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
Pursuant to the upcoming public meetings (http://cruisersnet.net/?p=143945) on anchoring rights and regulations in Vero Beach and Bradenton, FL, Mike Ahart of Waterway Guide sends our readers this Seven Seas Cruising Association survey. Please open the survey link and submit your opinions. It is critical that cruisers have a voice in these discussions, especially since so many of you are in northern waters during September.
For well written and well thought out arguments from a landowner and boat owner, see Michael Bodin’s comments at http://cruisersnet.net/?p=143720
The Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) has created an online survey to gather thoughts and opinions on Florida anchoring rights and the process being undertaken to propose draft legislation to allow municipalities to restrict anchoring in the state public waters within their geographical boundaries. You do NOT need to be an SSCA member to take the survey, it doesn’t ask for your email address, and it takes only about 10 minutes. Here’s the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SSCAANCHORING2014
SSCA will be representing their membership and boaters in general at the upcoming meetings (Vero Beach, Sep. 3; Bradenton, Sep. 4). It has been working for years with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), landowners, boaters, and legislators to come up with workable solutions to deal with anchored derelict, abandoned and long-term live-aboard boats without affecting cruising boats. SSCA helped immensely with the current FWC Anchoring & Mooring Pilot Program, and, whether you’re for or against it, excessive anchoring restrictions were mostly avoided by going through a thoughtful process, in my opinion. It could have been a lot worse.
Now, for the “lot worse” – FWC seems to be under pressure from certain municipalities who did not participate in the Pilot Program, but want to restrict anchoring. In the July 2014 meeting, a framework for proposed draft legislation was established and will be further discussed at the upcoming meetings (a public comment period will follow). The proposed concepts for consideration and comment include no-anchoring zone distances from private waterfront property (300′ is noted) and public facilities – mooring fields, boat ramps, marinas, etc… – (150′ is noted), plus conditions that would exclude boats from being stored at anchor. (See http://www.waterwayguide.com/waterway-updates/news/GEN/4185/ALERT-Florida-anchoring-regulations-meetings-announced for details of the proposed concepts, plus more information about the two meetings in September.)
If you are a Florida resident, please also let your legislators know how you feel about your freedom to anchor. If you are a cruiser anywhere and have not already, consider joining SSCA – it not only helps defend anchoring rights in Florida and practically everywhere else, it is a great gathering of local, coastal and world-wide cruisers with a lot of resources and events. But either way, please take the survey. Here’s the link again: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SSCAANCHORING2014
Mike Ahart, News Editor, Waterway Guide
For an excellent description of Franklin Lock and Dam Park by our good friends Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, go to: http://cruisersnet.net/?p=142643
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has announced it will close docks at the W.P Franklin Campground near Fort Myers effective immediately due to structural concerns.
The closure impacts four “boat-in” docks at the campground north of the Franklin Lock & Dam. Officials at the campground identified structural issues with the docks that require significant repair.
Boat ramps at the campground and at the Franklin Recreation Area on the south side of the Lock & Dam will remain open as those facilities aren’t connected to the “boat-in” docks.
“We recognize the inconvenience this closure may cause to people planning to use the docks as part of a trip to the Franklin Campground,” said Steve Dunham, Chief of the Corps’ South Florida Operation Office. “However, the safety of the guests at our campgrounds is our top priority. We will work to reopen this facility as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Initial estimates indicate the docks will likely be closed for at least six months. “Boat-in” docks allow up to eight houseboats and other similar vessels access to a camping facility similar to an RV park, except on the water.
The W.P. Franklin Campground along the north side of the Caloosahatchee River offers 30 RV/tent campsites and is open year round. The W.P. Franklin Recreation Area offers a swimming beach and boat ramp for daily use.
For more information on the Corps of Engineers recreation opportunities within the Jacksonville District, please visit the following website:
This destroyed daybeacon, east of Clewiston at statute mile 63 of the Okeechobee Waterway, joins recently destroyed daybeacons 9 and 9A, see second ALERT symbol or go to http://cruisersnet.net/?p=143670 .
