Finally, the saltie season really begins…

This morning we finally slipped our lines at the Indiantown Marina and turned east on the Okeechobee Waterway. It was a quiet morning, and a really beautiful one: sunny, warm, nearly calm.
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As we motored along, I informed Ron that my goal this season was to finally see a manatee in the wild. Last season I was constantly watching for their tell-tale swirl of water, and though I’m sure I saw a manatee snout–from a distance–I never saw one close up. While we were moored at Coconut Grove Sailing Club, one of the launch drivers was always asking if we saw the manatee that hung out there, usually swimming right past our boat. I never saw them.

We arrived at the St. Lucie Lock late this morning, the one lock that separates us from Stuart. It’s not a large drop, just 14 feet, and it’s fairly easy to manuever. The lock tender is very friendly, and as we approached, we had an audience. However, as we entered the lock we quickly learned that the audience wasn’t really interested in the boats locking down; they were fascinated by the 3 manatee in the lock. That’s right: by noon I had already met one of my main goals to view a manatee in the wild. They are huge, lumbering creatures. We had a cow and her calf, along with one other adult manatee. The adults both had scarred backs from boat props. The lock tender told us that they were anxious to get back down to the warmer water by the power plant, and that it is not uncommon for them to show up in the locks. Absolutely fascinating! Supposedly, sailboats aren’t much of a threat to them because not only do we have large keels in front of our props, but we also go too slow. It’s the go-fast powerboats that do their damage when these lumbering animals can’t get out of their way. There are signs along the channel warning of it being a manatee area and that the speed limit within the channel is 25 mph, but it’s dead slow (due to manatees) outside that narrow channel. I’m not sure that the manatee read the signs…

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We picked up a mooring at Sunset Bay in Stuart and will plan to stay here a few days to decompress and to get ourselves into cruising mode. We now have a (goddamn) outboard that is not starting, so that is the next thing we’re dealing with. But this evening we are enjoying the full moon rising to the east and the orange red sky to our west.

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One thought on “Finally, the saltie season really begins…

  1. Great reading that you are finally on your way. Wow, 3 Manatee, we thought we were lucky locking through with one.
    Stuart … enjoyed that community. We were there on a Wednesday and that night enjoyed talented live music and community BBQ. On another year, very fortunate to attend an Installation Service for the incoming Lodge Master. It was conducted flawlessly by the Grand Master of Florida who did it as a very special favour for his friend.
    Remember to circle, Feb. 23 for the Cruisers’ Net Party in Cape Coral, just in case you’re able to attend. Love to have you present.
    Fair winds
    Roy and Margaret

    Like

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