January 24-January 31, 2018
Miles Traveled: 140
Total Miles Traveled: 3600
On January 24th we unfurled our brand new AGLCA Flag (America’s Great Loop Cruising Association), a Christmas present to Captain Jim as we continue our Loop on the newly acquired Namaste Too. Our original flag, ceremoniously raised on day one (June 28, 2015) when leaving Lake Charlevoix, is safely stored aboard after many attempts to un-bleed the colors and remove the stains from her underwater experience.
It was a gorgeous morning and we created an uneventful departure from the River Forest Marina heading east across the Okeechobee Waterway toward Clewiston and Lake O. Our destination was about 30 miles so we continued to practice maneuvers, approaching every available dock along the way as well as getting a lift in the Moore Haven Lock. Since we had done this lock last year we weren’t terribly concerned until the Lock Master informed us of a “restriction” – the port lock door was currently not functioning. Fortunately, we were on the starboard (right) side of the lock and theoretically could simply move forward and slip on out through the right door. Well, the turbulence as the one working door opened caught us off-guard and wa-la we were moving sideways toward what was becoming a more narrow opening by the second. Captain Jim got a hold of things and slowly brought the bow of the boat around to head us in the needed direction. Whew, what a first lock experience in this trawler which handles quite differently than our full keel mono-hull sailboat! No pictures. I was way too busy scrambling.
On our way again, we had a lovely trip along the rim canal of Lake “O” to Clewiston where we didn’t see another boat until about a mile from the marina. At that point a faster boat passed us and a third boat came upon our stern, making us the middle boat. Well, boat number one missed the obscure entrance as did we so three boats were now all vying for the narrow entrance and limited dockage. Fortunately, Captain Sam was on the docks slowly and safely directing everyone. with Jim landing the Namaste in a small space between a large boat and many small bass fishing boats lining the dock. Beautiful. Hey, I think we are getting the hang of this!
The weather turned so windy that our crossing of Lake O was delayed by 5 days. It is 28 miles across and a very shallow, often narrow channel that can be treacherous in high winds. We happily stayed put experiencing the FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) Bass Fishing Tournament – called the Super Bowl of bass fishing – a much bigger deal that I had ever imagined. We witnessed every aspect of the four day event which my Dad would have loved! When in Rome. . .
In case you are wondering, a Pro Bass Fishing Tournament goes something like this: On day one 188 bass-boats ($70-90,000 each) go fishing from 7:30-3:30, on day two the top 100 boats go out, day three the top 30 boats and day four the top 10 boats fish. Each day they bring in their 5 heaviest fish (alive for release at the end of the day) with the cumulative number of pounds indicating their competitive placement for the day and ultimately the tournament winner. If you happened to be watching the fishing channel on TV you may have seen me sanding on the deck of the Namaste as I realized during the national anthem at 7:15 am that I was in direct line of the TV cameras. The boats left the dock in orderly fashion, one by one after the first day when 188 boats seemed to be ants swarming in no particular order. There was plenty of loud, very lou music and food around along with a children’s fishing tournament held in a nearby pond. Did you know there are now high school fishing teams? Anyway, the weigh-in each day in is an experience in fishing culture that I cannot even begin to explain but suffice it to say that there are numerous and repetitive words to explain bass fishing. There is more to say but I will close with the important note that the winner walks away with $100,000 (or $125,000 if driving a Ranger Boat). The top 60 boats all receive cash prizes and points toward their season standings.
While we were there I made my first Insta-pot (Christmas present) meal of lemon chicken. It was easier and faster than I imagined, tasted great and yes, it is important to read and heed the directions. Jim and I spent hours doing “line art” or practicing our docking theory at the Namaste’s kitchen table.
We made friends with Bill and Carman aboard “Low-Budget” who were also waiting for a weather window. As it turned out we buddy boated on Monday (January 29th) across a calm Lake O starting out in a bit of a drizzle but arrived in bright sunshine.
We uneventfully locked through at Mayaca onto the Lucie Canal and then moved on to Indiantown. You may remember that this is where we lost the Namaste so we had to retrieve our dinghy and motor but also visit friends Bob and Carole aboard “Time Enough” and enjoy a raucous Taco Tuesday at JR’s the local bar ($1.00 per taco and I had 3).
Bob and Carole brought homemade Key Lime pie for lunch, Bill on the way to JR’s in the back of a Volvo, and the crew at Jr’s eating tacos.
During the two days here we have worked hard! Jim inflated and scrubbed our sad and dirty dinghy to make her like new, finished varnishing windows and had important dock conversations with other captains. I did laundry, paid bills, visited with friends and walked by the Namaste yesterday, gave her a pat on the side and said a final good-bye. We learned that she was sold at auction and that there is someone interested in rebuilding her. YAY!
Sammy Sayz: I have the coolest neighbors here, two beautiful golden retrievers on the boat across the dock, Pippen and Mary. We have called a barking truce but nosing one another is a must with each passage. I know this place and all is good but J & J need to get their acts together, quit working all the time and take me for longer walks, maybe a little ball playing too. I know, I know careful of the alligators. I cannot wait to get to Fort Pierce for a much needed groom – my hair looks terrible!
Good Boat Name: Lady Belle (a stately Nauticat 33 with the two Goldens nextdoor).
Bad Boat Name: Lost Marbles
Quote: “The expert in anything was once a beginner.”-unknown
Happy Birthday: Carson, Kevin
Get Well: Captain Sam, the dock-master of Clewiston’s Marianne Martin Marina, who was hospitalized during our stay and the entire Bass Tournament. He is amazing and was sorely missed!
Rest in Peace: Dr. Tulin whose parents had an arranged marriage in Russia and came to this country unable to speak English. He died in La Jolla CA, a psychiatrist, a veteran, a lover of modern art, married 68 years. Only in America!