FLORIDA – OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY – CLEWISTON CHANNEL (ROUTE 1B): Hazard to Navigation
Clewiston Channel (Rt 1B) Daybeacon 7 (LLNR 51285) is destroyed. The remains of the pile are a hazard to navigation. A TRLB “WR7″ with Fl Q G,4M intensity is set in position 26-47-01.509N/080-53-06.669W. Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting the area. Chart 11428 LNM: 30/14
Readers have mentioned the use of a “senior pass” when docking in the Okeechobee Waterway: http://cruisersnet.net/?p=141594. Skipper Will asks for clarification as to which senior passes are accepted in the Waterway. My guess would be the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass (62 and older, $10/life.) If you have a better or different answer, please let us hear from you!
Great Info [link above] -Thanks very much-looking forward to using the Okeechobee myself this fall. Which GOLDEN AGE pass is the one in play here- there are so many, and with different virtues?
Aren’t you glad we asked: it’s $10 for life! As Skipper Bennight says: the best government fee ever!
Yes the Senior Pass from the NPS -formerly known as the Golden Age Pass http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm $10 for life works its magic not only at National Parks but various other federal recreation areas. In this case it gets you half off the normal $24/night slip fee…..
The Senior pass is offered by the U.S, Park Service and is good for all national parks but not state or county parks. It is not issued at every park so check ahead.
The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is indeed for those of us 62 and older but that $10 pass is a Lifteime Pass – not annual. (The best $10 government fee ever.) It is available to a U.S. Cirizen or permanent resident.
Boy, I’ve never heard of this and I’ve been across it several times, both directions.
The Okeechobee Waterway runs parallel to the Palm Beach Glades Airport near statute mile 55, then the waterway makes a dogleg southeast to southwest at Paul Rardin Park near statute mile 58. The area of caution noted below in bold runs from marker #82 to marker #91. The Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation Project has been ongoing since 2012 and not expected to be completed until 2016.
Thalle Construction Company, Inc. is replacing two culverts along the Okeechobee Waterway near Belle Glade, FL (Culverts 12) and Pahokee, FL (Culvert 10) as part of the overall Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation Project sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Construction consists of the steel and earthen cofferdams on both the lakeside and landside of the dike to create a self-contained work area. The waterway will be obstructed during the installation and removal of the cofferdams and during the process of replacing the culverts. Recreational and commercial boaters are asked to use caution when navigating through this section of the waterway between the Paul Rardin park boat ramps location (26 45.363N, 080 41.498W) and just north of Palm Beach Glades Airport location (26 47.309N, 080 41.947W). Four (4) obstruction buoys with solar powered lights, reflectorized hazard warning and symbol will be placed at the outermost edge of cofferdams obstructing the waterway to delineate the cofferdam location and guide boaters through the work zone area. Also, two (2) obstruction buoys will be placed in the vicinity of boat ramps. Once the culvert replacements are complete, the cofferdams will be removed and waterway restored. Construction will occur 5 to 6 days a week, with the possibility of night time work. The project is anticipated to be completed in 2016. The Project point of contact is Tim Pernsteiner at 919-282-4674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Chart 11428 LNM: 28/14
Franklin Lock, the westernmost lock on the Okeechobee Waterway, is located at Statute Mile 121 and St. Lucie Lock, the easternmost lock, lies west of Stuart, FL near Statute Mile 15. This notice was posted on Seven Seas Cruising Association by Susan Landry.
July 14, 2014: We received this note this morning from Skipper Parker and a phone call to the ACOE confirmed that at this time there are no restrictions on the Okeechobee locks:
I spoke with the St Lucie lock master this morning. The lake is up so there are no restricted hours at this time. We locked through with no problem. It might be prudent to call ahead.
We locked through Franklin over July 4 weekend. They were operating on demand. Spent weekend @ docks there which were half empty even on a holi. day weekend. $12/night (with senior pass) includes power and water. Great time.
Kim s/v TrustMe!!!
For an excellent description of Franklin Lock and Dam Park by our good friends, Chuck and Susan Baier, go to: http://cruisersnet.net/?p=142643
The old Local Notice:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District has announced restrictions on lock operations on the Okeechobee Waterway due to falling water levels on Lake Okeechobee.
Effective Thursday, June 5, locking operations at the W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam near Fort Myers and the St. Lucie Lock & Dam near Stuart will be conducted every two hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. This action is the result of the water level at Lake Okeechobee falling below 12.5 feet.
