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The Salty Southeast
Cruisers' Net
Cruisers Helping Cruisers
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 of239 461-0775 Legacy Harbour Marina entrance is located on the Okeechobee Waterway East of Marker #49 on the Caloosahatchee River. The Marina is situated two blocks from historic downtown Fort Myers and three blocks from the historic Edison-Ford Winter Estates. The Marina's 131-Slips range in size from 40 feet to 80 feet and can accommodate Transient Boats of 100 feet plus. The large Fairways make our slips easily accessible. Our slips are surrounded by one of the largest 'floating breakwaters' on the Gulf of Mexico. The floating docks are state-of-the-art. Legacy Harbour Marina is a full-featured facility with all the modern conveniences of home including pump-out station, heated pool, fitness center, full electric metered at the slip, cable TV, laundry, air-conditioned showers and wireless Internet connections available. The Boaters' Lounge is available for relaxing after a cruise or for private parties. The view from the lounge is spectacular! Our grounds are beautifully manicured and provide great strolling along the river with benches, Chickee Hut, and excellent access to all of historic Fort Myers. Please take a few moments to browse our website and see for yourself what our  beautiful boating facility can offer you the next time you are cruising in Southwest Florida.The Pilot House Marina is located on secluded Lake Largo just minutes from downtown Key Largo. This choice location borders on John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, an underwater park famous among snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
Punta Gorda, Florida - a GREAT cruising destinationRegatta Pointe MarinaRiviera Dunes Marina Just off Tampa Bay Owned and Operated by BoatersFisherman's Village Marina and Resort, Punta Gorda, FL

Archive For: Content Okeechobee

  • 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

  • Diesel Mechanic Recommended in Fort Myers, Florida Region

    I have always said repair recommendations from fellow cruisers are invaluable. When one of our number has had a good experience with a repair firm or individual, chances are the rest of us will have good luck as well.

    I would highly recommend Calusa Certified Marine Marine for anyone requiring Service on a Cummins/Yanmar/Volvo Penta in the Fort Myers/Cape
    Coral area. They did a complete cooling systems service , timing Belt replacement and valve adjust on my Yanmar 300 HP 6LP. The Mechanic GREG
    was extremely well organized, very efficient, very knowledgeable answering all my questions. He took great care servicing the engine and the work
    area was left cleaner than when he arrived. He also discovered a problem with the timing belt tensioner that if had not been corrected could have
    resulted in a catastrophic engine failure. The work was done on time and the price was very fair
    For Service Contact Bob Miller- Calusa Certified Marine, LLC (239) 574-5053
    I have no interest in this company – Just a very satisfied customer
    Darrell Berge

  • Good Words For Sunset Bay Moorings (and Marina), Stuart, Florida (on the Okeechobee Waterway/St. Lucie River, South Fork)

    Wow, sounds like a GREAT place to spend the winter months, whether you pick up a mooring, or coil your lines at one of the marina’s wet slips.
    Sunset Bay also has the advantage of position. It lies directly on the patch of the Okeechobee Waterway, and only a few miles off the AICW, via the St. Lucie River. See you there!

    We see some of you returning from the north. The Sunset Bay Moorings are alive and well and about half full. Stuart has much to offer – close shopping, close restaurants, public transportation(the moorings have private for free also) and good entertainment. The mooring offers fine facilities – lounge, outside seating with tables, ship’s store and a great riverside walking path to downtown. Join us and have a great winter!
    Other things that are of interests to cruisers are arts and crafts shows, beautiful public parks, music in the downtown area on many most Sundays and a Sunday green market, all within a comfortable walking distance. There is also limo and bus transportation available to the West Palm Beach airport.
    Fred and Elaine DeFoor

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Sunset Bay Marina and Moorings

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Sunset Bay Marina and Moorings

  • Thoughts on Cruising Lake Okeechobee In Foul Weather

    Of course, if you are going to cruise the very useful Okeechobee Waterway between Florida’s eastern and western coastline, or the other way around, you must include a passage across Lake Okeechobee as part of that sojourn. Sometime, but less often than many captain’s inexperienced with these waters think, you can bypass rough conditions on Lake Okeechobee, by taking the so-called, “Rim Route.” HOWEVER, this passage is a bear in northerly winds, it is much shallower, and more subject to debris. So, most cruisers choose to take the “Lake Route,” also known as “Route #1,” from the Port Mayacca Lock to Clewiston (or, again, the other way around).
    Captain Moore’s remarks below are, in my opinion, right on the money when it comes to crossing the great lake in foul weather. Better to stay in port until the weather turns fair, while pouring one more round of Mount Gay Rum, and playing a few more hands to bridge.

