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

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     For slowed moments together, challenging their hearts to grow. In the year before they left Cleveland they read and studied every book on heavy weather sailing, navigation, tides and currents the Cuyahoga County Library system had to offer. Although they knew how to pour oil on troubled waters, trail a sea anchor in a storm, nothing prepared them for the solitude of two, anchoring off an isolated far-away island.