Blue Turtle Cruising

Cruising the East Coast of Florida & Lake Okeechobee aboard a 48′ Sea Ray

If you follow us on Facebook, you might have heard that the Blue Turtle crew was invited to help bring back a 48′ Sea Ray from the East coast of Florida to Fort Myers Beach. Our friends, Will and Tiff (check out their blog just purchased a new-to-them 48′ Sea Ray Sedan Bridge and asked us to come along and help bring her from Pompano Beach, Florida, across the Okeechobee and home to Fort Myers Beach. Randy, Corey  and I were very excited because we had been wanting to make the trip across the Okeechobee for a while now and finally had the opportunity to do it while helping out our friends.

The timing worked out great since Randy, Corey and I were planning to be on the East coast the night before for the Foo Fighter’s concert. Hitching a ride with our friends, Rob and Madeline, we were able to travel one way there and able to catch the boat back the next day. The concert rocked and was amazing! The next day, we had a quick wake boarding session for Corey at Ski Rixen, then an Uber ride to the previous boat owner’s address where we met up with Will and Tiff.

Day 1

Once we got to the address where the boat was, we saw Will and Tiff working on the anchor chain. They were changing out the old rusted chain and installing brand new chain when the windlass jammed. Randy quickly went to work trying to figured out how to unjam the windlass allowing Will and Tiff to get other things done in preparation for leaving.

Even with widespread thunderstorms in the area and a late start off the dock, Will was determined to get off the dock and as far north as possible that day. We left the dock around 4:30-5pm and had steady rain for a while. Luckily, they have an enclosed bridge which allowed us to be underway without getting rained on. Will did an excellent job navigating the boat through the multitude of bridges while Tiff helped keep track of which bridges needed to be hailed to ask for an opening. The East coast of Florida is known for absolutely huge yachts and as we cruised along the ICW we  got to check them out. The smaller of the yachts we saw there dwarfed most the larger boats we have on the West coast. As the rain subsided and night fell, the crew fell into their groove with Will and Corey captaining and Tiff navigating and cooking dinner.  The captain and crew pushed on and were determined to get to at least Stuart, FL that night. Planning to stay at a marina a little farther North, we decided to see what our options were in the Stuart area. Since we have a friend that winters on his sailboat at a the Hutchinson Island Marriott marina in Stuart, we gave him a call. Tim let use know that we could probably dock at the fuel dock for the evening since it was open. Around 10pm, Corey headed off to bed with me not too far behind at 11pm. Randy, Tiff and Will docked the vessel at the fuel dock around 1am.

Shortly after docking, around 1:15am, Randy decides to take a shower before bed. He gets undressed and is in the shower when he realizes there is no water pressure. Tiff yells in from the other room that Will, too, is trying to shower and has no pressure either. We weren’t sure of the issue, but starting the generator up got the water pressure going so the guys could finish their showers. We thought the issue had to do with a faulty power cord but troubleshooting that would have to wait until morning.

Day 2

The next morning, Will and Tiff were up early fueling the boat and getting it ready to head across Lake Okeechobee. Corey went down to our friend Tim’s sailboat to see if he was up yet.  Tim came down a few minutes later and we got to catch up over a cup of coffee. Once the boat was fueled up, the crew got onboard and we were off the dock and headed toward the first lock, the St. Lucie Lock.

While underway, the generator was run to charge up the batteries since the power cable wasn’t making a full connection when we were docked in Stuart. Even with the generator running, the water pressure didn’t return. We would have to troubleshoot that once we got to our next destination.

We locked through St. Lucie and Port Mayaca like pros and shot across Lake Okeechobee at about 25 mph. Corey took the helm across Lake O giving our captain a much needed break. The trip across Lake O was pretty boring and uneventful until we got to the other side where large patches of grasses and water lilies started popping up. There were several miles of beautiful vegetation and wildlife before getting to the Moore Haven lock. We spotted alligators, roseate spoonbills, large herons and cormorants drying their wings. It really was a spectacular view of Florida nature.

After Moore Haven, was the Ortona Lock. We were making excellent time, however, it was going to be close getting to Franklin Locks before the last opening at 4:30pm. Along the way, we discussed the option of staying the night at the boat docks at Franklin Locks if we got to the lock too late. We actually arrived at 4:32pm and might have gotten through if we pressed the lock operator and they were willing to open it for us. Will mentioned that after a late night the previous evening, it might be nice to have a couple easy days and just head home the next day. We figured we’d probably be able to get back to Fort Myers Beach from Franklin Locks in around 3 hours so it wouldn’t be a long day the next day. Aboard Blue Turtle, that same trip takes 5-6 hours depending on current and wind.

Once settled in, Randy and Will did some basic troubleshooting for the lack of water pressure and power cord issue. They weren’t able to fix the water pressure issue because they most likely needed a new power cord and/or battery. Luckily, the park has showers that we were able to use. We just had to get water for coffee and brushing our teeth from the hose on the dock. Who says boating isn’t glamorous?  Thankfully, none of this phased anyone in our crew as we’ve all experienced some sort of “glamping” on our boats due to power/electric/plumbing issues. This is all to be expected on a shake-down cruise with a new boat.

After dinner, Randy, Will, Tiff and I sat on the bridge enjoying a cocktail and listening to another boater playing mandolin at the nearby pavilion. It was nice to sit and relax with great company after a couple of long days.

Day 3

The next morning, the crew was looking a little more well rested after getting a full night’s sleep. After coffee was made and everyone was ready to shove off, Will went to start the engines. The port engine started right up but the starboard didn’t want to budge. About 10 minutes prior to this I was telling Will how the engines and generator were running like champs on this trip. After not being able to start the starboard engine, I was beginning to feel like I might have cursed us. Without the engine even trying to crank over and after several minutes of troubleshooting, it was looking like it might be a starting battery or solenoid issue. Obviously, with this being a new boat to Will and Randy it took some time to locate and identify different items in the massive engine room. After an hour or so, Will and Tiff got on the phone with SeaTow to discuss options for getting us home, while Randy and I put Corey into an Uber and sent him to Revolution Cable Park which was only 15 minutes away.

With Corey a happy camper and off to the wake board park, Randy decided to change into his engine work clothes and dive right into the problem. Having had a similar issue on Blue Turtle, Randy had the idea to try to bypass the solenoid. After a couple of Youtube videos for added confidence, Randy climbed his way into the smallest of smallest holes to where the starboard engine solenoid was located and managed to crank the engine over! With both engines running, Will and Tiff quickly called SeaTow to let them know we wouldn’t be needing their services.

While we were hoping to get off the dock earlier in the day, we were happy to finally be on our way and heading through Franklin Lock. The trip from the lock to Fort Myers Beach seemed quick compared to being aboard Blue Turtle. It was a beautiful afternoon for a cruise along the Caloosahatchee River to home. After 53 bridges and 5 locks, we finally made it to Snookbight Marina where the boat will stay while Will and Tiff move aboard.

We wish Will and Tiff all the best with their beautiful new boat and know that without a doubt they will get everything squared away and out cruising with us soon!

3 thoughts on “Cruising the East Coast of Florida & Lake Okeechobee aboard a 48′ Sea Ray”

  1. Great read. It was fun to chronicle the travels of the new boat over Lake O. Brought back memories of when we followed the Bonfoey’s to the East Coast.
    You guys are having so much fun !

  2. Looked like a really good time. We are looking forward to a trip through Lake Okeechobee in the near future..the “Real Florida”. Thanks so much for chronicling this adventure. Love the blog, been following for 5 years.


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