    As to Lake Okeechobee being safe “because the waves cannot be higher than the depth of the water,” some of my most fearsome experiences sailing (50+ years) have been on the Big O. Because the lake is shallow and fresh, the waves are square and close together. Fresh water becomes airborne more easily in a storm than in salt water. Coming off a wave and having the bow of your boat bury in the next wave while still on the first can be very exciting. Watch the depth sounder when that happens and the 4′ wave you have just navigated sends you toward the VERY nearby bottom. The most severe lightning I have ever encountered has been on Lake O. In addition, suggesting the rim canal during a norther puts the lee shore just an engine hiccup away. Oh, and I came across this last May and encountered epic swarms of love bugs the entire way across. I have also spent many idyllic crossings under sail with fair winds and flat water.
    Capt. Jeff Moore

    Good morning to you too.
    I’ve been sailing Florida’s West coast (grew up in Bradenton in the 50′s, taught school for 40 years up and down the coast) and have made the Lake O crossing more times than I can count in boats from 24′ to 70′. One thing I’ve never seen addressed is wind direction relative to the orientation of the lock. The only one where this is absolutely critical is the Port Myakka lock in a westerly. That lock is right at the edge of the lake with breakwaters extending into the lake and oriented a little south of west. In the winter, our cold fronts shift SW before they go north. In a sou’wester I have see 4′ rollers IN the lock when the doors open. Conversely, if you are in the lock heading into the lake, when they open the doors, you will think you are in a washing machine. The good news is that the lock masters are very helpful in analyzing the situation and will give you lots of info so as to what to expect, even to the point of suggesting waiting for a more favorable wind direction.
    Capt. Jeff Moore

  • WARNING!!! Tickets Being Issued to Anchored Boats on Caloosahatchee River/Okeechobee Waterway (near St. M. 103)

    We have no explanation for why a USACOE Park Ranger is issuing tickets to boats anchored on the Caloosahatchee River portion of the Okeechobee Waterway, but it’s a safe bet it has something to do with the low water levels on Lake Okeechobee. Perhaps the Corps is simply trying to keep as many boats as possible off the OWW during these times of historic low water.

    Time to get the bloggers going. A USACOE park ranger from the Franklin Locks is writing $100.00 fine United States District Court Violation Notices to boaters on the Caloosahatchee. If you don’t pay, you get a federal warrant sworn out for your arrest.
    Apparently the Park Ranger can write these boating tickets based on the 1948 Flood Control Act, Central and South Florida Project, that governs the Caloosahatchee, Lake O and the St. Lucie Canal.
    I asked the attorney from the Jacksonville Office why a park ranger from the Franklin Locks is writing tickets on the River now when there hadn’t seemed to be any in the past. Of course the attorney didn’t know anything about it….. (they don’t seem to know much up there..)
    Chilling effect on local businesses along the River?
    Best regards,
    Jody Foster

    The tickets are being written to those anchored off (or Mediterranean moored to) the LaBelle City Dock. At least one arrest warrant has already been issued.
    W.E. “Ted” Guy, Jr.
    Stuart, FL

    I’ve also heard an ACOE ranger is writing tickets by the Indiantown Marina.
    Jody Foster

    Here’s a update from Captain Foster, as of 7/8/11:

    Thanks for your continued interest. I’m very concerned that an Army Corp park ranger is cruising up and down the Caloosahatchee writing tickets that may or may not be legitimate even under the federal statute. Of course the big problem is the expense of fighting the ticket in federal court in Fort Myers rather than paying the $100.00 fine. The only response I got from the Army Corp is they have authority to write them under Title 36. And of course getting any response from the Army Corp took about 10 phone calls on my part. Good to know our federal tax dollars are being put to such good use….
    Neither the Hendry County sheriff nor FWC were aware of these tickets. If I hear any more I’ll let you know.
    Best regards,
    Jody Foster

    Assuming the boaters were doing nothing illegal, I would suggest they immediately contact the larger local newspapers and television stations with their story.
    John Kettlewell

    Didn’t the word get out? Everything is illegal.
    Richard Glenn

    Did not see anything in the title that shows anchoring as a violation, maybe it’s hidden somewhere else or would someone post the details on the actual ticket…
    SUMMARY: Section 4 of this Act authorizes the Corps, under the supervision of the Secretary of the Army, to construct, maintain and operate public park and recreational facilities at water resources development projects (16 U.S.C. 460(d)). Local interests are also permitted to construct, operate and maintain such facilities with permission from the Secretary of the Army. Water areas of all such projects shall be open to public use generally, for boating, swimming, bathing, fishing, and other recreational purposes, and ready access to and exit from such water areas along the shores of such reservoirs shall be maintained for general public use, when such use is not found to be contrary to the public interest. The lease of public lands and structures at water projects is also authorized. Recreational uses must be consistent with State laws for the protection of fish and game. All persons designated by the Chief of Engineers for enforcement shall have the authority to issue a citation for violation of the regulations adopted by the Secretary of the Army. Amendments to this Act extend the development of recreation to non-reservoir projects.
    Dennis McMurtry

  • Happy Times at Fort Myers Yacht Basin (St. Lucie 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 ofWell, of course Captains Connie and Ron enjoyed their time at this first-rate, city run facility. After all, Fort Myers Yacht Basin is a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!!!

