Posted by Claiborne | Posted on 07-08-2012
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
For several years now, there have been stories going around the cruising community, as well as multiple postings here on the Cruisers’ Net, to the effect that the USACOE has been hassling boat owners who anchor somewhere along the route of the Okeechobee Waterway. Well, the USACOE has now made this policy official, as you will see below.
If we may interpret this “bureaucrat-ese” just a bit, it looks as if a vessel cannot anchor in any one spot for more than 24-hours without being asked to move along.
As the USACOE is a Federal agency, and they claim jurisdiction over the Okeechobee Waterway, the Florida state law which denies counties and municipalities the right to regulate anchorage (except as part of the Trial Mooring Field Program), would NOT seem to apply here.
So, if you had plans to anchor for more than one night anywhere between the St. Lucie and WF Franklin locks, think again!
The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net WELCOMES comments and input from the cruising community concerning this rather bizarre policy. We will be SURE all such input is passed along to the correct authorities! Either click the “Comment” function below, or follow the “Click Here to Contribute Cruising News” link, found on the upper right of this, and all other (except Chart View) SSECN pages.
Note, we have edited the memorandum reproduced below to show only what we consider the sections which will be of most interest to the cruising community!
Okeechobee Waterway Anchoring and Mooring Policy
See the attached memorandum regarding anchoring and mooring guidance within the Okeechobee Waterway.
For additional information regarding this issue and others maybe obtained by accessing the Jacksonville District website:
US Army Corps of Engineers point of contact
Mr. Robert Schnell,Supervisory Biologist at 863-983-8101 ext. 2
The shoaling reported below, in this article cherry picked from the latest Local Notice to Mariners, lies along the easternmost section of the Okeechobee Waterway/St. Lucie River channel, immediately west of this passage’s intersection with the AICW. Locally, these waters are known as “the crossroads” and shoaling is common here.
Note the reported 5.5 foot soundings, apparently directly in the channel, between St. Lucie River/Okeechobee Wateway markers #2 and #4.
Do NOT confuse these #2 and #4 markers with the AICW markers just a touch farther south that bear the same numbering configuration. The #2 and #4 between which the shoaling is to be found, lie west and south of AICW marker #240!
Boats with draft greater than 5 feet may very well want to time their passage of these waters for mid to high tide.
If any local Stuart area cruisers have personal experience with this shoaling, we request that you send us further information! You can e-mail us directly at CruisersNet@triad.twcbc.com, or use the “Comment” function below, or follow the “Click Here to Submit Cruising News” link/button found on the upper, right of this all (except Chart View) SSECN pages.
FLORIDA-OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY- ST LUCIE INLET TO FORT MYERS AND LAKE OKEECHOBEE-ST LUCIE RIVER: Shoaling.
Shoaling has been observed between St Lucie River Lighted Buoy 2 (LLNR 50635) and St Lucie River Buoy 4 (LLNR 50645). The minimum depth observed is 5.5 feet at MLW on the red side of the channel. Mariners are requested to transit the area with caution. Chart 11428
The missing aid to navigation, detailed below in this article cherry picked from the latest Local Notice to Mariners, lies on the south side of the Caloosahatchee River/Okeechobee waterway, just west of the SCL railroad bridge near Statute mile 130, a short hop upstream of downtown Fort Myers.
FLORIDA-INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY-ST LUCIE INLET TO FORT MYERS AND LAKE OKEECHOBEE-CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER:
Hazard to Navigation.
Caloosahatchee River DBN 19 (LLNR 52210) is destroyed. The remains of the pile are broken at the waterline. Mariners are advised to use extreme caution while transiting the area. Chart 11428
Tarpon Point Marina is found just off the Caloosahatchee River, a short hop from the southerly “Miserable Mile” genesis of the Western Florida ICW, and northwest of marker #92.
