Foreword. The plan is to take the boat south in the fall and lay it up for the ski season. In the spring, we'll put the boat back in commission and spend May and June touring the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. Then we'll travel north so as to miss most of the hurricane season. This is the log of the trip from New Jersey to Florida.

 

Tuesday, October 6, 1998. We awaken early to some strong gusts of wind out of the northeast. This does not sound good for an offshore passage, but perhaps it won't be too bad. We do the last minute chores that precede a big trip and get underway. When we get out in Barnegat Bay, it's clear that the offshore run is in question. The wind is stronger, and the seas have already built to a couple of feet in the bay. By the time we've bumped our way down to the BI light, I've found that Ambrose is reporting 5‑foot seas. So it will be inland to at least Little Egg Inlet.

 

From inside Little Egg Inlet, I can have a firsthand look at the ocean. It doesn't look good. A center console fisherman is taking quite a beating in the seas. So we stay inland and make our way down the intracoastal to Atlantic City. At Atlantic City, we take a run at Absecon Inlet. We don't even clear the breakwater when the seas are hitting us. It is rough and uncomfortable. We turn around and get out of the maelstrom. In years past, the small cove opposite the Coast Guard station has provided a snug anchorage. But not this time. When we head into the cove, we find a narrow channel marked by numerous daybeacons. The further into the cove we go, the shallower it gets. Soon we're clearing the bottom by inches. I find a spot just a bit wider than the boat is long and we turn around. Back in deep water, we eye the flats just north of the Coast Guard Station. This is a fair anchorage in good weather, and there is a boat anchored there now, but the strong wind and the strong current make us nervous. So there's nothing left but to take a slip at Farley State Marina. I object to this on the grounds that they charge $1.50 per foot, but today we'll do it. So here we are, tied up and washed down by 3:00 PM. We go in to the casino and lose a little money, and have dinner at the buffet, which is the best deal in town. Snow crab legs, roast beef, seafood, etc., is all available for $10.50 per person.

 

Wednesday, October 7, 1998. Atlantic City to C&D Canal. The wind blew all night, but it has shifted from the northeast to the southeast and has diminished a lot. We get an early start in the hopes that we can make up some time today. We're not sure what the seas will be like, but if they're as bad as yesterday, we'll just drop the hook and wait another day. Outside the inlet, the rollers are still rolling in from the northeast, but they've lost a lot of their punch. With the wind now at right angles to them, they should continue to dissipate. We start south toward Cape May, but the rolling is not comfortable. The Amberjack has much better lateral stability when on plane, so this is an ideal excuse to get up and go. We average 20 knots with a relatively good ride down the coast.

 

When we're through the Cape May Canal, a strange sight greets us. Delaware Bay is quiet. It's quiet because the current is flooding upriver and the wind is blowing in the same direction. I know this happy situation is likely to last only a couple of hours 'til the tide changes. So we go back on plane and by 2:00 PM we're rounding the bend into the C&D Canal. The interesting thing on this leg is the large number of large yachts traveling the same route. In fact, there are boats from a 24‑foot sailboat to a 100 foot Oceanfast headed up the Delaware to the C&D. We tie up at the bulkhead in Chesapeake City and watch the parade of boats into the cove.

 

Thursday, October 8, 19". Chesapeake City to Saint Michaels. Yesterday's fast running has taken its toll on our fuel supply, so we stop at Sheaffers to refuel. As we're preparing to leave, it begins to rain. A rather large system is accompanying a cold front across the region and we'll have rain all day today. The trip down the Elk River is uneventful, but when we near the mouth of the Sassafras, the wind picks up out of the southeast and I fear we are in for some rough seas. This fear is borne out when we round Worton Point. The seas are building to four feet and it is a rough ride. I divert to the east and try to get in the lee of the eastern shore. This strategy helps and the ride is bearable down to Tolchester. Just below Tolchester, we have to angle back out into the bay to avoid the shoals off Swan Point north of Rock Hall. The peak wind gusts are hitting 30 mph, and the current is running 2 knots exactly opposite to the wind. Every so often, we get three or four seas that are about eight feet high and 16 feet apart. The bow of the boat is tossing gear up and down like a bucking bronco. It's too much to keep pounding into this! I start tacking back and forth across the channel to ease the impact of the seas. When we're far enough south, I put the Amberjack up on the shoals. Water depth here is 9 to 10 feet, and I figure that really steep and nasty seas cannot be sustained in such shoal water. My theory works, and we're able to get on toward Kent Narrows with just moderate seas. By the time we have to go back into deep water, we're in the lee of Kent Island, and the worst is over.

