Journey of the Snowgoose
Excerpt Two ...
We set the alarm for 5:30 AM and elect to take the
rim route rather than cross Lake Ockeechobee. There are lots of new birds to wonder
about, including a very tiny black duck with a touch of white. Our bird book says it
is a pied billed grebe. We want to go into Pahokee but can't determine on which side
to pass an unmarked stake at the harbor entrance, so head west rather than risk going
aground again. This is our first time to see an anhinga (water turkey). Bill says
they look as if they'd been tarred and feathered. The cattle, of course, have cattle
egrets riding their backs. It is unsettling to see cattle on one side of the canal
and orange groves on the opposite side. Now I know what the creators of the new
artificial Christmas trees took as a design pattern. The pines along shore have such
long, lush, green needles. Having seen the artificial version first it is hard for
me to believe these are the real ones. The rocks edging the shore have a dark red,
tannic stain. The water is clear brown with alligators. For miles we've had to wend
Snow Goose through large yellow spatters of pond lilies. Bill makes the day for me
and several passing fishermen. As evening nears he prepares for the mosquitoes he
is sure are due any minute by dressing like a beekeeper from the North Pole, all
his foul weather gear, gloves hat, sea boots, even the netting from the hatchway
tied around his head. I am quite comfortable all evening in my bathing suit. Not
one bug appears. Again, we foolishly keep going, looking for a place to anchor
(the object being not to go over our budget with dockage fees), beginning to feel
like ancient mariners after 13 hours, creeping along in the winding reflection of
the moon, shadings of pitch dark narrowing the canal. Where are the alligators?
There is an eerie scent of sugar cane burning in the air like scorched cotton candy.
After three more hours of fumbling forward we find Moore Haven Lock, but it isn't
lit well enough for us to be sure how to get through. So far we have avoided the
overpowering dolphins that are meant as tie-ups for barges, sure we couldn't manage
to lasso and hang onto those mammoth cleats. Amazing what you can do when you are
desperate. In the morning we are thankful we hadn't tried to negotiate the lock.
What we thought was the lock was really the dam run off. Today will be a short run.
Bill and I are both zombiesque after yesterday's seventy mile run. We are quitting
at 1 PM in favor of Labelle's quaint old town dock.
Past downtown Ft. Meyers we sail to Cape Coral via the Caloosahatchie River. Here
we will store the boat to fly to Cleveland for Christmas. . . .
by Barbary Chaapel