Monday, April 27, 2015

April - Getting to the End!

March 29th - We arrived in Clewiston late in the evening, tied up to a couple of bollards around 8:30 pm and went to bed exhausted.  In the morning, realizing that we were running short on provisions, the Captain suggested we check out Roland Martin's Fish Camp for breakfast.  As I am always willing to go out to eat instead of cooking....we untied the Arc and went in search of breakfast.  I can't believe that I didn't take a picture of the Fish Camp but...oh well.

March 30th - We ate and then departed heading toward LaBelle, our old stomping grounds.   Along the way we saw advertising for the Glades Marina restaurant and that transients were welcome so we decided to check it out for dinner.  To our disappointment the restaurant had closed years ago and the Marina...well it was a basin completely lined up with livaboards.  No food and no room at the inn. As we were turning around to leave we were hailed by the captain of a Jefferson 60 who invited us to raft up for the night.  We happily obliged and threw some chicken on the grill.

April 1st - We departed early the next morning arriving in Port LaBelle at 10:30 am.  We stayed long enough to shop for provisions, fill the water tanks, wash the laundry and take care of the all important stuff, (potty dump).  

The sunsets at Port LaBelle are always spectacular!

April 2nd - Having all our housekeeping items checked off the list we departed Port LaBelle heading for Fort Myers at around noon, after the batteries were completely charged.  

Our friend Pat and Radars new friend Cracker Jack.

Carter used to have so much fun with these alligators in the Oxbow.  LOL

After a short visit with our friend Pat, we found a nice oxbow to drop anchor just past the Alva Bridge.  We anchored behind this private island owned by a boating club who happened to be on site having a great time.

We departed this oxbow early the next morning cruising west hoping to find a spot for Radar to take his much needed morning shore leave. 

Fortunately we quickly came to the Caloosahatchie State Park with a super nice dock.  We stopped to walk Radar, got a chance to empty the trash, and decided to stay for a little while and let the batteries charge while Carter worked on a few things around the Arc.  

We moved on heading toward Fort Myers arriving at 3:30 pm where we met up with some other old friends, Mike and Smokey. Smokey was the guy that helped Carter get the diesel running a few years ago in Stienhatchie.  It's always good to meet up with old friends!  We stayed here for a couple days visiting and re-provisioning a few things we didn't get in La Belle.

April 6th - We departed the Fort Myers city anchorage with the morning tide.  

It was kind of cloudy so we pulled over for lunch and to charge up the batteries a little before transiting the dreaded miserable mile. We continued on to the Sanibel Island Causeway and dropped the hook at 6:30 pm.

This is a convenience store along the miserable mile!  Now this is guy that needs some solar panels. I shudder to think of how much fuel they have to burn to keep the power on 24/7 with the generator we could hear running in the distance. 

We were told that this building was used in the Hulk Hogan TV series Thunder in Paradise.  Interesting place.

Just before we crossed our wake in San Carlos sound we ran into this guy from Tow Boat US. Since our batteries where almost dead and the sun wasn't shining much, we were practically drifting with the tide when he came along. He was aching to give us a tow but we had to disappoint him. We had just enough power to reach our destination at the Sanibel Causeway which is where we crossed our wake and competed our transit of the entire intracoastal waterway of Florida powered exclusively by solar energy. Woo Hoo!  

The map on our wall is done!

Captain Carter, 1st Mate Diane and 2nd Mate Radar

I think the sun setting on the solar panels is suitable to finish to our saga.

Congratulations Captain!

Friday, April 24, 2015


As soon as the press conference in Daytona Beach had taken place, I flew north to visit my new grandson again and Carter remained with the Arc to replace the repaired motor controller when it came in. The Arc was ready to go when I got back a few days later but unfortunately, immediately  I then received news that my other daughter in law had suffered a heart attack and they were in desperate need of assistance so I left Carter at the Arc again to drive to Tennessee and tend to family matters.

I was going to be gone for several weeks so this was really putting a dent in our schedule so while I was gone Carter decided to single-hand the Arc back up to St. Augustine where we left off cruising with the solar electric and and thn brought the Arc back south to Merritt Island totally on solar where I joined him to continue heading south. 

On March 19th, we departed Banana River Marina heading to Fort Myers where we will cross our wake from last season as we we headed south to the Keys.  Woo Hoo!  We are very excited to finally complete our goal to transit the entire Intercoastal Waterway of Florida propelled by nothing but sunshine!

During the next couple days we anchored at South Patrick Shores, behind a spoils island at Grant, Sabastian Inlet, Vero Beach, at the jetty of the Harbor Branch Foundation in Ft. Pierce, Jenson Beach, a water filtering facility in the Okeechobee Waterway and then a neat little hurricane hole 3 miles short of the Port Mayaca Lock.

