Okeechobee Plan

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…the Okeechobee planning begins…

We plan to cross the state of Florida using the Okeechobee Waterway from Stuart, FL, to Fort Meyers, FL, taking us directly across the 2nd largest body of water completely enclosed by US territory, Lake Okeechobee! This waterway leads from the AICW to OWW to the GICW. That is the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway to the Okeechobee Waterway to the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway. These waterways are really fun to transit and a way to explore  the interesting towns and locations along the way. Our goal is to sail over to the west coast of Florida and up into the Sarasota / Bradenton area to see good friends and to learn about a place we have yet to visit, Palmetto, Florida.

We are learning about the Okeechobee Waterway and here are some facts:

  • 28 Bridges, 8 which will need to open for us
  • 5 Locks, lifting us up 15 feet to the level of Lake Okeechobee and then down to sea level
  • 154 statute miles long
  • Interesting towns of: Indiantown, Clewiston, and La Belle
  • The Army Corp of Engineers manages the waterway, locks, bridges and the lake level

Port Mayaca Railroad Lift Bridge, 49 feet+
Our biggest challenge is the Port Mayaca Railroad Lift Bridge. This bridge lifts to a height of 49 feet off the water. Our sailboat mast height is reported at 48 feet by the Island Packet Factory. On top of the mast we have a B&G Wind anemometer ($750.00,) a 1.5 foot VHF antenna, a digital TV antenna, and a  12″ lightning strike dissipator. The limiting height would be the VHF antenna adding 1.5 foot to our 48 foot mast, making our height 49.5 feet. That would mean that our VHF antenna would tap the bridge and bend back as we pass under the bridge. This would be OK, but not good!
Lucky for us, the Army Corp of Engineers, Jacksonville District manages the level of the lake and they like to keep it a bit lower at 12.5 feet which they call optimum level. This level of the Okeechobee Lake then impacts the clearance of the Port Mayaca Railroad Lift Bridge. As the lake rises, the RR bridge has less clearance. As the lake drops, the RR bridge clearance get higher. Really interesting, isn’t it? Check out this LIVE link to the lake level 
Today’s report looks like this:
U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
Lake Okeechobee and Navigation Depth Report
Data Ending 2400 hours 29 APR 2013    
Today’s Lake Okeechobee Stage =  13.41 (Feet-NGVD29)
Today’s Route 1 Navigational Depth ≈  7.35 Feet
Today’s Route 2 Navigational Depth ≈   5.55 Feet
Bridge Clearance = 50.65 Feet
S-308 Tailwater Elevation = 12.85   (Feet-NGVD29)   
Report Generated 30APR2013 @ 11:15  ** Preliminary Data – Subject to Revision **

Our draft (depth is 4.5 feet) We will take Route #1 which goes directly across the middle of the lake. Route #2 is longer and follows the perimeter of the lake to the south side.

Radar, Tuesday as we wait out the storms

So, we are waiting here at Stuart, Florida, on a mooring ball, until the thunderstorms die down. We do not want to get into the Okeechobee Waterway OR the Lake and have to deal with a severe Florida thunderstorm which usually has HAIL and very high winds. We may be able to go Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

We still wait….radar WED….the big ones are coming…

Thursday AM….we are ready to depart! WAIT….severe thunderstorm on our route…
errrrrr…..so we wait. Maybe we can run that gap. We will see

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0 Replies to “Okeechobee Plan”

  1. Watch out for hungry alligators.

    Kate and I fished Okeechobee years ago and caught about 50 Crappie in one day.

    Cleaned them all… ate a few – gave a bunch away.

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