This will be our first time on a lake aboard Willow Mist. From the previous owner information, this will also be the first time Willow Mist has ever been in a lake.
As we left the river toward the lake opening, we notice a the red channel marker that appears like it may have been hit by another vessel. Willow points at it and sarcastically says “It looks like Misty has been through here”. No, this time it wasn’t me!
**Somewhere in a southern Georgia river I accidentally hit red marker 139 because I was paying more attention to the map than the marker that I drove us straight into!We realized there would be no winds today. Literally none. We still wanted to take the crossing route instead of the scenic rim route.
Lake Okeechobee is referred to as “Florida’s Inland Sea” and the largest freshwater lake in Florida, we were determined to cross it even if we had to motor sail.The day was very calm. We listened to music and had a perfect day of crossing. If the water had been clear, we could’ve probably seen some of the estimated 12,000 alligators in it! Not to mention someone recently caught one that weighed 780 pounds out of here! That gives me at least 12,000 good reasons of the 12,001 reasons why I would never swim in this lake.
The other reason is the water quality. The water here was so murky with a green algae coating on top. I remembered reading that a state of emergency had been declared because of the water conditions in the Lake and surrounding areas. I could clearly see why now!
It was sad to see the current state of the declining ecosystem here. Algae blooms at this extent produce toxins that can cause sickness, even if breathing near it!We made it the approximate 35 miles across the lake. We never saw depths higher than 15 feet or lower than 8.
**However, Navionics does need an update to this area as some shoalings/visible foliage did not appear on the map in some areas.
As soon as we made the crossing we were at the Port Mayaca Lock and Canal. The Lock process went through with ease. We didn’t even have to wait. They advised on the radio to keep moving as they opened the gates. We were in and out to the other side within 15 minutes.We made it around 10 more miles to anchor near the Indiantown Marina, still in the St Lucie Canal. It was after dark but we still made it to the nearby town to provision up for a few days.
As soon as we returned, we realized we had left the hatches open while the mosquitos were in full force. We closed everything down and lit some citronella candles to help remedy the issue.
During the night of the attacking mosquitos, the wind picked up to bring much comfort. It ran all of the mosquitos away. I then remembered the John Anderson lyrics; blow, blow Seminole wind, blow blow from the Okeechobee.
While it is a small feat to many sailors, it was a great passage and another small milestone for us to cross Lake Okeechobee.
“You have to remember that the hard days are what make you stronger. The bad days make you realize what a good day is. If you never had any bad days you would never have that sense of accomplishment”.