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Old 20-10-2012, 07:46   #1
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How Restrictive Would 6.5' Draft Be?

Our current coastal cruising boat has a 4' draft which lets us go almost anywhere. Over then next few years we are considering switching to an ocean-going trawler so we can start cruising the world, but with that comes an increase in draft to around 6.5'. That will keep us out of the Rideau, Richlieau, Trent-Severn, but we will cruise those before switching boats. What I'm wondering is where else I'll find I can't go? Will the draft difference measurably restrict me in the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, the ICW, and other areas? After world cruising, I'll be right back to east coast cruising where I live and am wondering If I'll find myself overly restricted in where I can go.

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Old 20-10-2012, 18:44   #2
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Re: How restrictive would 6.5' draft be?

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Originally Posted by twistedtree View Post
Our current coastal cruising boat has a 4' draft --- considering switching to an ocean-going trawler so we can start cruising the world, but with that comes an increase in draft to around 6.5'. --- Will the draft difference measurably restrict me in the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, the ICW ---
In the ICW it will be easier to run aground, which is already easy enough in the Carolinas and Georgia. In the keys it will prove somewhat limiting. I spend a lot of time in the Bahamas and would not consider having a 6.5' draft there.
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Old 20-10-2012, 20:16   #3
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Re: How restrictive would 6.5' draft be?

We came "down" to Georgia on the ICW from the north this year and draw 5.6" with a lot of problems. The area Carolinas an Georgia has shallowed a lot since last year. Lots of places show 3 to 4 feet specially the narrow canals and can only be operated by HW+/- 3 hours. Charted depth are not reliable!!
So my conclusion would be 6.5 feet is not recommended.
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Old 26-10-2012, 04:38   #4
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Re: How restrictive would 6.5' draft be?

6.5 feet was not a problem in the Bahamas, but then again we didn't go to the Abacos. In the Florida Keys, you'll be limited to the outside route (Hawks Channel), and the anchorages are far a few between until you get to Marathon.

In 2008-2010, we did most of the ICW from the Chesapeake Bay to Key West, and didn't touch the bottom until West Palm Beach. But then again, we went outside from Beaufort NC to Charleston SC, Savannah GA to St Augustine FL, and Palm Beach to Miami. But we're a sailboat, so the inside route was just because we hadn't done it before .
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Old 26-10-2012, 05:12   #5
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I have 6 foot draft hasn't been to much of a problem over the last 15 or so years. Just takes more planning on where to anchor. Also I do not use a depth sounder and still have not had problems.
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Old 26-10-2012, 12:53   #6
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Re: How Restrictive Would 6.5' Draft Be?

I used to live in Western Florida and have cruised the Bahamas. As others have pointed out, deep draft will limit your routes and destinations in those waters, but does not make them totally off limits. I switched from a mono with 5.6' draft to a cat with 3.3' while living in Florida and "wow" that made a big difference -- 5' depth instantly converted from a shoal to avoid to a potential anchorage!

Have you considered a power cat? I saw a couple along our cruising route this past season.

In recent years, I have mostly been cruising the NW & SW Caribbean. You can cover most of the popular cruising routes and destination in these areas with a 6.5' draft. Northern Belize is quite shallow, so that could be a real challenge, but deep water becomes more common as you move south in Belize. I used to run charters on monos drawing 6' in Belize with no significant constraints (another 6" would have made no practical difference). Honduras has plenty of deep water (thus the name) as does the usual route, and stops, "around the corner" to Panama. Plenty of deep water in Panama too. You can also get over the bar in the Rio Dulce with 6.5 if you time it right.

Most of the Eastern Carib is deep too...so you can cover a lot of ground with a 6.5 draft.
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