Crystal River and the Withlacoochee River Videos

Beach House and crew would like to share a couple of short videos taken as we cruised some of the rivers in the Big Bend section of the Florida Gulf coast.

This one is from the Gulf of Mexico, up the Crystal River to Kings Bay.

The Withlacooche River from the GOM approach Channel to Yankeetown.

Exploring Florida's Gulf Coast

For a couple of days, thunderstorms have rumbled all around us, keeping us from our next destination some 50 miles to the north. This isn't like the protected waterway; this time we need to cross the Gulf of Mexico from Steinhatchee to St. Marks. "How did you get to Steinhatchee, you were just in Fort Myers," you might ask? That's a good question and one we ask ourselves. The time seems to be flying by and we are covering a lot of ground, err, water. Up until a week ago, the weather was cooperating, the boat was running just fine after the repairs and all was right with the world. After Fort Myers, there were days when we only traveled 10 to 15 miles along the waterway. But that was by design.

The Passing of Claiborne Young

Claiborne during a recent visit to Beach House
It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we report the passing of our good friend Claiborne Young. Claiborne dies as the result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on Saturday June 14th. The boating community has suffered a major loss. Very few boaters have not benefited from the contributions Claiborne has made over many years in the form of his excellent cruising guides covering the ICW from Virginia to Alabama and most recently from his website, Salty Southeast Cruiser's Net. His wife Karen died in October 2013 of what Claiborne called “never smoker’s lung cancer” and Claiborne seemed to recently start getting his life back on track. Just a few weeks ago he purchased a trawler and in an email to us a few days ago, wrote of how excited he was to get back on the water and explore the waters he knew so well. He was a true gentleman and someone that never had a harsh word to say about anyone or anything. He will be missed by so many. The following was taken from ...

Claiborne Sellars Young [1951-2014] passed away on Saturday evening, June 14, 2014 at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill following a serious motorcycle accident. He passed into the arms of the Lord at 7:00 p.m. surrounded by family and friends.

Born and raised in Burlington, Claiborne lived there all of his life. He was a well loved, well respected man in all aspects of his life. He was a devoted husband, well-known boating author, speaker, and web publisher. He was also a generous, kind and loyal fellow to the many people who called him Friend. Claiborne will be mourned and missed by family, friends, associates, and fellow cruisers.

Claiborne was a graduate of Walter M. Williams High School in Burlington and NC State University in Raleigh. Following the closing of the Sellars family business in the early 80s, he turned to his next loves – water and boating – eventually authoring a series of books for the cruising community from North Carolina to Florida. His first book, the “Cruising Guide to North Carolina” was published in 1983. He also worked with UNC-TV [PBS] to produce a series of travel videos on the waters and small towns of North Carolina’s coast. More recently, Claiborne went on share his love and knowledge of all things water related and published a successful website dedicated to the boating community and boating legislation. Claiborne was loved by many friends within that community, and always had a place to stay and chat while traveling on his speaking engagements. Those who knew him, found that Claiborne was never at a loss for words!

At home, Claiborne was a loving and devoted husband for 40 years, a motorcycle enthusiast, and animal lover. During the years of their marriage, he and Karen were ardent supporters of the Alamance County Humane Society and the American Humane Society, and surrounded themselves with many four-legged friends. Claiborne was also a self-taught chef who was often found in the kitchen producing the most aromatic and tasty dishes. When Claiborne put on a spread, everyone was happy, full, and sated!

Claiborne was preceded in death by his wife Karen Williams Young who passed away October 2013, and his parents Claibourne Clark Young and Dorothy Sellars Young Brawley. He is survived by family from his Sellars and Young relations, as well as his Williams in-laws.

A service of remembrance will be held at Rich and Thompson Chapel in Burlington on Wednesday, June 18, at 11:00 a.m. with Dr. Genie Martin officiating.

Visitation will be Tuesday evening June 17 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Rich & Thompson in Burlington and other times at the Young’s home [814 Colonial Drive, Burlington].

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Hospice of Alamance/Caswell, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215.

Condolences may be offered at

If It's A Boat, It Will Break

If there is one thing that I am certain of after a half century of boating, it's that on a boat, something will break. A pesky oil leak in the front of the engine began as a minor thing and an annoyance. By the time we were halfway across the Okeechobee Waterway, the leak increased and since it was the front main oil seal, the belt pulley was starting to fling the oil as it spun. That meant oil was not only dripping under the engine, but slinging up on the engine room walls and everything else around it. Not a pleasant thought and definitely time to make repairs. Replacing the main seal is not a major repair, but it requires equipment most boaters don't carry on board. We knew a good mechanic from our time living in Port of the Islands near Marco Island, so a call to him arranged the repair when we arrived in Fort Myers. The parts were ordered from American Diesel and would arrive at about the same time as Beach House. All seemed to be set for a short stop and a quick fix. Ah, but this is a boat after all.

Franklin Lock And Dam Campground And Marina

We recently visited the St. Lucie Park and had written about what a pleasant and unexpected gem it was. Imagine, then, our surprise at what we found at the WP Franklin Lock and Dam Park. It is the westernmost lock in the Okeechobee Waterway out of the 5 locks in the OWW. Initially we had thought we might go ahead through the lock and continue on to LaBelle. However, as we approached the lock, the wind began to gust and we decided it was time to call it a day. I had glanced over and realized that the docks were on the east side of the lock and not the west as I had originally thought. Also, they are tucked up in a protected basin and not right next to the river as the docks are at St. Lucie. We spun the boat around and headed for the docks.

The Okeechobee Waterway Revisited

It's been three years since our last cruise on the Okeechobee Waterway and this time we planned to do it a little differently. On our last crossing of the Lake, we took the direct route across or what is also known as Route 1. This time we planned to take Route 2, or the rim route as we traveled east to west. This trip was also work, since it was the beginning of our research for our fourth book in The Great Book Of Anchorage series and will cover the Okeechobee Waterway and the Gulf Coast from Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL. Most folks avoid the rim route because of the reputation for shallow water, but we know a little secret that will allow even deeper draft boats to use the rim route in all but extreme low water levels. Prior to any Lake crossing there are three things a boaters wants to know before starting at either the east or west end of the OWW. There is one place to find two pieces of the info you need and that is on the Corps of Engineers website - the lake level and lock restrictions. The third is weather information - the National Weather Service website for Lake Okeechobee can be found here.