“This is standard operating procedure whenever the lake falls below 12.5 feet” said Steve Dunham, Chief of the Corps’ South Florida Operations Office. “We encourage boaters to be aware of the lake level and consider that drafts will continue to decrease if the lake drops more in coming weeks. ”
The updated schedule means that lockages will occur at Franklin and St. Lucie at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. Operations at the other three locks, Ortona, Moore Haven, and Port Mayaca, will continue on demand between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Should the lake drop below 11.5 feet, additional reductions in service will be necessary. A Notice to Navigation has been issued on this subject. For more information on navigation notices concerning the Okeechobee Waterway, please visit the following website:
FLORIDA – AICW – FORT MEYERS TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR AND WIGGINS PASS – CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER
The following change has been approved to the aids to navigation system in the Caloosahatchee River.
CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER DBN 74 (LLNR 54065) will be permanently discontinued. Chart 11427 LNM: 24/14
The recently improved and expanded LaBelle City dock overlooks the south side of the Okeechobee Waterway, just west of the LaBelle bridge. Our thanks to Skipper Landry for this report! For photos of the LaBelle City Docks, go to http://cruisersnet.net/?p=136870
Tonight we are tied to the free town docks at La Belle. The docks are new and very nice with both power and water, except the power isn’t working on half the pedestals. There are no finger piers so you must pull in between two pilings about 15 feet off the dock and climb off the boat either at the bow or the stern. This is right next to the highway bridge so there is traffic noise. But hey, it’s free. We are sharing the dock with two sailboats and a houseboat. Tomorrow we’ll explore La Belle a bit, we have been here by car before.
Back on 5/19/14, the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net was privileged to publish a superb article authored by my good friends, Skippers Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, about mooring their trawler, “Beach House,” at the inexpensive wet slips immediately west of the Okeechobee Waterway’s St. Lucie Lock (the easternmost lock on this Waterway – see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=140813).
Later we learned that Chuck and Susan had found a similar facility adjacent to the W. P. Franklin lock, the westernmost Okeechobee Waterway lock. And, as you can readily guess, we asked them to repeat the process, and they have kindly done so. The story below is the happy result!
We are once again greatly indebted to Captains Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, owners of Beach House Publications, publishers of “The Great Book of Anchorages,” (http://www.tgboa.com) for providing this superb, in-depth article and copious photographs! THANKS CHUCK AND SUSAN!
WP Franklin Lock and Dam Park
We recently visited the St. Lucie Park and had written about what a pleasant and unexpected gem it was. Imagine, then, our surprise at what we found at the WP Franklin Lock and Dam Park. It is the westernmost lock in the Okeechobee Waterway out of the 5 locks in the OWW. Initially we had thought we might go ahead through the lock and continue on to LaBelle. However, as we approached the lock, the wind began to gust and we decided it was time to call it a day. I had glanced over and realized that the docks were on the east side of the lock and not the west as I had originally thought. Also, they are tucked up in a protected basin and not right next to the river as the docks are at St. Lucie. We spun the boat around and headed for the docks.
A very nice gentleman, Walt Vliet, who was out for a few weeks cruise with his wife June, came to our aid as we docked with the wind blowing us up on the finger pier. No matter how many years of experience one has, it is still difficult to dock with a single engine and a good, stiff breeze on the beam. Once secure, we had the opportunity to visit with Walt and June. Both are about to turn 80 soon and have been cruising for years. They live in Hobe Sound and often travel back and forth across the Okeechobee on either their small sailboat or their Marine Trader trawler. They were a pleasure to meet.
But the real story is the park. It is truly a beautiful little place. The RV park and marina, situated on its own little island, is located on the northeast side of the river and lock. Slow speed buoys are located at the entrance to the marina basin. There are 8 slips here as there are at St. Lucie, with 4 being first-come, first-served and the other 4 able to be reserved. Very little wake makes it into the basin. Trees and a decent size picnic pavilion are very near the docks, and a short walk west past a number of RV sites, takes you to very clean heads and showers. Recycling bins are available jus t next to the trash.
In the middle of the island is the ranger’s office where you pay your dockage. (Again, the same as St. Lucie – $24 per dock including water and electric, or $12 if you have your Golden Age pass for those 62+.) Just next to the office the ranger’s trailer and little fenced in yard that houses her “babies,” three small dogs. From there, turn and walk due south out to the lock and fishing pier, or turn north to walk over the short causeway to get some exercise or a different view of the island. The other, or west, end of the island has many more RV sites and a larger head and shower facility which also houses a washer and dryer. You can walk beyond that building and find another large covered pavilion at the southern end as well as a bench with a great view to the west.
