We plan to travel the Okeechobee Waterway from Ft Myers to Stuart FL with our youngest son and two grandsons in mid December, so we are working toward our Ft Myers starting place now. Our November stay at the famous Marina Jack ended today, so it was time to head south. We’d heard that Boca Grand was one of the nicest places in all of Florida, so we decided to spend 3 days at the marina there on our way to Ft Myers.
Boca Grand is 45 miles south along the ICW from Sarasota with only a few drawbridges that need to open for us. The last of these, the Boca Grand Causeway Bridge just a few miles north of our destination is being replaced. We’ll be able to sneak under the new 29’ bridge, but the old 9’ one has very restricted openings during construction. A short while back it was closed for a week.
A wave and weather check last night showed wave heights of 2’ and under on the Gulf, and there is a major inlet from the Gulf to the ICW just a mile south of our Boca Grand destination. The only problem was the not so major inlet from the Gulf just below Marina Jack. The charts say to get local knowledge before transiting. Translation: they really don’t know, and the shoaling and depths probably change from year to year. You might make it, or…
Marina Jack is a big place but no one there knew whether a boat our size could do that pass. I went over to Flying Fish boat tours just to the north. Their boats are 6’ draft and they go out twice a day. The captain I spoke with said no problem even at low tide, just stay very close to the red markers on the way out.
The low part of the tide curve lasted from 8 to noon, with no significant rise in tide until 2 PM, so we just left at 9. There were hardly any red markers on the way out, so we stayed close to land on our left or whatever marker we did see and made it out fine, although seeing a 5’ depth once. Once out the sun was up, the weather was comfortably warm and the Gulf was flat.
We stayed about a mile offshore until we reached the Boca Grand inlet entrance which is 2 miles out. On our way in the tide was rising and a following current reached 3 mph before we arrived at Boca Grand Marina.
Going outside was great today and good practice. After our trip through the Okeechobee Waterway we go down the ICW to Lauderdale Marine Ctr. where the boat stays for almost two months for some work and our yearly SE Asia trip. That is a tough trip because of a large number of bridges on hourly schedules that need to open for us. In some cases that means going through one bridge on the hour, reaching the next a mile away and waiting an hour for it, and the next two miles away with another almost hour wait, etc. Weather permitting we will run that outside, coming in at the Everglades Cruise Port just a mile south of our destination, and miss all those bridges.