Rockin’ and Duckin’ on the ICW

Two days out of Clearwater we holed up in an anchorage to wait out a storm, but also to recuperate from inconsiderate drivers who speed by you a few yards away, not caring that their wakes roll and bounce you around like a ping pong ball. I’ve learned to restrain myself and not give the third finger salute. They wouldn’t see it anyway.

Fighting wakes in an area full of sport fishers and large shallow-draft boats that go faster than a speeding bullet—right in the narrow channel because outside they have to go a posted speed to protect manatees—was bad enough. But I was recovering from another challenge…bridges.

In one day we encountered thirteen bridges. Not tall ones like the Golden Gate, but bridges with 18 to 25 feet of overhead clearance from water to bottom of the bridge. Most are bascule bridges that open at the top when you call and ask for an opening.

Or not. Mark decided our boat is ten feet high from water line to its highest point with a few extra feet for antennas. Call for an opening? Whatever for?

Most of the bascules were tall enough. I admit I closed my eyes a few times when the tide board said we had 19 feet or less. I totally freaked out when we got to a swing bridge with nine feet of clearance at low tide. Mark did call for an opening, but the operator said hey, you’ve got 14 feet if you go to the very edge of the channel. The bridge is lowest in the middle.

“No problem. I’ll lower my antennas.”

“But what about the kayak on the roof?” I said.

“Might be close.”

I admit I covered my head and squealed like a pig as we went under. Didn’t hear any scraping sounds, but boy was I happy to get to the other side.

My next challenge will be five locks on the Okeechobee Waterway as we go across the center of Florida from west to east. My job will be to hold the stern of an eight-ton boat against the wall as water enters or exits.

I can hardly wait.

2 thoughts on “Rockin’ and Duckin’ on the ICW”

  1. Oh, maaannnn. This really got to me. After years of boating with my grandparents, from 14′ sailboats to their small yacht the Indy, and sailing in a classic wooden boat with first hubby, I was suddenly afflicted with mal de mer. HUGE mal de mer, which I discovered when I was supposed to be a supervisory parent on a biology class outing to study sea life. Spent the whole time out of sight suffering…and this tale brought it vividly to mind.

    At this point I may be too nervous to try kayaking, although I’m still holding out hope.

    And don’t third-finger salutes at least make you feel better? Always works for me!




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