So, here we are, snug and safe in a slip at “Pink Shell Resort and Marina” on Estero Island, located on the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Fort Myers, Florida. We arrived here on January 20th after a three hour run from “Legacy Marina” further east on the Caloosahatchee River . And we arrived there after a cross state passage on the Okeechobee Waterway from our boat’s summer home “on the hard” at Indiantown Marina, just west of Lake Okeechobee itself.
When we left “Sylestial Star” at Indiantown on April 26th of last year, we did so with some trepidation. Even with a monthly on-board inspection by the marina staff, we were concerned how it would fair during a brutally hot South Florida summer and uncovered exposure to the elements.
After thoroughly cleaning “Sylestial Star” inside and out, removing some mold from the aft lockers, loading all soft items onboard( these were kept in climate controlled storage during the summer) and completing our commissioning checklist including a check of all systems; we continued our journey west on the Okeechobee Waterway from the Atlantic coast to the Gulf of Mexico.
There are 26 bridges( including some signal bridges), 5 locks and 26 mile wide Lake Okeechobee to cross before one reaches the west coast. Our biggest challenge was getting our boat, with its 53′ high mast( including masthead fly and antenna) under the 49′ high Port Macaya RR bridge. This was accomplished early on the morning of January 14th with the help of “Billy the Tipper”. Billy Owens Jr.was assisted by Billy Owens III and Billy Owens IV.
The Lake Okeechobee water level was acceptable and so we crossed the lake by the more direct “Route 1” without seeing anything less than 8′ and no alligators or pythons, although we had been guaranteed to see the former. After an overnight at the City Docks in Moore Haven, we completed our crossing the next day with a 4pm arrival at Legacy Marina on the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers. The crossing allowed us to see much of what is beautiful in south central Florida, and at a very stately pace of around 7 to 8 mph. Well worth the crossing!