 

We take the new channel into the Narrows and, after a few minutes wait for the bridge, we head down Prospect Bay. The seas in Eastern Bay are nothing like what we've just been through, and they get progressively smaller until we pull into Saint Michaels in calm waters. We find a spot on the bulkhead of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum that is precisely 2 feet longer than the Amberjack. It's a good thing the waters are quiet! We walk over to the Crab Claw restaurant and ease the pains of the day with a crab and lobster feast.

 

Friday, October 9, 1998. Layover at St. Michaels. Yesterday, during the rainstorm, the forecasters promised a bright and sunny day today. This morning, they're calling for heavy overcast, drizzle and showers. We decide to take a lay day and get some laundry and chores done. This, combined with a walking tour of the museum takes up a good part of the day.

 

Saturday, October 10, 1998. Saint Michaels to Solomons. It's gray again this morning. The wind is out of the northwest. The low from two days ago is gone, but the back end lingers. Will it ever get warm and sunny again? As soon as we leave the harbor at Saint Michaels and head out into Miles River, the wind driven seas hit us. They're out of the northwest, which is common for the autumn. We bounce our way up into the Eastern Bay. There, it gets a little easier as we get in the lee of Kent Island. Once we get into the Bay proper, the seas are rough, but not impassable. We angle across the bay, kind of heading up toward Annapolis, and get into the lee of the western shore. From there, we head down bay. The following seas vary from very large to almost calm. We round Cove Point and Drum Point and are soon anchored in the harbor at Solomons.

 

Sunday, October 11, 1998. Solomons to Norfolk. There is a sunrise this morning! It's the first we've seen the sun since we left Forked River. We get an early start, for this is going to be a long day. It's 80 nautical miles from Solomons to Norfolk and we intend to do it today. As soon as we get out of the Patuxent and into the Bay, the ever present following seas are with us. We rock 'n roll, and yaw 'n veer all day. The passage is worst across the mouth of the Potomac, where the seas from the river are meeting the seas from the bay.

 

Fortunately, as the day grows long, the wind gradually dies. By the time we pass Thimble Shoals and enter the harbor at Norfolk, the seas are docile. We find the anchorage at Mile Zero, in the heart of Norfolk, and drop the hook.

 

Monday, October 12, 1998. Norfolk to Coinjock. We don't have a destination in mind, but I have a goal to make 60 to 80 nautical miles per day. This will get us down to Fort Myers a few days before the end of the month. I can use those few days to get the boat ready for lay‑up. There are a half dozen bridges in the Norfolk area, and they all have a rule that they don't open between the hours of 7:00 and 9:00 on weekday mornings. So we decide to fuel the boat in the morning, and hit the bridges as soon after 9:00 as we can. The fueling goes well, and we approach the first bridge, a railroad bridge, which is usually open. As we approach, the bridge goes down. 0h, well, we'll wait for the train. There is no train. A call to the bridge informs us that there is a problem with the lift mechanism, and it will be at least 20 minutes until they can raise the bridge. We wait patiently, and the bridge finally goes up. The bridge just south of it, an auto bridge, tells us to group together. By now there are five of us, three power boats and two sailboats. The bridge tender wants us all together so that it will minimize the time the bridge is up. As soon as we're all through, he radios the next bridge with the quantity and type of boats. Sailboats, of course, travel at slower speeds than a power boat. So all the power boats get to the next bridge only to find that they have to wait for the sailboats. Somewhere along the way, these bridge folk have forgotten that the deal was to give river traffic the right of way. If the road traffic was to have right of way, they should have built the bridge higher so it didn't have to be lifted.