Overall, a very nice marina. There are tons of rules which mostly go unenforced. We used the hotel pool because it was closest. The pool for the marina was a goodly walk. We also ate at the hotel (good). One issue is there is no laundry and the bathroom/ showers may be a long walk, but would stay again. They did not say anything about Boat/US disount, but then I did not ask. The small deli is now closed so it is Publix 3.1 miles by bicycle.
For many years after the terrible 2005 Hurricane Season, the Okeechobee Waterway “Rim Route” from Pahokee to Clewiston, was officially “closed,” though local boats ran it all the time. The reason for this “closure” was lack of funding by the Army Corps of Engineers to officially clear all the underwater hurricane debris. Now, it looks as if that task has finally been accomplished, and cruisers now have an alternative to the Lake Route.
ON THE OTHER HAND, never, ever attempt the Rim Route with strong northern or northwesterly winds in the offing. East of Pahokee, you will have to claw off a nasty lee shore, and, take it from me, that can be a true white knuckle experience.
Notice also the Creech’s recommendation of an anchorage off the OWW, west of the Tory Island Bridge. This is very much a NEW anchor down spot to this fellow, but, if you will glance at the attached chartlet, you can easily pick out the body of water described below, lying off the Waterway’s northern shore, east of charted “Beach City.
Has anyone else dropped the hook here? If so, we would really like to hear about your experience. Shoot us an email by invoking the “Comment” function below, or following the “Click Here to Contribute Cruising News” link, found on the upper right of this, and all (except Chart View) SSECN pages. Many thanks in advance!
The rim route is great. We did the rim route in late January, 2013, and found no less than 7.5 feet of water in one small area, most was greater than 10 ft. We draw 4 feet and felt comfortable.
There is a great anchorage on the rim route, a kidney shaped lake, with a narrow entrance off the waterway, 15 feet of water to anchor in, 2 miles west of the Torry Island bridge.
Kay & Robert Creech
There are at least 3 basins off the rim route that can be used for sheltered anchoring. They must have been used as dredge basins for dike material. Only the kidney shaped one shows on charts, but using google aerial photos the others are apparent. We stuck our noses into all and anchored in one. Wildlife was wonderful. Only downside was night fishermen with lights, but they were quiet. At 12.5 lake level there was no less than 6 foot over entrance bars. The Jacksonville Corps has soundings for the rim route on their website. It indicates one small shallow spot that we have not seen in 4 trips. We love the rim route. Boat is 4.5 ft draft.
The message below originally appeared on the AGLCA forum, as part of a discussion as to whether one could anchor on Lake Okeechobee itself. The strong consensus was that this is a bad idea.
Below, Captain Jim gives us some good advice on where you might tie to a set of dolphins, or possibly even anchor east of the Lake Okeechobee and the Port Mayacca lock. Notice also his endorsement of nearby Indiantown Marina. We have always found this to be a good place to coil one’s lines.
If you go through the lock, eastbound, there is a set of dolphins in the canal there. You can tie between the dolphins and stay the night. People do also anchor there, in the pool area immediately east of the dolphins. Room for maybe two boats. Mind the red channel marker there’ it marks a boulder! Only once in a dozen times through there have we seen commercial boats use the dolphins, but it is possible to see a small tug there, maybe a tug and barge.
About 8 – 10 miles east of Port Mayaca is a marina called “Indiantown.” It’s popular, and I suggest you make reservations ahead, but it’s a nice stop.
Hope this is useful
The Moore Haven City docks lines the northern shores of the Okeechobee Waterway, a quick hop west of the Okeechobee Lock. Note the advice below to arrive before 4:30 pm in order to get a code to the on-site bathrooms. Also, good to know there’s good Mexican and pizza/sub dining within walking distance.
If you stop at Moore Haven just before the lake you can tie up at the along side city dock for $1/ft. An early leave from there keeps you from having to stop in the lake itself which can become very bumpy if any wind picks up. Moore Haven has long been our favorite place for mid crossing stop. They have very good along side docks with elec and water. Get in before 4:30 and get the bathroom code from city hall before they close. If you miss the dock master he will leave a self serve pay envelope on the pedestal for you.
