Lake Okeechobee to Lake Worth

On Tuesday, the early morning fog began to disperse at 8:00 a.m., and all our mooring friends quickly disappeared into the lingering mist. We were much lazier, spending a couple of hours updating this site, reading emails, and enjoying Moore Haven’s hot showers. As we turned into the Caloosahatchee Canal, which borders Lake Okeechobee, the fires were still burning, sometimes only a few feet from the water’s edge, but the smoke wafted over the lake, leaving us in the clear. We stopped for lunch at Roland Martins in Clewiston and found Arnold and Wendy moored at the marina. The Port Mayaca lockmaster had advised them not to cross the lake because the smoke from the fires was so thick and visibility so low that locking through would be difficult. Thus, they had decided to stay at the marina while their sailing companions anchored nearby. Also tied up at the marina was a charming English canal narrowboat. An English couple, Terry and Monica Darlington, had shipped it to the East Coast to cruise the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in preparation for a book on the voyage (see the FAQ photo for details).  

After lunch overlooking the channel and a walk into town, we called the Port Mayaca lock to confirm the advice given Arnold and Wendy, only to be told that visibility was fine. It was too late for the sailboats to make the crossing, but we took off and, a few hours later, arrived at the lock in perfect sunshine, albeit a little dirty from ash that had settled on us on the way. Locking through was easy because the lake was so low that the gates were open at both ends and we simply motored on through.

Tuesday night was spent at a peaceful anchorage on the Four Rivers loop, and on Wednesday morning we stopped at the delightful little town of Stuart. Although devastated by the hurricanes of 2004, Stuart has done an impressive job of revitalizing its downtown and rebuilding its waterfront. Of particular interest were a dozen J. Seward Johnson statues standing, lounging, or otherwise blending in with the locals, and a delightful little museum of Stuart history and memorabilia situated in an old feed supply building. One volunteer was particularly determined that we see (and hear about) every artifact in the five-room display. After a leisurely lunch at one of Stuart’s sidewalk cafes, we headed south on the ICW, where we saw our first manatee (the whole body this time, rather than just a nose tip) and learned that the “controlled burns” were nothing of the sort, but actually a wild fire that had started the previous Sunday and had burned nearly 40,000 acres of undergrowth on the islands that line the western lake shore.  Not long after we entered the ICW we passed Brent and Dixey in their Tomcat Discovery heading north with Jim and Joan in their 25-ft C Dory Wild Blue. Both had been around the Florida Keys. C Dorys are getting to be a common sight nowadays! That night, we anchored in the northeast corner of Lake Worth, surrounded by several large boats in the water and graceful mansions along the water’s edge. 

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