At the end of October I was able to take some time off of work and get back on the water to deliver "Slip Away" a 1988 Caliber 33 from Brunswick Ga to Punta Gorda Florida via the Okeechobee Waterway. Jim Palumbo the owner and I left Brunswick Ga intending to go offshore until Stuart Fl then across the second largest fresh water lake in the US. However mechanical problems coupled with a late season hurricane put us into the ICW along the Florida east coast.
But the highlight of the trip was to get "tipped" at the Myacca river railroad bridge. During the trip we opened 22 bridges and transited 5 locks however this railroad bridge was the special one among all of those. The railroad bridge which is a vertical lift bridge is still only 49ft high. "Slip Away" is reported to be 49.5-50 ft tall plus antenna.
We hired Billy Owens to take us through. Contacting Billy through the Indiantown marina along the waterway we made arrangements for an early morning "tipping"
He met "Slip Away" at the appointed time just short of the bridge and tied along side.
He and his assistant piled six 55 gallon plastic barrels and two 30 gallon barrels onto the port deck of Slip Away just inside the life lines. He braced the barrels with 4X4's and lashed them fore and aft for stability. We then raised a pvc pipe up the main halyard to the top when properly positioned it stood above the highest antenna on the boat and trailed a pre measured line with weight as a plumbline. Next began to fill the barrels with water from the river using a gasoline pump on board his boat. He knew he had the proper "tilt" when the plumbline weight hit the water.
We simply motored under the bridge at about a 20 degree heel. Once through we open the bung holes in the bottom of the barrels emptied hundreds of gallons over the side, disconnected from Owens boat and went on our way. The entire process delayed us less than half and hour.
He tells us he does boats up to 54ft masts. Any larger and they won't clear the fixed bridges on the gulf side of the waterway so it is a moot point.
This trip across central Florida saved hundreds of miles that would have been difficult at best in the wake of hurricane Sandy.
Jim Palumbo and I are now proud veterans of being "tipped" on the Okeechobee and thanks to Jim we have the T shirt to prove it.
More pix will be added to the gallery
04/23/2012, Punta Gorda
Well its official we have been back in civilization for 30 days! We have two cell phones, a car, and a job.! Connie is on her way back to Seattle to arrange to move some personal possesions to our new condo (rented) in Punta Gorda.
I am the new dockmaster at the Isles Yacht club and having a great time.
The boat is for sale, and we are getting back into the swing of life in the US.
We are currently still living on the boat in the Gasparilla marina, but will probably move ashore May 1st. The picture is the fuel dock at the Isles YC.
Well for those of you who have not guessed Sound Effect has completed the big U. We didnt make it to North Carolina because we decided to stay in Florida. We have been on the boat for two years and have traveled 11000 miles from Tacoma Wa to Punta Gorda Fl. We have stayed in six countries and met countless other cruisers with a lifetime of memories.
Recently when recounting our story we were asked you did this all alone? Of course it was just Connie and I onboard but no we did not do this trip alone.
We had wonderful crew who helped deliver the boat from Port Townsend WA to San Francisco, thanks to Debbie, Don, Rob, Denny and Dan. Oh and thanks for the Boston Legal.
Those of you who have followed this blog know that the able crew of Kokomo helped out many times, once with a tow but most often with late night radio checkins and encoragement. We also met many more cruiser friends who had a terrific impact. These include Debbie and Jeff on Sailors run who acted as translator at the hospital and taught us how to make Baggy wrinkles. We got so much help and encouragement from Reg and Sharon aboard Pea Soup when my back was at it's worst. And late in the trip we met Rob and Sue aboard Catalyst who told us about Punta Gorda and helped with important introductions here in town. There were of course so many more whose paths we crossed that made us richer for the experience.
I also must add my family, Jim and Christie who helped with mail, and banking, and Andrew and Stephanie who handled the blog chores when I was at Sea. I also am grateful to my brother and sister who did so much for our Dad when I wasnt around to do my part. Thanks to everyone who helped make our dream a reality. Also I gues I would be remiss without thanking my wife of 40 years for putting up with me and my crazy idea about offshore cruising.
I will continue to blog peridically to add my thoughts about what worked and what didnt in the weeks ahead.
04/12/2012, Gasparilla Marina
Well, I have a spotty internet connection just now but I wanted to show off my new dinghy (car). For those of you wondering why I havent blogged for a while, its because I have been working!!!!. I have an afternoon off so I want to tell you all the news which I will do as soon as I get a better connection
We have been in this marina for two weeks but I updated by position on the tracker program so you can look with google earth.
Today we bought tow insurance before we move the boat again. The water is very "skinny"so don't leave home without it.
04/03/2012, Gasparilla Marina
While I was waxing the boat I heard a little breath sound and looked up to see a Manatee looking at me. I was lying on the dock so I could polish to the water line and we looked at each other about 6 feet apart. He or She left but continued to come back every 5 minutes or so. Only his nose and whiskers come out of the water, and he or she is pretty homely. I laugh to myself at how homely they are when you remember that early Spanish sailors described them as mermaids. Clearly they had been at sea much too long.
I apologize for the picture but the camera had trouble focusing on the target.