 

We creep along, from bridge to bridge. The next railroad bridge is down so they can inspect the rails. It is a long and slow transit. We finally arrive at Great Bridge, where there is not only a bridge, but also a lock. And these guys only open once on the hour. This doesn't bother us, as we're stopping to do some shopping. We leave the lock at noon and tie to the bulkhead between lock and bridge. So far, we've made 10 nautical miles in three hours.

 

We catch the 2:00 PM opening of the bridge and get underway. There are still 3 bridges between us and the relative freedom of the sounds and rivers of North Carolina. Each of these bridges has an opening on the hour and the half hour. Somehow, we get through them, racing here and sitting there. We start down the intracoastal at our own preferred pace, which is 8.5 knots. We work out of the Virginia Cut into the Landing River, and from there into Currituck Sound.

 

There is a certain etiquette to traveling the ICW. When you overtake a slower boat, it is good form to pass them with minimum wake, which of course means you must slow down. The overtaken boat can make things a lot easier if they also slow to minimum speed, permitting the operation to take place much more swiftly. Another aspect, which many slower boats don't understand, is that the slower boat should hustle over behind the passing boat. Once the slower boat is inside the wake of the passing boat, that boat can go back to making a big wake. So many times, I would pass a slow boat, only to have the slow boat hold their position at the edge of the channel, making me run slow for what seems to be forever. If they are throwing a considerable wake, meeting boats should also reduce their wake. I also try to reduce the wake for any anchored boats, although this is sometimes hard to do when they're hiding behind a bank or tree.

 

I'm looking for a place to drop the hook for the night, but finding a good anchorage with a place to take a dog ashore is nigh impossible. We take a slip at Coinjock on the ICW canal. The marina here is nice, with a courtesy van, a swimming pool, and a well stocked ship's store. It is in the middle of nowhere, however.

 

Tuesday, October 13, 1998. Coinjock to Oriental. We get an early start from Coinjock and continue down the canal to Albemarle Sound. The crossing of Albemarle is very calm and soon we're in the Alligator River. There is a long canal (28 miles) connecting to the Pungo River at Belhaven. The Pungo connects with Pamlico Sound. Then it's back into tight waters to the Neuse River. A short run up the Neuse brings us to Oriental, NC.

 

Oriental provides two free slips at the head of the harbor and we're fortunate to get one of these. No water or electric, but it is convenient for walking Duchess. Oriental turns out to be a nice little town to visit. There are a couple of restaurants, a small grocery, and a small marine supply store within two blocks. Other facilities are strung out along the highway, about a mile away. There are also several marinas in town. This has been our longest run of the trip. 130 statute miles in one day. Obviously, much of this was done at planing speed.

 

Wednesday, October 14, 1998. Oriental to Topsail Island. We leave Oriental with just a gentle breeze from the northwest. By the time we're in the middle of the Neuse River, the seas are rolling us in a way to remind us of the stories we've heard about how nasty this river can be. When we leave the Neuse, we leave the last big water on the trip. From here on, it's all canal and river. We stop at Morehead City and fill up. The price of 66 cents per gallon makes me happy, but when all the taxes and other stuff are added in, it comes to more like 74 cents per gallon. This is still a lot better than the $1.50 in Vermont or even the dollar a gallon in New Jersey.

 

We continue through Bogue Sound, which is several miles wide and 20 miles long, but which is only a foot or two in depth. The only deep part is the dredged channel of the ICW. At this point, we pass within a few miles of Ellis Simon Lake. This lake is on all the maps. When we passed through the area in May, I tried to get to the lake. It was impossible with a car that you value. I went to the library to find out what the reason was for the name. The library was a branch of the county system and that branch didn't have the resources to answer the question. I'll have to go to the main library and see if they can find the answer.

