FROM: The Captain –
Conditions: Mostly sunny. Winds from the north/northeast 5-10 mph.
Distance traveled: 61 nautical miles
Time underway: 7 hours 42 minutes
Average Speed: 8 knots
Max Speed: 20 knots
Fuel used: 67 gallons
You don’t go to Roland Martin’s Marina on Lake Okeechobee without stopping into The Tiki Bar right there on the water at the marina and after the day we had we fully deserved a fun night. From the outside, the tin-roofed, green canvas-clad and sun-beaten wood exterior looks a little tattered. Part of it sits above the water and the pilings beneath can be seen through the lattice that creates a wall as you walk down the docks toward the entrance. From dockside, it looks like a gin joint but as the night falls and the music inside cranks up you can’t help but be drawn toward it.
As you walk through the doors you are greeted by a light show and, on this particular night, the sweet, rock-a-billy sounds of Cowboy Karaoke and the terrific voices of its host, Jody and his grandson, Joe, who is his right-hand man. The place almost seems cavernous inside and it has such a welcoming vibe that we knew it was going to be a good-time, foot-stompin’ night. And it was!
We ended up meeting the Karaoke Cowboy himself later in the night and heard about his big family, how proud he is of them and that his grandson has joined him in the business. They put on a terrific show and had some other great singers too. We’ll be posting them in our new “Water Music” section where we’ll talk about the musicians we’ve seen and enjoyed along the way. Roland Martin’s Marina Tiki Bar was one of the best joints we’ve visited and a place not to be missed if you find yourself in that neck of the Okeechobee! In the video below, Jody sings while his grandson, Joe runs the music.
And after that rousing good time it was off to OLOH for a well-deserved, good night’s sleep in advance of the travel day that will complete our journey from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast.
We were off the docks just three minutes shy of our planned 8:30am departure and it’s just a handful of miles along the rim of the lake before you turn west at Moore Haven and enter your first of three locks of the day that will drop you down as you make your way into the tidal waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Unlike the day before we had a good start to the day, arriving at the Moore Haven Lock with a “green light” and no other boats behind us. This meant we were in the lock by ourselves (which had been the case in our two locks the day before) and it set us up for a day of canal travel essentially alone with no boats needing to overtake us all day long.
The scenery along a lot of this route is quite agricultural with cows grazing by the waterside in places and a few orange groves along the way. It was a long day on the water but in terms of boat travel and conditions, I have to say it was one of the easiest days of the entire trip since leaving upstate New York in October. The navigation is straightforward, we had barely any wait time at the two remaining locks and the temps warmed up enough for us to run from the bridge by mid-morning.
Once you are clear of the Franklin Lock, the last one you travel through when heading west, you quickly start feeling like you are back in civilization. More and more homes line the waterway and boat traffic increases. There are a few, fairly long stretches of no-wake zones as you approach Fort Myers that are in place to protect the manatees. So after a long day on the water and being ready to arrive, you’ve got to remain patient in the final stretch. The only thing really left to manage are the bridges, most of which are 63ft or higher. There are a few exceptions coming in at 23ft to 28ft and a swing bridge that opens on demand.
The sound you hear as we pass under the bridge is from the cars above, not our mast-light collapsing! And yes, Tim’s head was beneath the hard-top while shooting this with the radar spinning.
We pulled into Legacy Harbor Marina in Fort Myers and were tied up at 4:10pm. It is a nice, protected basin just off the waterway and it was full. You know you’re in Florida when a good number of the boats backed into slips are 70+ feet long. Harbormaster Eric and his team were terrific and eager to help. The floating concrete docks are in great shape, there’s a Joe’s Crab Shack on site and the village-like city of Fort Myers is about a ten-minute walk away. There’s also a Publix Supermarket a short walk away and the marina will give you a grocery cart to help transport your provisions.
Fort Myers proved a good stopping point for the night but we need to touch the Gulf so we shall continue westward. See you out there…