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Archive For: Content Okeechobee

  • Still More Praise for Rialto Harbour Docks – Okeechobee Waterway/Caloosahatchee River

    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.
    John Mencel,
    At Last

  • Anchoring on Okeechobee Waterway Issue Heats Up Again

    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 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.

    Cruising News:
    Hi all,
    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.
    Steve Largent

    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.
    Chuck Baier

    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.
    -Mike Ahart,
    News Editor,
    Waterway Guide

    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 [2012] 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.
    Steve Crane

    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.
    sandy flowers

  • Operating Times of Okeechobee Waterway Locks Change

    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!

  • Update: Okeechobee Waterway To Be Partially Obstructed Between Clewiston and Moore Haven Until 2015, Statute Mile 75, 10/3/12

    Herbert Hoover Dike - Click for Chartview

    We have plotted the Lat/Lon position given in the message below, cherry picked from the latest Local Notice to Mariners, and it appears that the described construction is taking place on the canal-like portion of the Okeechobee Waterway between Clewiston and Moore Haven, probably near charted “Liberty Point.” And, notice that this construction is ongoing until Spring of 2015.
    All mariners navigating the OKWW between Clewiston and Moore Haven should be on the lookout for the below described construction vessels, and pass this equipment with minimum wake.
    The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net is declaring a Navigational Alert for these waters.

    FLORIDA-OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY: Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation Project (Update September 28, 2012).
    Odebrecht Construction, Inc. will be replacing two culverts along the Okeechobee Waterway near Moore Haven (Culverts 1 and 1A) 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 restricted and may be intermittently 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 and be prepared to stop when navigating through this section of the waterway between the Alvin L Ward park boat ramps and Uncle Joe’s Fish Camp boat ramps. Flagmen will be present as needed to signal vessels to stop or to proceed with caution. The controlling width through Culvert 1A project area is 20ft minimum, limited by a controlling depth of 6ft when the lake is at elevation +11.0ft Mean Sea Level. 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 spring of 2015. The Project point of contact is Elizabeth Lamborghini at 305-704-5848. Chart 11428
    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To A “Navigation Alert” Position on the Okeechobee Waterway Between Clewiston and Moore Haven

  • Good Words for Rialto Harbor Marina, Okeechobee Waterway, Near Statute Mile 120

    Rialto Harbor, a rather wonderful and unusual marina (see link below), guards the southern banks of the Okeechobee Waterway, east of Fort Myers in Alva, FL. Rialto Harbor Marina is also called Rialto Harbor Docks.

    If you are near Stewart and wanted to cross the Okeechobee, Rialto Harbour is well protected, just upstream of the lock near Ft. Meyers. Fresh water and no storm surge (behind the lock)
    m/v At Last

    For more information on Rialto Harbor, visit

  • Hurricane Safe Storage on the Okeechobee Waterway

    The facility reported on so ably below by our good buddy, Chuck Baier, lies along the southern banks of the Okeechobee Waterway, hard by the I-95 fixed bridges.

    River Forrest Marina on the Okeechobee Waterway has a large building built to withstand a category 4 and they have a concrete storage yard and there are tie downs in the yard and building. They can store vessels up to 100 feet.

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of River Forrest Marina

  • GOOD NEWS: Okeechobee Waterway/Moore Haven Lock to Reopen Ahead of Schedule – July 14, 2012, Okeechobee Waterway

    This US Army Corp of Engineers notice dated July 10th is good news for all South Florida boaters and means that the Okeechobee Waterway will be open a month earlier than projected!

    1. Mariners transiting the Okeechobee Waterway (OWW) are advised the lock will be resuming regular operations beginning 14 July 2012 from 6:00AM TO 9:30 PM.
    Vertical Clearance = Unlimited
    Lock Chamber = 50′ x 250′
    Vertical Lift = Caloosahatchee River water level to Lake Okeechobee water level. Usually 1 to 2 feet.
    Operations Daily 6:00am to 9:30pm
    Contact Lock on Marine VHF Radio Channel 13
    Phone: (863) 946-0414
    2. Additional information concerning Lake Okeechobee, the Okeechobee Waterway and related navigation bulletins including controlling depths may be obtained on Jacksonville District’s website at:
    3. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers point of contact is the South Florida Operations Office at 863-983-8101.
    Allan D. Morris P.E.
    Civil Engineer
    Navigation Section,
    Project Management Division
    In reply refer to:
    P.O. Box 4970
    Jacksonville, Fl 32232-0019

  • Online Information Source on the Status of the Okeechobee Waterway

    This Local Notice to Mariners from the US Army Corp of Engineers is in response to the ongoing closure and maintenance of the Okeechobee Waterway which began June 11, 2012.