Good Mexican and a pizza/sub restaurant within a mile walk.
This construction restriction which effectively closed the Okeechobee from 10:00am to 4:00pm daily was originally scheduled to end March 11. This early completion is good news news to area captains and snowbird cruisers who making their way from the western to the eastern coastline of the Sunshine State (or the other way around).
Navigation Closure/Restrictions Lifted Early at St. Lucie Canal South Fork at the Indian Street Bridge Construction Zone Between Stuart and Palm City, Martin County Florida
1. Mariners are hereby notified that closure/restrictions at the Indian Street Bridge Construction Project on the St Lucie Canal have been lifted.
Capt. Power asks for first-hand knowledge of conditions in the Rim Route canal near Clewiston. If you have recently navigated that area, let us hear from you. The latest construction notice we have posted for this area is from September of 2012 (see link below) which does not mention a submerged cable as part of the construction. To date, Cruisers’ Net cannot find any spokesperson or officer who is aware of a submerged cable, but we will continue to trace the location of said cable. Also, from the comments of the lock tender below, it appears that the rim canal between Moore Haven and Clewiston at least, is passable.
Related to this alert is the notice from the Corps posted last fall to the effect that there is now a “cable” that crosses the rim canal between Moore Haven and Clewiston. It first states to take caution for the cable, debris and markers. It then states the rim canal is not passable. I talked with the Corps last fall and was informed that it was passable. I have not seen any recent comments on this issue. Has anyone passed through this area?
David S. Power
Two If By Sea
Update: the Moore Haven Lock just informed me that the “blockage” that the notice is referring to is in a different location and not in the canal between Moore Haven and Clewiston. He told me that he has been locking several sailboats through the lock today. I hope to talk with a boater coming back from the east cost in a few days and will see what he reports.
David S. Power
Two If By Sea
We have a 39′ trawler and transited the rim route in December, heading westbound and have just today transited eastbound from Moore Haven lock to South Bay, passing Clewiston enroute. We had no issues going either direction and encountered no navigational obstructions.
Here’s a good online source for checking Lake Okeechobee depths. This is a direct live feed showing the current water levels of Lake Okeechobee as shown on the US Army Corp of Engineers Website. This current Water level is always updating with live water level conditions for Lake Okeechobee. Roland Martin Marina is found on a small canal in Clewiston, Florida.
Lake is about 15′…..check here for current depths…http://www.rolandmartinmarina.com/water_levels.php
Mike Dickens, Paradise Yachts
Ahoy Single-Handers! If you are planning to navigate the Okeechobee Waterway, here’s good advice for you. There are several locks on the Okeechobee, but Port Mayaca on the east shore and Moore Haven on the west shore are the locks entering and exiting Okeechobee Lake.
As far as going across the lake, the lake itself is no problem for a single hander, but the locks on the canal on both sides can be a little tricky. The lock masters will sometimes help if there’s not a lot of traffic, but the way the locks work (flooding and draining) makes the lock passage interesting. Not saying it can’t be done, but you need to pay attention to what’s going during the lock through.
Yes, this is a good plan. The lockmasters on the OK Waterway will hand a rope to you. Hang on to the rope about midships to keep your boat steady against the lock wall.
After all the problems experienced by cruisers who attempt to anchor along the track of the Okeechobee Waterway, it’s good to hear that a phone call to the ACOE office in Clewiston, Florida, can generate useful advice. We suggest those who are intent on a cruise of this very useful passage also make use of the telephone number supplied below!
My husband, Tom, just spoke with the Corps of Engineers today (904) 232-2103 to get travel and route advice. He found them to be very friendly and helpful. Theysuggested we call a little closer to our departure time for up to dateinformation.
