January 6, 2016 begins our 5th year of cruising after retirement. Every day continues to be an adventure. Today, we listened to tornado warnings on the radio as we battened everything down and checked both our anchors. The storm passed uneventfully except for a sudden wind gust pulling out our 2nd anchor and causing us to swing close to shore. We’re anchored in Lollipop Lagoon (yes, it is shaped like a lollipop) near LaBelle, Florida. It’s about 150’ wide giving us barely enough swinging room. During the heaviest rain, we watched a manatee eating vegetation along the shoreline. Last night at dusk, we watched three groups of about 20 egrets flying just above the water in v formation searching for fish, no doubt. What a beautiful sight. It’s so hard for me to tear my eyes away from the continuously changing views of nature each day because I don’t want to miss anything. While locking through St. Lucie, I read a “Manatee Zone” sign then looked in the water and laughed to see a manatee locking his way upstream with us.
Crossing Lake Okeechobee with our new asymmetrical spinnaker challenged us to keep it full in the choppy conditions with Ron hand steering and Kathy constantly adjusting the sheet. But, hey, at least we were sailing across the lake. Before Lake Okeechobee we had the opportunity to visit a welding shop in Daytona after one of the mounts on our new engine managed to crack. On the bike ride to the welder we crossed a train track with a train stopped about 100 feet from the crossing. Just as Kathy rode in front of the engine they blasted their whistle and she nearly flew off the bike and screamed almost louder than the train whistle.
In a departure from our normal “continuous cruising” routine we spent a week on a mooring in Vero “Velcro” Beach enjoying the company of our good friends Linda and Tom vacationing to escape the cold of Pittsburgh. The week was filled with beach walks, checking out the area parks, and going to a few movies. After Vero, we stopped in Stuart and had a wonderful visit with Kathy’s Aunt Barbara as well as our friends Ed and Patty.
Having a shorter mast has given us the chance to cruise a variety of inland destinations which we really enjoy. The 140 mile trip up the St. Johns River was amazing, especially stops at the springs and the crystal clear water for viewing manatee and fish swimming past the boat. It is so cool to see a cormorant swimming under the water!
As we exit the protected waters of the Okeechobee Waterway, we are looking forward to enjoying the sights and beaches of Florida’s west coast then on to the Keys where our daughter and son-in-law will be joining us for fun in the sun!