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Old 30-09-2012, 20:43   #1
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Smile Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

Would appreciate any info on the best route, when to travel, what hazards to look for, best marinas, best anchorages, restaurants and best place to provision off of a dingy for food supplies.
Also can we cross Lake Okeechobee with a bridge clearance of 54 feet back to the East Coast of Florida and any suggestions on the Lake travel (same questions as above for West Coast travel) would be great as we have a 1987 35.5 Hunter Legend and a 4-1/2 foot draft.
All new to us and would really appreciate your help as we are "new to the seas!!!"
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Old 30-09-2012, 22:03   #2
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

Been looking at the Okeechobee route myself to bring an East coast boat to the West Coast. In talking to others that have does this, there appears to be a bridge that will require your boat to be "leaned over using weights" in order to get through it. Also the water levels of the lake can be a challenge.

I have no links for either, my Google skills must not be all that great.

Congrats on the 35.5 - nice boat.
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Old 30-09-2012, 23:38   #3
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It has been a while since I heard much about going the Okeechobee route, but I have heard it's getting really shallow. But, like I said, it's been a while since I heard much so things may have changed. Most boats I know that make that trip go ahead and go through the keys. It's a straight sail north from the Dry Tortugas to St Pete and the entrance to TB.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:36   #4
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Marathon to Tampa can be done in day sails.
Shark river
Indian Key
Marco or Naples
Ft. Myers Beach
From Ft M you have many options inside or outside

Florida bay is packed with crab traps on the run from Marathon to Shark River. Don't try it at night.
Most of the west coast has a lot of crab traps out to about 35' depth, if you do any night sailing, get out to deeper water.

Shark River & Indian Key are relatively remote, Shark has no cell coverage. But both have good, protected anchorages.
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Old 01-10-2012, 05:30   #5
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There is a website that the army core of engineers post all lock information on schedules water depths bridge heights etc for crossing.g the caloosahatchee waterway. Google it and you will find it. Its a great trip but locks are a big problem and constantly down. The website will tell you more. Great stops for us are pelican bay and cay costa, crows nest in venice, greatest hamburgers and seafood bisque ever!!! Gulfport in Tampa. Cool town with free dinghy dock great restaurants shopping etc, ( if you end up beached im sure someone here will organize a rescue lol) there's a holiday inn marina I think near treasure island great restaurants and shopping nearby and 3 pools hot tubs and cheap slips. You can safely make the trip inside all the way from ft myers to Tampa buts motoring the entire way this time of year may ne best bet as the wind is usually nne. As for the leaning.g over to clear the bridges the guy puts or hangs 55 gallon drums on the side of your boat and pumps them full of water. Much harder to do on our cat. Jk we clear just under 47ft.
http://www.offshoreblue.com/cruising/okeechobee.php
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:21   #6
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

A few good places to anchor coming up the w coast atre, Little Shark River, Gordans Pass, Charlotte harbor, and inside Venice inlet.

Caution. If anchoring in Little Shark River, anchor before dusk, and get the hooks down, then put up bug netting if you have it, or go below and close up the boat. You wouldn't believe how bad the mosquitos can be!
I anchored there for Hurricane Andrew, and while setting anchors, I ended up with full weather gear">foul weather gear, with legs and sleeves, duct taped closed. Piece of netting over face, before putting hood on. It's bad.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:11   #7
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

There is plenty of water to cross lake Okeechobee. Current lake levels are...


Data Ending 2400 hours 30 SEP 2012
Today's Lake Okeechobee Stage = 15.63 (Feet-NGVD29)
Today's Route 1 Navigational Depth 9.57 Feet

Today's Route 2 Navigational Depth 7.77 Feet
Bridge Clearance = 49.51 Feet S-308

Tailwater Elevation = 13.99 (Feet-NGVD29) Report Generated 01OCT2012 @ 10:38 ** Preliminary Data - Subject to Revision **

Note the bridge clearance.The service to lean the boats to pass under the bridge is not always available. I would suggest you contact Indiantown Marina for more info. the stopping points you have received are all good ones. We have posted info on our cruises along the gulf coast on our Sea Trek blog under the cruising category. Chuck
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:39   #8
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

Here's a website with a lot of good information about the area...
Florida Sea Grant - Boating & Waterways - Anchorage Inventory
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Old 03-10-2012, 19:01   #9
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

Quote:
Originally Posted by over40pirate View Post
....Caution. If anchoring in Little Shark River, anchor before dusk, and get the hooks down, then put up bug netting if you have it, or go below and close up the boat. You wouldn't believe how bad the mosquitoes can be!...
Yep on the thousands of pots in Florida Bay and up the west coast and on ...



....the mosquitoes. We had bought some of those hats with the bug netting for a few bucks. Never used them until the morning....



...we left Little Shark. I was above for a couple minutes and had to go back below and find the hats and put on a long sleeve shirt and long pants.