    Information concerning the Okeechobee Waterway may be obtained by accessing the Jacksonville District website Chart 11428

    Click Here To Read the Official Closure Notice

  • Ft. Denaud Swing Bridge Open to Water Traffic Full-time, Okeechobee Waterway Statute Mile 108

    Fort Denaud/SSR 78AW Bridge—crosses the Okeechobee Waterway at Statue Mile 108. at the charted position of Denaud.

    The Fort Denaud bridge is open [to water traffic] indefinitely due to the need for emergency repairs. See for more information.
    Susan Parker

    And this confirmation from Don Browne, owner of the blog mentioned above.

    Yes I believe it will be closed [to vehicular traffic] for awhile. There are signs on SR29 indicating the closure and probably SR80 as well.
    Don Browne

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Okeechobee Bridge Directory Listing For Ft. Denaud Bridge

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Ft. Denaud Swing Bridge

  • Okeechobee Waterway’s St. Lucie Lock Closed 6/15/12 to 6/25/12

    This message is somewhat redundant, as when one lock is closed on the Okeechobee Waterway, the entire route is shut down. And, as we reported earlier (see, the Moore Haven Lock will be closed from 6/11/12 at least until its anticipated reopening 8/8/12. However, local cruisers in Stuart, Florida or those making for Indiantown Marina will certainly want to know about the St. Lucie Lock closure briefly described below!

    St. Lucie Lock will be closed to all boat traffic from June 15, 2012 to June 25, 2012 for lock maintenance.
    Bill Gelpke

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the St. Lucie Lock

  • More on Okeechobee Waterway Obstruction

    Back on 3/5/12, the SSECN published an article entitled, “Okeechobee Waterway To Be Partially Obscured Between Clewiston and Moore Haven Until 2014 (near St. M. 70 to 75)” – see Below, we hear from Captains Rusty and Betty that the data in this earlier message is not only accurate, but the described “obstruction” can lead to unhappy and expensive consequences. ALL cruisers bent on an Okeechobee Waterway passage prior to its closing on 6/11/12 (for maintenance) should be SURE to read both the account below, and our earlier posting linked above!

    On April 15, 2012 I misread the temporary channel markers next to the cofferdam construction, got too close to the east bank (lake side), and ran the Cooper onto rocks. Even at 5 mph the momentum was enough to ground us. We got off with the help of The Spirit of New York, but scraped the keel, bent the shaft and propeller. We made it safely to Indiantown where repairs are underway.
    Rusty and Betty Huges

  • Locks on Northern Lake Okeechobee (NOT the Okeechobee Waterway) Closed Due to Low Water Levels

    Normally, we would not even pass along the link below, as this story, which appeared in the Florida, refers to locks almost never used by cruising size craft, off the waters of northern Lake Okeechobee. However, a rumor has been going around that this story refers to locks on the Okeechobee Waterway. Not so! All the OKWW locks are currently functional, though some are operating at reduced hours (see due to drought conditions and lowering water levels in Lake Okeechobee.
    Hope this region gets some rain, and lots of it. SOON!|topnews|text|Home

  • Moore Haven Lock/Okeechobee Waterway Closure Delayed Until 6/11/12 – Anticipated Re-opening 8/8/12