 

Aftemoon overtakes us and we're not near any convenient anchoring area. There is a convenient marina, however, so we take a slip for the night. The area is called Topsail Island, because in the 1700s merchant ships kept a lookout for the topsails of pirates waiting behind dunes to ambush them. The marina is vast and isolated. They provide a courtesy van for people to use to get to the marina office. The van can also be used for transport to nearby stores, etc., but we don't need to do this.

 

Shortly after we tie up, another Mainship 40 pulls into the marina. After dinner, we get together and compare notes. Judy and Jerry are having trouble with one of their Perkins diesels. It is leaking water into the crankcase. They decide to continue on one engine to their home in Marathon, Florida.

 

Thursday, October 15, 1998. Topsail Island to Myrtle Beach. While I'm walking Duchess, A Coast Guard announcement comes over a distant radio. A bridge on the intracoastal is malfunctioning and will be closed for 24 hours. This produces a minor panic. I don't know what bridge it is, and whether we are stuck. I turn on the radio, but the airways are full of others asking the same question. What bridge was that? Several anxious minutes go by until the message is repeated. It's the bridge into Surf City, NC. The last bridge we went under before quitting yesterday. We're good to go. Later in the day, the Coast Guard announces that repairs will take longer and the bridge will be closed for 48 hours.

 

We cruise past Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach and continue past Cape Fear. Later we cross into South Carolina. This is cause for minor celebration. We've been in North Carolina for four days. Just north of Myrtle Beach, there is a factory outlet center called Barefoot Landing. This center provides more than a 1000 feet of floating dock for the convenience of visiting boaters. There is no charge for tie‑up. There is no water or electric either, but the price is right. Jerry and Judy arrive in their Mainship 40 and we all get together with John and Sandy from the "Wandering Star" and go out to dinner.

 

Friday, October 16, 1998. Myrtle Beach to Georgetown. This stretch of the ICW is called the rockpile because it is narrow, overgrown, and edged with rock. Great care is exercised and no incidents occur. Afternoon finds us in Georgetown, SC. We join other boats at anchor in the harbor and I explore the town a little. This is another waterfront town that is recreating itself. The waterfront is a mass of decaying pilings and buildings. They have very cleverly built a boardwalk above the messy area, giving access to the waterfront where it was formerly impossible. This boardwalk connects with the main street by a number of small parks. It's a nice town to visit, but the basics, grocery, liquor, hardware, marine, are not nearby.

 

Saturday, October 17, 1998. Georgetown to Charleston. We leave Georgetown and head for Charleston. Charleston is one of our more favored stops, and there are several marinas which are close to downtown, so we get a slip. The marina provides transportation to the grocery store and I get to do the shopping. There is a large produce market right next to the grocery, but I find that I can't visit two stores. Without a car, there is no way to secure the groceries while entering a second store. So I call the marina and have them pick me up. Later, Marilyn went to "Marketplace," an open air roofed over area. She was interested in purchasing a sweet grass basket. These are woven baskets produced by local residents of the Charleston area. She came back empty‑handed. They were far too pricey.

 

Sunday, October 18, 1998. Charleston to Isle of Hope. The weather looks pretty good today, and the exit to the ocean is not too long, so we decide to make the run to Savannah River outside. Charleston harbor has two long jetties that extend well out to sea. When we get between the jetties, we find seas opposing the outflowing current. The harbor has a large volume of water, and the current is running 2 knots. The incoming waves are chopping up into short high seas. Soon we're pitching wildly. I can look over the jetty and see relatively calm seas, but there is nothing I can do until we run the gauntlet.

 

We exit the maelstrom and turn to the southwest. The seas are quieter, but they're still rough. 3 to 4 foot following and quartering seas make the Amberjack wallow and roll. Nothing to do but get up on plane again. A couple of hours later, we're off the entrance to the Savannah River. The transition from ocean to river is an easy one, and soon we've rejoined the ICW. Since we're early, we continue on. I want to refuel in Thunderbolt, ten miles south of Savannah River, but when I get there, none of the marinas give me a warm feeling. Terminally rusted fuel pumps tend to make me think the tanks may not be that good either. I decide to wait and refuel a little further along.

