Cruising to Franklin Lock and Dam is one of our favorite spots to visit in the winter here in Florida. So, last weekend we took Blue Turtle and crew + 2 (my parents) there to take advantage of the long weekend for Martin Luther King’s birthday. My parents used to live-aboard a 38′ Marine Trader and two years ago they cruised the Great Loop. This was their first cruise since selling their trawler and joining the world of land-lubbers. We were happy to have them aboard along with their 2 pups, Cody and Cailee.
We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather for the weekend. Our cruise there was a little windy but pleasant and we arrived at the lock around 4:45pm. When we hailed the lock operator over the radio, we were told that the last lock of the day was at 4:30pm. We thought we had until 5pm and never thought we might not make it through before it closed. Luckily, she was kind enough to let us and another boat pass through even though it was after hours. If we hadn’t been able to make it through we would have had to drop anchor for the night and wait until morning. Thankfully, we got through and into our slip that evening in time for happy hour, some dinner and great bonfire.
The next couple days were spent relaxing and enjoying the wonderful weather. My mother and I got to spend quality time talking and knitting while the boys went fishing at the lock pier and my father helped Randy troubleshoot our generator issue. Corey and I went on a long walk outside the park and go to see the usual farm animals in the surrounding areas. We loved the miniature horses and llamas we saw and the mommy and baby calf. It was cool to see the farms and animals since it’s definitely not what we usually see on the beach. My parents had Looper friends who were supposed to stay a night at Franklin Locks that weekend who were unable to make it to their slip in time. They were passing through Franklin Locks on their way to Fort Myers and since they couldn’t stay a night, they pulled into the slip next to us to visit for about an hour. We got to meet Becky and Mark and see their gorgeous Ocean Alexander trawler, MaraBeel.
Corey was a little bummed out because my nephews, Jack and Ryan, were unable to come on the trip since we really didn’t have room for them on the boat. My nephews used to stay with my parents on their boat or camper in past trips to the locks. So we invited them out for our last day and night and figured out a way to squeeze them into the Blue Turtle. My sister brought the boys out and stayed a while before heading home and the boys all enjoyed each other’s company and running around the campground. It made for an interesting night since that was the most we ever slept on Blue Turtle—4 adults, 3 kids and 3 dogs! The boys all camped out in the main salon on air mattresses and the couch.
We met a few other cruisers staying in the slips and each night we all gathered around the bon fire and enjoyed some live music played by Corey, my father and a fellow slip neighbor. Of course, I had to bring s’mores for everyone and the boys kept the fire going so we could roast marshmallows.
When it was time to head home our last day, Corey took the helm of Blue Turtle and guided her out of the campground slip and into the lock. He did a great job of keeping the boat straight and steady while randy and my nephew, Jack, took the lines. He guided us out of the lock and drove for a while before handing Blue Turtle over to Randy. We had a lovely cruise home and it was great to spend time with my parents and nephews. We are always looking forward to our next trip there.