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!!!
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.
Every time we walked on the beach we saw shoes. Never a pair of shoes leading you to believe that someone walked off and forgot them. These were lone shoes that had washed ashore....baby shoes, kid shoes, men's shoes, women's shoes....some fairly intact, some only the sole. The thing is many of them did not look like shoes anyone would have worn on the beach. These pics were taken on the same beach on Long Island and were all within 50 feet of each other.
So just how do all these shoes get washed up on the beach? Do that many folks come there, take their shoes off and then forget them? Do they get blown off the decks of mega yachts traveling at high speeds? Do that many people throw their worn out shoes in the ocean instead of the trash? Did a Rack Room container full of shoes get washed off a ship? Is there some country on the other side of the Atlantic ocean that throws them into the water as an offering to the shoe Goddess? These important questions are what keep me up at night! ha ha! Still, I do wonder just how they get there. Got any ideas????
Our boating friends Tom and Cathie on Interlude said when we went to Long Island we just HAD to go to this great restaurant. The way they described it made my mouth water. Almost all the restaurants in the Bahamas serve basically the same things. Lunch = hamburger, cheeseburger, conch burger, chicken sandwich, fish fingers...usually with fries, if you are lucky you might get a side salad. Dinner is the same plus cracked conch and lobster. Dinner sides are mac and cheese or peas and rice. A few restaurants serve fish and maybe one other dish. But Chez Pierre serves Italian food, my fav! Since my parents were with us and Italian is Dad's favorite too, we just had to go there.
We decided to rent a car and see Long Island that way while we were anchored in Clarence Town. Little did we realize when we saw this sign that we were in for an adventure.
First we had to drive about 3 miles down this narrow dirt/coral/rocky road...but hey, at least we didn't have to worry about remembering to drive on the left. There was only room for one car anyway.
Then we saw this sign, turned right and drove down another dirt road for 2 miles. That is five miles down a road that had more potholes, gullies and rocks than the dirt road leading to camp in Maine! I was starting to think we should have rented a jeep!
With a view of the water, a boardwalk leading to the beach and palm trees all around, it was was quite picturesque and totally worth the drive. Pierre came out to greet us and told us to go ahead and bring Roux inside so she wouldn't have to wait in the hot car....that would never happen in the US.
Pierre is the owner, host, waiter and chef. He managed to cook spectacular food while waiting on three tables at the same time. We ordered a salad that was so big the four of us shared it and all had seconds! Dad tried everything to get Pierre to tell us the secret to his salad dressing. But all he would say is you have to have really good olive oil and vinegar. It had SLICED feta cheese, not crumbled, that just melted in your mouth. Then we enjoyed four huge bowls of pasta with the most delicious sauces. It was everything Tom and Cathie said it would be. My only question is what other restaurants do they recommend!!!
Blue holes are a fairly unique thing to see. They are places where the depth drops suddenly. The dramatic increase in the depth makes the water very blue.
Dean’s Blue Hole is located in a town named, Dean, on Long Island. Actually town is not the right word. Dean is more like a small section on the Queen’s Highway without any stores, businesses, or even a gas station. If it weren’t for the sign, you wouldn’t even realize it was there. Its claim to fame is its blue hole, which at 663 feet, is the deepest in the entire world.
The best part of this particular blue hole is that the cliff surrounding it extends for about 100 yards and protects it from the ocean. That means there is never a swell or even waves to deal with. You can come and swim almost any time except during a strong outgoing tide. Then it creates a whirlpool effect that can suck you down under the water. Three people who died here are memorialized with these statues.
This picture gives you a view of what the cliff protecting the hole looks like.
Notice the dramatic color change. As you can see it is only a few feet from the sand to the big drop off. The drop is so steep, you have to put on all your snorkel gear while you are sitting in the sand and then crawl or walk like a duck to the deep part.
The white structure in the center is a diving platform that has several lines leading to the bottom. I am not sure how they were able to secure the lines on the bottom. Going down 663 feet with dive gear is not possible, so I have to wonder how did they do it??? Every year they hold a free diving competition here. They say it is easy to dive down because the air compresses in your lungs as you go deeper making you sink quickly. The tricky part is the fight to get back up. You have to kick hard to force yourself back up while your lungs are screaming for air.
We snorkeled the area. There is about a 30 foot drop off that rings the deep hole. The fish like to swim in the shallower water as there are a few corals growing here. If you look back at the first picture, it is easy to see. The water over the 30 foot drop is a lighter color. We took that picture before we snorkeled. After this drop , it drops again straaaaight down. No way to touch the bottom here!
The sign looks familiar. The name is certainly familiar. Morrisville is only a few minutes drive from Apex. But something is not quite right.
Could it be that the steering wheel is on the right? Passenger to the left? GPS in Japanese? Oops you can't see that in the picture, but it sure was. Now we aren't home visiting Nick and Sarah in Morrisville, NC. We are in Morrisville, Long Island in the Bahamas. Things are just a little different here. First you drive on the left side of the road. Not an easy task for those of us with way too many years to count of driving on the right. Even as a passenger sitting in the back seat, it freaked me out when a car came around a curve on the "wrong" side of the road. Honestly, I am surprised that there was any air left in the car after us girls sucked wind like it was a fresh peaches and cream milkshake from Chick Fil-A. You know you love them too! The town is tiny. There isn't even an intersection. It is just a small area on Queen's Highway where a school is located.
We didn't even have to pull the car to the wrong lane to take this picture. No traffic issues. No police department. No First Baptist Church. Just a couple of houses, a school and a sign. That's Morrisville, Long Island!
I confess I'm a wimp and I'm just a tiny bit scared of heights. (I did master going to the top of the mast on my sailboats. :) But, NO way would I ever climb up a steep rock ledge and jump through an opening barely wider than the width of my arms spread open....Especially when that opening is jagged rock! But a few French Canadian teenagers were brave enough. They climbed tot the top lickity split and jumped right on through and then rushed back up to do it again. The braveness of youth!!! I was inside of Thunderball and used the underwater camera, which also does video, to video their jump. For a low megapixel camera, I thought it did a nice job. Check it out!
Thunderball Grotto is a small cave on an island near Staniel Cay. It is a wonderful place to snorkel at slack tide. The current rips through here, so going at slack tide is a must. We like going at slack low. As you will see even at low tide there isn't much room between your head and the jagged rocks that come down. At high tide, you would have to swim down under the water to get below the rocks and go through the opening~ Not something I want to do! There are beautiful corals and fish both inside and outside the grotto. It is fun to swim through the grotto and around the island. If the tide starts to pick up even a little, it is a quick drift dive giving you the desire to do it multiple times. A few crazy folks decided to climb up the rock to the top and then jump through the hole at the top which is only a few feet across. For all you James Bond fans, yes, this is the place where they pulled 007 up through the hole in the top with a helicopter in the movie Thunderball.