Okeechobee Waterway

(Added late December) We have been celebrating Christmas with our kids, getting ready for major boat maintenance, our annual trip to Thailand and work at our foundation once there. I was able to write posts, but only recently had time to process photos and access to get posts online.


Canal bank near the start of our trip.

Our two grandsons Ethan and Aaron as well as their uncle, our youngest son Jordan, had just come on board for a Christmas visit yesterday. They are with us now for our trip through the center of Florida and down the Atlantic ICW to Ft Lauderdale.

The Okeechobee Waterway cuts east to west through Florida starting at mile marker 0 (Atlantic ICW mm 988) where it crosses the Atlantic ICW to about 148 where it crosses the Gulf ICW (Gulf ICW mm 0). We started in the waterway from Ft Myers Yacht Basin at mm 135 and went east to River Forest Yachting Ctr at LaBelle, FL.


In the Franklin lock. Not much traffic. We were through quickly.

We passed through two locks. We rose only a foot in the Franklin lock but about 5 in the Ortona lock. A few days ago a DeFever club member warned us about construction at Ortona. The lock there only opened for a half hour at 7 and 11:30 AM. I called the lock last night and they verified the restricted schedule. We planned to tie up between the “dolphins”, bound together groups of pilings, that are placed just before and after the locks. They vary from 70 to 150 feet apart, so it would be easy to tie up between two of them.

By the time we got to Ortona it was about 2 PM. I called the lock just in case. It turned out the construction workers were not there today so they were happy to lock us through on the spot. River Forest Yachting Center (LaBelle), where we tied up more than a year ago when we first came through this waterway, was just beyond the lock so we went in and tied up there again.


Ortona Lock was supposed to be closed, but was not when we got there.

I took Ethan and Aaron through the boatyard to look at the many boats on the hard. Most were larger than our boat. They look a lot bigger on the stands high up out of the water and afforded a good view of propellers, stabilizers, trim plates and various water intakes that large boats have. The kids won’t be around when our boat is hauled out January 4.


Entering River Forest (La Belle) Marina, just past Ortona lock.

Ethan and Aaron fished off the dock and the seawall until dark. They caught some ugly catfish. I’m not a fisherman but they seem pretty crazy about it. When they can’t fish they catch crabs and shrimp off the docks.


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