03-13-10 Animal Encounters and Best/Worst Days

We hoped we would see lots of wildlife along the way, and indeed we did. We are both animal lovers, and one of the highlights of the trip was visiting several wonderful aquariums including the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. We also went to a much smaller rescue aquarium facility in Clearwater.

In the wild, we saw more dolphins than anything, yet still we stop nearly every time we see them just to watch them closely. It seems they always want to follow you into or out of ports. We missed them all through Canada and down the rivers, but as soon as we neared the bottom of Mobile Bay they escorted us into the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. It seems that the dolphins in Florida are more likely to actually jump out of the water and surf the boat’s wake than those we see here in North Carolina, and we never stopped trying to get that great picture of one all the way out of the water. Here’s our best shot, taken West coast of Florida.

Of course, coming down the Illinois River we ran into the issue about the Asian Carp, and we saw plenty of those once we were south of the electronic barrier at Joliet, ILL. You can read about that by looking at the blog entries for 09/03 and 09/08.

We saw our first Bald Eagles while on the Tennessee River, and then saw a couple more near Lake Okeechobee. We were disappointed not to have seen more eagles

We were also disappointed not to see more alligators. We saw a couple on the rim of Lake Okeechobee, and then a few in the ditches along side the road at the Kennedy Space Center. I think the bitter cold weather was the reason we didn’t see more.

I think I also expected to see more Manatees, and again I think it was because of the cold weather that we didn’t see them. We did see one or two on the Okeechobee rim; one dove right in front of us within seconds after we got our warning for not obeying the Slow Manatee Zone sign that we didn’t see near Lantana, FL. Then we saw a couple in Fort Pierce outside the Manatee Museum.

But we did have two unique and incredible animal encounters. The first was in Port St. Joe where we saw the manatee rescue (12/07). The other was just before reaching Punta Gorda, where we spent several hours guarding an injured sea turtle while we waited for help to come (01/11).

Moving on, we’ve had a really hard time coming up with our “best days” and “worst days” on the water. This does not include our favorite or least favorite stops…we talked about them yesterday. This is our cruising experience. I (Betsy) personally loved every day we were on the water…even a bad day was a learning experience. Rick, who suffers from a slight case mal-de-mer, wasn’t so crazy about the bad days!

Under Best Days we have to put, in chronological order:

Cruising into New York Harbor and past the Statute of Liberty…probably tops on any looper’s list! I’m sorry we didn’t wait a day or two to have sun instead of the misty fog we encountered. (6/15)

Cruising from Alexandria Bay, NY to Kingston, Ontario….the scenery was the prettiest we had seen to date and some of the prettiest we saw on the entire trip (07/03).

Transiting the much anticipated Peterborough (07/12) and Big Chute (07/19) Locks in Canada.

Cruising in beautiful Collins Inlet as we neared Killarney, Ontario (07/29).

One perfectly gorgeous cruising day on Lake Michigan cruising from Charlevoix to Frankfurt past the magnificient sand dunes and the Pointe Betsie Light (08/12). Maybe this one day and the one following made up for all the awful days we had on Lake Michigan.

Crossing Lake Michigan from Muskegon to Chicago, leaving at sunrise and cruising under autopilot most of the way, 117 miles on a beautiful clear day, seeing the Chicago skyline from 40 miles out (08/19).

Everything on the Tennessee River! (Month of October)

All of our good days have one thing in common: beautiful weather and smooth seas! Wish we had seen more of that!

Along with the good comes the bad, and we did have a few “worst” days:

Transiting the canal to Point Pleasant, NJ, very narrow with tremendous current and turbulence but you had to go at idle speed. We had trouble finding a place to stay; once we did find a place we had to back into a tiny slip (it was the only time we had to back in on the entire trip). Then Rick lost a lens out of the brand new glasses he had just purchased in Atlantic City (06/14)

Going out Manasquan Inlet in New Jersey. This is the one time you have to go outside into the ocean on the entire trip and we did not do it on a good day. We were nearly swamped by the huge wake of a very large and very fast boat that cut right in front of us on our way out and our entire boat was literally underwater twice (06/15).

Going out of Gore Bay, deciding it was too rough and turned around to go back. We almost lost the bikes off the bow (8/05).

Arriving back in the United States at Drummond Island. The trip started out in smooth seas, but in the final few miles we encountered the roughest water we had on the entire trip, with no way to get out of it. The water was like a mixing bowl as the huge waves bounced off the surrounding rocks. To the big water helmsman (Betsy) this was our worst day (09/06).

On the Ohio River floating around with eight other boats in the very confined quarters of a lock, finally breaking a throttle that had been giving us trouble since day one (09/17).

Crossing the Gulf of Mexico from Apalachicola to Clearwater in pea soup fog the entire way (12/14).
Tune in Sunday to read about our final leg. We expect to cross our wake in Sneads Ferry, NC at 2PM Sunday afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. As your trip comes to a finish, we were amazed at all your adventures. Now that you will have one loop under your stern, the big question is when do you start your next loop? I guess quite a few boaters have done one loop but how many have done it twice or more? Maybe in reverse direction? You know the area and locations now and know what to do and not to do next time. You even had a full immersion born again experience recently. We really enjoyed your blog and all the info. Don't let too much algae grown under your feet or hull. The Ambassador TTL and BTB