Notice to Navigation: 2019-001 Canaveral and Okeechobee Lock Procedures


Date: 01/4/2019

EFFECTIVE: 01/4/2019 00:00 thru 12/31/2019 24:00 EST 


33 CFR Navigation and Navigable Waters
1. Notice to Navigation



Reference revised Regulations, 33 C.F.R. 207.300, and their tributaries; use, administration, and navigation, and 33 C.F.R. 207.800, Collection of navigation statistics.

The following information is furnished in addition to the above-referenced regulations to provide guidance about the procedures, control, and management of the locks on the Okeechobee Waterway and Canaveral Harbor Lock. Suggested towboat operations are also included that will enhance safety and reduce damage to Government structures, commercial vessels, and recreational craft.


  1. Vessels shall not pass under dam or spillway gates when they are out of the water and the river is flowing freely through the gate openings.
  2. Lockage of leaking, listing vessels or overloaded vessels may be refused. Leaking, listing vessels or overloaded vessels shall be moored in a location outside of the channel and outside of the Arrival Point so as not to interfere with passing navigation.
  3. All craft and tows approaching a lock, within a distance of 200 feet of the upper or lower lock gates, shall proceed at a speed not greater than two miles per hour (rate of a slow walk) during normal flow conditions.
  4. All tows entering the lock shall be properly aligned with the guide or lock wall.
  5. It is the responsibility of the vessel operator to provide adequate mooring lines. The lock operator may require mooring lines to be replaced with satisfactory lines before lockage is made if the lines appear to be of such quality, size, or condition that would make safe lockage questionable.
  6. All towboat crews, while locking or moving a tow into or out of a lock chamber, must station themselves to preclude the possibility of being injured by the parting of a cable or line under strain. Single part lines only will be used to check a moving tow. Working lines shall be kept dry and in good working condition to allow lines to be worked properly and to prevent injury to personnel.
  7. Towboat crewmembers shall not jump between moving tows and lock or guide walls while preparing for lockage, locking, or departing lock.
  1. Tabulated below are the minimum numbers of vessel personnel required for handling lines during lockages. The captain/pilot cannot act as a deckhand.


  1. All vessels, when in the locks, shall be moored and/or moved as directed by the lock operator.


  1. Commercial towing companies shall ensure that vessel operators and boat crew members have received orientation and training in all aspects of deck work and lockage procedures to ensure the safety of personnel, floating plant, and structures.


  1. All cylinders or containers holding gases or liquids under pressure or any other chemical or substance shall be securely fastened to the hull of the vessel to prevent their rolling overboard into the lock chamber.


  1. All containers holding paint, gasoline, or other volatile materials shall be securely fastened with tight fitting covers.


  1. The sides of all vessels passing through the locks shall be free from projections that may damage lock structures or Manatee Protection System sensors. Suitable fenders shall be used with all commercial tows passing through the locks to prevent damage to the lock walls and structures. Fenders shall be cylindrical in shape and no less than 6 inches in diameter. The fenders shall be used on guide walls and lock chambers to protect the structures. The fenders shall be manufactured or fabricated for the purpose of fendering, using woven rope; laminated, molded reinforced, natural, or synthetic rubber, or other suitable material. Single, double, or triple strands of mooring line, with or without knots, and old tires will not be considered as suitable fenders. Lock operators may refuse lockage to all commercial and recreational vessels and/or tows not conforming to the above.






  1. Commercial fishing craft and Vessel Delivery craft are included in the classification "recreational craft" when considering the precedent at the locks. Operators of recreational craft and their passengers are required to wear Coast Guard approved PFDs during lockage. All vessels will be required to turn off engines during lockages to include bow thrusters.


  1. Personal watercraft of the "sit-down" variety, (those you sit on and ride), will be accepted for lockage. The "stand-up" variety, (those that require the vessel to be moving for the operator to be out of the water), will not be accepted for lockage unless the craft is tied off to and locked through with an approved vessel, and the operator of the "stand-up" craft boards the approved vessel. Operators of personal watercraft and their passengers are required to wear Coast Guard approved PFDs during lockage.


  1. Kayaks and canoes will be locked without other vessels in the chamber for safety reason. Operators and their passengers are required to wear Coast Guard approved PFDs during lockage.


  1. Paddleboards, sailboards and surfboards will not be locked.


  1. Lock operators may refuse lockage to all commercial and recreational vessels and/or tows not conforming to the above.




  1. Lock Personnel will monitor the Marine Channel 13. All tows awaiting lockage shall monitor the appropriate lock channel at all times.
  1. Radio communications between a lock and an approaching tow are required at all times. All tows shall have a positive two-way voice communication between the pilot and the head of the tow to facilitate proper and safe approach to the lock guide wall and subsequent entrance into the lock chamber.  All tows that decide to switch to another channel during the locking process for communication with their deckhands will be required to inform the lock personnel as to what channel they are changing to. Prior to beginning each lockage, procedural aspects of the lockage will be coordinated between the lock and vessel operators in an effort to insure a mutual and thorough understanding of the locking procedure.