March 29th,  we crossed Lake Okeechobee with no problem.  The lake was rough and we had a stiff headwind and chop against us for the first half of the day but the sun was shining bright which gave us the juice to power through. We cruised all day from 10:30 am to 8:30 pm when we dropped anchor at Clewiston.  The next morning we decided to check out Roland Martins Fish Camp and went there for breakfast.  Nothing fancy for sure, but pretty good food.

We continued on with LaBelle as our next destination.

Scenes from this leg of the journey.

There was a sailboat regatta getting ready to start as we passed through
the Indian River in Melbourne.

The spoils island at Grant

The dolphins were tagging along at Sabastian Inlet

Sitting on the stern enjoying a beautiful sunset while waiting for the chicken to cook.

Playing around with the camera.

Certainly not ideal weather for solar cruising but fortunately we were able to complete 5 miles on the batteries before being forced to stop early.

The sky didn't look much better the next morning but we forged on to Jenson Beach. 

The next couple pictures show how we must maneuver the Arc to compensate when fighting either strong current or winds.  Even though we look like we are heading toward the port side, we actually are moving straight ahead.  It must be a little disconcerting for approaching boats who might think we are heading toward them!  We were in just such a situation as we were approaching this bridge.

Our anchorage at Branch Harbor Foundation

Some young crewers on the St. Lucie River

A beautiful sunset along the Okeechobee Waterway

Some derelict boats along the way have been here for years.

The bridge tender opening the bridge as we hurried through because a train was on it's way. 

Heavy rains were predicted so we ducked into this neat hurricane hidey hole the Captain found using satellite imagery (Google maps).

The skies looked bad and it did rain on us but not too bad.

The wind pushed us up against the side but it was not a problem.

I'm rockin' the tie dye and flames this day!  LOL

The guillotine bridge just before the Port Mayaca Lock.

We departed to cross Lake Okeechobee just as soon as the batteries were charged.

Heading into the lock....

and departing the lock.

It was a choppy ride and Radar stayed in his tee pee for most of this crossing.

Day markers have many uses.....

The landscape as you begin to enter Clewiston.

We arrived in Clewiston as sunset.  It was a good passage.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

February 1/5 - Guano, Tolomato, Mantanzes Estuary & Research Center

We departed Jacksonville Beach at 8:00 am heading south with the current.  The water was smooth but the sky held intermittent clouds.  We entered the Guano, Tolomato, Mantanzes Estuary or GTME and cruised until the wind picked up forcing us to drop anchor at 4:00 pm.

This was a beautiful stretch of the ICW and I clicked the camera all day long!

February 2nd - We departed at 10:00 am and cruised for approximately 30 minutes but the sun was so intermittent the Captain decided to stop and charge the batteries.  With the lead topped off, we restarted again at noon continuing with a strong current in our favor, strong headwind against us, and the solar panels collecting 3000 watts despite the cloudy, rainy conditions.  At about 6:00 pm we stopped at the GTM Research Center.  We signed up to attend their annual symposium in about a week so we wanted to scope out the anchorage options.

It was a pretty cruise up the windy trail to the Research Center.

February 3rd - We started out early the next morning heading for Vilano Beach where there is a Publix accessible by boat.  Vilano Beach has a very nice public dock that we were able to tie the Arc to and went shopping after which we continued on down the ICW to anchor just south of St. Augustine at sunset.  The next day we hooked up to a City of St. Augustine mooring ball in order to do laundry, empty the holding tank and fill the water tanks.  We then headed north to the GTM Estuary Research Center in anticipation of the annual symposium on Friday.

The symposium was informational and we met some interesting folks.  During this time the Alltrax DCX 500 controller mysteriously stopped working.  After trouble shooting and several discussions with the dealer, the controller was in the mail for repair and return.  We would like to thank EV Drives for their excellent customer service.  They had our system back on line in record time!  In the meanwhile we were forced to rely on "Big Ben" our 51 year old diesel who, so far, has never failed to start up and push the Arc with gusto. Carter often remarks that he is more impressed with that old diesel than the new solar electric drive he put together but the two systems compliment each other well. Although it's nice to have the extra power and get the extra mile an hour with Big Ben, we really don't like running the old machine too much so it is reserved for emergencies. Having a press conference a hundred miles away in 4 days and a broken electric motor controller qualified so we bought 30 gallons of fuel and busted it down to Daytona.

February 9th - We weighed anchor heading south to Daytona Beach for the next ReThink Energy press conference to be held at Captain Daddys on February 14th.