    We were live-aboards here for over 2 years and loved it! Dock personnel are the most qualified, helpful, responsive, and friendly of ANY marina we have been in. They will even have someone stand by after hours to recieve and help you if you call ahead.
    They generally have the lowest price in the area on fuel and are very diligent in maintaining clean, filtered fuel…no water or algea contamination.
    Tell Leif and Wendy “Hi” from
    Ron and Connie!

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

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

  • Watch for Westward Drift in the Clewiston Approach Channel

    Here’s a warning against leeway I’ve not heard about before, nor experienced for ourselves. However, there’s no better advice than words of wisdom from a fellow cruiser.
    Also, note the 5 foot soundings encountered by Captain Botkin in the Clewiston cut. This is always the shallowest part of the entire Okeechobee Waterway, and depths are getting critical here as water levels on Lake Okeechobee continue to drop.

    Cruising News:
    We crossed yesterday (4/27). With the southeast winds, there is a very strong westward drift leaving Clewiston. If you don’t watch behind you, and stay in the channel, you WILL run aground. The drift forces you to steer as much as 45 degrees to the east of the green marks, just to stay in the channel. We hit a section of 5 feet depth for about a quarter mile before and including G-9 leaving Clewiston. There were no other problem areas.
    Dennis P. Botkin

  • The Good and the Less Than Good at Sunset Bay Marina (Stuart, Fl – Okeechobee Waterway St. M. 7)

    The recently rebuilt and enlarged facility has garnered a host of favorable comments here on the Cruisers’ Net. Below, Captain takes a look at both side of the proverbial coin.

    Lots of good comments regarding this marina and staff here. I moved over here in January from another local marina with intent on making this my permanent home port but am leaving after 4 months. Some good points to be aware of … some not so good.
    Sunsets are to die for here. Locals and tourists line up on the seawall by the restaurant to watch and photograph them.
    Pricing was considerably more expensive here for a lift slip than where we came from. But given the resort-like feel, the proximity to my house, nice ship’s store for sundries, cleanliness and the comments here about staff we felt this was a good move and that the $250 more per month we would pay would be worth the cost increase.
    The lifts are brand new and there are 10 or 12 of them at the marina. I had to adjust the bunks to my specifications after the staff told me that the bunks could not be tilted (they can be). They are a bit slow and have no automatic raise/lower feature enabled, but there is a good 8 feet of water under them. The current happens to run in-line with the lifts so getting on and off even in a cross-wind is easy.
    For transients, this is definitely one of the better marinas in Stuart in terms of facilities, boat access and nearby amenities. Note the comments above with other posters really reflect and center around the transient and live-aboard populations.
    Fuel pricing is competitive with the other local marinas. The problem of boats running the Okeechobee waterway at speed parallel to the fuel dock has been resolved with a “Slow, Minimum Wake Zone”.
    For locals, parking is incredibly limited and gets way worse during weekends when the Sailors Return restaurant gets wound up. The marina started using a valet parking service in an attempt to deal with what they even admit is a very poor parking lot design with small spaces and too few spaces.
    At first the valets were best described as rude and confrontational with the paying marina partrons and restaurant customers but that seems to have been ironed out. A parking permit sticker is made available to marina patrons and we get priority handling without the attitude from the valets.
    My experience with the staff was mixed. Some were among the most customer-oriented and customer-friendly people I have conducted business with. Others not so much … with some pretty surprising authoritarian and uncaring attitudes toward the paying customer from a few. Once in a while is just a bad day but there are a couple of guys there that just do not get it and it is recurring enough to be noticed.
    One example of staff not meeting my expectations: We had one recurring issue with dock people driving their three wheel electric scooters at high speed on the narrow docks. Even after repeatedly asking the offending staff guys to slow down, the behavior continued. The Harbormaster did tell me after complaint to him that he would slow them down, but it did not happen.
    After nearly being hit on the narrow dock while getting some supplies from my dock box once too often, we decided to move on. You cannot hear these scooters coming so be aware of this safety issue especially of you end up on the “A” dock that has the fuel dock at the end. Be told “coming through!” as the dock boy flies by is just not acceptable.
    Another example of staff not meeting expectations: Last weekend while I was not there, my son was reportedly told by one of the staff that he was not allowed to wash our boat due to South Florida Water Management District regulations forbidding water use. I was not there to see who actually said this but that was incorrect.
    When I talked to the Harbormaster about this and to point out that SFWMD does not have a rule forbidding boat or car washing, he agreed and stated that he did not ask people to not wash boats. He did state that the marina has high water bills and that they are asking people to conserve water. I suspect something got lost in interpretation with one of the staff when this issue was discussed with them.
    So… *some* staff is great and “gets” it. Others I am not so sure I would say do.
    Ultimately, we just did not feel we were getting the value and service expected for the *premium* price charged us. Granted there are a good 300 slips here and our experience needs to be taken in light of how many seem happy. We were disappointed to have to leave but decided it was for the best for us.
    I hold no ill will with Sunset Bay Marina and wish them luck. They just have a few things to work on as I suspect they have back-slid a bit since opening.
    Bill Barrett

