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Old 01-02-2012, 11:11   #16
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

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Originally Posted by Tangaroa View Post
My wife, the Supply officer, and I are sailing a 39' Corbin with a 55' mast and a 5' draft. So I guess that means no ICW. With the prevailing winds, the choice will be between waiting for the right conditions or lots of diesel fumes and noise. I expect a lot of both.

I have Clairborne Young's cruising guide. Any other suggestion for guides ?

I've used Young's guides and also Rick Rhodes' guide to cruising Florida's Big Bend.

I've made one cruise from Hudson, FL up through to Mobile, and as I say we used the coast-hugging route. For various reasons we didn't anchor out but went into marinas each night. Marinas and anchorages are few and far between, between Anclote Key (just south of Hudson) and Apalachicola. You can figure 40+ miles between anchorages, and long, narrow channels in to reach them. Bascially you have to get 2-3 miles offshore to be in 5' or water or more. At Hudson we couldn't even navigate the channel at low tide, and we only draw 2'10" and we bumped the bottom going into Suwannee on a falling tide at the mouth of the river.

If you do come up the coast, from Anclote going north you could get into Hudson, Crystal River (we didn't go there), Yankeetown (we went there but a long motor up the river to get to any marinas), Suwannee (lots of deep water anchorages once you actually get in the river), Steinhatchee (we didn't go there), Cedar Key (we by-passed this, said to be a tricky channel to get into the anchorage) and then behind Dog Island below Carrabelle.

If I had it to do over again and the winds were with me, I'd leave Anclote and either go into Cedar Key (about 24 hours) or by-pass Cedar Key and go directly into Carrabelle/Apalachicola (basically two days). You could run up the shoreline, which would add to the distance but give you the option of bailing out to a port if the weather got bad; or strike out direct, which at some points would put you 30-50 miles or so offshore in the Gulf.

As to the ICW, you'll be able to enter at Apalachicola and go thru to Panama City (or take the cut off at Port St Joe and then go out into the Gulf again). With your mast height you'll have to go outside at Panama City and come back inside again at Pensacola; there are bridges that are too low for you between Panama City/Destin/Pensacola, particularly in Santa Rosa Sound.

Going outside at Port St Joe you can go direct to Panama City, Destin, Pensacola or Mobile Bay. At Destin you can't go under the bridge at the pass but would turn east just before the bridge into Destin Harbor where you can anchor out. But be advised that the channel into Destin, even outside the bridge, is narrow and shoal and changes constantly.

If you come in at Pensacola there are no further bridge problems thru the ICW to Mobile Bay and beyond into Mississippi Sound.

If you come up Mobile Bay your draft is good for most depths, but watch the depths north of the channel into Point Clear (stay outside the Point Clear Light), just south of Fairhope (there's a finger of sand that extends quite a ways out) and along the spoil dump areas on both sides of the Mobile Ship Channel. Also watch if you go north of Fairhope on the east side of the Bay, there are some oyster reefs up there.

In Mississippi Sound, stay in the marked ICW channel under the Dauphin Island Bridge and until you come abreast of "Katrina Cut" (used to be an open pass to the Gulf, now filled in with rip-rap) - shallows rapidly both north and south of the channel, I've bumped bottom in an earlier boat that drew only 18".

Also, if you go into Mississippi Sound, keep a weather eye - the Barrier Islands are great places if the winds are out of the SE-S-SW, but unprotected if there are northerlies - if northerlies, the only possible anchorages are either outside at Smuggler's Cove, south of the little sand island below Pascagoula, or running into Pascagoula (very busy commercial port), Biloxi/Long Beach/Pass Christian or Gulfport (brand new city marina at Gulfport, I haven't been in it and don't know rates but looks nice, right next to the Gulfport Yacht Club).

Let me know if you want more info and if you get up this way. My boat's down with mechanicals (again!) and am waiting for parts but our club has some sailing planned for later in Feb and March.
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Old 01-02-2012, 11:25   #17
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf Coast

Very informative Mike, it wll be usefull as I prepare our sailing plan.

Guy
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Old 01-02-2012, 19:13   #18
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangaroa View Post
My wife, the Supply officer, and I are sailing a 39' Corbin with a 55' mast and a 5' draft. So I guess that means no ICW.
Tangaroa

Am I missing something? I'm all for sailing where possible and reasonable but my charts on Sea Clear look like there is no problem with draft or mast height. I saw a bunch of bridges at 139 vertical.
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Old 01-02-2012, 19:18   #19
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf Coast

I thought the cruising guide mentionned many bridges at 50' . Maybe it is oudated and they have been replaced ? The guide I have is 2003.

P.S. See Mike's very informative post above.
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Old 01-02-2012, 19:56   #20
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf Coast

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangaroa View Post
I thought the cruising guide mentionned many bridges at 50' . Maybe it is oudated and they have been replaced ? The guide I have is 2003.

P.S. See Mike's very informative post above.
I can see as you move east there are a few lower bridges. Surprising how variable it is. You may want to download the NOAA charts. If you haven't checked it out, you may like Sea Clear freeware and the NOAA raster charts as a down load. This lets you view the most recently updated charts and if you choose to add a BU-353 GPS antenna to your USB port you have a plotter as well. (30 bucks on Amazon) I find this a great rout planner at the least.

50 ft bridge at Fort Walton Beach but outside looks OK. Further east in Choctawhatchee Bay has 60 ft bridges. Charts and local knowledge is a must. Do your planning and seek locals to help advise by the day. You are certainly large enough to run outside as needed.

I helped a friend do the East coast ICW as they ran south from VA to Tampa. East coast is strictly 62 ft or so. The run through the Okechobee is low (49ft). I am not as familiar with the Gulf but the FL west coast can be tough wht a lot of shallows and low bridges. We draw 6'-8" and are 80 feet mast. We pretty well write-off the ICW except as refuge. I suspect you will need to run outside for a lot of the rout.

There is a Safety fairway noted over some of the Gulf offshore and as noted, it is a ways out.
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Old 01-02-2012, 19:57   #21
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf Coast

In the true ICW in Louisiana you would have no problem with 55ft 5 1/2 ft don't what your looking at ?? maybe off the true ICW ?? there are major off shoots of the ICW that could get you in trouble, but they are all marked with the hights of all un-opening bridges. anyway thats what Ive seen and thats what my charts show. just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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Old 01-02-2012, 20:43   #22
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf coast

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
Am I missing something? I'm all for sailing where possible and reasonable but my charts on Sea Clear look like there is no problem with draft or mast height. I saw a bunch of bridges at 139 vertical.
Re: mast height: The bridge at Navarre, FL in Santa Rosa sound (between Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach/Destin) has 50' verticle clearance. The bridge at Fort Walton Beach is also 50'. The twin bridges over Destin Pass are 49'. The Dupont fixed bridge east of Panama City is 50' (I forgot about this one in my earlier post so the inside passage between Apalachicola and Panama City is a no-go for the original poster. Guy, if you want to go inside at Apalachicola then take the cut-off at White City to Port St Joe and then go outside from there).

Re: draft: I can only speak from personal experience, but with a boat drawing 2'10" I've bumped bottom in the Big Bend, and with 18" bumped bottom at several points in Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound. I have friends with boats drawing 5' that have been on the bottom outside Fairhope and in the spoils around the Mobile Ship Channel north of Gaillard Island.
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Old 01-02-2012, 20:44   #23
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Re: Alabama and Louisiana Gulf Coast

Tornados are quite rare along the LA coast.
Keep in mind long the Louisiana coast the only port I know of on the Gulf is the Grand Isle area including Fourchon. The rest will be a long ways inshore.

Steve W
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