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Old 12-15-2018, 10:34 AM   #1
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Okeechobee

Thinking about a January trip through the canal from Stewart to Lake Okachobee to the West Florida Coast. Anyone been this way since last summers red tide mess?
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Old 12-15-2018, 02:03 PM   #2
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The red tide was along the western shore of FL.Not in Lake O

Mostly caused by iron laden sand dust blowing from Africa.

We are a mile short of the Ortona Lock when westbound.

Have a modest amount of power woodworking equipment if you wish to dock overnight , free of course.
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Old 12-15-2018, 05:50 PM   #3
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Okeechobee waterway and lake were clear of algae and any red tide from Stuart to Fort Myers, when I went through in the middle of November.

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Old 12-15-2018, 06:14 PM   #4
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The state red tide map shows mostly gone
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Old 12-15-2018, 07:17 PM   #5
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I will be crossing in January. The thing I am keeping an eye on is lake level. It should not be a problem in January but it could be in May if historical levels hold. Normally levels drop from January to June.
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Old 12-15-2018, 07:51 PM   #6
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Everything was fine 2 weeks ago
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Old 12-15-2018, 09:44 PM   #7
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I ran into some red tide in my 2016 cruise to Alaska and ran right through it. What am I missing?
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Old 12-16-2018, 08:59 AM   #8
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I will be crossing in January. The thing I am keeping an eye on is lake level. It should not be a problem in January but it could be in May if historical levels hold. Normally levels drop from January to June.
You can get the lake levels and navigational depths from the USACE or Waterway guide. Starting to get skinnier, less than 7' on the main route and less than 5' on the rim. Good idea to get the lake marine forecast as well :

https://www.waterwayguide.com/nav-al...rts+12-14-2018
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Old 12-16-2018, 09:23 AM   #9
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We are at the lowest levels in the last 10 years. Hope the Corp has a handle on it. Click image for larger version

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Old 12-16-2018, 10:40 AM   #10
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Can someone explain the difference between the listed "Lake Okeechobee elevation" of 12.8' and the navigation depth which is 6.74'? Does that mean elevation above sea level maybe? Nothing to do with the depth of the water?
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Old 12-16-2018, 10:51 AM   #11
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12.8' is sea level reference. The other is min channel level.
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Old 12-16-2018, 11:05 AM   #12
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Thanks Dave. I swear I remember a crossing the lake thread from last year in which someone stated that above 12' was considered pretty good. Sure doesn't sound like it. I guess 6' depth would be just fine as long as there isn't anything on the bottom of the lake. I'm not at a point where I know enough to take that bet. Asking because we are thinking about crossing for a short trip to visit family on the other coast.
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Old 12-16-2018, 11:59 AM   #13
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We crossed in late May 2017. The level was at 11'. That year we knew people with bigger boats 5'+ drafts who had to go down to the Keys and up, rather than risk Lake O. We have 3.5' draft so we get away with more.
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Old 12-16-2018, 12:30 PM   #14
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I'm at 4'3" and risk adverse (some call it paranoid) when I haven't done something before. Going across knowing I only have 2' under my keel at best would be the longest day in my short little trawler career. Level looks to be in a straight dive since mid September with no end in sight. I also have to come back at some point.
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Old 12-16-2018, 01:35 PM   #15
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I'm at 4'3" and risk adverse (some call it paranoid) when I haven't done something before. Going across knowing I only have 2' under my keel at best would be the longest day in my short little trawler career. Level looks to be in a straight dive since mid September with no end in sight. I also have to come back at some point.

With a 4' draft and planning this very crossing, I'm very interested in Lake O and its levels. I've done some research on it and I'm pretty sure I've come to grips with the reality.

Right or wrong, here in the NE if I only have a couple of feet under my keel I'm VERY concerned since the bottom is so changeable. The way I look at the FL waterways is that the bottom is pretty flat. (of course there are always exceptions). Lake O is not a very deep lake anywhere. I think the max depth is like 15'. When the min depth is listed as 6', that means the most shallow area in the channel is 6' but generally its more (say 8 or 10', but it could be more depending on lake level) For the crossing I think there's only one or two spots to be particularly careful about. But when they say 6' they mean that is the min anywhere in the channel.

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Old 12-16-2018, 02:03 PM   #16
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We crossed east to west 10 days ago. We draw 5 feet and had no issues. Stayed in the channel and the least depth we saw was 1 1/2 feet under our keel.
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Old 12-16-2018, 02:17 PM   #17
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Glad you made it ok. Any particular issue with the locks? They seem very straight forward as far as locks go. Haven't been through one in 40 years or so. Was going to drive down and watch for a while one afternoon just to see. St. Lucie Lock isn't too far from the house.
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Old 12-17-2018, 06:46 AM   #18
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"We are at the lowest levels in the last 10 years. Hope the Corp has a handle on it."

Last time the lake level was low the expected rains did not come with enough volume to raise the lake.

In many areas the water was hundreds of feet from shore which was really hard on businesses that cater to vacationing small boat fisherman.

Even harder on birds that nested on small islands as predators could walk to the islands and lightning strike fires were not contained.
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Old 12-17-2018, 09:45 AM   #19
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Any particular issue with the locks? They seem very straight forward as far as locks go. Haven't been through one in 40 years or so. Was going to drive down and watch for a while one afternoon just to see. St. Lucie Lock isn't too far from the house.

No issues with the locks, Clewiston and Port Mayaca were open, we just drove through. Call ahead to the lockmasters at Port Mayaca, even though the lock doors are wide open, they will call back to let you know no one is coming in from the other direction at the same time. Clewiston lock was unmanned.
When we were approaching the tie along dock at Roland Martin's Marina, our early depth alarm went off for a couple of seconds, it is set to sound at 2' below our rudders which is a total depth of 6'. That is the only time in the crossing that it sounded. I don't recall having any other concern for depth along the way.
The locks are the only ones I have ever been through that do not have valves. Once you are in and the doors behind you close, they crack the upstream doors open about a foot and the water flows in to fill the lock.
Interesting the first time.
We crossed November 27th through 29th, 2 1/2 weeks ago.
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Old 12-17-2018, 12:02 PM   #20
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The locks are very straightforward. Minimal elevation change, 2-3 feet at most, and no turbulence in the locks. At every lock there are lines you can grab that hang down from the top. All you have to do is figure out what side you are going to hang on to (ask the lock master if one side or the other is required) and deploy a couple of fenders accordingly. If your timing is good it is a 15 minute process.

We left Stuart at daybreak and tied up to the dolphin pilings on the west side of the Ortona lock the first night. Anchored next to Useppa Island the second night. Third day was half day trip to Long Boat Key.
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