 

We go another ten miles or so and it is getting late. The Isle of Hope Marina in the town of the same name comes up, and we pull in for the night.

 

Monday, October 19, 1998. Isle of Hope to St. Simons Island. The origin of the name of this town has been lost to history. In a brief run around town I discover a lovely old southern town. There is absolutely no commercial activity. The homes near the waterway are complex and meticulously maintained. They look to be a hundred years old, but they've been added to and expanded over the years so that they take up most of the property. Another area is intriguing with old southern bungalows set far back from the road under a canopy of cypress trees with the ever present Spanish moss.

 

Today's travel takes us through the Georgia marshes. Great sweeping turns around miles and miles of marsh grass. The tides are large, and the currents swift. Most of the time, the currents are with us and we make good time. This is some relief to the captain. I've made an error in judgment in not refueling at Thunderbolt. I'm sure we have adequate fuel to reach our next stop at St. Simons Island, but there is something disconcerting about watching the fuel gauge point to empty. We have about 60 miles of marshland to traverse with nary a fuel dock in sight.

 

We put in to the Golden Isles Marina and go straight to the fuel dock and take on 220 gallons of fuel. The tank capacity is 300 gallons with perhaps 280 gallons useable, so there was little need to worry.

 

Tuesday, October 20, 1998. St. Simons Island to St. Augustine. The time has come to change engine oil, so it will be a late departure today. The marina has a courtesy car, so Marilyn takes a drive to do some food shopping while I change oil and filters. This job goes with a minimum of spills and mess and we're ready to travel again by late morning.

 

We depart at noon, bound for St. Augustine. This leg of the trip will be outside, as the exit and entry are both relatively short and easy. Just as with Charleston, the current out of the sound is running against the seas and there is considerable chop. Once we clear the sound, the ride is relatively comfortable. I put the Amberjack up on plane and we travel past Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville. The weather people are calling for a cold front to pass through. They don't expect much in the form of precipitation, but they do expect strong winds right into the weekend. As the afternoon wears on, the steady northeast wind builds a following sea that is not much fun.

 

The inlet at St. Augustine is short and straight, but as is the case with so many inlets, it is uncharted. A large yacht is feeling its way in, and fortunately, two sportfishermen come toward the inlet at great speed. I assume these are locals and elect to follow them in. The seas are now six feet with occasional higher crests. The Amberjack is doing 19 knots and the seas are moving right along with us. The boat is not easy to control in these conditions. I glance at the depth indicator and it says 6 feet! This is not good! Not good at all. Fortunately, it drops back down to 10 feet and stays there. I push the throttles wide open and we go to 22 knots, which makes the boat more manageable. The overheat alarms go off when the engines are run wide open, but they'll just have to sound. Within a very long minute, we're into quiet water and it's all over. At the fuel dock, I find that the two "locals" are from New Jersey. I ask one skipper what he read for depth coming over the bar. "I was too busy running the boat to look." he replied.

 

St. Augustine is a very good port of call. We've taken a slip in the city marina, right at the edge of the downtown area. A short walk puts you in the middle of all the shops and museums. The statue of Ponce DeLeon is right at the center of town, as is the old slave market. A short walk to the north is the old Spanish castle, which dates back to the fifteen hundreds. It started with a moat and drawbridges. Later, as the technology of war improved, the moat was filled in and used as cannon emplacements. One peculiarity of this installation is a shot furnace. The cannon balls were heated to red hot in inclined racks above the fire. They were then carried to the guns and fired at the enemy ships. A direct hit not only inflicted impact damage, it started fires as well.

