Nearing the Atlantic

CDownTheMiddle

Lake Okeechobee to the left past the bushes. A smooth trip straight down the center. What could go wrong?

We reached Sunset Bay Marina, a very large marina with larger and fancier boats than we normally see. Just one drawbridge and 8 more miles along the cross Florida canal until we hit the Atlantic ICW. We spent 3 days getting through the Okeechobee canal and lake including the 25 miles from Boca Grande to the canal start.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking at a 6′ waterfall at the gate. Troy was out to assist at each lock.

Shortly after we left Moore Haven this morning, on the canal that goes along the southwest edge of the lake, we hit something big right in the middle of the channel. It was bad enough that I went downstairs and pulled up the floor in several places to make sure no water was coming in. It killed one of the engines and when we started back underway we shook when I gave much power to the port prop. I called our next marina to ask if they could find a diver to check our underside and props. It didn’t look good since we would arrive late on a Saturday.

By giving more power to starboard and running port at a fast idle we could still make reasonably good time without much shake, so we made it the 60 remaining miles to Sunset Bay arriving around 4 PM.

We could not go any further with what at least had to be a bent prop, or worse could be a bent shaft and possible other damage. The divers were able to come and found a badly bent prop with no other damage. They took both props off and swapped them for the spares that we carry. It’s all I can do to lift one of those 30” brass props off the dock. Handling them in the water and getting them on and off the shaft takes some skill and practice. Definitely not a do it yourself job even though I have done a lot of diving.

CDivers

They swapped the props and stored the bent ones back in the engine room. Rightmost blade on the visible prop is worst.

Carrying those spares for the last 3 years saved us at least a week of down time. We’ll be able to continue on tomorrow and still make to St Augustine on time. At some point I’ll have to get our “new” spare props either fixed or replaced.

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