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Old 04-12-2015, 13:23   #16
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Re: Any sailors out there familiar with the Okeechobee Waterway?

A year ago we made it from Stuart to the East end of the Lake, then to Moorhaven the next day and to Ft Myers the next. The fixed bridges are all 55' except for the famous railway bridge just before you get to the lock on the east side of Lake Okeechobee. The bridge at LaBelle is closed during rush hours but the rest opened promptly when hailed. Our cruising speed is 6 knts and we crossed the lake in favorable conditions.
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Old 04-12-2015, 13:24   #17
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Re: Any sailors out there familiar with the Okeechobee Waterway?

I live and work on my boat, 5 miles west of LaBelle, you can see my boat when you are travelling east, one mile east of the Ft Denaud Bridge on the south side of the river in an Oxbow of the original river. You should have no problem with the water level in Lake Okeechobee, but a check would always be wise, we have had a very wet year, and they have been releasing water to try and reduce the level. As far as wakes, it is quite common for large power boats to travel at such speeds to throw a 2-3 foot wake. On my website you can see a picture of me bringing a 54 foot mast, under the 49 foot bridge, by heeling my boat by filling water tanks on the deck. I've since learned the easy way do this, by attempting to lift a swamped dinghy at the end of the boom. But I had the tanks, so it was the first thing that came to mind. LaBelle is a great place to stop, Free dock for about 6 boats, wifi at the library, the closest building to the dock, hardware and grocery stores not too far away, an easy walk. If you need anything, machine shop, tools, etc, give me a shout.
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Old 04-12-2015, 14:52   #18
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Re: Any sailors out there familiar with the Okeechobee Waterway?

It's a very fun trip if you stop to appreciate the irony of being surrounded by bugs and alligators, cows and trailer parks. It's a little surreal.
Check the depths and that all the locks are working and have fun! We made West Palm Beach to Charlotte Harbor in our 25' Bayfield with an 8hp diesel in 4 days no problem. The shallowness of the lake can mean you're surfing on chocolate milk waves in no time but again, how often can you say that? It's not murky or cloudy, it's like Hershey's chocolate milk.
Cowboy bars, small towns, river dolphins, pure white pelicans on the lake.
Enjoy it!
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Old 04-12-2015, 16:02   #19
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Re: Any sailors out there familiar with the Okeechobee Waterway?

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Originally Posted by Rick Williams View Post
It's a very fun trip if you stop to appreciate the irony of being surrounded by bugs and alligators, cows and trailer parks. It's a little surreal.
Check the depths and that all the locks are working and have fun! We made West Palm Beach to Charlotte Harbor in our 25' Bayfield with an 8hp diesel in 4 days no problem. The shallowness of the lake can mean you're surfing on chocolate milk waves in no time but again, how often can you say that? It's not murky or cloudy, it's like Hershey's chocolate milk.
Cowboy bars, small towns, river dolphins, pure white pelicans on the lake.
Enjoy it!
As long as he stays within the channel markers he won't have a problem with the lake. I think it is 23 miles? Of course I had a tri. board up was 2.5 foot. This is the same time of year I went across. It was a good trip. Nettle's island to Ft. Myers was 2.5 days a 7 knots. Bugs, gaters, cows and trailer parks were not a problem. I can't comment on his mast height someone else had on the two RR bridges that would not be a problem.

I hope he enjoys the trip.
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Old 04-12-2015, 16:38   #20
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Re: Any sailors out there familiar with the Okeechobee Waterway?

I was advised about water level during the non rainy season.
Good luck with your quest sir.
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Old 04-12-2015, 17:08   #21
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Re: Any sailors out there familiar with the Okeechobee Waterway?