 

Wednesday, October 21, 1998. St. Augustine to New Smyrna Beach. The advertised cold front has passed through, and the wind is doing 20 to 30 mph out of the northeast. This is not a day to travel outside. I have heard all sorts of stories about no wake zones in Florida, so I'm expecting a slow ride south. It's a pleasant surprise to find that the intracoastal is not restricted very much at all. To protect the manatees, there is a nearly global 30‑mph speed limit, but we can't go that fast anyway. Most boats that are docked along the waterway are kept on lifts above the water. This protects the vessel from passing wakes and keeps nasties from growing on the bottom. So, for the most part, we're able to run at any speed we choose, up to 20 knots.

 

Along the waterway, we encounter boats that are new to me. At a distance, I see a person standing and moving across the water at a good speed. It would look like the original jet ski, but binoculars show that the vessel is behind the person. As we draw closer, we can see that the boats are normal 14 to 20 foot outboards. The difference is that the control console is right up in the very bow. The operator is cast net fishing. What they're fishing for, I don't know. They throw a circular net which is about 15 feet in diameter. Whatever their quarry is, they stand in the bow of the boat so they can see the fish and so that they can throw the net. Then they gather in the net and churn off to throw it again. At one point, there were dozens of these boats flitting around.

 

I'd expected to get to the Daytona area, but we're making such good time, we continue to New Smyrna Beach. Here, there is a side channel that is a good anchorage. We drop the hook and settle for the night.

 

Thursday, October 22,1998. New Smyrna Beach to Vero Beach. The anchorage has a small beach on a deserted island. Last night, I took Duchess into this beach twice. There is a strong current through the channel, but it is good holding in sand. In the morning, the wind has picked up again. When I try to take the dog ashore, the combination of strong wind and current requires some considerable power from the outboard. At this power level, the machine falters and nearly dies. I'm barely able to get upwind of the Amberjack when the engine quits altogether. I grab the rail of the Amberjack as we drift down on her and call Marilyn to help me get the dink back to the swim platform.

 

I had filled the tank on the outboard last night and the gas looked milky. I suspect that it has been contaminated with rainwater. We decide not to mess with it in these circumstances and we take the big boat in to a fuel dock to walk the dog. When we haul anchor, it comes up clean, but the chain drops dozens of crabs the size of apple seeds on the deck. Marilyn spends ten minutes picking them up and returning them to the water.

 

The wind is back to full force as we make our way south past Cape Canaveral. The vehicle assembly building and the two shuttle launch pads stand out against the eastern horizon. I can't tell which is the one that will take John Glenn into orbit next week. There is a railroad bridge that crosses the intracoastal west of the launch complex. As we approach, the bridge goes down. A train crosses to the cape. The train is made up of five or six yellow cars separated by empty flat cars. The yellow cars do not bear any markings that identify the contents, but you can bet they don't want a lot of the contents in a small area. The space shuttle is due to lift off with John Glenn next Thursday, so this may be liquid hydrogen for the rockets. This is one of the new train bridges that we've seen. There is no operator. The bridge is lowered by the train crew and it automatically opens when the train gets through.

 

The Indian River and other bays in this area are large and open, and the seas that build with strong winds are 3 to 4 feet, with some larger. We're running on plane and the ride isn't too bad. Still, it's nice to round a projection and get in the lee for a while. Despite the seas, we're again making good time, so we continue to Vero Beach.

 

The municipal marina at Vero Beach is not close to anything. It is about a mile to the nearest convenience store. They offer moorings at $4.00 per night, but that won't work very well with a sick outboard. We tie up for the night and in the morning I get some fresh fuel into the outboard. This seems to cure its problems.

 

Friday, October 23, 1998. Vero Beach to Indiantown. Our good progress of the last two days has made it possible to get onto the Okeechobee Waterway today. We leave Vero Beach and push on. The wind pushes on too, and the number of fifty and sixty foot sportfishing boats roaring down the waterway makes it evident we don't want to be offshore. Finally, we reach mile marker 987 (statute miles from Norfolk), and turn west into the Okeechobee waterway.

