Saturday, January 31, 2015

The real Florida

We are docked at Colusa Jack's Marina, on the Okeechobee Waterway east of Fort Myers, Florida (map). It was a pleasant four-hour cruise here from Glover Bight in Cape Coral. Even though today was Saturday, the traffic on the river was much lighter than when we came through the Miserable Mile yesterday.

Joe and Shawna, the proprietors here, are very accommodating, offering to drive us to the store or whatever else we needed.  They keep chickens, and we now have a dozen fresh eggs, as does Blossom. Our two boats are probably the biggest things they've seen here, and they admitted that most of the big boys stay in Fort Myers. We wanted the extra hour's jump on tomorrow's run to the lake. We did have to ask them to line us forward half a boat length, as we were bumping the bottom every time a boat passed by.

Fresh eggs!

Notwithstanding all our machinations yesterday, our stuffing box continued to overheat today, and we ended up doing half the run at reduced rpm, adding about a half hour to the days' total. Once we were tied up here, I removed all the packing, flushing the glad out with plenty of river water, which was very nearly fresh.

We washed all of the packing rings in warm water and brushed as much silt out of them as we could with an old toothbrush. I also cleaned the inside of the gland as best I could before repacking. I'm happy to say that even with no packing at all, the shaft sump pump easily kept up with the inflow of water, and we only got a few ounces of spray into the bilge during the process.

We shall see, tomorrow, if this cures the problem. Of course, we will first need to seat and adjust the packing, a tedious process which will take numerous small adjustments over several hours. I will be ordering a spool of new packing in case we need to replace it all with fresh once we get to Palm Beach.

Goats.  We were not offered any cheese.

Now that we've moved inland from the coastal metropolises of Cape Coral and Fort Myers, we are entering what the tourism brochures like to call "the real Florida" and where old-time Floridians would say the crackers live. Long-time readers will know we've spent a good deal of time in this area in the bus. In addition to live chickens, we found a herd of goats here on the property, and just down the road can be found the kinds of back-country lots that might as well be a hundred miles from Fort Myers.

In the morning we will get an early start, with our first lock just 20 minutes eastward. We have two locks to Moore Haven, at the edge of the lake, where we hope to find spots at the city dock. Another lock will take us to lake level in the morning. If the city dock is full, we'll have to press on through the lock and southeast to Clewiston.

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