    Don’t ever believe that the cruising community, particularly when coupled with the Florida Marine Industries Association and local businesses, cannot have an affect on governmental policy. Pressure from all these entities has resulted in a SECOND delay of upgrade work on the Okeechobee Waterway’s Moore Haven Lock.
    Of course, and year round Florida cruisers should not forget this, this date does mean the Okeechobee Waterway will be effectively closed for the summer 2012 months, at least until August 8, 2012 (see below)!
    This past fall, there was an uproar, both within the cruising community, and in the Florida business community centered on the cities of Stuart and Fort Myers, concerning an Army Corps of Engineers plan to close the Moore Haven Lock from September, well into November, in order to install Manatee protective devices. Due to the one-axis east to west nature of the Okeechobee Waterway, closing one lock, closes the entire passage from Stuart to Fort Myers, or the other way around. The USCAE gave in to all the hub-bub, and agreed to postpone this procedure.
    Then, in February of this year, a new proposal was announced that would have closed the Moore Haven Lock/Okeechobee Waterway from April 1 to May 25. A 2/17/12 public forum was held to seek public input, and the USACOE must have gotten a real earful, as they announced a delay to the lock upgrade until 5/14/12!
    Now, as you will read below, this closure has been delayed yet again, until 6/11/12. If I may insert an editorial comment here, that’s when the work should have been scheduled from the start. Traffic on the Okeechobee falls way off during the summer months, but, of course, some year round Sunshine State cruisers will still be inconvenienced.
    Still, though, count this one a VICTORY FOR THE CRUISING COMMUNITY!

    Florida, Okeechobee Waterway Lock Closure, Update – MNN030712
    Temporary Closure of Moore Haven Lock has now been rescheduled to begin
    June 8th to install Manatee Protection System.
    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has postponed the start date for installation of the Manatee Protection System (MPS) at the Moore Haven Lock as a result of concerns expressed by the public at meetings held earlier.
    The lock on the Okeechobee Waterway is now scheduled to be temporarily closed from June 11th for approximately 8 weeks. The lock is anticipated to open for navigation on August 8, 2012.
    “After hearing the economic and recreational concerns expressed at last night’s meeting, the Corps has adjusted the scheduled lock closure to reduce the impact to the local communities,” said Lt. Col. Michael Kinard, deputy district commander. “This timeframe will allow the lock to remain open further into the boating season, while allowing us to complete the installation at the beginning of the hurricane season when the risk is low. It’s all about balancing impacts and risks.”
    Installation of the MPS is part of the Manatee Pass Gates project. The primary goal of the project is to safeguard Florida’s endangered manatees from serious injury or death at water control structures and navigation locks by modifying these structures with a MPS. Using a set of acoustic transmitters and receivers, the MPS detects the West Indian manatee and prevents the gates from closing and harming the protected animal.
    The Manatee Protection System has been manufactured and above-ground fixtures have been installed at Moore Haven Lock. The remaining work includes dewatering the lock, installing the MPS to the lock gates, testing the system, and re-watering the lock. Work is expected to be complete within two months.

    Thanks to all those who helped convince the Corps to delay the closing of the Moore Haven lock. My return from the Bahamas to the Tampa area will be much quicker.
    Jack Pittman

  • Arcane Opening Procedure at the Moore Haven Railway Bridge (Okeechobee Waterway, St. M. 78.5)

    Click on Charlet Above to Open Chart View Page Centered on Moore Haven

    Wow, this sounds like something that might have taken place during my Dad’s cruising days in the early 1950’s! Note the VERY HELPFUL phone number provided by Captain Regina below, if you should find yourself in this same fix!
    Moore Haven is located north of Clewiston, FL, and is the gateway to the western 1/2 of the Okeechobee Waterway!

    Today our destination was Indiantown, eastbound across Lake Okeechobee, so we wanted to get an “earlier” start at 8 a.m. We had spent the night at Moorehaven and as we went under the Moorehaven bridge, we noticed that the Moorehaven Railway Bridge was down. It’s supposed to be open unless a train is coming. Several of the cruising guides suggest sounding the horn for someone to open it. We tried that several times to no avail. Finally, we called the lockmaster at Ortona Lock for suggestions. He gave us the phone number of the CSX Dispatch in Clewiston. After a chuckle, the man at CSX we spoke with said they’d send someone in about 5 minutes to open the bridge – SO NO BRIDGETENDER ON DUTY???. After 30 minutes, a man in a pickup truck came and in 10-15 minutes the bridge was open.. So our early start wasn’t so early – we lost over an hour waiting for the bridge to open. Oh, one of the joys of cruising……
    If you are crossing Lake O and have a questions or problems with a railway bridge, here is the number we were given for CSX Dispatch in Clewiston: 863-983-3163!
    Regina Smith

