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Old 15-06-2015, 04:31   #1
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Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

I'm looking for some advice on the route I should take from Fort Lauderdale to New Orleans. I just bought a 55' Sea Ray Sedan Bridge, and will be heading off from Ft Lauderdale on the 6th of July. It has a minimum of 4.5 draft but fully loaded will be deeper than that. I looked at going through Lake Okeechobee but I'm concerned about the under water hazards and construction alerts by COE. Going around the tip of FL through the keys is another option but I'm not sure of the best route. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Keith
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Old 15-06-2015, 05:42   #2
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

You can make it across Okeechobee, as long as the water level is good. The straight across route has more water than the rim route. I would imagine when the lake gets low, though, that there might be a lot less than 4.5 feet of water.

I crossed it with 3 feet of draft at a fairly high water level, and never saw less than 6 feet.

It's a fun trip, but so is the trip around Florida through the Keys. If I had the time, I'd go through the Keys, just for the fun of it.
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Old 15-06-2015, 23:36   #3
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

Does anyone know where I can find the current level of Lake Okeechobee?
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Old 16-06-2015, 05:28   #4
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

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Does anyone know where I can find the current level of Lake Okeechobee?
Roland Martin Marina | Lake Okeechobee Current Water Levels


Quote:
Today Lake Okeechobee elevation is determined from the 4 Int & 4 Edge stations ++Navigation Depth (Based on 2007 Channel Condition Survey) Route 1 6.54' ++Navigation Depth (Based on 2008 Channel Condition Survey) Route 2 4.74' Bridge Clearance = 49.18'
In other words, if you go today, don't take the rim route (route 2), go straight across the lake (route 1).

Another informative site.

http://floridacruising.com/html/crui...chobee_p2.html
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Old 16-06-2015, 06:45   #5
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

Depths, proposed maintenance schedules, and other info is available from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville, Fl.
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Old 16-06-2015, 09:15   #6
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

I have a 46' Cheoy Lee trawler that draws 5 feet and I've been through the Lake half a dozen times back and forth from Naples and to my house in Ft. Pierce, Florida. Bought the boat in Nashville and brought it down the Cumberland/Tennessee Rivers along the Gulf Intracoastal to Panama City. Then across to Tampa and down to Captiva/Marco. Recommended going the same route in reverse north to Panama City and along the GICW. The panhandle of Florida east of Panama City down to Tampa is very shallow. Buy waterway guides and a good set of charts of the area or a chip for your GPS.
I agree that you want to take the deeper Lake route considering what you draw. You should have no problem as the Lake has been up in level recently. Bridges along the route are not a concern. 5 locks on the Lake you'll have to go through.

Good travels,
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Old 16-06-2015, 09:40   #7
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

The old 'should I take the Banjo Route or the Steel Drum Route' decession...

The problem with the Keys route is you may find yourself stuck there and going further south...

As far as obstacles, about the same as the ICW. Stay between the markers. The Okeechobee is really your best bet to get from point A to Point B.

Watch the weather, looks like it may be an interesting season regardless of what they are predicting.
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Old 16-06-2015, 10:03   #8
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

If time is a factor take the Okeechobee ditch. As Mike had mentioned check with the Army Corps, I would be more concerned with lock repair schedual than draft as long as you stay in the channel going across the lake.
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Old 16-06-2015, 11:14   #9
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

Made that trip last year but all the way to Houston. Definitely recommend the Okee after a chat with the Core as we delayed a month due to lock work and a manatee problem.

After that a pretty straight shot to the cut into New Orleans unless you want to cruise the coast......really only adds a couple days.
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Old 16-06-2015, 16:12   #10
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

Agree with others above who have crossed Okeechobee. I have several times in a 60' Novatec trawler (3.5ft draft). Never went aground but had to pull a couple of smaller speed boats off sand bars that try to take shortcuts between the markers and the ditch walls. Allot of S curves so don't be tempted! Stay true between the markers. Good luck!
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Old 17-06-2015, 08:04   #11
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

Once you get to the west coast I'd stay outside as much as possible. Much quicker & no risk of running aground. I'd fuel up in Tarpon Springs or Clearwater Beach & then cut straight across from there. North of Tarpon there's a lot of skinny water you want to avoid.
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Old 17-06-2015, 08:13   #12
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

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Once you get to the west coast I'd stay outside as much as possible. Much quicker & no risk of running aground. I'd fuel up in Tarpon Springs or Clearwater Beach & then cut straight across from there. North of Tarpon there's a lot of skinny water you want to avoid.
This, I'd go to Carrabelle if fuel is a concern, otherwise go straight to Panama City. I'd avoid the "Big Bend" area completly
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Old 17-06-2015, 08:28   #13
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

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This, I'd go to Carrabelle if fuel is a concern, otherwise go straight to Panama City. I'd avoid the "Big Bend" area completly
If you've got the range you'd save time heading straight for NO. However, if you want to maximize your fun I'd do the keys & then take my time heading up the west coast. Lots of fun places to stop at.
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Old 17-06-2015, 13:25   #14
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

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This, I'd go to Carrabelle if fuel is a concern, otherwise go straight to Panama City. I'd avoid the "Big Bend" area completely
I do, and I have a five foot draft, too, now. I guess you can get into Cedar Key, and maybe the Steinhatchee, with five feet (although I haven't' tried) but I'd rather just do an overnight and get it over with.
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Old 04-07-2015, 03:47   #15
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Re: Trip from FT Lauderdale to New Orleans

You are going to have a two hour wait at the locks.
http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missio...keechobee.aspx
Time your passage.
You can cut over at Marathon for the keys route.
But have fins, mask, snorkel and a sharp knife as the crabbers have so many pots payed out with no pattern at all.
A real mess.
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