  1. At no time will a tow or barge be left unattended. Tows will not tie off to mooring dolphins overnight or any unnecessary length of time during hours of operation.


  1. Under normal conditions, tows that can be arranged to avoid a double lockage shall be rearranged prior to approaching the lock. Non-compliance will result in not being assigned a lock turn, until tow has been rearranged to comply or until no other vessel awaits lockage. In a knockout lockage, the towboat shall be placed in the hole alongside the rear barges and should be located sufficiently forward to allow for ample clearance between its stern and the gates. While exiting from any lockage, the towboat shall proceed slowly to reduce backwash action and possible damage to lock gates.


  1. Towboats, when entering a lock, must remain fully attached to the barges until the tow has been stopped and properly moored. Barges within the tow configuration must be properly cabled. Lockage may be refused if lock operator considers barge couplings inadequate.


  1. When leaving the lock in down bound movement, rearrangement of tows in motion will be permitted while passing out of the lock at the discretion of the lockmaster. If there is a floating plant, bridges, or other structure located immediately downstream from the lock, these procedures shall not be used.


  1. Lockage lengths in excess of 230 feet, but not more than 245 feet, will be permitted in a 250 foot chamber with the following conditions:
    1. The vessel operator shall inform the lock operator by radio, prior to arrival, as to the precise overall length of an integrated tow (single lockage) or the cut lengths of a multiple lockage, the number of barges in the tow, cargo type, and tonnage. Failure to provide all information may result in refusal of lockage.
    2. The pilot shall be in the pilothouse and be in constant radio contact with lock personnel during the entire lockage procedure.
    3. Experienced deck personnel shall be stationed at each end of the tow to monitor movement.


  1. When requested, the pilot of the towboat shall provide an accurate description of the contents of any covered or tank barge in their tow. Transiting of the locks with unknown cargos will not be permitted. All towboat pilots are required to provide accurate, detailed information concerning commodity classification and tonnage. Lockage turn may be forfeited if tow pilots do not provide this data.


  1. All deck barges loaded with rock, scrap material, construction equipment and other material shall be loaded to allow for safe passage of crew members along the edge of the barges. A minimum of 2 feet of clear space shall be maintained along the edge of all of the barges. To protect the lock walls and equipment, nothing loaded on the barge shall extend beyond this 2-foot clear space from the edge of the barge. The barges shall be loaded such that the material does not move or fall into the 2-foot wide clear space while moving or transporting the barges. Additionally, material shall be loaded on barges such that it will not become dislodged or moved during the locking process, possibly falling off the barge into the lock chamber or coming to rest protruding off the edge of the barge. Lock operators may refuse lockage to all commercial tows not conforming to the above.


  1. When moving or making up tows prior to leaving the lock in an upbound movement, towboat operators are required to keep all barges secured to the lock or guide wall. Generally, the deckhand will not release snubbing and holding lines from the lock or guide walls until the towboat is properly secured to the tow. For a single lockage,   with a towboat only set over, deviating from this procedure will be allowed if the immediate situation will permit

safe departure under power and a lock operator walks a line out with the tow until the towboat is again adequately secured to the tow. However, when moving barges from the lock chamber, it is the responsibility of the             vessel master to assure that adequate lines and personnel are available for safe handling and mooring of the tow or sections to the lock or guide walls. Sufficient personnel shall remain with the other sections to assure its        security.


  1. It is the responsibility of the Vessel Master to ensure that deckhands that are assisting with lockages are familiar with the location and proper use of life saving devices or rescue equipment such as safety blocks and ring buoys and are wearing Coast Guard approved PFDs during lockage.


  1. Outdraft warning signs are not used on the Okeechobee waterway or at Canaveral Harbor Lock. All tow boat operators upon request when calling a lock system will be provided with the Dam Gate opening, if applicable and available, the upper and lower river gages and the current river predictions as provided by the National Weather Service. All Decisions concerning the existence of an outdraft and the effect of said outdraft will have upon their tows will be made by each vessel operator.


  1. Waterways Action Plans provides the marine industry, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), States and local governments with a plan for facilitating the safe and orderly movement of traffic during extreme conditions on the inland rivers.


  1. Barges will be moored to the lock wall at all times during the lockage cycle. On all lockages, deckhands will not remove mooring lines until signaled to do so by the lock operator. This will be done by use of a whistle or by verbal command. On knockout single cut lockages, once the deckhand has been signaled to remove the mooring lines, the tow boat may proceed out of the chamber and the tow boat may face back up to the tow as the tow moves forward. If requested by the deckhand, the lock operator will assist to moor the tow to the lock wall once the tow has moved a sufficient distance along the wall so that the tow boat can face up to the tow. On all set-over   lockages, the tow will move far enough along the wall to provide room to set the barges back over and face up to the rest of the tow. The tow will then be moored to the wall until the face up process is completed. The lock operator will then remove the mooring lines at the request of the deckhand. On all multiple cut lockages, the cut will be pulled from the chamber using the assistance from a helper boat. The tow will then be moored to the wall outside of the chamber until the remaining cuts of the tow have been faced up to the first cut. Once the tow is faced up and ready to depart, the mooring lines will be removed by the lock operator at the request of the deckhand.


