14 November 2012
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