With a large front scheduled to arrive on Friday, we decided to head out of Naples on Wednesday for Fort Myers Beach, where we would weather the storm. The winds were supposed to be light from the southeast, which is why it should have been no surprise that we were surfing into Fort Myers Beach on strong southwesterlies. We put the sails to good use on the trip, furling them only as the boat traffic increased as we approached the channel near the trip’s end.
After a couple of days and some weather had passed, we were debating when to leave for Franklin Lock, our first stop on the Okeechobee Waterway. We had a lot to do, most of which couldn’t start until we got to a dock at the Corps of Engineers’ park just past the first of the waterway’s locks. So, on Saturday, after checking out the winds by walking to the beach and the island’s eastern point, we decided to drop the mooring and head out around noon. We hoped to make it through the lock before it closed at 7pm, which we managed to do, pulling alongside the locks wall’s just after 6:30. Once clear, we dropped anchor in the basin east of the lock.
With everything clean on deck, we switched to other preparations. Sue put reflective insulation over the inside and outside of the portlights, after we made one more attempt to seal the leaking portlight with silicone. After cleaning the anchor chain, Dave switched it end to end to extend its life and re-marked the lengths with paint. With access to power, we had plugged in as soon as we arrived in hopes that the batteries would be fully charged before we left and maybe even equalize.
While Dave and Sue rigged Jr in the slip – stringing 16 lines to the various pilings, Cathy cleaned below. We had little staging area, so until we picked up the car the next day, packing things up would have to wait. On Tuesday, this began in earnest, so that by the time Dave returned with the car, we had many piles of stuff ready to be loaded. By now, we could start stripping the deck in earnest, the anchors, the stackpack, the enclosure, the outboard. When we got the last of the water we needed, we hauled the dinghy, stripped out the seats and transom and folded it up.
Over the evening and the morning of the next day, we began stowing everything in spots down below and sealing up every opening that could let rain or bugs enter the boat. By noon on Wednesday, (after another hour adjusting the lines), we were ready to pull out. With Sue’s help, we had put her away in record time and were feeling pretty good that she would be fine for the time we would be away.
With our earlier than expected departure, we had only one night on the road and made it back to Hampton on Thursday to Orion. Our timing was near perfect, since we still had the rental car, allowing us to visit with both of our kids’ families over the weekend. As another bonus, Dave’s parents and his sister, Diane, would be visiting as well. After enjoying all of their company for 2 days, it was time to return to Hampton and get Orion straightened up and put her back on the market. But first, we need to get an engine re-installed. . .