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Old 14-01-2016, 11:50   #1
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Best Route Tampa to Clear Lake Texas

Hi All! Newbie here. We are being transferred from RI to Houston Texas and are taking some time to cruise our 48 Hatteras LRC to her new home. We've done the East Coast over to Tampa before. But the trip from Tampa to Clear Lake is new.

We are unlikely to shoot directly across the Gulf, as we are doing the cruise so we can enjoy new places. That said, from what I've read, we might not enjoy cruising through LA on the ICW.

Can you give us some specific advice on the journey, where you would go outside and where you wouldn't, best places to hop and stop...any other advice is welcome. FYI the hatteras has a 1300 mile range and draws 4' 6".

Thanks
Jackie
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Old 27-01-2016, 12:14   #2
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Re: Best Route Tampa to Clear Lake Texas

Hey JChampagne, I've done the trip several time, both ICW and outside. I've got some ideas for you, but tell me first when do you plan to go and what speed do you normally maintain.. 15 knts outside, 10 inside or faster ? Do you spend nights on the anchor or prefer marinas or both ? Are you looking for some night life for adults (e.g., New Orleans) or is this more of a family outing? Are you comfortable sailing in the Gulf overnight in weather ? Pappy
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Old 28-01-2016, 07:30   #3
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Re: Best Route Tampa to Clear Lake Texas

Thanks so much for the reply. We are a trawler so our average speed will be between 6-8 knots. We plan to make the trip from Tampa in May --June. We do both anchor and marinas, don't need night life, but good restaurants are a plus! I'll do an overnight or two if the weather is good, but would rather avoid going out in weather. No rush.
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Old 28-01-2016, 07:35   #4
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Re: Best Route Tampa to Clear Lake Texas

have a nice trip. I'd like to know as well.
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Old 28-01-2016, 10:25   #5
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Re: Best Route Tampa to Clear Lake Texas

Ok, I can get you started. The first leg from Clearwater is about 150nm to the cut at Apalachicola, farther if you shoot for Port St. Joe. Definitely an overnighter at your speed so first thing I would recommend is that you try to wrap up the trip by the end of May or if you do drift into June, try to get the boat secure by 1500. Afternoon showers and evening T-storms can
be miserable. Anyway, 3 choices on departure #1 break the trip up and sail up to Cedar Keys, which just might have enough water for you. I draw 5' 7" and was told probably ok if I avoiding shoaled areas. There is a ship channel that will get you in off the Gulf, so you might even be able to anchor off in deeper water and dinghy in. Cool town, a little touristy, but lots of little shops and restaurants... then head west. #2 Head straight for the cut (Long 85 deg 57.3 min W) from Clearwater and grab channel into Apalachicola. Small, historical old town, had a fuel dock last I was there.. good restaurants (not upscale) great oysters. You can catch a break there and either head back out for Port St. Joe or take the ICW and grab the canal back down/south to PSJ... which is a little nicer, newer than Apalachicola. # 3 Clearwater to PSJ. Approach via the channel on nw end of St. Joseph Bay. Fuel, food, marina whatever in PSJ but also take a sail across Bay, anchor off (maybe 75 yrds) and dinghy to island. Locals in PSJ will point the way to best anchorage. You can walk across and enjoy Gulf beach on other side or hang out in Bay. Really nice stop... fairly primitive in some areas. Be back with more. Pappy
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Old 28-01-2016, 11:54   #6
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Re: Best Route Tampa to Clear Lake Texas

Easy next stop would be Destin. If weather is good, go outside into Gulf and head right for it from PSJ, only 60 or 70 nms. Bridge over channel into Bay is too low for many sailboats, 48 ft I think, but you'll be fine. ICW is a pretty ride, but a little twisty turny at places, commercial traffic near Panama City, etc, that might slow you down. Destin has everything.. sometimes a little crowded, traffic in summer is a struggle, but some of the best beaches on the coast. With good charts you may want to just anchor in the Bay and dinghy and walk around. You should have specific ICW charts for any of this inside work since there are occasional forks in the road that could throw you off or bridges that pop up, some swing, bascules etc. the farther west you go that you want to know about ahead of time.
Next stop via the ICW (fairly scenic at this point), would be Pensacola. Can motor up into the city proper which is a good hike up the Bay or there are a couple of marinas right near where the causeway crosses the ICW and you could prob tie up and walk to Pensacola Beach form there.
If you continue on the ICW you'll end up on the back side of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores which I find to be a real gems. Clean, not too crowded, family oriented, great beaches. There is a marina off the ICW called Bear Point listed in Orange Beach that I was happy with... good restaurant. From here we have to talk about how you're going to get around the Louisiana "birds foot" or across the Mississippi. Be back, Pappy
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Old 28-01-2016, 12:34   #7
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Re: Best Route Tampa to Clear Lake Texas

Good advice so far. Have traveled these areas several years now.

A hearty second on the jump before June advice. Made that mistake first time across. Got stuck in Cedar Key for days waiting for daily strong storms to move south allowing me to scoot out north of them.

Arrived on other side the next morning greeted by more pop ups and three water spouts chasing me in. This was mid June.

Appalach to St. Joe; this is a good leg to go inside. Shorter route and a very nice stretch of the ICW. Stop at the White City town dock for the night. Then the canal back out to St. Joe bay to head west. I would do from there to Panama City on the outside, then to Destin outside, then Pensacola or Perdido pass outside.

However, lots of anchorages, barrier islands, peaceful solitude all along there on the inside if you want to take it easy.

Many active users here from these areas so you will likely get lots of food for thought.

Enjoy your cruising.
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Old 28-03-2016, 11:07   #8
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Re: Best Route Tampa to Clear Lake Texas

Thanks Pappy and Four Winds, plans have firmed up and I will be leaving RI in late May, planning on getting to Kemah early August. Any additional insight through New Orleans would be appreciated. The current plan is to go the ringlets, into the Lake to change crew. Spend a couple days in New Orleans, then head out via the GIWW through the Harvey Lock.
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