If the docks are full, no problem. Figure out which direction you need wind protection from. There is plenty of room to anchor in the east basin beyond the docks, then dinghy in to the boat ramp near the heads and showers. Or anchor in the basin on the west side of the locks tucked up near the causeway that leads over to the island for great easterly and southerly protection. On this side, dinghy into the beach near the large trees just behind the building that houses the heads. The ranger is happy to have you come ashore.
You cannot walk across the lock to the other side like you can at St. Lucie Park, so drop your dinghy in the water and visit the beach on the other side as well as the visitor center. The only downside we can see is there are no provisions nearby, so come well-stocked and enjoy this little piece of heaven.
About a week ago, I saw a submission by my good friend, Skipper Susan Landry, about mooring their trawler, Beach House, at the inexpensive wet slips immediately west of the Okeechobee Waterway’s St. Lucie Lock (the easternmost lock on this Waterway).
And so, I asked both Susan and her “partner in crime,” Skipper Chuck Baier, to please provide the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net with a fuller account of this facility. The below article is the happy result of my request.
We are once again greatly indebted to Captains Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, owners of Beach House Publications, publishers of “The Great Book of Anchorages,” (http://www.tgboa.com) for providing the superb, in-depth article and copious photographs, set below! THANKS CHUCK AND SUSAN!
The St. Lucie Lock and Dam is located a little more than 15 miles upriver from the “crossroads” at the St. Lucie Inlet, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Lucie River. Approximately 10,000 vessels transit this lock every year and the majority of them are recreational vessels. The Locks are operated from 7 AM to 7 PM, seven days a week. It takes about 20 minutes on average for boats to lock through completely. Signs indicate the arrival point on both sides and the Lockmaster is contacted on VHF Channel 13. He will give instructions to wait for the green light before entering and the Captain can choose the side of the lock on which to tie. Lines are dropped from the lock walls to secure the boat at the bow and stern as the water levels are raised or lowered. The Lockmaster announces when it’s safe to proceed after the lock gates are opened.
Immediately after exiting the Lock heading westbound, boaters will see a series of finger piers on their port side with space for eight boats. The finger piers are short, but with some creative tie ups, boats up to 40 feet have used the facilities. The slips are also narrow, making it difficult for two boats with wide beams to tie up in the slip. But if you find the space acceptable, this can be an excellent stopover along the Okeechobee Waterway and an excellent value for transient dockage. Daily fees are $24.00, a flat fee, and include power and water. If you happen to be 62 or over, you are eligible for a Golden Age Passport, allowing you half price entry to any national park, including the St. Lucie Lock and Dam Park. It’s hard to beat $12 per night for dockage that
includes power and water! The signs near the docks say that there is a 14 day maximum, but the park has allowed boaters to stay a month or more. Technically there are four slips that can be reserved in advance and four slips on a first-come, first-served basis. The Park Rangers don’t seem to enforce this and at the time we were there, everyone had just arrived and paid the fees with no problem. Some boaters from Stuart make this an annual trek to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town for a while.
The Park is located quite a distance from any kind of shopping or restaurants so without transportation, there is not much to do except rest and relax and maybe get caught up on a few boat projects. As luck would have it, a couple of the boaters there had vehicles and offered rides to anyone that needed one. The campers in the RVs and travel trailers were also a friendly bunch and could be a source for a ride into the shopping centers if needed.
The Park has clean restrooms for the use by the campers and the marina. Each restroom also has a shower. These are cleaned daily by the Park employees and we found everyone very friendly and helpful. A large pavilion with picnic tables, a fire pit and charcoal grills made for an excellent evening get together spot for the boaters and some of the campers. Every afternoon and evening several of us gathered to share drinks, snacks and swap stories. It’s surprising how much the boaters and the campers have in common. We enjoyed the comradery and solitude so much that we decided to stay for a week and take care of some errands. Enterprise Rent-A-Car will pick up and drop off at the Park if a car is needed.