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Moore Haven

    There appears to be a lot of RR activity in Moore Haven lately. We came through on 2/16 and the RR bridge was down. There was a short train preparing to cross. A couple of men got off the train and walked back and forth across the bridge like they were inspecting it. The train finally crossed and we had to wait about 10 minutes to go through. I don’t know of any of RR bridges that have bridge tenders on duty.
    Susan Parker

  • Watch Out For the Railroad Bridge at Moore Haven (Okeechobee Waterway St. M. 78)

    The Moore Haven Railway Bridge crosses the Okeechobee Waterway, a short hop west of the Moore Haven Lock. It has a bare, closed vertical clearance of only 5 feet, so it it closes on you unexpectedly, that could be a REAL problem, as Captain James learned to his misfortune!!!

    Be aware that this bridge can close without any signal. On Jan 27 at 3 PM we were traveling E to the Moore Haven lock after calling for a lock through with the lock master stating the lock was open to us and we could proceed. The railroad bridge was open. As we approached the bridge it appeared to be stuck in a partially closed position. We proceeded but too late to realize that it was indeed closing and we were impaled causing severe damage to the forward sections of the boat. At no time was there any signal, warning or individual present. Retreating to the City Docks witnesses confirmed that no signal was heard although they had heard it clearly on other occasions. I later discovered that the bridge has no radio contact or communication with the adjacent lock. I have had previous experience with this bridge waiting one and half hours for the bridge to open in a swift current and no communication. They seem to operate without regard to water traffic as opposed to the locks. I will update you as to
    any legal actions.
    Tom James, Captain
    “Tortuga” Krogen 42

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Moore Haven Railway Bridge

  • Excellent Food at Seminole Inn – Indiantown, Florida

    ALL cruisers who stop for the night at Indiantown Marina (on the Okeechobee Waterway, between the St. Lucie and Port Mayacca locks), should heed GL’s advice below. I have definitely blown my own diet here on more than one occasion!

    Stop at the Seminole Inn in IndianTown. The food is good southern style. The fried green tomatoes are one of the best items. It is where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor spent their honeymoon. Clewiston and Moore Haven are interesting just to watch the floating opera with all the snow birds. Some of the flat fishing boats seem to have no idea about windage of a big trawler and “give way to tonnage.” Do watch the swim platform in the morning for live gators…. And sample the gator on any menu, when you see it. There
    was a little hole in the wall dinner outside Alva with the best gator, but was gone last crossing. Enjoy…..

  • Don’t Forget the Mosquito Netting While Cruising the Okeechobee Waterway

    Captains Jim and Kathie could not give better advice on cruising the Okeechobee Waterway. Particularly around Clewiston and Moore Haven, I have seem local mosquitoes swarming that seem large enough to carry off your vessel!

    Just make sure you have mosquito netting for your ports and doors. Otherwise they will eat you alive as soon as the sun goes down
    Werner & Kathie Steuernagel

    I drove around the west side of the lake last summer and used up all the windshield washer fluid cleaning the window.
    They are black and very nasty, you get attacked in swarms.
    Lorne Cook

  • Excellent Okeechobee Waterway Discussion

    One of the most extensive and interesting discussions concerning the Okeechobee Waterway I’ve ever encountered, has appeared on the “GL” (Great Loop) mailing list, as of early January, 2012. I’ve cherry picked some of the best points, and reprinted these below.
    As you will see, there are different points of view about this passage and the marinas along the way. Also, contained within these messages is a wealth of good cruising info, and superb cruising tips, from a small army of veteran skippers.
    We STRONGLY suggest that everyone who is contemplating a cruise across the Okeechobee, particularly first timers, read ALL the messages below. You’ll then have a very good idea what to expect while cruising the Okeechobee Waterway!

