The Western Locks
There were three more locks to go through on the western side of the canal. The nice part about the locks in Florida is that all the lines are already there hanging down for you to just grab and tie up to. All of the locks just crack open the gates to let the water in or out. This raises or lowers the boat. The biggest difference in height was nine feet. This side of Florida is much more rural. Between the locks we passed all sorts of cows who continued to munch on grass and ignore us no mattered how nicely we mooed. Fields of oranges looked ready to be picked. At the last lock, a crowd had gathered just to watch all the boats pass by.
The Canal On The West Side
After crossing Lake Okeechobee, you enter another canal on the west side. The water starts to clear up and the scenery becomes prettier. There is a ton of marsh grass full of fishermen in small boats. They say there are lots of alligators. We looked hard and saw a whopping zero! Not a single one! We did pass by an interesting cofferdam with heavy construction behind it. Check it out.
The Downside of the Lake
The water in Lake Okeechobee is a far cry from beautiful. It is muddy and pretty gross looking. I certainly didn't want to go for a swim!
They were burning the sugar cane fields around the lake. This caused all these black sooty pieces to rain down all over the boat. Rinsing them off without touching them was the best way to get them off the boat. If you touched them, they really made a mess!
First View of Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee is a large lake as you will see. Looking across the lake, all you can see is water. It took us about 3.5 - 4 hours.
My Favorite Lock!
It's plain to see why Port Mayaca is my favorite lock. Didn't have to get the fenders out! Didn't have to tie up! Just keep on keepin' on!!!
Interesting Sights In the Canal
Talk about being close! I don't think we have ever been in a marina where there was deep water this close to shore, but Indian Town Marina assured us there was plenty of water right up to the shoreline. Since we were past the lock, there was no low tide to worry about. It was a funny sight to see the marsh grass touching the bowsprit.
The St. Lucie Lock
The St. Lucie Lock is the first lock out of five you must go through when you cross Lake Okeechobee to get to Florida's western side. The water rises about 8 feet in this lock. To make the water rise the lock master just cracks the lock gates a little bit. The water comes in. Your boat rises. You drive out. Seems pretty simple, huh? The lines are even provided for you. All you have to do is keep pulling in and tightening them up as your boat rises. Well it would be that easy if the beast weighed less than 125,000 pounds! I pulled the stern line as hard as I could and still couldn't keep Valkyrie against the wall with the force of the water and the wind. Seriously my arms felt like I had just spent an hour with a personal trainer at the gym. Finally Don took pity on me and came to the rear and used our thrusters to move the stern in closer so I could tighten up on the line. Now to sign up for a gym membership!!!
St. Augustine's Cross
What a wonderful welcome after a quick trip offshore from St. Mary's to St. Augustine!
According to Roadside America there is a plaque at the base of the world's tallest cross, which is 208 feet high. "The Great Cross" was erected in 1966. It's built of 70 tons of stainless steel plates, packed with concrete in its lower third to prevent toppling by hurricanes. It's part of the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, and its height was designed so that everyone near St. Augustine could see it, and be reminded "of the religious beginning of our nation," according to the plaque.
It is not the only cross that appears in the
St. Augustine skyline. Check out the others:
It was obviously cloudy when we came through this year. Here are a couple of pictures taken when we came through the Bridge of Lions and with the St. Augustine lighthouse two years ago. Thanks for the pictures Mom and Dad!
Just found these pictures of all the Navy ships in Norfolk. It is amazing how close you are when you motor past them and how many ships are docked here. Of course they have a floating fence and a patrol boat keeping our military vessels safe. I love the name of the hospital ship, Comfort. It is my favorite.