Still saying that we want to go back and spend a few days and explore with the dinghy some.

We loved the 10,000 Islands, but you have to be careful going in there with much draft but it is doable in more than one place.

You can find our trip from Charlotte Harbor south to Marathon in our 26 foot Mac here....

Florida Spring 2011 Trip Index

....and there are maps and anchorages marked. We will be taking the Endeavour back and can get into most of the same places. We won't take her from Marco Island to Goodland inside thought.

If you go into Marco Island and....



.... spend one night Factory Bay is ok, but due to the nearby traffic for more than one night I'd go into Smokehouse Bay.

One book that we found good for the whole coast is AGuide to Anchorages in Southwest Florida. You can find it used on-line sometimes on Amazon. It is a good book. You can also download the whole book here...

index 1

....and I'd do that while it is still available.

Have a good trip,

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Old 03-10-2012, 19:31   #10
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeartsContent View Post
Been looking at the Okeechobee route myself to bring an East coast boat to the West Coast. In talking to others that have does this, there appears to be a bridge that will require your boat to be "leaned over using weights" in order to get through it. Also the water levels of the lake can be a challenge.

I have no links for either, my Google skills must not be all that great.

Congrats on the 35.5 - nice boat.

We've had a lot of rain, and Okeechobee is pretty well topped off. We still decided not to go that route because the boat we're bringing was *designed* for an outboard, not an inboard, and would be useless in a storm. The channel is narrow and the waters outside the channel very shallow. We thought that was a pretty bad combination.

There is one fixed bridge that is, if I recall correctly, 49' above the water's surface. Might be even a little less than that if the water is high. For myself I'm not willing to tip my boat over, although it should fit under there. I think it would put a lot of strain on the rigging.

But it would be a very interesting trip.
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Old 03-10-2012, 19:34   #11
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dulcesuenos View Post
There is a website that the army core of engineers post all lock information on schedules water depths bridge heights etc for crossing.g the caloosahatchee waterway. Google it and you will find it. Its a great trip but locks are a big problem and constantly down. The website will tell you more. Great stops for us are pelican bay and cay costa, crows nest in venice, greatest hamburgers and seafood bisque ever!!! Gulfport in Tampa. Cool town with free dinghy dock great restaurants shopping etc, ( if you end up beached im sure someone here will organize a rescue lol) there's a holiday inn marina I think near treasure island great restaurants and shopping nearby and 3 pools hot tubs and cheap slips. You can safely make the trip inside all the way from ft myers to Tampa buts motoring the entire way this time of year may ne best bet as the wind is usually nne. As for the leaning.g over to clear the bridges the guy puts or hangs 55 gallon drums on the side of your boat and pumps them full of water. Much harder to do on our cat. Jk we clear just under 47ft.
Okeechobee Waterway Guide - Navigation, Bridges, Locks, & Water Levels

The locks are not "constantly down" gotta disagree with that. Two were closed for a while this summer but all are open now. Of course things happen and one can't be *guaranteed* that a lock will never malfunction any more than one can be guaranteed that a bascule bridge will always function. But currently all locks are operating.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:03   #12
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
There is one fixed bridge that is, if I recall correctly, 49' above the water's surface.
Just to nit-pick a little... It's not actually a fixed bridge. It is a railroad "lift bridge." Meaning that it raises straight up. You are absolutely correct that its published height is 49' above water level. That will vary depending on the lake's height and the tides.

Here is the official Army Corps of Engineers site concerning the Okeechobee Waterway...
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers®*— Jacksonville District
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Old 04-10-2012, 16:58   #13
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

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Originally Posted by gettinthere View Post
................Florida bay is packed with crab traps on the run from Marathon to Shark River. Don't try it at night.
Most of the west coast has a lot of crab traps out to about 35' depth, if you do any night sailing, get out to deeper water...............
'just a trick to use,- The Everglades Nat'l Park does not permit crab traps, so you can run just inside the park boundry and avoid the traps!
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Old 04-10-2012, 19:15   #14
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Just to nit-pick a little... It's not actually a fixed bridge. It is a railroad "lift bridge." Meaning that it raises straight up. You are absolutely correct that its published height is 49' above water level. That will vary depending on the lake's height and the tides.

Here is the official Army Corps of Engineers site concerning the Okeechobee Waterway...
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers®*— Jacksonville District

There are about 14 fixed bridges along the waterway. Two at 65 feet and the rest around 54 to 56 feet depending on Lake levels, which are higher than normal right now. There are also several power cables across the OWW. The vertical clearance for the Port Mayaca railroad bridge is 49 feet, again depending on Lake levels. Chuck
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:54   #15
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Re: Marathon to Tampa--West Florida Travels:

Thanks so much for the useful information---Lake looks a bit challenging for sure--Happy Sails!
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