Indiantown, Florida, is a small town on the Eastern portion of the Okeechobee Waterway. We were traveling west, towards the Lake from the Atlantic. Hell Gate, the entrance to the St. Lucie river, is marked by coffee colored water and bluffs topped with giant mansions. Further up the St. Lucie, the mansions give way to regular sized houses, then to mobile homes, and then there is nothing but trees and swamp between you and Indiantown. We radioed a large motor cruiser, Wasted Seamen, and asked how long it took them to get through the lock. We hoped to get tied up in the marina before dark.
At the St. Lucie lock, we radioed the lock master and idled at the “Arrival Point.” He told us to wait a moment until he got the sailboat in front of us into the lock; he said he wasn’t quite sure what they were doing. It was the Allison Rebecca, the boat we passed at the Bridge of Lions after they spent a damp Christmas at the Conch House Marina. We waved hello and pulled into the lock behind them. The lock master dropped lines down to us and we prepared to take up the line as the chamber flooded.
Thirteen feet higher than we were moments before, we were looking out at sugar cane fields and dirt levees for 10 miles. We passed under I-95 and the Turnpike, making it to Indiantown right at 5:30. The captain of a neighboring boat caught a line and helped to bring us in. He and his wife are stuck there until they replace their exhaust manifold. They were on their way to Halifax marina in Daytona.
We walked around the massive boat yard at the marina. We once heard it referred to as the Boatyard of Broken Dreams. There are hundreds of boats, mostly sail, in various states of disrepair. I took hundreds of pictures of the boats, many with names like “Daddy’s Dream” and “Sally’s Sunset.” I wondered what misfortune must have led to the abandonment of a life filled with endless horizon and crimson sunsets. On the way back to the dock, we saw boaters gathered around a fire pit near the marina office, no doubt exchanging tall tales of the high seas. Some were like us and traveling west to Ft. Myers. Some were traveling east, to the inlet and beyond to the Bahamas. Most were restoring boats and talking of trips they took long ago to places beyond the Okeechobee locks.