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Old 16-02-2013, 19:12   #1
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Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Hello,

I’m planning or rather need to go from fort Myers to blackpoint marina in homestead/Miami. I was reading the postings and looking at the charts and have a few questions regarding the journey.

The comment “winter waves” – should I expect high seas in February?

Cape Sable shoals – is this difficult to navigate?

Boat. 34ft sail, 4.0 draft, 52’8 must height. 27 horse diesel.

Experience - moderate. Looks like I enter the channel just south of east cape after heading southward from fort myers. couple questions:
1. What stops do you recommend?
2. Once I get across does the inter-coastal run cleanly all the way up from the inside or do I need to go outside?
3. Heading towards Marathon looks interesting because the water is deeper.

I appreciate any advice.
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Old 17-02-2013, 09:24   #2
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

I would assume the phrase "winter waves" is referring to frontal passages. These can cause very rough conditions in the Gulf when the winds are out of the SW through N. The duration can vary from less than 24 hours to several days or more depending on whether the front barrels through or not.

You want to study the charts and pick potential anchorages that will get you out of winds off the Gulf.

Cape Sable is not difficult to navigate but you have to be aware that crab pots may be very abundant and require a constant watch. There is always a shoal running westish off Middle cape. Below middle cape follow your charts and stay west of the string of markers that basically follow the park boundaries.

Your draft gives you a lot of leeway in choosing you route. Your air draft means you will only be able to move to the east side of the keys at the Seven Mile bridge or Channel 5 bridge.

1. Stops depend on your available time to make the trip. Naples, Marco, Everglades City and Little Shark River all provide you with all weather anchorages for a frontal passage. After Little Shark River you have to make it to the 7 mile bridge or Channel 5 bridge area to have an anchorage out of the wind.
2. Your draft should let you take the inside channel along the west side of the Keys to Jewfish Creek. I haven't taken this route in a few years so perhaps someone with current knowledge can verify that a 4' draft can still take this route.
3. Marathon has all the services you might need so if this is a shakedown cruise of any type then you probably should plan on heading towards Marathon anyway.

Pay close attention to the next days weather. Don't get caught without a safe anchorage.
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Old 10-03-2013, 20:32   #3
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Thank you so much for your very accurate advice. In that spirit I do have some more questions but also made some notes so others have some additional information.

Yes, this is a shake out sail and so far all is well. We travelled to Marco Island's Rose Marina, very nice location, and docked there. The trip from Fort Myers to Marco was straight forward with lots of crab traps (average trip time 5.5 knots an hour). Even if we wanted to head to Marathon this morning it would have been rough with the sudden change in weather (3/10/13).

Making it to Little Shark River (LSR) could be difficult (60 NM) to accomplish during daylight hours (error factor seems low if weather or anything else causes us to come in at night). We don't really want to try to navigate LSR at night so a stop at Indian Key makes sense.

Has anyone anchored at Indian Key and if so, what is the best location? I'm not sure that we can navigate with a four foot draft into Everglades City.

We did meet some really nice cruisers at Marco that were stuck there as well. They had a 5 ft draft and had been to Indian Key before.

Our current plan:
1. Hang out in Marco Island until the end of the month. Leave earlier if a good weather window appears.
2. Travel towards LSR and if our travel time looks bad head into Indian Key and stay the night.
3. Spend the evening at LSR.
4. Travel to Cape Sabel and enter the Yacht channel before noon and then push towards Marathon (there's no place to stop along this route - is that correct?).
5. We may end up coming into Marathon at night if we don't get to Cape Sabel early enough. We will work on getting to the Yacht Channel entrance as early as possible.

The challenges:
1. Crab pots make this journey tough and night travel doesn't look hopeful. We already experienced the crab pot problem first hand.
2. Being at remote anchorage is okay but not ideal. That anchoring thing might be tough.
3. Indian Key and LSR look accessible and shallow but the charts show a good way in.Some people say the charts are incorrect and that concerns me.
4. A straight run to Key West requires an overnight with crab pots. Has anyone done this trip?
5. Getting stuck at LSR or Indian Key for any duration of time due to weather changes.