 

When we arrive at the first lock, he's lowering the water for us, and soon we're in fresh water. The locks here function a little differently from the ones in the New York State system. These locks are filled and emptied by opening the gates a foot or so, and letting the water pour in or out. Clear of the lock, it's back up on plane again and we're soon at the Indiantown marina. We discover another diesel Mainship 40 at the marina and we spend the evening and part of the next morning comparing notes and seeing what each has done differently. They are from Canada, as are many of the boats at Indiantown. They summer store their boat here and us it in Florida and the Bahamas in the winter.

 

We note some largish turtles and they seem to be begging for food just like ducks do. Marilyn comments to a nearby sailboat owner that she hasn't seen any alligators yet. That lady informs her that a four foot alligator has been circling their boat, stalking their cat. He's hoping the cat will fall in and become dinner.

 

Saturday, October 24, 1998. Indiantown to Fort Myers. We awaken to quiet air for the first time in almost a week. I take Duchess for a walk and observe the marina operation. This marina is one of several along the waterway that specializes in storing boats for the summer. Far enough inland to be out of the reach of hurricane waters, they're also far enough inland that hurricane winds are not very probable. The Indiantown Marina has approximately 50 slips and they have approximately 250 boats in dry storage. When I walk Duchess, it's like a spring day in New Jersey. People are getting their boats ready for the season. Bottom paint is in the air, and sanders are whining. It seems like half the boats are from Canada. French is spoken as much as English. This marina is doing its part for the balance of trade. Another yard that we pass later in the day has maybe 400 boats in dry storage. Their only dock would handle two boats. You get launched, start up and go. When you come in, you go out right away.

 

We drop the lines at 10:00 and go up on plane right away. We have 105 statute miles to cover today, and

not much time. We also have 4 locks to transit and several bridges to get opened. The first lock is a dozen miles to the west and lifts us a couple of feet to the level of Lake Okeechobee. This lock exits directly into the lake. Lake Okeechobee is 25 miles long and about 20 miles wide. The eastern half has a depth of about 10 feet. The western half is about 1 foot deep. There is a canal along the shore that connects with the Caloosahatchee Canal.

 

With the wind out of the east, the eastern side of the lake is quiet. The further to the west we go, the higher the seas become. By the time we pass into protected waters, we're in 4 foot following seas. The canal around the edge is protected and the water is smooth. We come to a moment of confusion when we arrive at the western shore. The channel goes through a hurricane gate and lock to the town of Clewiston. The canal goes at right angles just before the hurricane gate. There is one not easily read sign and no buoys to help you. The chart is no help, for the scale is too large to show this kind of detail. We ask a passing boat and get straightened out. The next dozen miles is pretty, with dead cypress trees on the starboard and live pines on the port.

 

We arrive at the Moore Haven lock and turn west again. The Caloosahatchee Canal becomes the Caloosahatchee River and at 5:15 PM we pull into the Fort Myers Yacht Basin. The trip took 19 days, including one day off in St. Michaels. Total trip miles were 1483 statute or 1289 nautical. Engine hours were 128. Average speed over the entire trip was 10 knots. Fuel consumption was 1350 gallons, which comes to about a mile per gallon.

 

My general reaction to the trip is that it's long and tiresome. There is minimum time for touring and sightseeing and maximum time spent driving the boat. Most of the intracoastal is canal or narrow waterway and it requires constant attention at the helm. There were only a few times when we could get on autopilot, and most of those times were in rough seas.

 

I was pleased with the travel in Florida waters. As mentioned earlier, we were able to travel at good speed along nearly all of the ICW.

 

Epilogue. October 25 to November 4, 1998 We spend a couple of nights at the Fort Myers town dock so that Marilyn can spend some time with her mother, who lives a short walk away. Then we move the boat over to the Calusa Isles Manna in North Fort Myers. The next week is spent in doing annual chores on the engines and generator, and on other parts of the boat. On Tuesday, November 4, the boat is hauled and placed in their large storage shed. This building, which is constructed of massive steel I‑beams, is about 300 feet long and houses over 200 boats in inside rack storage. The Amberjack sits at one end, with an Ocean sportfisherman and several race boats. On Thursday, November 6, hurricane Mitch passed through the area with winds of 60 mph.