Category Archives: Okeechobee Waterway

FLORIDA: EAST TO WEST COAST ACCROSS THE OKEECHOBEE WATERWAY

Okeechobee Waterway - FL Map

Okeechobee Waterway – FL Map

Since arriving back in the U.S., after four (4) years cruising the Caribbean, we have received many inquiries about our next port(s) of call, and go-forward cruising plans. Long story short, after arriving in North Palm Beach, FL, we were at a cross road. Either head down the East Coast of FL, towards the Keys, around the southern tip of FL , and up the FL West Coast, or set a course northwest, to cut across the state via the Okeechobee Waterway.

The Okeechobee Waterway is a man-made waterway that stretches from Stuart, on the East Coast of Florida, to Fort Myers, on Florida’s West Coast. A series of canals, including the Caloosahatchee River to the west, and St. Lucie Canal to the east, link Florida’s East and West Coasts to Lake Okeechobee in the center of the state.

Okeechobee Waterway & Locks Map

Okeechobee Waterway & Locks Map

We opted for the Okeechobee Waterway since it was a shorter route, and we were coming up on some deadlines for re-enrolling the boys in a bricks and mortar school. Hence, we positioned ourselves in North Palm Beach until the next appropriate weather window, and locks’ schedule, allowed us to cross from the East Coast to the West Coast of Florida.

During our E-W Florida crossing, we encountered countless car and railroad bridges: swing bridges, draw bridges, fixed bridges, etc. Some, we could pass right under because they were high enough for us to clear.

Bridge

Bridge

Bridge

Bridge

At lower clearance bridges, we had to hail the various bridge operators on the VHF radio to  have them open the bridge so that we could safely pass through.

Draw Bridge

Draw Bridge

While transiting the “Locks,” (a series of water-like elevators), we positioned the Pilots’ Discretion in the lock basins, which then closed and either added or drained water before opening to let us out at the appropriate water level on the other side.

Along the way, we made stops at Roland & Mary Martin Marina, in Clewiston, Fort Myers, and Venice. We had dolphins and jet skiers hitch rides in our wake along the way, and the sunsets were as spectacular as ever.

Sunset in Venice, FL (2018)

Sunset in Venice, FL (2018)

At long last, we reached the Anclote River, Tarpon Springs, FL. We slowly made our way up the river to our home port, Port Tarpon Marina, which had served as our departure point four (4) years previous.

Theresa refueling, Port Tarpon

Theresa refueling, Port Tarpon

Randy refueling, Port Tarpon Marina

Randy refueling, Port Tarpon Marina

Ronan, Randy & Ryan, back where it all started, Port Tarpon

Ronan, Randy & Ryan, back where it all started, Port Tarpon

Sunset from Pilots' Discretion, back in her home port slip at Port Tarpon Marina

Sunset from Pilots’ Discretion, back in her home port slip at Port Tarpon Marina

To say it was a bittersweet surreal moment would be a dramatic understatement.

Mark Twain has been attributed with having said:

Throw of the bowlines ...

Our family is most certainly not disappointed. We are tremendously grateful for our unique experiences and adventures. We have lived the dream, and will continue to do so. 

Since returning to Florida, it has been a whirlwind of nonstop activity reintegrating as part-time landlubbers. The changes have been quick and dramatic, some of them easy, others more challenging, We will provide updates on the reintegration process after we are more settled. In any event, it is all part of the next leg of our journey, which includes, among other things, a new addition to our crew! More about that in our next post ….