Fort Myers Tourism



Florida Adventures With Our First Boat

Almost everyone who moves to Florida near the beach or one of the many navigable waterways finds at sometime they need to purchase a “hole in the water in which to pour money”, better known as a boat. In some cases, if you do not shop carefully, you can actually end up owning a hole in the water which sucks up your money. Wise shopping, however, means you can buy a reliable craft, power or sail, which won’t cost you an arm and a leg to keep in operating order.

Shortly after moving to Florida we decided to buy a used power boat. After a period of careful shopping, the right boat at the right price appeared. We wanted something we could ski behind and take into the ocean, so a 21 foot, twin engine outboard was exactly what we needed. Large enough for ocean-going, small enough to trailer easily on trips to other Florida locations, we carefully checked out the engines, the hull, and talked extensively to the owner. Everything sounded great and we exchanged money for the boat title.

Once home, we thoroughly checked out the engines, changed spark plugs, adjusted everything and then went to buy the required boat items. In Florida it is the law that you will have one life vest on board for each person on board. We purchased four, since that would get us started and many people have life vests you can borrow if more are needed. We got a pair of skis and ski rope as well. We also bought ropes to tie the boat to docks when needed and purchased a better anchor than the one that came with the boat. We purchased a registration for our boat which supplied us with a number to be placed on the front of the boat, in specific sized letters and numbers so the Coast Guard could identify us. We bought a tag and registration for our boat trailer as well. Having determined the boat was ready for the water; we hooked the trailer to the car and checked out the trailer lights before leaving for a nearby boat ramp.

Many people in Florida live on canals and can keep their boats in the water. This is both an advantage and disadvantage. It's good because it provides easy access to the rivers, but it also allows barnacles to build up on the boat bottom and those have to be cleaned off periodically. Some other people like to store their boats in wet or dry dockage at a marina but that costs money every month for storage rental. We didn’t live on a canal nor did we want to rent a slip or storage area, so these were moot points for us. We were more than happy to trailer the boat the two to three miles to a public boat ramp.

Before leaving home for our short afternoon trip, we stocked a cooler with ice, soda and water. Of course, we could easily have purchased these items at a marina near the boat ramp, but we had just paid for a boat! Since we were running twin outboards, there were twin gas tanks and we filled both of them. For us, providing fuel was by far the most expensive part of boating in Florida after the purchase of the water craft itself. The sail enthusiast doesn’t have this problem - but they can’t ski behind their boat, either.

For our initial shakedown trip, we didn't plan to go out into the Atlantic Ocean. There will be lots of those trips in the future. To be certain everything is in working order, we wanted to stay near land “just in case”. Fortunately, everything worked perfectly, but you never know until you’ve tried it.

We put into Port Canaveral, near the locks into the Banana River. Passing through the locks is quite an experience. The locks open, boats come out - some large barges and freighters and smaller pleasure craft, and we entered the locks along with the other boats waiting at the east entrance. Once inside the locks, everyone tied their boats loosely to the anvil-shaped anchors on the sides of the lock. You must tie on loosely since the water level will go up or down a number of feet. Once everyone tied on, a horn sounded and the locks opened at the other end. The water flows until balanced, then a horn sounded and we untied and departed the lock into the Banana River.

We have had to learn to read the markers in the water to stay in the channel. Most of the river is very shallow and a channel is dredged deep enough to allow most water craft to be able to navigate the river. “Red, right, return” is the chant of those learning to navigate. On the return to port, keep the red markers on your right hand. Most of this information is written on a good nautical map. We headed south down the Banana, testing our engines for speed. I spotted a pair of bottle-nosed dolphin playing in our wake. The wind in our hair provided cooling from the bright sun and summer heat. Running about five miles south, we neared the 520 Causeway bridge, and slowed to pass under. Bridges are “no wake zones” and those must be respected. Just to the south side of the bridge is a restaurant and bar known as Dockside. We pulled our boat into an available dockage slip and tied up, ready for a drink.

Convinced of our boats capabilities, we returned the way we had come, passing again through the locks and back to port. Our boating future was ahead of us with trips to the Keys, trips from one town to another, evening cruises, shrimping at night, fishing, snorkeling, skiing and fun in the sun. We owned that boat for several years and made very good use of it. Often on a weekend, we would go out skiing with friends, or tubing and stop at a restaurant along the river to eat or have a drink. Sometimes we’d pack a picnic basket and stop on an island in the river and eat, or eat our food on the boat. We’d often travel down the river to another town, or travel in the ocean to the next inlet. We seldom experienced engine trouble but when we did, we never had both engines break down at once and we could always get back to shore. Boating in Florida is a great way to spend free time and have some real adventures!

For those not lucky enough to own a boat, boat rental of power craft and sail craft are available. The area in which you can use a rental boat is limited, but the fun is not limited! Many people from other states choose to trailer their boats on their Florida vacations and have unlimited travel options. Don’t miss the fun of boating in Florida!


Directory of

East Central Florida

Volusia County

Daytona Beach
New Smyrna Beach
Ormond Beach
Ponce Inlet
Port Orange


Brevard County

Cape Canaveral

Cocoa Beach

Kennedy Space Center
Melbourne Beach

Merritt Island
Palm Bay
Satellite Beach


Indian River County

Vero Beach


St. Lucie County

Fort Pierce
Port St. Lucie
St. Lucie


Martin County

Hobe Sound
Jensen Beach
Palm City
Port Salerno









If you find bad links on this page, please let us know by sending Email to us with the link and city.


Click the link to return to the home page of

Pictures and text copyright ©2003-2012 Florida-Tourism.Net