Day's log for Wednesday, August 15th, 2001 - St Lucie Lock, FL

0552 - raised anchor and started motor

0600 - standing by for lock. I hailed them - no response.

0615 - I hail again asking for 0600 lock. This time he responds back. I think he just got there late because it was so early. He opened the doors about 1 foot to allow the water out. On this lock the doors are shaped like pie wedges. They pivot on the point that comes from the center of the pie. This way they do not displace any water during movement. To displace water would take a tremendous amount of force and thus electricity. Also this design avoids any internal plumbing found on deeper locks.

0630 - entered lock

0702 - finished, left lock - 13 foot rise

0755 - passed SM 20

0843 - passed SM 25

0920 - passed through RR bridge at 28.2. Normally railroad bridges are left open unless a train is coming.

0955 - passed SM 30

1020 - passed SM 35

1100 - arrived at Port Mayaca lock

1105 - notice lock open at both ends but lake side doors were only partially open. I tried to hail the lock master. I noticed two small runabouts passing through toward me. I looked carefully at the clothes they had on - looked like normal fishermen to me. I tried to hail the lock master again. No response. I decided it must be ok to go through. As I went down the lock chamber I noticed the doors opening wider. As I passed the doors, the lock master shouted "we talk on channel 13". I had the VHF on channel 9. Oops!

I noticed a metal tower really festooned with cell phone antennae. I checked for a signal on my phone - sure enough, a signal and a message.

1250 - passed #6 day marker - as I made a bunch of cell phone calls while I had the chance.

1315 - lowered sails - no wind

1420 - passed #13 and saw sailboat in Rocky Reef Channel. It appeared stuck so I turned on the VHF - then almost immediately I was hailed by sailing vessel "Sassy". He was aground. "What's your draft?

"Four feet."

"So is mine." I quickly devised a plan to get as close as I could without myself running aground. As I did I grazed the bottom a little bit. It sounded like gravel and sand and mud. Then I made up as long a line as I could from my dock lines, rowed over to his boat with the lines in the dinghy, and tied off to his bow line. I went back to my boat and proceeded to pull at full power. His boat quickly turned to line up with mine but would not go any further. Plus, I was touching bottom. The friction between my keel and the mud was robbing me of pulling power. I then got out my 200 feet of anchor line and used that. Now the tow line was too long. It would form a catenary, sink to the bottom, and provide very little pulling power at his end. Next I thought to try alternating the angles that I pulled. Andrea Lynn would not turn or maneuver to do this with the rope tied to the hawse pipe on my starboard side. I used a small dock line to rig a bridle. Then I pulled. I could do a little better but not good enough. Next I backed up, pulling the rope out of the water as I did to avoid it getting stuck in the prop. A couple of times I would put the engine lever to the neutral position but Andrea Lynn was still idling forward. This is not good. Plus the towing bridle made it more difficult to haul out the line while backing up. I managed to do a couple of angles this way.

Then I got a bit sloppy and left too much slack rope in the water. Next thing I knew the engine stopped abruptly - dang - rope around the propeller. It was time for a swim. I radioed the guy that I had done all I could and to try to call others for help. All during this around six powerboat folks passed by and did not offer help. One guy responded to the radio call to say he did not have time to help. Jerks! I rigged for swim - making sure my palm pilot and cell phone were in the cabin, put the swim ladder on and jumped in. I took a breath and dived to the propeller. I got one good look at the prop and the mask I had bought back in Swansboro for $3 started filling up with water. The face seal had a crease and would not hold water out no matter what. I quickly took it off and tossed it back on deck. So now I had to work by and the one look-see I got. I got out the leatherman, pulled out the serrated blade and went to work. I quickly figured out I could keep my head above water while I reached down to the propeller and started sawing rope. I heard the guy call the Coast Guard - nope, couldn't do it unless it involved life and limb. Towboat/US couldn't do it until the next day. Ditto for more stink pots passing by. Forty five minutes later I had the last of the rope peeled off the shaft. I turned the propeller - good. I climbed out of the water, taking the pieces of rope for a souvenir.

I dried off a bit and dinghied over to Sassy to get the docklines.

"I sure could use a cold one about now."

"So could I."

I offered Bob a ride to Clewiston and he said - well, I'll be ok here tonight. Then he changed his mind. I took him to Andrea Lynn, got changed, tied off the dinghy, and coil the lines to dry. Then we went back to get his $3500 video camera. I was ready to go but we don't want that to get stolen from Sassy as she sat overnight in the lake.

On the way back Bob said that Lake Okeechobee was a really spooky place - kind'a a place where bad things happen. He vowed never to go back in it again.

1945 - pulled into Clewiston - the lock was open at both ends and no lock master was present - so I went through and docked at Roland Martin's Marina. We went to the Tiki bar. Bob spilled his drink and two other buddies started laughing. Then one of them spilled their drink. We laughed at them a little. Then the other one spilled his drink and we really laughed. I was amazed that I didn't spill mine. Bob told me about a nice Cuban restaurant but it was a ways. We asked the bartender and he said there was no taxi in Clewiston. There used to be one until someone killed him because they didn't want to pay the fare. Also ther was no telephone service. Someone asked the bar tender why and he shook his head - then they asked "Why, did you not pay the phone bill?" The bartender ignored him. The Bob went to get himself a hotel room. At this point I found out that the phone service everywhere around there had been knocked out by lightning. We ended up eating at the "Dixie Fried Chicken". The whole place around there really had a back town feel to it. I went back to Andrea Lynn and turned in.

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