Leanings:
1. Although we did get 7 knots for a good part of the trip it wasn't consistent enough.
2. Backup battery jumper came in really handy.
3. Doing detailed trip planning really paid off and everything worked out perfectly to plan. I actually enjoy this part of sailing.
4. Unfortunately, we learned a long time ago that having backup instruments (high teck and low tech) is always good.
5. I didn't really think a trip from Marco to Marathon would take three days.

Thanks
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Old 11-03-2013, 06:33   #4
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Quote:
4. A straight run to Key West requires an overnight with crab pots. Has anyone done this trip?
I did a straight run from Naples to KW last year and this year a straight run from FM to Dry Tortugas (actually a lot further but after DT there are no more crab pots) this year in a similar size boat. As noted the biggest problem is those damn crab pots. So we left early as possble but still prayed we wouldn't foul on a trap during the night. Be prepared to dive with a waterproof flashlight to unfoul your prop. On both those trips we made it OK but on the second there was a large clump of netting around the prop when we arrived.
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Old 11-03-2013, 12:15   #5
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Quote:
Originally Posted by krismurphy01 View Post
Thank you so much for your very accurate advice. In that spirit I do have some more questions but also made some notes so others have some additional information.

Yes, this is a shake out sail and so far all is well. We travelled to Marco Island's Rose Marina, very nice location, and docked there. The trip from Fort Myers to Marco was straight forward with lots of crab traps (average trip time 5.5 knots an hour). Even if we wanted to head to Marathon this morning it would have been rough with the sudden change in weather (3/10/13).

Making it to Little Shark River (LSR) could be difficult (60 NM) to accomplish during daylight hours (error factor seems low if weather or anything else causes us to come in at night). We don't really want to try to navigate LSR at night so a stop at Indian Key makes sense.

Has anyone anchored at Indian Key and if so, what is the best location? I'm not sure that we can navigate with a four foot draft into Everglades City.

We did meet some really nice cruisers at Marco that were stuck there as well. They had a 5 ft draft and had been to Indian Key before.

Our current plan:
1. Hang out in Marco Island until the end of the month. Leave earlier if a good weather window appears.
2. Travel towards LSR and if our travel time looks bad head into Indian Key and stay the night.
3. Spend the evening at LSR.
4. Travel to Cape Sabel and enter the Yacht channel before noon and then push towards Marathon (there's no place to stop along this route - is that correct?).
5. We may end up coming into Marathon at night if we don't get to Cape Sabel early enough. We will work on getting to the Yacht Channel entrance as early as possible.

The challenges:
1. Crab pots make this journey tough and night travel doesn't look hopeful. We already experienced the crab pot problem first hand.
2. Being at remote anchorage is okay but not ideal. That anchoring thing might be tough.
3. Indian Key and LSR look accessible and shallow but the charts show a good way in.Some people say the charts are incorrect and that concerns me.
4. A straight run to Key West requires an overnight with crab pots. Has anyone done this trip?
5. Getting stuck at LSR or Indian Key for any duration of time due to weather changes.

Leanings:
1. Although we did get 7 knots for a good part of the trip it wasn't consistent enough.
2. Backup battery jumper came in really handy.
3. Doing detailed trip planning really paid off and everything worked out perfectly to plan. I actually enjoy this part of sailing.
4. Unfortunately, we learned a long time ago that having backup instruments (high teck and low tech) is always good.
5. I didn't really think a trip from Marco to Marathon would take three days.

Thanks
From Factory Bay at Marco Island to the anchorage at the Little Shark River is about 57 miles with a conservative arc westward around Cape Romano Shoals. IF one leaves Marco Island at say 0530, you should be pulling into the Little Shark River between 1600 and 1700 with the sun behind you but well up, making for an easy entry.

From the Little Shark River to the anchorage at Boot Key is about 48 miles. Leaving the Little Shark at sunrise will give you plenty of time to cross Florida Bay and make it into Boot Key with good light behind you which is helpful when looking to dodge crab/fish trap floats.

Factory Bay at Marco Island to the Galleon Marina in Key West is about 95 miles. If you leave around noon, you should be arriving at the outer channel marker to Key West by sunrise the next morning and in port by 0800-0900. It's a no brainer trip. If you're worried about it, wait for a full moon. Sailing on the Gulf at night with a full moon can be quite enjoyable.

