ICW Mile Marker 986 – St. Lucie
From Cocoa Beach the Indian River is a wide river marked with numerous tall bridges (typically 65-foot) that cross the waterway. Navigation is easy with long straight courses in relatively deep water. The ICW channel is typically 8-foot to 10-foot deep and Cat Inn Around only draws 3½-feet (42-inches). We have been blessed with fabulous weather, it seems that ‘spring has sprung’ as we sit in the bridge in tee shirts and shorts. Frequent applications of sun block protect our knees and legs, heated by the sun poking through the forward opening in bridge enclosure. There is a pleasant 10-knot to 12-knot wind from the East, enough to power a sailboat race. We slow for the regatta offering a change from the 19-knot cruising speed. In short order we pass through Melbourne, the Sebastian Inlet, the city of Sebastian and Vero Beach. About 4:20 PM we approach the Fort Pierce Inlet (MM 968) and reduce or speed to 7-knots for this congested area. After clearing the area, we resume cruising at a speed of 17½-knots (19.4 mph). The waterway is still wide and straight as we pass Hutchinson Island and Jenson Beach. At Mile Marker 980 we pass under the Ernest F. Lyons Bridge with a fixed vertical clearance of 65-feet. Our speed is reduced to 7-knots as we enter the St. Lucie inlet area with many boats enjoying the great Saturday evening weather. We spot a small island with deep water near the channel and decide to set anchor for the evening. We have reached Mile Marker 986, having traveled 77.4 nautical miles today.
The St. Lucie inlet marks the convergence of the Indian River and the St. Lucie River, which is, also known as the Okeechobee Waterway. From here vessels can transit the waterway to Lake Okeechobee. The waterway provides a short cut to Florida’s West coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Okeechobee water levels fluctuate but is reported to provide about 5-foot depths that would let Cat Inn Around safely through. Maybe a future trip; for now we will leave the waterway to our starboard when we head south tomorrow.