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Old 02-23-2019, 02:57 PM   #1
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Lake Okeechobee

We crossed the lake yesterday and saw a min of 7.1 ft in two spots, just west of the Port Mayaca lock, and at mile 60 on the lake route. All the dams were closed, and the locks were operating on demand.

BUT today they started releasing water from the lake, and one of the lock masters told me that the release would continue for at least three weeks. We stayed overnight at River Forest, just above the St Lucie lock, and noticed that the canal water dropped about three inches overnight.

This release will lower lake levels of course, so if you are planning a lake crossing in the near future, check lake levels.

ps: Lake water was very muddy.
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:19 PM   #2
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Wifey B: Up from January but nearly 2' below averages this time of year. Normally continues dropping between now and the end of June, 1.5' or more which won't be good if it does. We need to come back through around the end of March and odds are we'll have to go the long way around. Normally wouldn't mind but we're headed up the East Coast then. 5' draft so we won't go if it drops below 12' and right now it's at 12.85 which gives 6.79' navigational depth.
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:28 PM   #3
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Wifey B: Up from January but nearly 2' below averages this time of year. Normally continues dropping between now and the end of June, 1.5' or more which won't be good if it does. We need to come back through around the end of March and odds are we'll have to go the long way around. Normally wouldn't mind but we're headed up the East Coast then. 5' draft so we won't go if it drops below 12' and right now it's at 12.85 which gives 6.79' navigational depth.
Just gives you a little more time to work on that tan.....
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:20 PM   #4
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Just gives you a little more time to work on that tan.....
Wifey B: Just adds a day or two to the trip. As to tan, I stick with my basic tan and limit the sun exposure plus don't like tan lines.
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Old 02-24-2019, 01:31 AM   #5
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Wifey B: Just adds a day or two to the trip. As to tan, I stick with my basic tan and limit the sun exposure plus don't like tan lines.
Off topic, but is melanoma common there? Possibly more common here than anywhere,these days people(some people at least)tend to minimize sun exposure.
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Old 02-24-2019, 12:11 PM   #6
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Off topic, but is melanoma common there? Possibly more common here than anywhere,these days people(some people at least)tend to minimize sun exposure.
Wifey B: Yes, quite common and a reason we're very strict on sun exposure. You don't get on our boat during the day without sunscreen and you regularly get it replaced. Also, we spend the majority of time on the boat and on our patio under some form of cover to avoid excessive direct sunlight.

We consider sunburn a huge safety concern and as captains of our boats and owners of our homes, it's our responsibility to prevent it. Most of us have decent tans just from living in a tropical climate and spending time outdoors and we don't try to tan and seek more.

While people in South Florida naturally get a lot of tan I've found the pursuit of more tan not to be something most locals do. Tourists try as they have their week or two and want to return home all tanned but often do so burned. I found the obsession with tanning to be far greater living in NC where you didn't have year round sun.

Plus a sizable percentage of residents here are Hispanic with beautiful natural coloring not requiring the sun to get it. 65% of Miami-Dade and 30% of Broward is Hispanic. With another 17% of each population black, non hispanic, it doesn't leave that many of us as white non-hispanic.

I can simply say within our extended family and friends there is far more emphasis on protecting one's skin than tanning it. We also very seldom see employees sunburned. It would be interesting to hear what other South Floridians observe.
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Old 02-24-2019, 12:16 PM   #7
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Wifey B: The major melanoma problems I see here are retired people who move here and aren't use to the sun. A lot get it from golfing and others from just casual exposure.
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Old 02-24-2019, 01:07 PM   #8
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Wifey B: Up from January but nearly 2' below averages this time of year. Normally continues dropping between now and the end of June, 1.5' or more which won't be good if it does. We need to come back through around the end of March and odds are we'll have to go the long way around. Normally wouldn't mind but we're headed up the East Coast then. 5' draft so we won't go if it drops below 12' and right now it's at 12.85 which gives 6.79' navigational depth.
Doubt you will see it drop that low. The lake has been rising the last month or so. This will likely only continue to keep the lake closer to 12' in preparation for the coming rainy season.

Ted
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Old 02-26-2019, 08:36 PM   #9
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Ok so is making me nervous. We just purchased a GB42 and plan to bring it home to Annapolis at the end of March. What should I look at to use as a determining factor whether or not to cross Florida?
Thank you.
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Old 02-26-2019, 09:24 PM   #10
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Ok so is making me nervous. We just purchased a GB42 and plan to bring it home to Annapolis at the end of March. What should I look at to use as a determining factor whether or not to cross Florida?
Thank you.
Go to USACE Jacksonville District

Look at Route 1 Navigational Depth to determine if there is enough depth for you. My guess is that a month from now you will still be OK. Lake Okeechobee is fed by rain in central Florida. A wet March is in your favour.