    I am planning to leave Tampa first or second week of Feb and go to the Bahamas. I intend to go across the Okeechobee Waterway if there is enough water. Never have been across and it sounds like a fun way to go.. Does anyone have any info or knowledge how it is now? Is anyone planning a trip to Bahamas next month?
    Denny Rodebush

    [Okeechobee Waterway Depth Information]
    Route 1 [a.k.a. the “Lake Route” – editor] is best for anything larger than a bass boat.

    The Okeechobee FUN? Not in my mind it isn’t! Boring is more like it. Be SURE you have a chart. this advice may sound silly but twice when going across we met boaters, both time sailors with small kids onboard, who not only had no chart but also had no clue! They both asked how you find the opening at the other end? It is so shallow you must follow the channel and that is not always easy. You are looking at water all day long and about the only excitement is seeing the white pelicans STANDING in the water nearby. No anchorages, you must stay at Indian Town on the east and the free dock right next to the lock on the west and
    neither is at all interesting. My memory fails me about the name of the place you can stay on the south west end, a little town with a dock at a restaurant in a narrow channel that is not fun to turn in and noisy at night. It sure beats the alternative though!
    Marge Griffith

    We found the Okeechobee very interesting. We took the rim route going west because we wanted to check out all the facilities for Skipper Bob’s guides and we came back east through the middle of the lake. The rim route proved to be full of wild life, We saw plenty of alligators, birds, and fishermen in FAST boats. (They did not speed in the channel) I put fishermen in the category
    because the are a different breed from regular boaters. We enjoyed out trip, took a few days because of stopping at every place there is to stop and found it to be relaxing and peaceful. Sorry that Marg was bored on her crossing. I do agree about the charts. So many people leave the dock without a chart and that is so wrong.
    Elaine Reib
    Co-founder, Skipper Bob Publications

    Years ago our last crossing [ the forth time ] had to be across the lake because the rim route was full of downed trees. Now I think I have heard lately that the COE was going to clean it out. Even before all the storms crossed Florida [ in ’06, ’07 ] the rim route was shallow. I’d check with the COE before starting out. Also there was a bridge near the fish camp about half way around that would only open at 7 AM. Not that you would want to continue on anyway. Slow trawlers would take most of the next day to get to the R.R. bridge at Port Mayaka. That is unless you have a fast boat. And even if I did I would NEVER run the rim at
    more that a crawl. I do recall the last time we were heading east after leaving the Morehaven Lock and heading down to Rollin Martins we were amazed at the number of Alligators along the banks.
    Tom B.

    To each his or her I guess. But I’ve never found the trip boring.
    Following the channel is very easy IMO, as it is clearly marked. If you have an autopilot it’s almost a no brainer. And there are a few anchorages. Plus you can tie up to the dolphin pilings located near the locks for the night if you wish. Indiantown has a couple of good restaurants and good marina.
    The other marina you seem to be talking about would be Roland Martin’s in Clewiston. Which can have a bit of a bar crowd on weekends now that they have added a Tiki bar, which some folks (myself included) just might find appealing at times. They have some good bands from time to time and you can always call the Clewiston Inn to send a car for you so you can get a bite to eat and check out the very cool Florida wildlife mural in their bar while getting away from the marina for a while. As to turning around in the marina channel, there is a fair sized turning basin just before the marina docks. So it’s just a simple
    matter of backing down to it and then turning around. Or turning around first and then backing down to your slip.
    Capt. Bill

    Been there done that Several times, Loved it each time. It you want to know the Fun and interesting parts of the Okeechobee, email me. It’s a great trip, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!
    See you in Paradise!!
    Capt. Sterling

    Totally agree, see the real Florida, one of our favorite cruising areas. Just be sure to avoid Ms Martins Marina in Clewistown, it has become a very unfriendly place. Last time we were there they would not meet you at the dock or help with fueling.In addition the owner was running around inside yelling and screaming at all her helpers. With that said we like the docks and facilities at Moore Haven and LaBelle is always a favorite.
    David Doyle