Safe travels. Maybe we’ll see you in the river.
Robin & Tom Bessent
The Seminole Gulf Railway (old SCL) crosses the Okeechobee Waterway at statute mile 130 in North Fort Myers.
FLORIDA-OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY ST LUCIE INLET TO FORT MYERS– CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER–OLD CSX RAILROAD SUBSTRUCTURE: Hazard to Navigation.
The substructure of an old Railroad line next to the existing Seminole Gulf Railroad line across the Caloosahatchee River is deteriorating and parts have been reported floating in the waterway causing a potential hazard to navigation. Mariners are advised to use extreme caution while transiting the area. Chart 11428
We have always found our visits to the downtown Fort Myers area to be absolutely delightful. With two quality marinas (BOTH Legacy Harbour Marina and City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin are SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSORS!), a host of nearby dining attractions and a beautifully landscaped waterfront, what’s not to like!
We were pleasantly surprised to see Fort Myers downtown waterfront area redeveloped into a first class entertainment destination. We ate
dinner at Ford’s Garage, a restaurant with a 1920,s service station atmosphere from the Model ‘A’ up on a rack ready for an oil change to a rag rolled into a hose clamp as a napkin ring. Fort Myers is about 15 miles into the Okeechobee Waterway (a short side trip for loopers heading south to the keys.) There are two first class marinas. I prefer the Municipal Yacht Basin for short term and Legacy Harbor for longer stays.
Author, Great Loop Navigation Notes
It’s always GREAT to get numerous reports about a reliable marine repair firm, particularly one on the Okeechobee Waterway. Ricky Martinez has been commended for his work in earlier reports.
Ricky at Tiger marine did a great job at a reasonable price repairing my IO after a overheat breakdown. Thanks again for the quick response. Scott
I think it fair to say that no facility along the Okeechobee Waterway has received more praise here on the Cruisers’ Net, than Rialto Harbour. There is a backwater, almost secret quality about this place, and yet, it is set amidst a lusk, super sheltered setting. Who could ask for more?
If you . . . are looking for a wonderful place near Fort Meyers, I would highly recommend Rialto Harbour just past the 1st lock on the river leading into the Okachobee waterway. Its a small romantic place, situated on a horse farm with a lovely pool and along side docks in fresh water. Wonderful people, laid back, and very tropical. And its only 16 miles from Ft. Meyers. Check out their web site and call ahead.
Back on 6/30/11, we published a series of reports by fellow cruisers which related what seemed to be a new policy on the part of the US Army Corps of Engineers that vessels could no anchor for longer than 24 hours on the Okeechobee Waterway (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=61289). Repeated inquiries by both the SSECN, and our friend, Captain Chuck Baier, reporting for MarinaLife, led to a series of denials from the USCAE office in Clewiston.
Now, here we are in mid-2012, and, as you will see below, this nasty issue has once again reared its ugly head. We are attempting to get clarification, but in the meantime, cruisers should be aware that they might be ticketed for dropping the hook for longer than 24 hours along the Okeechobee Waterway, between the St. Lucie and W. F. Franklin Locks!
If ANYONE has more information about this perplexing situation, PLEASE click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.
we are a foreign flag vessel with a valid cruising licsense. And were approached 2 days ago by an officer from the corps of engineers, and told that boaters are no longer allowed to anchor in the Okeechobee waterway for more than one night, after which they must leave the officers jurysdiction (Franklin lock to St. Lucie Lock) or move on to a marina. Remaining unconvinced by this officers explanation we emailed the corps HQ and have now received written confirmation that the corps view the waterway only as a means to transit one side to the other and that anyone staying longer than “overnight” will be given a ticket/citation.
Has anyone any thoughts to share?
A Non For Now
What is the deal with anchoring in the Caloosahatchee river? I have heard that the core of enginers are harassing boaters.
