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Caloosahatchee River in a Small Whaler

Old 02-15-2019, 08:05 AM
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Default Caloosahatchee River in a Small Whaler

Hello,

I am considering running the Okeechobee Waterway from Clewiston to Ft. Myers in a small boat (Classic 15 Whaler). I have always wanted to do such a trip and am cutting off roughly half by starting in Clewiston versus Stuart.

What I'd like to know is:

1) Is there anything I need to know about the locks specific to small boats?
2)I will not have a VHF, but will have cell phones
3)I will not have enough fuel/range for the entire trip and will have to stop for fuel
4) Are there any must-sees or interesting stops for food, drinks or local areas of interest?

Thanks for any experience and knowledge you care to share.
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:34 AM
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That should be a beautiful trip. Been years since I went through the ditch, but it's very fond memories. But, I would strongly encourage you to take a handheld VHF. Others on the water, as well as lock personnel, have no other way of contacting you. Not sure if it's required on a boat < 16', but I sure would have it on board with me.
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:47 AM
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Gotcha. I've had that in mind and am leaning that way. On a small boat, part of the joy is traveling lean, partly out of necessity and partly just to simplify things.
I just want to strike the right balance. Thank you.
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:09 AM
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dont know much about fuel options in the actual ditch. Maybe Roland martins???? I imagine you could make it if you carried an extra 5 or 10g on deck.
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Old 02-15-2019, 11:04 AM
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There are a few marinas along the way that claim to have fuel. If that is true, our range should not be an issue.
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:09 PM
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There are parts of the river that are almost 2 miles wide west of 75, so be safe and watch the weather.
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:29 PM
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I have gone through one of the locks on your trip near Clewiston in a 19 foot boat without any issues. This wasn't recently.
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Old 02-19-2019, 06:58 PM
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Default Trip Report -

Did the trip down to Cape Coral and back (~170 miles). No problem in the 15' Whaler. A place that claimed only the day before to have gas did not, so I had to get creative and visit an automobile gas station in LaBelle, but that was actually a nice little break.

The ride is interesting, but I found the towns to be sparse and seemingly not worth visiting. Not trying to be critical, here, just thought there'd be a special restaurant or historic pub or something worth a stop along the way. That was part of the original purpose of this thread, as well.

Amazingly, the kids (6 and 7.5 Y.O.) fairly enjoyed the rather long trip and running the Whaler fast across endless stretches of relatively calm water is just a treat. Fuel prices are irrelevant as the thing just burns near nothing.

Not one stop by the Law, which was a pleasant surprise, even got a few pleasant waves as they passed by, harmlessly. I am going to put up a "WTB" ad in the parts section for an item that would be incredibly useful from what I did see: Manatee-Safe Props.

All the lock attendants were professional and prompt, but the lady at Franklin Lock has to be the most kind and considerate professional in her line of work. Really kind disposition, even when impatient boaters were alternatively ignoring her and pestering her (not me .

Happy to provide any other details.
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Old 02-19-2019, 08:02 PM
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Thanks for posting the results of your cruise. Very nice to hear of pleasant boating experiences, and you probably made lifetime memories for those boys!
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Old 02-19-2019, 09:47 PM
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The lady at the Franklin Lock is very nice.
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Old 02-20-2019, 06:18 PM
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She is very nice. You got lucky as one of the guys who works there could be more rude if he tried. Everytime he’s running the lock I come very close to asking him why he has a job dealing with the public. But I just bite my tongue and feel sorry for him. I live in Labelle and travel to Ft Myers for day trips often.
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:41 AM
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Some great advise here as usual, hand held VHF was the winner along with think of road side gas stations as an option as well (little fold able kart and cans) , sounds like an awesome trip, enjoy!
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:22 PM
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I spent a couple of years working in La Belle and I agree, La Belle Florida is not as beautiful as Zurich, Switzerland.
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Old 02-22-2019, 02:01 PM
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I have walked over to the gas station on the north side of the bridge in Labelle many times. Mostly it is because we ran out of beer on the crossing.
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Old 02-22-2019, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by k9medic View Post
I have walked over to the gas station on the north side of the bridge in Labelle many times. Mostly it is because we ran out of beer on the crossing.
That is some piss poor planning that borders on negligence. The shame....
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Old 02-22-2019, 02:34 PM
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Lol, perhaps his bpm (beer per mile) calculations were just a bit off. Gotta give him credit for having enough fuel to get to the beer stop, right?
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Old 02-24-2019, 05:53 PM
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Hahaha, this thread is getting better.
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Old 02-24-2019, 05:54 PM
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AllOut,

Is there a place in LaBelle that would be worth a stop and visit, maybe a little restaurant, local diner or old style pub?
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Old 02-26-2019, 12:42 PM
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There is a relatively new restaurant named the Boathouse on the water, just West of the Highway 31 bridge. This is after you clear the Franklin lock, but before you get to I-75. Owned by the same folks that run the Boathouse in Cape Coral, really good food and drinks. Marina there as well, but not sure if they have fuel. There are a couple other places nearby that have fuel.
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