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Old 08-19-2017, 09:18 AM   #1
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Okeechobee locks solo?

I'm moving the boat to a more secure location for hurricane season this weekend.

Anyone done the Okeechobee locks solo?
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Old 08-19-2017, 09:22 AM   #2
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I've only been thru a few of them with a friend on his 20 footer, but they don't look very challenging.
Not like the Erie locks.
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Old 08-19-2017, 09:36 AM   #3
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Nope but I recently went through them with my wife. I think you could do them solo if you can control your boat and handle a line from amidship.

All the locks were operational on the way west, but returning a few weeks later, two or three were either open or the opened the gates for us but didn't raise or lower the water level. The first and last lock of course, did raise and lower the water several feet.

You can get the phone numbers of the lock keepers and call and ask their advice.
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Old 08-19-2017, 09:43 AM   #4
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The boat that went with us this past spring was single-handing. He had a couple of challenging times, with the currents wanting to spin the boat, but he made it OK. One of the lock keepers didn't seem happy about it, but they did help as needed, and the rest didn't seem to mind. Letting them know ahead of time will help, there may be a more settled spot in the lock that they'll direct you to. Or at least be prepared to help.
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Old 08-19-2017, 11:44 AM   #5
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Thanks all. The mid cleat idea is what I will shoot for I guess. Last time I did these locks I had a helper, and I think most of them were open iirc.

I did some locks in Louisiana solo before, but they were small and not crowded, so I was just able to hold the boat in the middle of the lock and not use lines.
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Old 08-19-2017, 11:56 AM   #6
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I went through the ICW lock at Great Bridge, Va and the locks on the Dismal Swamp, all solo. The water level rise was similar to to Okeechobee. I had some big, thick fenders fore and aft and of course one midships.

I pulled into the spot that the lock tender directed, he dropped his boat hook down to pick up my midships line that he wrapped around a bollard on top and I pulled on the bitter end to maintain tension as we went up or down. That midships line was tied off to a cleat about 1/3 back from midships and I stood 2/3 of the way forward with the bitter end to form a triangle to stabilize the boat. The fore and aft fenders took any twisting loads.

It was easy and no sweat. It did help that it was a twin engine catamaran, but wouldn't have been bad with a single engine monohull.

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Old 08-19-2017, 05:10 PM   #7
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As I recall the locks supply the lines.
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Old 08-19-2017, 05:16 PM   #8
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We have been across twice, my wife helped but they seemed much more simple and less rushed than the New Orleans Ms. River locks. Let the tenders know by radio that you are single handling. If possible I'd try to do the the trip during the week so there would be less pleasure and fishing boat traffic.
Good luck!
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Old 08-19-2017, 05:50 PM   #9
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Greetings,
Mr. 01. We did the O' locks several years ago but WITH extra bodies. Previous advise (above) is accurate BUT even if you think you can hold your boat by hand, attach at least one line somewhere "just in case".
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Old 08-19-2017, 05:59 PM   #10
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If you attach a line to the boat when locking down you're going to have a problem. The distance from the top to your cleat will get longer as the boat drops down but the line won't get longer.

Put the line under one horn of the cleat and hold tension on it. Let it in or out as needed.
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Old 08-19-2017, 06:38 PM   #11
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Greetings,
Mr. WK. Thank you for the clarification. A fastening that can be slipped or immediately adjusted as the level changes is what I was attempting to describe. NEVER any knots or hard cleating.

I still advise a back-up to hand holding.

I suspect my poor advice is due to number of lockages we've done in the past 30+ years (I estimate 1000+). I "assumed" one would know the drill.

Apologies.
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Old 08-19-2017, 06:48 PM   #12
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OWW locks supply the lines.
St Lucie lock has the highest lift/drop and probably biggest challenge. When locking westbound, you move around a lot! BUT, the lockmaster can open the doors so that the flow is directed away from you to help out. Also you can call them on the phone ahead of time and discuss.
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Old 08-19-2017, 09:09 PM   #13
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I have done the eastbound trip twice single handed, no problem. You can try just the mid-ship cleat but I think last time the lockmaster insisted I take 2 lines. They are long enough to go around either bow or stern cleats while you stand mid-ship and tend both lines. It's not difficult and the lockmasters are friendly. Are you headed to River Forest? That's where we are.

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Old 08-19-2017, 10:59 PM   #14
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Not necessarily applicable but I did the whole trip solo last summer bringing my 'new' 22' center console home from the east coast. I did exactly as Cat Daddy describe above; one line forward and one aft, led under the horn of a cleat, and I stood in the middle and tended both. Couple big fenders on that side, of course.
I did it on a Sunday and there still wasn't much traffic to worry about.
I'd say if you're comfortable handling your boat solo in other situations, those little locks shouldn't be much of an issue.
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Old 08-20-2017, 11:07 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the help. Headed that way shortly.
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Old 08-20-2017, 11:39 AM   #16
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The Okeechobee waterway locks add and dump water by partially opening a door. If you're going up (Stuart to lake Okeechobee), you want to be in the back of the lock, NOT the front! The current coming in the door can be substantial trying to push your bow away or toward the wall.

I've been through there maybe 4 round trips solo. My technique is to use a bow and stern lines on cleats going back and forth constantly making adjustments. The lines don't need to be snug, but you must keep the bow and stern near the wall. Keeping the bow close is much more important when locking up!

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Old 08-21-2017, 08:05 AM   #17
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Okeechobee locks solo?

At the St Lucie lock the lockmaster put me at the back of the lock away from all the current-- he was very helpful. He threw me a bow and stern line and I just adjusted them alternately. Easy peasy.

The Mayaka lock going into the lake was open. Two locks to go I think.
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Old 08-21-2017, 08:56 AM   #18
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Good news, safe passage!
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:17 PM   #19
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When you do Moore Haven (your next lock), you will be locking down. Any current will be pulling you to the front of the lock. The stern line is more important than the bow as that is what keeps you from being pulled slowly forward. The bow can be looser as no current to move you toward or away from the wall. Make sure there's a fender near the stern. As the flow pulls you forward, when the stern line draws tight, it will pull the stern toward the wall.

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Old 08-21-2017, 06:36 PM   #20
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Damn I wish I would have seen this post OC. I was up front fiddling with the bow line and I heard a little crunch at the stern. I happened exactly as you described. Smh.

No damage I could see. It was just the stainless rub rail rubbing on the concrete.
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