Friday, March 20, 2009

Going to the Candy Store

We're headed toward Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale. Dockage is an amazingly low 80 cents per foot. We'll be there at least through Monday, hiding from the winds. With a car rented for two days, we're hoping to take in a few movies -- will it be Slumdog Millionaire or The Pink Panther 3? Perhaps both! Big Boat Bob and Stephanie also recommended going to the boater's candy store of Sailor Man, Boat Owners' Warehouse, Blue Water Books, McDonalds Hardware, and the biggest West Marine in the universe. A fuel truck is coming Monday to fuel Tide Hiker and Rickshaw. Tuesday we'll head to Key Biscayne, catch up with Norm's sister Joyce, get the mail, and wait for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, in Marathon, the southern contingent of DeFevers is waiting for the same weather window. September Song, Gypsies in the Palace, and Lucky Stars will be crossing. Looks like the earliest weather window would be a week from now. Silver Boots streaked across the Gulf Stream on Monday and we're looking forward to seeing them over there.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

10, 9, 8, 7, 6..........We have ignition!!

Take a look at these great shots of the recent space shuttle taking off from Cape Canaveral. We were able to view this blast off from Indiantown, FL--a small marina on the Okeechobee Waterway. (Photo's courtesy of Rick Tierney.)

And, look whose driving our 65,000 Lb, 50-Ft boat through an Okeechobee lock. Yes, it's Vicki. Her first lock. It must be said here that locks have a bit of turbulence in them and Vic did a great job negotiating everything that came at her. Good job Vic!! (Again, photos courtesy of Rick Tierney.)

Tide Hiker is currently in Stuart, FL. We are near mile "0" of the Okeechobee Waterway and mile "990" of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. You may remember, we were here before, around January, on our way south. Lynnie's friend Pat arranged for us to dock at the Finz Seafood Grille, gratis. And, Pat loaned us her car for exploring Stuart and continuing our provisioning for the trek to the Bahamas. What great friends!! A special treat--the food at Finz is fantastic; and the beer is ice cold. What great friends!

Well, we completed the southern Florida loop having cruised down to the east coast to the Keys, up the west coast to Ft Myers and across the Okeechobee to the east coast again. We intend to make way on Thursday to Key Biscayne for another visit with Norm's sister, Joyce; and wait for a weather window to depart for the Bahamas. Rickshaw is with us and we expect to see other DeFevers in Key Biscayne; and more departing from Marathon within days of each other. It will be like the old wagon trains going west, except we're going east.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bob did get naked. And, you can't hold a good boat down!!!

For those of you who have been following our adventure, you may recall that our friend Bob said that he wanted to relax and get naked. Well he did "Flash" and put the pics on his blog. See Now, this has a rating of XXX, so view at your own risk.

In another part of Florida, Tide Hiker's injectors were reconditioned and we were off and running again on Saturday. While waiting for repairs though, Norm took the "Red Titanic" out for its second maiden voyage and did not get wet. Vicki also took the "green machine" out for a while too. Lynnie also took the green maching out for a short "spin". We even had some time for a quiet Vicki-Norm supper on the boat deck and to appreciate the scenery at this nice quiet site.

We could not leave Franklin Lock, however, without a fond farewell to John and Nell Wagner our new friends. The Franklin Lock is also a campground and John and Nell were camped pretty close to us. Well, Vicki and Lynnie went from camper to camper asking if anyone was going to town (what courage) and if they could go with them. Nell, instantly offered to take them; but after a couple of hours of friendly chat, they kind of adopted us and we became friends very quickly. They graciously loaned us their car to go to town. They joined us and the Tierneys for dinner aboard Tide Hiker's boat deck (Vicki make a scrumptous pot roast). They departed Franklin on Saturday too and waved to us as we went by the next lock. What a great couple and we hope lifelong friends. [By the way, for our loyal readers who do not know what a lock is: It is a chamber that moves boats up and down in elevation by increasing or decreasing the depth of water in the chamber. These are required where the elevation in a waterway differs. A boat drives in one level. The doors (gates) ahead are closed. The ones behind the boat then close, making it kind of a bathtub. The water level is then increased or decreased to match the level at the other end of the chamber. The front gates open and we drive out into a new water elevation. Norm had to negotiate 147 locks on the Great Circle Route or also known as America's Great Loop.]

As you can tell, we are still in the Okeechobee Waterway making way for the east coast of Florida. If you take a look at a map, you will see that this waterway traverses this great state between Ft Myers (west coast) and Stuart (east coast) crossing the huge Lake Okeechobee. Last night we were docked in Clewiston and tonight we are in Indiantown. Our buddies Rick and Lynnie aboard Rickshaw won two free nights at the Clewiston Marina at the 2007 DeFever Cruisers Meeting. Unfortunately, it expired; but, they decided to try to use it anyway. Believe it or not, the marina honored it and gave our two boats one free night. A very nice treat. Thanks Rick and Lynnie.
As I write this, I can see an aligator out our back window. It's about 15 feet from our stern. Here's a pic. We have seen lots of small aligators on this run and a couple of bald eagles.