“Well we finally did it! We departed on the 10th with 30knot winds out of the NE. The temps were cold for us but we tuffed it out, staying close to the shallows and then into the Gulf heading up the Keys towards the ICW and into Biscayne Bay. It was not too bad, just cold and windy, not a drop of spray. Once into Biscayne Bay the chop was bearable all the way thru to the Port of Miami. From there it was slow go with bridge openings and the no wake, idle zones, minimum wake less than 15″”, manatee zones, etc up to Lighthouse Point 9 plus hours. The ICW was filled with beautiful homes complete with every kind/size of yacht you could think of. We stayed at Lighthouse Point Marina for the night for some cold beverages, good food, good time and good night’s rest. The marina was very clean, great restaurant/bar with live band, and people there very friendly. After breakfast we departed for Lake Park to visit friends, just a short ride of maybe 40 miles up the ICW which was about 3 hours. More beautiful homes/yachts, oh and several more bridges to open. Lake Park was also very clean, friendly people, and a Duncan Donuts and Winn Dixie within walking distance. The next day we proceeded up the ICW to Stuart, more of the beautiful scenery, arriving at Sunset Bay Resort and Marina a few hours later. This marina I highly recommend, it is very clean, friendly people, and a short walk to downtown Stuart with great shops and restaurants. We departed after breakfast down the St. Lucie Waterway and into the first lock. We were raised about 12 feet. It was a mixed experience, negative side I would have told the lock master that I would wait for the barge and tug to go thru first before I would enter the lock. Smelling diesel exhaust for 30 minutes was not fun, nor was watching the two guys trying to keep the barge from being pushed back towards my boat a fun time. We survived a little smarter for the next several locks. When we reached Port Mayacca Lock, it was open so all we had to do was idle thru the lock and into Lake Okeechobee. Once into the Lake we soon reached Clewiston and stayed at Roland Martin’s Marina, the trip took about 4 hours. We had a good time at the restaurant/tiki bar. The down side was a little buggy with the mosquitoes. We were hoping the winter would have slowed the bugs, but do to the heavy rains the week prior allowed the new hatch. The marina is definitely a time warp to old Florida and a memorable experience. We departed in the morning thru the rim canal to Moorhaven lock, where we were lifted down about 6 feet. On thru the river to the Ortona Lock, down a few more feet, and a few more bridge openings, on to the Franklin Lock which was only two more feet down. We soon came to Fort Myers and back to the Manatee Zones of no wake, slow speed. We tied up at Tarpon Point Marina in Cape Coral after 5 hours. The marina was very clean, complete with a tiki bar, grill, and shops. We left in the morning for Marco Island, staying at Marco Island Marina, less than two hours. This marina was also very clean, friendly people, with a pool and restaurant. We decided due to the bug problem in Clewiston along with the pressing cold front to skip the Little Shark River stay and run across the Gulf for home, stopping at a few spots to throw some hooks. The Verado’s ran like kittens, purring along and ever ready to run. We had a great time, only wished we could have stayed longer in a few of the places. We are glad to have made the run up the ICW, we always wanted to see it. Now that we have seen the ICW, I think it will be a long time before I want to see it again! Now for the next cruise, thinking up some ideas.”