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.
This is a “Lookie Bucket” aka an underwater viewer. Bascially it is a five gallon bucket with the bottom replaced with clear plastic. When placed on top of the water, it acts like a snorkeling mask allowing you to see what is underwater. Sure you could just put on your mask and look, but then your face gets all wet. If I am going to get wet, I want to make it worth my while. I want to see something pretty.
While we were at Conception Island, I swam underwater and took this picture looking up through the bottom of the lookie bucket. Dad was standing in the water looking down through the bucket. Notice his dry hair. :-)
It is especially handy when the water is clear and you want to check your anchor. In the Bahamas the bottom is often sand and grass. While sand provides good holding, grass can have very poor holding because your anchor can’t dig in. Each time you anchor, you need to check to be sure your anchor is dug in and will hold you. No one wants to wake up in the middle of the night to discover they are dragging, esp. in anchorage with other boats around. When Don and my Dad went to check out the anchor in Long Island, they discovered that the anchor was on top of the grass just sitting there looking shiny. NOT conducive for a good night’s sleep. We obviously moved to a better spot with less grass.
Here is what our anchor currently looks like. As you can see the bottom is a mixture of sand and grass. The anchor has dug in and will hold us nicely in place.
The lookie bucket has other sweet uses as well. You can check out the bottom to see if there are rock ledges that lobster might hide under or if there is coral with fish. This is what the water looked like at Lee Stocking Island. Looking without the bucket, you can tell that something is there, but is it grass, coral, rock or something else?.........
Turns out it was two submerged tanks with coral starting to grow and fish swimming all around. There were even a few sea anomies.
Ever wonder how the "Where Are We Now" page works? It works with this device called a Spot Messenger.
This Christmas gift from Don's children has been on of the best gifts ever. The Spot enables us to send messages to let people know we are okay. It works off satellites allowing it to work when our cell phones don't. When we are heading offshore and will be unable to contact our family, this lets them know that we are okay and where we are. It sends either a text message or an email message to 10 people. It also posts to our Spot Shared Page, the page we linked to as our "Where Are We Now" page.
To use the Spot, it must be located outside with a clear view of the sky. So we usually place it in the dinghy or by the back railing.
We use the Check-In/Okay button for this. This is the primary button we use.
The footprints button leaves a breadcrumb trail. We would use this features, but it takes a lot of battery juice. We sure would hate for the batteries to go dead when we are 50 miles offshore.
The help button allows you to send a message to just one person. For example, if you were hiking the Appalachian Trail, you could send a message to the person who was coming to pick you up when you arrived at the end of your journey.
The SOS button is just that. It sends a message to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center who notifies the appropriate emergency help agency worldwide. There is a nifty cover protecting the button from accidentally being pushed.
As much as we love our Spot, I think our parents love it more. They worry about us most and love knowing we are okay. To check out our Spot Shared Page and see where we are just click the button below.
Okay, I get why they are important and why they should be Coast Guard approved. But why can't they be more comfy??? Most baby items are made to be soft and comfortable. So why can't life jackets be both safe and comfortable? In the last month three different grandchildren came aboard and wore the same life jacket. Check out how these pictures:
Here is Matilda who is the oldest:
She is 21 months old. She had no problem wearing this life jacket. It fit her well.
Here is Brady:
He is 8 months old. Although the life jacket fits, it tends to ride up around his sweet cheeks.
Here is Lincoln:
Granted Lincoln is only 6 weeks old, but he just about gets lost in it.
Why is it that they do not make a Coast Guard approved life jacket that is smaller? Life jackets for children are divided into just three categories according to weight:
Infant: 30 pounds or less
Child: 30-50 pounds
Youth: 50-90 pounds
After that it goes to adult S, M, L sizes.
I like the safety features of the infant one. It has a pillow to keep the head afloat, more flotation in front to be self righting, a strap to go between the legs to keep them from floating out of it and a hand strap so they could be easily pulled from the water.
I think we need one more smaller size. Why not break infant into two categories, infant and toddler? This would protect our most precious cargo more comfortably.