a lounge area here where people are assembling for Obama’s State of the Union address tonight.

So where does the title "sleeping with alligators" come from? Today (now Jan. 28) I saw one swim behind our transom and then there was another sunning itself on the bank opposite. Had I known how close they were I might not have slept so well.

We're taking a day off travelling today. Richard hired a mechanic to see if he could fix the upper helm not starting the engines and I'm catching up using the marina WiFi.
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gina on

Maybe you could try alligator for dinner!

Marty on

Have you read Carl Hiassen's books about Florida? Your comments on the environment reminded me of him. His books are very black, very funny and probably quite true.

Doug Goodfellow on

Enjoying the travelog.Are you headed for the Bahamas and when?Laura...I can't imagine the alligators would be able to board your board!

Enjoy.....cold up here. D and M

skibum251 on

Seems you need a dog on board to protect the boat/you and a cat at home to keep away the mice :)

Susan on

What an adventure you are having . I know that part of Florida well as I spent many holidays in Venice ,Siesta Key and Sebring. How long will you be away? I didn't even realize your had a new boat ! I am just back from Grenada .. loved the "spice island" and Don and I are off to South Africa in 2 weeks . Great to follow you as you travel .. I'l keep in touch too

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