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Sunset Bay Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Sunset Bay Marina

  • Indiantown Marina (Okeechbee Waterway, Statute Mile 29.5)

    I can personally testify that Indiantown Marina is a VERY SAFE place to dry store your boat. Several huge fields hard by the dockage basin are always dotted with hundreds of vessels resting from their voyages.
    The “ash” problem Captain Jay mentions below is actually much worse farther to the west around Pahokee, Clewiston and Moore Haven. Here, when the cane fields are being burned off, the oil ash can occasionally be a real nightmare. I have seldom known this situation to be as bad at Indiantown.

    Indian Town is very safe but it is in the middle of farm country especially sugar so be ready for lots of dirt and ash on your boat when you come back. If you wax it before storage it washes off with some effort.
    Insurance companies that I have checked with do not give a break for safe storage but you sleep better.
    Jay Gehrig
    S/V Windsong

  • Dolphins (large pilings) at Clewiston Not a Good Overnight Stop

    Yes, I can understand why spending a night tied to these commercially oriented dolphins (see below) would not make for a very comfortable evening. In addition to the solution provided by Captain Mikki below, another good plan would be spend the night at Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina (in Clewiston).

    The dolphins at Clewiston are really for big tugs, not 36′ trawlers. That was our planned stop to be ready for Lake O in the morning. We tied bow and stern up using the dingy but, just at that time there was rain and some wind, so it made it challenging to be safe for the night. Safe we were and got an early start in the morning for a good trip. Next time I’d like to try anchoring in Moore Haven and crossing Lake O and anchoring just after railroad bridge where a canal makes a cut.
    on Asian Lady

    And, a very different point of view:

    We have tied to dolphins on the Big O waterway several times. We found that they are an excellent place to spend the night. We use a stern anchor to eliminate the swing, rather than trying to tie to a second dolphin. Most of the posts have cleats, but a few don’t. Watch for an excess amount of tar on some.
    Richard Ross

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Clewiston and Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina

  • LaBelle City Dock (Okeechobee Waterway)

    The LaBelle City dock overlooks the south side of the Okeechobee Waterway, just west of the LaBelle bridge.

    On the return leg we stayed at the LaBelle free dock just west of the SR29 bridge.It was my first experience with a stern to “Med Moor” but all went well and we spent a quiet and secure night. LaBelle is great town to walk around, with some of the most impressive live oaks you will see this side of Savanna. We had an excellent Italian dinner at the Forrey Grill a few blocks from the dock.
    Jonathan Gorham

  • Bimini Basin Anchorage (Okeechobee Waterway Statute Mile 145)

    The route to Bimini Basin can be a little convoluted for first-timers, but once you get there, cruisers will discover one of the most sheltered anchorages imaginable. On the other hand, we have been told by a Fort Myers cruising authority that the holding ground here is “suspect.” We have never had any problem getting our hook to hold, and clearly, as you will read below, Captain Gorham did not have that problem either.

    We overnighted at the Bimini Basin anchorage on our way to Cayo Costa and had a pleasant evening. We found the holding to be quite good in grey sticky mud – it got a test because just before dawn a squall blew through with a 180 degree wind shift and 30+ knot winds and we did not budge. The anchor was set so well I had to yank it out with the engine. Jonathan Gorham Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Bimini Basin Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of The Bimini Basin Anchorage

  • A Good Experience at Roland Martins Marina (Clewiston, FL – Okeechobee Waterway)

    Roland Martins Marina is found on a small canal in Clewiston, Florida.

    Made a quick back and forth trip March 28-April 2. Spent a night at Roland Martins Marina in Clewiston on both legs. A nice friendly place, and very active in the evenings. A prior posting indicated they did not have pumpout working, but we found it up and running on our visit. Did some waliking around town, and reccomend the Sunrise Restraunt on Hwy 80 if you like good Mexican food – it’s a short walk from the marina. One thing about Clewiston – What is that smell??!! There was an awful stink that came and went with the breeze that had us all checking the bottoms of our shoes and blaming the dog – the gal at the marina office says it is related to sugar processing, and “you get used to it”.
    Jonathan Gorham

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