  1. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains an eight foot channel depth. Draft of vessels: No vessel shall attempt to enter a lock unless its draft is at least three (3) inches less than the least depth of water over the gate sills. Information concerning control depth over sills can be obtained from the District Navigation Charts. For general purpose information Route 1 has a maximum recommended of 8 feet @ 14.00 ft NGVD 1929. Route 2 has a maximum recommended draft of 6 feet @14.00 ft NGVD 1929




Notice is given that 72 hours prior to a Tropical Storm or Hurricane making local landfall locks will be open 7 AM to 10 PM supporting vessel safe harbor passage. Lock operations will stop 8 hours prior to land fall as Rail Road and drawbridges will be lowered or rotated and locked into a secure position. It's important that all vessels are at their intended destination before bridges are secured and passage across the waterway suspended. No mooring will be allowed at any lock, approach walls or dolphins during a storm event.


For Lock Operator safety the locks will:

  1. Stop locking vessels or working outdoors if lightning is observed within five miles of the lock and operations will not resume until lightning has not been seen in the area for 30 minutes.
  2. Stop locking vessels when winds exceed 35 MPH.

After a storm it could be days or weeks before the waterway is reopen depending on damage to structures and how quickly debris creating navigation hazards can be removed.


Operations during high water and floods in designated vulnerable areas: Vessels operating on these waters during periods when water stages exceed the level of “ordinary high water,'' as designated on Corps of Engineers' navigation charts, shall exercise reasonable care to minimize the effects of their bow waves and propeller washes on river banks; submerged or partially submerged structures or habitations; terrestrial growth such as trees and bushes; and man-made amenities that may be present. Vessels shall operate carefully when passing close to levees and other flood control structures and shall observe minimum distances from banks which may be prescribed from time to time in Notices to Navigation Interests. Pilots should exercise particular care not to direct propeller wash at river banks, levees, revetments, structures or other appurtenances subject to damage from wave action.


Lock operators have no means of pulling tows from the chamber An assist tow will be required of sufficient size to maintain safe control of the tow in any wind or current condition.


Lock hours are based on USACE Inland Marine Transportation System (IMTS) Standard Levels of Service.


Canaveral Harbor:

Canaveral Lock                     6:00 AM to 9:30 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 9:00PM)


Okeechobee Waterway:

St Lucie Lock                                             7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)
Port Mayaca Lock                                      7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)
Moore Haven Lock                                    7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)
Ortona Lock                                               7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)
WP Franklin Lock                                      7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)




Lake Okeechobee water level can be viewed on the Corps of Engineers web site at


Maximum vessel width and lengths are listed below for each lock. Vessels larger than the maximum dimensions will be refused lockage.

Canaveral Harbor

Canaveral Lock maximum vessel size 85’ X 585’


Okeechobee Waterway

St Lucie, Moore Haven and Ortona Locks maximum vessel size 45’ X 235’ Port Mayaca and W.P. Franklin Locks maximum vessel size 51’ X 385’




It is anticipated that maintenance and repairs will be performed at the following locations during Calendar Year 2019. This notice may require periodic revision. It is given so that industrial waterway users may have a general knowledge of the lock outages and can plan their operations accordingly. Factors, which may affect this schedule, are the delivery of materials, repairs required but not anticipated, emergency repairs as a result of accidents, and funding.


All interested parties should review the maintenance schedule for impact. Additional notices furnishing specific information and operating requirements will be published approximately two weeks in advance of commencing the work items listed.


Canaveral Harbor:

Canaveral Lock                                     Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD


Okeechobee Waterway:

St Lucie Lock and Dam                        Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD
Port Mayaca Lock and Dam                 Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD
Moore Haven Lock and Dam                Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD
Ortona Lock and Dam                           Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD
W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam                Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD

For up to date Lock information contact the shift operator 7 AM to 5 PM at:

Canaveral Lock


St Lucie Lock & Dam


Port Mayaca Lock & Dam


Moore Haven Lock & Dam


Ortona Lock & Dam


WP Franklin Lock & Dam



Gary L. Hipkins
Chief Navigation & Flood Risk Management
South Florida Operations

Navigation Depths

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Canaveral Lock

Okeechobee Waterway
(Fort Myers-Caloosahatchee River-Lake Okeechobee-St. Lucie Canal)

South Florida
(Miami Area)

Northeast Florida
(Jacksonville/St. Augustine Area)

Contact Lock Operator

W.P. Franklin Lock          239-694-5451

Ortona Lock                     863-675-0616

Moore Haven Lock          863-946-0414

Port Mayaca Lock           561-924-2858

St. Lucie Lock                  772-287-2665

Canaveral Lock               321-783-5421