Great Loop: Okeechobee Waterway, cutting across Florida

Day 2-3: January 19-20, 2023

Hold up! You can cross through the middle of Florida? Why yes, you can! The Okeechobee Waterway is a man-made channel that stretches across Florida from the Caloosahatchee River at Cape Coral/Fort Myers on the west side to the St. Lucie River ending in Stuart on the east. It was built in 1937 so boat traffic didn’t have to go all the way around the Keys to get across Florida. The channel is 154 miles, has 5 locks, and sports a water depth of 10 feet in most places.

On day two, we traveled from the Franklin Lock to the Moore Haven Lock. We briefly contemplated pushing on to Clewiston on the edge of Lake Okeechobee but decided just to tie up to the dolphins (pilings tied together to create a mooring point) outside of the Moore Haven Locks. That gave us time to do a bit of kayaking and I got in a jog around the lock.

Day 3 had us traversing Lake Okeechobee. Okeechobee is the largest lake in Florida and 10th largest contained fully in the US. The craziness of the lake is the average depth is about 9 feet. But, as we know, 10 feet in Florida is considered deep.

Change of Plans:

Given our start date, our plan was to cut across Florida, bop over to the Bahamas, and do a 2-week side adventure. It seems mother nature doesn’t really approve of that plan as the upcoming wind predictions are not favorable. While there is a weather window to get over to the islands, the wind predictions are forecasted high for the 1-2 weeks after, so we’d be mostly in a port or anchorage waiting it out. We figure the side trip would be about 600 extra miles, which equates to around 400 gallons of fuel and $2000. That’s a large expense of money and time to just hope the weather may be good enough. 

This trip will be about going with the flow. After discussing the above issues, we will stick to the eastside of Florida and check out what there is to see in Stuart, Jupiter, West Palm, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Surely, we’ll find some cool things to pass the time.

Day 2 Trip Details:

Alva, US to Glades County, US
Time: 7 h 44 m (08:22 to 16:06)
Distance: 38.62 nm

Day 3 Trip Details:

Glades County, US to Palm City, US
Time: 9 h 10 m (08:12 to 17:23)
Distance: 60.18 nm