FWIW...
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Old 22-04-2014, 19:33   #6
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

First, thanks for all the great posts and awesome advice. I'm taking the time to write this response to help others planning this same trip.

When we got to Marco the weather had changed and it forced us to wait. While waiting we fell in love with Marco Island and decided to stay at Rose Marina one year. My whole family thought Rose Marina was awesome and the service center was first class - unfortunately my boat needed a bunch of service. Bruce was exceptionally helpful and leaving the marina was a hard decision considering we even looked for property while there - Marco is expensive so that idea faded quickly.

On Sunday night at 6 PM we headed out to Key West (directly) because after a year of thinking about it the deeper water and less crab traps just seemed more appealing. The weather report said 10 knot winds, seas 1-3 and mostly sunny. We left expecting the seas to subside but that never happened. Advise point one - if the waves come over your bow leaving the channel take serious thought to going another day.

In route to Key West we followed the northwest swell which worked out well. At this point I must confess that we originally wanted Dry Tortugas but after getting offshore 3 miles the beating was just too much at 220 degrees so we changed course to 190 degrees (i.e. Key West).

The seas to KW were 4 to 6 for most of the trip and we certainly got seasick along the way. Winds picked up to 20 knots for a good part of the trip while we waited for the winds to subside. The winds did subside by the sea did not.

We hit the Key West Northwest channel at 2pm which was perfect. Honestly, we could have navigated this channel at night since it is very wide and easy to get through.

For those of you who have not tried a night sail I can only offer these thoughts. Practice because it's not easy using a GPS at night in heavy seas. Heavy seas forces your boat to change directions so you are constantly steering. There are absolutely no lights when you are on the open water so make sure your autopilot works - mine does not. To correct the issue celestial navigation really helps so pick a good night with clear sky's and some form of moon. With the stars we were able to stay on course for quite a while until the storms hit and then it was back to the GPS because the stars were not visible. Don't get me wrong I never intended to use stars but in the end they made the passage much safer and truer despite having a GPS. Headlamps are a must for night sails but they do annoy your crew - I loved it. Also, make sure everyone has life jackets with lasers because there is no way you are going to find somebody if they fall over in rough seas at night. We used jack-lines to prevent anybody from falling over but the risk was still present so I am going to invest a little extra money.

We didn't see another boat for 70 miles on Sunday evening and when we finally did it was a sailboat taking a beating going north the next morning. They didn't even have their sails up except for what looked like a storm tri-sail.

We are headed to Marathon via the Hawk Channel and will decide from there if we are going to take the ICW or Hawk Channel the rest of the way to Miami. We may enter Biscayne Bay at Angelfish Creek. It really depends on the weather and what we can accomplish during daylight.

Lessons learned:
1. The weather reports are not always right.
2. A GPS is great but navigating with it during heavy seas is tough.
3. A wind vane or autopilot would have been better.
4. Bring plenty of bottles of wine for when you are at dock.
5. Figure out in advance how to crate a tent for your boat in sunny anchorages. We built an amazing tent today.

What we did right:
1. We practiced having time on keel in rough weather.
2. We had redundant systems for navigation, communication, and safety equipment. The best backup we had were the iPhone and iPad Navionics apps plus the charge brick from the innovation store at the airport.
3. We used Navionics which was excellent software.
4. Our Raymarine GPS really saved the day, night.
5. We used headlamps.
6. We plotted everything in advance.
7. We called ahead for our marina spot.
8. Staying in Key West was fun.
9. Having a backup route was imperative.
10. We brought suntan lotion, hats, and polarized lenses to see into the water.
11. Most importantly, we bought a fine sailing vessel- a Tartan 3400.

How long does it take:
1. One full day to complete the purchase of the boat.
2. One day at Captiva Island- super nice.
3. One year at Tarpon Point Marina in Ft. Myers- an amazing Marina.
4. One year at Marco Island in Rose Marina- one of the best destinations on Earth. With great beaches and easy access to day sails plus quite a few great Italians restaurants.

Things we could have done better:
1. Doing a deeper dive into all systems on the boat when we bought it. The marine survey was weak.