The 48 foot bridge at Port Mayaca Lock is a problem. We helped a sailor with a fifty five foot air draft, and tried to get the boat over far enough with a swamped dinghy and my 205 lbs. on the boom. The boat did not go over enough. The people at Indian Town Marina qknow of a couple of guys who use the barrels, fill them with water, and use a measuring stick at the masthead with a weighted line to the wate ti assure that the mast is below the height of the bridge. When we went through with the sailor, it cost $100. Cash. They are good at what they do, and are much more accurate than an eye sight. We have often made the trip in 4 days with a six knot trawler. Three days is pushing it b cause of the speed limits and bridge timing. Also, the passage under the RR bridge for a high masted vessel is at least an hour.
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Old 04-12-2015, 22:28   #22
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Re: Any sailors out there familiar with the Okeechobee Waterway?

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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Note that there are speed/wake limitations on much of the canal/waterway for safety sake but moreso because the embankments/levies are unshored "natural" earth and wakes can/do cause erosion and may also damage adjoining residents' boats/docks/bulkheads as one passes. (Residents will contact the Sheriff's if they see you zooming by at speed ignoring the limits.) Moreover, banging up on a mud-bank (you likely will sooner or later) at 7-1/2 knots can be much more problematic than doing so at 5. (On that count, it would be wise to join BoatUS and opt for the "Unlimited" Towing option before you leave. It will be cheap insurance.) If I were you, I'd count on being able to average only 5 knots and maybe not that if one gets stuck waiting for bridge opening/Lock schedules. It would also be wise to carry a light weight fluke anchor (e.g. Fortress) and a goodly length of rode to allow you to kedge yourself out of the mud if/when you go aground.

FWIW...
Came thru in 01 and you did not say how much you draft, but be careful the shoals change in the channels. What ever you do DON'T use Sea tow from Port Mayaca they burned me for 6,200.00 for a 30 second spin around and I was covered!!! (Tight time table with 30-35 Kt wind on my stern. 6' draft and bad judgement call on my part. Outboard was stolen in Palm Bch.and could not row far enough to kege off.) They have a rep for burning transit boaters, if it has the same owner.
Good luck!
I myself will never use that route again unless I am running a shoal draft or power boat. That was right before they closed it due to drought ( no water) live and learn, but other that the lack of water it was a fun trip.
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:02   #23
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Re: Any sailors out there familiar with the Okeechobee Waterway?

You have already received a lot of good info. The trip can take as little as 2 to 3 days for you or as long as you like. I suggest you take your time and enjoy the trip. Here are several blog posts we did, including a slide presentation of the entire trip on route 1. There are also links to waterway information websites. Our Gulf Coast book covers the Okeechobee Waterway. Also be aware that the Corps of Engineers is very strict on how long you can anchor in one spot. Hope this helps.

The Trawler Beach House: The Okeechobee Waterway
The Trawler Beach House: Titusville To The Big Lake Okeechobee
The Trawler Beach House: A Photo Tour Of The Okeechobee Waterway
The Trawler Beach House: St Lucie Lock and Dam Marina and Campground
The Trawler Beach House: The Okeechobee Waterway Revisited
The Trawler Beach House: Franklin Lock And Dam Campground And Marina
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:20   #24
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Re: Any sailors out there familiar with the Okeechobee Waterway?

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Originally Posted by AnchorageGuy View Post
You have already received a lot of good info. The trip can take as little as 2 to 3 days for you or as long as you like. I suggest you take your time and enjoy the trip. Here are several blog posts we did, including a slide presentation of the entire trip on route 1. There are also links to waterway information websites. Our Gulf Coast book covers the Okeechobee Waterway. Also be aware that the Corps of Engineers is very strict on how long you can anchor in one spot. Hope this helps.

The Trawler Beach House: The Okeechobee Waterway
The Trawler Beach House: Titusville To The Big Lake Okeechobee
The Trawler Beach House: A Photo Tour Of The Okeechobee Waterway
The Trawler Beach House: St Lucie Lock and Dam Marina and Campground
The Trawler Beach House: The Okeechobee Waterway Revisited
The Trawler Beach House: Franklin Lock And Dam Campground And Marina
Thanks! I remember the rust bucket at one point may have been a party boat in days of yore. Good memories. Thanks again for sharing.
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