Ft. Myers and Okeechobee Waterway

Ambler Isle
V and S
Thu 11 Nov 2010 17:50
26 31 918N
082 00 651W
After licking our wounds from the horrific crossing, we headed SE along the Florida west coast to Sarasota.  The entryway to the anchorage was very shallow, but once inside we found plenty of water.  Plenty by Florida standards, anyway.  The water is pretty shallow around most of Florida, and following the buoyed channel is a must.  New mooring balls dotted the old anchorage, another anchorage turning to moorings.  I guess the boaters deserve it, though.  Our first boat trips to Florida in 2000 revealed a huge problem with derelict boat often abandoned.  The towns began setting up mooring fields, charging a small fee, and requiring pumpouts.  This eliminated much of the problem.    We anchored nearby.  We watched many boats exit the Sarasota Pass, deemed unusable by the guide books.  Maybe it takes local knowledge, but must be better than the shallow and tricky New Pass.   Continuing the next day up the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway) we saw more dolphins and even manatee.  After another overnight at Pine Island, we entered the mooring field at Ft. Myers and tied to a ball.  The mooring attendant asked us to move to a different ball, nearby, but we were too tired to comply.  We agreed to move when the wind calmed.  The last day, Larry and Ulla met us and we started across the Calusahatchee River to the Okeechobee Waterway. This Waterway takes us diagonally across the state of Florida from Ft. Myers to Pt. St. Lucie.  It is 175 miles across.  A very protected waterway, it goes through the heartland of Florida, passing ranches, farms, and groves.  We took 3 days to cross.  We anchored in Lake Okeechobee the last night.  Very beautiful setting.