Another option might be to cross now, and leave your new boat somewhere east of the lake until you are ready to head north.
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Old 02-26-2019, 09:51 PM   #11
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Ok so is making me nervous. We just purchased a GB42 and plan to bring it home to Annapolis at the end of March. What should I look at to use as a determining factor whether or not to cross Florida?
Thank you.
Wifey B: Our personal thing has been as long as Route 1 provides our draft plus a foot, then we're ok.
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Old 02-27-2019, 06:30 AM   #12
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Ok so is making me nervous. We just purchased a GB42 and plan to bring it home to Annapolis at the end of March. What should I look at to use as a determining factor whether or not to cross Florida?
Thank you.
I'll be heading across April 4 +/- and draw 4 1/2'. While I don't expect it to be below 12', I'll still go if the lake is above 11'. My boat has a depth alarm that's set for 2' deeper than my draft. Going back and forth last week, it never went off.

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Old 02-27-2019, 11:30 AM   #13
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I'll be heading across April 4 +/- and draw 4 1/2'. While I don't expect it to be below 12', I'll still go if the lake is above 11'. My boat has a depth alarm that's set for 2' deeper than my draft. Going back and forth last week, it never went off.

Ted
At 11', you basically have 6" and if you're comfortable with that then it makes sense. We like to have a foot. Typically it only drops .25 or so in the next month. Also, in this time period, if it starts approaching 11.5 or so, they manage it much like they did in late January. From May 1 to July 1 is when they will let it drop occasionally to 11' or below, although most years that doesn't happen.

Here is a somewhat interesting graph that shows the highs and lows they manage and also some averages, although those averages are 1965-2007 so a bit old. Still, you should be fine. We believe we will be with our 12' limit we have set.

http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/plots/okehp.pdf
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Old 02-27-2019, 11:52 AM   #14
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I'm new to Florida boating. Previously boated in SoCal. When folks talk about 12' limits and 11.5' limits, what are those measuring? It doesn't sound like it is a water depth along the route. Thanks!
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Old 02-27-2019, 12:27 PM   #15
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River Forest has three boats in there that were part of a seven boat group. Five hit bottom. One was having both props, a shaft, and strut replaced.

I am not familiar with the area, but know it was East of RF.

West of RF is fine. Actually passed Ted!

They are releasing water now, and you notice it approaching the locks.
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Old 02-27-2019, 02:49 PM   #16
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I'm new to Florida boating. Previously boated in SoCal. When folks talk about 12' limits and 11.5' limits, what are those measuring? It doesn't sound like it is a water depth along the route. Thanks!
USACE Jacksonville District

They are referring to the official level as shown on the link above.

Note that right below that you have the Navigational Depth for Route 1 and Route 2

Today the official stage is 12.75'.
The Navigational Depths are 6.69' and 4.89'.
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Old 02-27-2019, 02:59 PM   #17
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River Forest has three boats in there that were part of a seven boat group. Five hit bottom. One was having both props, a shaft, and strut replaced.

I am not familiar with the area, but know it was East of RF.

West of RF is fine. Actually passed Ted!

They are releasing water now, and you notice it approaching the locks.
I assume you're talking about the Labelle location.

Many boats try route 2 and then others get out of the channels.

Also going East from River Forest, there is an area just as you enter the lake in which if you stray even the least bit South there is a risk. We've crossed dozens of times with no issues, but you have to be careful to stay in the channel and key an eye on your depth.

We've only done route 2 once and the level was over 14' that time.
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Old 02-27-2019, 03:27 PM   #18
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Hi BandB, Hi all,

Thanks! I see the route 1 and route 2 depths, which I guess are the critical ones.

But, I still don't understand what the 12.75' number represents. Is it the top of the lake's elevation above sea level (which would be weird) or the deepest point, or something like that?

Thanks!
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Old 02-27-2019, 03:36 PM   #19
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Ok so is making me nervous. We just purchased a GB42 and plan to bring it home to Annapolis at the end of March. What should I look at to use as a determining factor whether or not to cross Florida?
Thank you.
Why not take a nice cruise and enjoy the 10,000 Islands and the Keys?
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Old 02-27-2019, 05:04 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by BandB View Post
At 11', you basically have 6" and if you're comfortable with that then it makes sense. We like to have a foot. Typically it only drops .25 or so in the next month. Also, in this time period, if it starts approaching 11.5 or so, they manage it much like they did in late January. From May 1 to July 1 is when they will let it drop occasionally to 11' or below, although most years that doesn't happen.

Here is a somewhat interesting graph that shows the highs and lows they manage and also some averages, although those averages are 1965-2007 so a bit old. Still, you should be fine. We believe we will be with our 12' limit we have set.

http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/plots/okehp.pdf
I guess it depends on the track you follow. Coming back the last few days, I never saw less than 8'. Now I may have missed the the shallow spot, but the depth alarm doesn't and it's set at 6 1/2'. The other part of my equation is that the lowest draft point is a bronze skeg from the keel to the rudder. The rudder and the propeller are 6" above that. Traveling at displacement speed means I only need a few inches. Traveling on plane, I would be much more worried about getting sucked down and smacking the bottom.

Ted
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