    While I agree with a lot of what Capt. Bill said in those short sentences, I would like to add to it. But first, I’d like to say that we find the Okeechobee Waterway very interesting. The lake crossing is just another open water crossing, but the sights and sounds along the route are very cool, and to us, well worth it.
    West-to-east, the route starts at the Caloosahatche River “delta.” At the gulf end at San Carlos Bay, which is wide, but there are many shallows and shoal areas, so the marked channels do need to be honored. It’s not difficult at all. At and after Ft. Myers, the river follows a narrow channel that you must honor.
    At Alva, past the western-most CoE WP Franklin Lock, the character of the river changes slowly from narrow river to man-made canal. It’s like that all the way to Clewiston. Then there is a 5-mile long channel from Clewiston out to the open-water lake crossing to Port Mayaca. Port Mayaca to St. Lucie is cut man-made canal. The St. Lucie River from the CoE St. Lucie lock to Stuart is narrow and shallow.
    The Roland Martin marina at Clewiston is located in a very shallow pool behind a
    CoE lock [flood gate actually – editor] that is almost always open on both ends. If you stop there, be very mindful of lake water depths and very careful in the Clewiston Harbor if you draw more than 3 to 3-1/2 ft. The Clewiston Harbor carries less depth than the published lake crossing, Route 1. We tried to get in once with our 4 ft draft, but grounded in the mud before we could get to their dock. The girl at the marina told us they had 5′ of water at the docks. Not! NG.
    The channel from Clewiston Harbor to the open lake can be deceiving. The markers near Clewiston are fairly close together, but they get progressively farther and farther apart out in the lake. However, the Clewiston Channel itself remains very narrow. Winds in the region will generally try to blow boats sideways out of the channel, so YOU MUST BE ABLE TO BACK-SIGHT MARKERS YOU
    HAVE ALREADY PASSED AS WELL AS SEE THE MARKERS IN FRONT OF YOU to be sure you actually stay WITHIN the channel. Two key questions are: how good is the astern visibility you’ll have on your boat, and how good is your eyesight? I’m not kidding here; both factors can/will affect you in this area! There are two areas in the Clewiston channel known to be very shallow, but the real problem when lake waters are down is the channel edges. There is no margin; the markers mark the channel edges. The channel is man-made, and the dredged cut penetrates a shallow and thin limestone layer. That is rock, and it will damage a prop if you manage to get over to it. See Claiborne Young’s web site for details; also In my opinion, I do not recommend autopilot use in the Clewiston channel or the upper St. Lucie River. In Clewiston, even in light winds, it’s just too likely that you’ll wind up drifting sideways. The upper St. Lucie is very significantly shoal; follow
    outside curves.
    If the lake sounding levels for Route 1 are down, also be aware that prolonged winds will drive water to the lee shore; so, south winds will pile lake water up on the north, leaving water levels in the south noticeably less than published. North winds will pile up water to the south, which causes water levels at Port Mayaca to be, likewise, less than published. Port Mayaca is soft mud, but not so, as mentioned, Clewiston. Depending on specific wind conditions, the day you cross and in the preceding 24 hrs, published depths can mislead you into thinking there’s more water than there actually is at the other end.
    All this is just to make you aware, not nervous. Conditions like this are common in SE Florida. Just be careful! Plan to cross on calm days if possible. For deeper draft boats, Moore Haven town dock is better than Roland Martin for draft and docking convenience, although there ain’t much at Moore Haven, and what there is is a 3/4 mile walk. Indiantown Marina is nice, and very busy when the Canadian enclave boats are splashing in fall and hauling in spring; call ahead for reservations. Sanctuary draws 4’2″, and we have crossed in calm conditions uneventfully and successfully when the daily lake datum was 4′ 5″. Did I mention: conditions were “calm.” We have also crossed in 25 knot winds (a different crossing); 2′ – 3′ short period seas were not particularly “fun.” Incidentally, the water in Lake “O” is not water at all; it’s a nice, dark chocolate mix; and, Palm Beach County drinks it.
    Hope this helps.
    Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary

    The Okeechobee Waterway is a delightful trip! We have taken this in a 16 foot Boston Whaler, a 34 foot SeaRay Express & a 56 foot SeaRay Bridge boat many times with & without dogs. You see parts of Florida and her nature that you might not see otherwise such as the possibility of flocks of storks, pelicans, alligators along the banks, ranches with cattle and more.
    There are two ways across Lake Okeechobee. One is across the middle of the lake & the other is around the South rim. If you plan a round trip, then, we recommend trying each option. There are a half dozen marinas along the waterway to spend the night, each with their own personalities from quiet, more elegant to fun. We have tried most several times including Roland Martins. We had a good experience with all of them. Some marinas have seaweed or grasses in the water so if this is an issue for you, just ask in advance. None of the marinas are the “Ritz” but more of a homey or back country feel. A waterway guide would be helpful to learn about the marinas, their depths and amenities, as well, anything neat to see along the waterway.
    You can make the trip in one day. However, if you have crowds in the locks or have to wait much, you may want to prepare for an overnight trip. The lock masters are helpful and will guide you. Reading the protocol about how to go through locks,
    setting the lines, where & how to position your boat in advance would be beneficial. We recommend taking a chart for directions, locations and to monitor the water depths.
    It is a great, short trip! Enjoy!
    Fran Johnson

    We have done the Okeechobee Waterway three times – once over and back on our friends 39 ft raised deck Cruiser and once with our own 36 ft raised bridge cruiser. On one trip we used the lake route one way and the rim route the other way. On the other route we could only go the lake route due to low water. On both trips we stayed at Roland Martins Marina and ate at a hotel in town –
    excellent choice. Both trips were very enjoyable experiences.
    As a young lad and a Floridian, I well remember when the Okeechobee Waterway was built and the residents of South Florida objected because it essentially made South Florida an island! The lake at that time had a debth of 3 ft or less, until the dykes, canal and locks were built — all for the purpose of creating a fresh water reservoir to irrigate Florida’s mid state farm lands. The project also resulted in a major wildlife refuge and fishing mecca.
    That is why today the Army Corps of Engineers controls the water depth of the lake and canals.
    John and Judy Gill
    Two J’s V, a 36 ft. Carver Mariner

    We have made the trip twice, east to West across the lake both times. Enjoyed both, we have stopped at St Lucie Lock Campground, Roland Martin’s Marina in Clewiston, friends living nearby brought us to the Clewiston Inn for a very nice dinner. Moore Haven Docks which are fine to spend the night, but not much to do around there, We also spent a night at a friend’s dock near Ortona. All nice spots.
    In addition to all the alligators and other Florida wildlife we cruised past someone’s canal side backyard which held a group of Llamas and a Camel!
    Steve Willett
    Monk 36, Gumbo

    Made the trip several times, and enjoyed it every time. Great wildlife and bird watching, and if you are a people person,you WILL meet some characters!
    Our favorite stops are the free dock at LaBelle (a charming little town with the most majestic live oak trees you will see this side of Savannah) and Rialto marina near Alva.
    Jonathan Gorham

  • Good Report on Sweetwater Landing Marina

    Sweetwater Landing Marina is located on the Okeechobee Waterway/Caloosahatchee River, just east of Fort Myers, near the I-75 Twin Bridges.

    We kept our Monk 36 Trawler at Sweetwater Landing last winter. It was a great place. Well protected, very nice staff and close to I-75 and the airport. Their price was one of the lowest around.
    Sweetwater Landing
    16991 State Road 31
    Fort Myers, FL 33905
    Fred Pfleger

  • Publix Supermarket Within Walking Distance of The City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin’s Dinghy Dock (Caloosahatchee River/Okeechobee Waterway)

    Located at Mile Marker 135 on the Okeechobee Waterway, 15 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, Fort Myers Yacht Basin is a well designed and protected marina. It is owned and operated by the City ofHow typical of a CLASS Operation and a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR like the City of Fort Myers Dockage Basin to provide a dinghy dock. And, thanks to Captain Dunham, we know there’s a Publix Supermarket within walking distance.

    The City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin, located on the Caloosahatchee River, has a free dinghy dock. The marina is located in a downtown location and a Publix is .8 mile from the marina.
    Susan Dunham

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For The City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of The City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin

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