Punk’s first lock experience, at Franklin Lock, was a bit underwhelming as we only raised up about one or two feet. For those of you who are unfamiliar with locks – as I was (Punk): you pull the boat into the lock which has high concrete walls. Spaced along the wall, ropes are hanging down – or the lockmaster drops one down to you. You wrap a rope on a bow cleat and one on a stern cleat to hold the boat in place. The lockmaster closes the gates behind you and starts slowly opening the gates ahead. Since we were going up, water started pouring through the crack between the gates. As the water rises, you pull up the slack on the rope to keep the boat in place. Once the water level in the lock is even with that ahead the gates open all the way, you drop your rope and move on. (note the barge exiting the lock in ahead of us.)
We docked at La Belle - Med style which means you put an anchor at one end and tie up to the dock at the other end. A grocery store was a few blocks away, so we got to stretch our legs a bit - but while shopping it's hard to remember that you're going to have to carry all that stuff!
We spent Monday night at Roland Martins Marina in Clewiston which is on the southwest edge of Lake Okeechobee. It became very windy in the afternoon – which would be bad for a lake crossing – but the winds were to be lighter on Tuesday. We were still hearing about boats crossing the lake – but also getting skeptical looks when we said we were planning to. Tuesday morning – about 6 am – Joe went up to the bait shop and asked if anyone had any advice for us. They told him that a barge had gotten stuck on the way out late Monday, but the speculation was the wind had pushed him out of the narrow channel.
On the other side there is another narrow, shallow channel to navigate. We churned up a good bit of mud for a while, but made it through okay. Then we went through the lock at St. Lucie. There is only one lock on the east side of the lake, so we had about a 9' drop in water level. We had the lock all to ourselves this time.
Because of the construction on the bridge, it was even hard to see where space was to go through among all the barges.
We anchored at another Pine Island along with several others. The green head flies were so bad that Joe had to cook our hot dogs inside on the stove instead of outside on the grill. The flies probably would've eaten them before he got them back inside!
We left the intracoastal waterway to enter the St. John's River - going up stream, which in this case means south. We're on our way to spend a few days in Green Cove Springs to have Mirage make a few repairs.
This is a picture Joe's been wanting to take. These houses are elevated from the river and all have long stairways. This one also has a rail on which a platform rides up and down.