There are several smaller pavilions around the Park, all with charcoal grills and picnic tables. Walking is our exercise of choice and the Park offers a number of walking trails. There is a walkway across the entire lock and spillway to the other side of the river, where more pavilions and walking trails are available. The view from the lock is pretty incredible – just be sure to be off the gates when they open and close for passing boats. All kinds of wildlife can be found around every corner. Hawks, eagles and osprey soar overhead and the gators lounge in the sun along the banks of the river. You might even find a few snakes along the trail, so be ready for just about anything. A good insect repellent comes in handy for those times when the wind drops off and the little pests come out to feed. At the opposite end of the lock on the same side as the campground is a small visitor center. There are exhibits on the wildlife and history of the lock, and videos with interesting information. The Ranger at the center can answer any questions and they post the Lake levels daily from the Corps of Engineers website. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and looked forward to getting to the park at the W.P. Franklin Lock on the other side of the Lake and farther across the Okeechobee Waterway. The Park there offers the same services. But that’s a story for another time.
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.
Tarpon Point is one of our favorite marinas for many reasons. The location is beautiful and protected. Captains Candy and Ron in the Harbour Master’s office are friendly. There are two very good restaurants–Marker 92 in The Westin and Pincher’s–in the marina village. The shower facilities are very nice. And, the marina is immaculate.
Our favorite amenity is the recreation center–about a 4-minute walk–with two beautiful swimming pools! There is also a workout room and beautiful locker rooms with showers.
New this year: Marina Village Trading Co. which is a gourmet food store. Dee has a great selection for provisioning in style. And, Pincher’s restaurant has a fresh fish market!
We will continue to return to Tarpon Point when cruising SW Florida waters.
There are five fixed bridges with 55ft vertical clearances between Lake Okeechobee and the western end of the Okeechobee Waterway, beginning with the I-75 twin bridges and ending with the Mid Point Memorial Bridge at Mile 138 and Cape Coral Bridge at Mile 142. Three of these bridges are in Fort Myers and are listed in the SSECN Bridge Directory. If you have experience with these bridges and have suggestions for Skipper Jolett, let us hear from you.
I have not been to Ft Myers Beach with my boat , yet. I am going in a few days. My mast is 54 ft above the water. I was investigating the height of the bridges over the Caloosahatchee River for a trip to Fort Myers which is stated at 55 ft above MHW. So, what is the height of the tide at MHL? After quite a lot of digging I found that the Mid Point Bridge on the Caloosahatchee was built to a height of 55 ft above MHL which was specified to be a tide of +.87 ft. This figure was arrived at by local observations of the tide for over 18 years. I have lived in SWF for about 12 years and a tide of + 1 ft is common. So, don’t assume that the bridge clearances correspond to any tide you might see on any day. After I go to Ft Myers Beach this weekend I will report my observations. Lastly, bridges are built by local governments and one can not assume they are are built by the same standards.
Moore Haven City Dock, the first stop west of Lake Okeechobee, is located at Okeechobee Waterway Statute Mile 78, on the Moore Haven waterfront. This report comes to us from our good friends, Peg and Jim Healy.
The muni docks at Moore Haven are in good shape, have power and water, and are $1.00/ft. There is a good enough Mexican restaurant about 1/2 mile from the docks, but generally, Moore Haven has limited options. It’s a very convenient stop which we use and recommend.
Peg and Jim Healy
Roland Martin’s Marina is found on a small canal in Clewiston, Florida and has long been a good source for checking depths in Lake Okeechobee. See http://www.rolandmartinmarina.com/water_levels.php.
The comments below come to us from our friends, Peg and Jim Healy.
FOR CLEWISTON, the key question is draft. The basin at Clewiston (Roland Martin Marina) is very shallow. Lake “O” Water depths are unusually good right now compared to prior spring seasons, but the basin at Clewiston is shallower than the rest of the route. Softish muck, but shallower. There is no tide on the Lake, of course, inside the lock system, but there can be wind-driven water level changes that look like small rides.
Peg and Jim Healy
The portion of the Okeechobee Waterway “Lake Route,” described below by the Healys is found between Statute Miles 60 to 65 and is charted as Approach Channel.