Several months back we reported that boaters were receiving citations from the Corps of Engineers for anchoring along the Okeechobee Waterway. At that time we never received an adequate answer from the South Florida Operations Office as to whether this was common practice. Now once again we are receiving reports that boaters are being told by Corps of Engineers patrol boats that anyone anchoring for more than 24 hours will be given a citation. You must move to a marina or on to the next jurisdiction and not just a short distance to satisfy the requirements. We would suggest that if anyone would like to get details or voice any concerns, that you contact the South Florida Operations Office at (863) 983-8101.
And, from our friendly competitors at “Waterway Guide:”
Many boats cruising the Okeechobee Waterway have been confused by what might seem to be new anchoring limits being enforced by the US Army Corps of Engineers. According to Robert Schnell, Assistant Chief, South Florida Operations, officers have been instructed to enforce a “one-night-only” policy for anchoring, and have told the boaters that they must continue down the waterway or find a marina or other facility.
According to Schnell, the policy has been around since 2000: “Title 36 – Rules and Regulations Governing Public Use of Corps of Engineers Water Resources Development Projects, Section 327.3 – Vessels,” specifically the two sections below:
327.3(f) Unless otherwise permitted by Federal, state or local law, vessels or other watercraft, while moored in commercial facilities, community or corporate docks, or at any fixed or permanent mooring point, may only be used for overnight occupancy when such use is incidental to recreational boating. Vessels or other watercraft are not to be used as a place of habitation or residence.
327.3(h) Vessels shall not be attached or anchored to structures such as locks, dams, buoys or other structures unless authorized by the District Commander. All vessels when not in actual use shall be removed from project lands and waters unless securely moored or stored at designated areas approved by the District Commander. The placing of floating or stationary mooring facilities on, adjacent to, or interfering with a buoy, channel marker or other navigational aid is prohibited.
The Corps South Florida Operations’ interpretation of these rules greatly overstep the verbiage, in my opinion:
- Anchoring in state and federal waters is “otherwise permitted”
- Anchoring in a river, lake or oxbow does not qualify as “in commercial facilities
- Overnight occupancy is incidental to recreational boating
- A vessel occupied at anchor is “in actual use”
I contacted the Corps in other areas to understand their local policies and get their interpretations of Title 36. Similar Corps projects on the inland waterways do not limit anchoring to one night, although lengthy stays are discouraged. Some areas have policies specific to their recreation area, but these are not covered in Title 36.
Waterway Guide’s Southern Edition 2012 does not mention anchoring limits along the Okeechobee Waterway, but we will update it in the next printing, if applicable. Meanwhile, expect to be asked to “move along” after anchoring along the Okeechobee Waterway, or risk a citation and fine, at least until this Corps office gets its policy straight.
During the week of June 11, 2012, I saw Gov. Rick Scott visiting Roland Martin Marina talking about jobs for Central Florida. I suggest everyone writing the Gov to inform him why OUR river is not the recreation paradise it should be. The ACOE must be brought under control. Recreational boaters must wait for commercial or coast guard boats to pass through the lock “if they WISH” to go through alone!!! This can result in HOURS of delay and resultant safety hazard for us regular people.
I also propose a “green” project that you might write about. It involves removing the sugar cane train bridge which limits vessel height to 49 feet. Recycle the rusty iron. Remove the tilt open railroad bridge from Ft. Myers which has been abandoned for years in the open position. Sand blast, paint and reinstall, replacing the sugar cane train bridge. This allows sailboats to pass from East to West coasts! It would also eliminate the continual obstruction to vessel passage when subject bridge breaks down in the lowered position allowing only 7 feet of clearance! This is good for Florida recreation, good for jobs in central Florida and a move forward.
Steven R. Crane
Tickets are still being issued. This was a day after the tropical storm came through.