Interesting gear:
Since we had two years to plan our trip, we did pick up some really cool gear that you may want to consider.
1. Sea Anchor
2. Life raft
3. Satellite Phone- it's expensive so we'll get this activated sooner or later.
4. A SPOT device
5. An EPIRB
6. Inflatable life vests that are wearable all day long.
7. Multiple mobile devices with Navionics. Sadly, we used this more than the GPS.
8.Chart plotting software
9. Jack lines
10. Plenty of toys
If you have any questions or want to offer advice on our trip to Miami just post a note.
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Old 24-04-2014, 07:21   #7
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Next update;

We took Hack Channel Oceanside to Marathon. There was no wind so we needed to motor sail. Once we got to Marathon we found Marathon City Marina easy to find and an interesting place to stay.

My wife and daughter liked the private bathrooms with showers - those were cool.

The marina has an hanger where cruisers can mingle and use the free library and internet. It was kind of like the place people go to plan big missions and talk to others. There 's a board there that lists buddy boat opportunities to destinations abound.

Here's the best part. $5 gets you a cab ride to Franks Grill where you will find awesome Italian food. It isn't cheap but I was shocked at how good it was. This was a fine decision to please my wife who likes good food.

Navigating the channel in Boot Ket was easy and there are lots of places to moor. Ann at City Marina was nice and they gave us a nice bag at check in.

We are now headed to Snake Creek.
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Old 24-04-2014, 07:37   #8
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Food and fun:

As we continue our dining experience through our great loop of Florida here are the best anchorages from the perspective of good food.

- Marco Island has great Italian food and places to enjoy spirits. Rose Marina allows you an easy walk to four good restaurants. We enjoyed S ions Inn quite a bit.
- Key West was so much fun and great food was everywhere. Docking at Key West Marina allows you to get good food in just 200 yards. There are so many places to eat here I won't even try to list them.
- Marathon has good food to but you need a $5 cab. Try Franks Grill.

More info to come.
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Old 24-04-2014, 07:49   #9
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Are you still headed to Blackpoint Marina?
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Old 24-04-2014, 09:45   #10
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Great question and the short answer is no. After waiting two years other options became apparent so I am now docking at Key Biscayne by downtown.
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Old 24-04-2014, 10:07   #11
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Good decision. Blackpoint is a nice marina but a long way from anything.
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Old 24-04-2014, 16:28   #12
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

We sailed and then motored to Plantation Yacht Harbour. The entrance to Snake River was 4.8 on my depth gauge just before we got to the point where the channel started.

Watch the current when the bridge attendant says wait 5 minutes. Maybe the attendant just wanted to see if we could maintain distance.

Cobra marine had no spots but the folks at PYH were nice enough to host us.

If you draw 5 or more feet wait for high tide. The channel itself was between 6 and 9 all the way to the PYH using Snake River. It is just that spot in front of the channel that was tricky at 4 PM today.

Now we need good food and the $5 taxi person said it would be 30 minutes.

We plan on snorkeling the reefs tomorrow on the way back to Miami.

The ICW is temping because there's probably plenty of good places to eat along the way. Both the ocean and ICW were crystal clear.

I 'm going to try to make Angelfish Creek tomorrow and cross in the bay but it is a long trip to key Biscayne so I may drop an anchor.
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Old 25-04-2014, 07:39   #13
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Change of plans. Despite the weather report stating winds south to south east at 10 it is more like 12 to 14 sustained from the north. as much as I prefer deeper water I'm using the ICW today. If we must motor then the ICW might be faster.

The picture is of Cowpens Pass just north of PYH.Click image for larger version

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Old 25-04-2014, 07:45   #14
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

Of course, it is also about the food and we did enjoy Shula's Sports and Steak II at the Tiki bar. The cab ride cost $13 each way but the drinks were great. Normally we eat Italian or seafood but made a burger exception yesterday to say we had a "cheese burger in paradise."

PYH has amazing facilities and was the highest cost yet but it was worth it. Bring a tennis racket and beach gear if you go.
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Old 25-04-2014, 14:08   #15
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Re: Fort Myers to Blackpoint Marina Miami

We caught a break with the wind changing directions and we quickly raised the sails.

Great time today and we should make it to Key Biscayne by. 8 PM. If we get in that means Key Biscayne to PYH is doable in one day but I recommend breaking it into two days. Navigating the ICW is tricky during the daylight hours.
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