The one additional thing to highlight about the Lake crossing that I have not seen mentioned is that the area charted from Rocky Reef to Clewiston is a narrow channel exposed to whatever prevailing crosswinds are to be found on the lake. It is a man-made, dredged channel. The natural bottom is sandstone; hard, not soft, and so, the channel edges are also hard. The markers at the Lake end of the channel are further apart than the markers at the shore end. They can be hard to see depending on daylighting conditions. BE SURE YOU STAY IN THAT CHANNEL. DO NOT ALLOW THE BOAT TO GET PUSHED OUT OF THAT CHANNEL BY CROSSWINDS. Backsight to make sure you really are *in* that channel. Sandstone is soft rock, but it’s plenty hard enough to hurt bronze propellors and SS rudders and shafts.
Peg and Jim Healy
Excellent advice! We were in Roland Martins marina in Clewiston a couple years ago, and there was a brand new 54 foot trawler being delivered to a boat show on the face dock. The delivery captain just barely missed a turn in that channel, and took out both props, shafts, and rudders. I don’t even want to think about that yard bill!
Skipper Harmon is referring to a stretch of shoaling at the eastern end of the Okeechobee Waterway where we have had a Navigation Alert posted since May of 2013, (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=113451). Again, our advice, and that of Skipper Harmon, is to ignore the magenta line and follow the markers.
The problem stretch near markers 17 and 17A claimed another boater. I recently completed the Okeechobee Waterway and found the charts make this area very confusing and, the small can marker 17A is hard to see. The charts depict a dredged channel and the magenta line indicates you can pass west of the green marker 17. If you follow this route (magenta line) you will find very shallow water. When I passed the area all east bound traffic was leaving the green markers 17A and 17 to the starboard, west bound to the port. If you are meeting traffic, slowing down will allow everyone to pass 17 safely.
How about this totally unexpected sight while cruising the Okeechobee Waterway in October of 2012 near Alva, Florida!!!!
We are once again greatly indebted to Skippers Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, owners of Beach House Publications, publishers of “The Great Book of Anchorages,” (http://www.tgboa.com) for providing this unique image! THANKS CHUCK AND SUSAN!
Must’ve been on a Wednesday.
Is that a wind generator on that “trawler camel”?????
It’s so nice that there is a swimming pool for the camel.
One never knows what may be found in sunny Florida.
The recently improved and expanded LaBelle City dock overlooks the south side of the Okeechobee Waterway, just west of the LaBelle bridge. Skipper Burnham gives high, well deserved marks to LaBelle for its new docks and hospitality. Our thanks to David for this thorough report!
IDLER arrived yesterday at the free city dock at LaBelle and registered for an overnight stay. Then our crew walked the seven tenths of a mile to the Log Cabin on Hwy 80 for the meatiest half rack of Baby Back Ribs we’d ever eaten. Along with free soup and ice cream dessert we had to give our meal 4 and a half out of 5 stars. I’m giving the service all 5 stars even on a.busy Friday evening. Not to be missed for a great taste of Americana.
A year ago I didn’t stop at LaBelle because the free city dock was full with three boats stern-to. Today the NEW dock has stern-to berths for six vessels between fifteen foot fendered concrete pilings. One large sixty foot yacht is anchored and tied to the dock immediately to the east of the six berths with room for one more her size to the east of her. This is a rare treat for cruisers in Florida to be welcomed with generous hospitality and LaBelle is the NEW standard to be met by communities looking to pull in the boaters that would pass them by to get to LaBelle.
LaBelle could be the poster child for waterfront communities, but I’m only speaking for the cruising community.
It will be at the top of our must stop list now whenever we cruise the OWW.
The only drawback is a lack of fuel docks but small amounts of gas are available at the CITGO station on the north side of the OWW is you are willing to hike over the drawbridge and back. Of course gas and diesel are available dock side at the small marina to the east of LaBelle, IF they are open that day and you don’t run aground at the entrance.
Otherwise, the six 16 foot wide stern-to berths and the four adjacent open slips on the west side of the drawbridge with water and 30amp service OR the two smaller slips on the west side of the drawbridge with no water and electricity but nearer to the public park and bathrooms are just the beginning of a great visit. The registration log at the west side dock allows a 3 day in, 8 day out registration system that is a model for any waterfront community that can serve the transient cruisers.
I have included some photos of the dock in LaBelle Florida. The first is of the two slips on the east side of the drawbridge in the park with no electric or water but near the public restrooms with no shower taken from the drawbridge.
The others are of the ten west side berths that do have water and electric.