Steve Largent [9/1/2012]
We transited the Okeechobee WW this spring  and anchored on the offshoot north and east of the Moore Haven lock, which is shown on cruising guides as a good anchorage. Our sailboat was parallel to the east side and well out of the channel, off of the Waterway itself. A local marine patrol officer came by and said we were blocking the waterway and would have to move. He said that this area would be full of boats early in the morning. He suggested we tie up to the barge dolphins, which we did, not wanting to risk a ticket. However, this would seem to violate the proscription against attaching the boat to structures without permission from the COE. By the way, early the next morning, we saw one, count ‘em, one, boat on the waterway.
Copy the regulations from the thread above and keep on your boat. If you are dealing with an officer, note the persons name and what agency he is working for. Next, ask the regulation that he thinks you are violation because you have a copy of all that you think apply, on board and you dont think you are violating them. So, maybe there is a new one that you do not have. Offer the officer a copy or offer to let him read yours with the comments included. If a vessel is anchored it is in operation is a good point. If you are on a mooring or at a dock, you may be living there. The laws are obviously intended to shoo away liveaboards. If you are on vacation maybe telling the officer you are trying to enjoy Florida tourism would help. You should feel free to send letters (yes mail) to State tourism offices and copy the Governor. Florida is interested in tourism and jobs, especially in the central part.
Now, look up every lock on the waterway and find out who is in charge. Send them a letter and ask what their policy is in their area. There is nothing in the laws stated in this thread that allows authorities to limit anchoring to any specific number of days. Do not let bureaucrats invent their own laws. Exceeding their authority allows you to contact the state attorney and file breach of peace. Enjoy your cruise.
I got a ticket from a park ranger from the Franklin lock. The name is Phil Hart. I was anchored but he wrote it that I was moored ( lie 1 ) for more than 12 days ( lie 2 ) There is a free dock in La belle you can stay at for 3 day and off for 8 days. This I did 3 on 8 off for sometime. This guy knew this, but lied anyway. I have the dock masters and a sign in sheet to back this up.
The FWC states that all surface water in the state is Fl. water, and the 2009 law says we can anchor anywere in state waters. This guy told me that the Okeechobee is federal water. Any lawyers looking for a case??
While I was doing research for an admiralty case against the Florida Pilot Program for Anchoring…..which is completely different than the issue with the corps….I found this interesting statement regarding exactly who regulates the surface waters of Florida.
The second paragraph advises exactly who regulates these waters. The state of Florida is not on the list …except for pollution control. This action by the corps on the Okeechobee may be inconvenient , but it actually supports our case against the state’s pilot program ie. the only authority who can regulate anchoring is the Corps itself…if they see fit…not any state alone…not on the ICW or the tidal tributaries that lead into it. Please keeps us informed. If it makes you feel any better, this will literally help us defeat the state program which is far, far more restrictive on recreational boaters.
Our “man in the know” in Stuart, Florida, Captain Ted Guy, has just informed the Cruisers’ Net that the operating hours of all five locks on the Okeechobee Waterway are being changed November 13, 2012. Beginning on 11/13/12, the Okeechobee locks will be operating from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, seven days a week. These five locks and their positions are:
St. Lucie Lock – Mile 15.1
Port Mayaca Lock – Mile 39
Moore Haven Lock – Mile 78
Ortona Lock – Mile 93.5
W.P. Franklin – Mile 121.4
Note that “Statute Mile” markers run east to west (from Stuart, FL to Fort Myers, FL) on the Okeechobee Waterway.
In a Press Release from the US Army Corps of Engineer’s, Lt. Col. Tom Greco, Jacksonville District Deputy Commander for South Florida, states, in part:
“These changes are part of a civil works transformation process that will allow the Corps to deliver the best possible products and services to the nation. The objective of Civil Works transformation is to shape a sustainable portfolio of water resources infrastructure for the nation’s future.”
OK, so listen up all of you out there planning to make use of the very useful Okeechobee Waterway. No transiting the locks before 7:00 am, or after 7:00 pm. Otherwise, it’s business as usual on the Okeechobee Waterway!