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Old 08-05-2015, 18:46   #1
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New Orleans to Key West

Picking up our yacht in New Orleans for delivery to Key West in May 2015.
We have never cruised this area and had never planned to, but Sevenstar are dumping us wherever they feel like (New Orleans) - any marinas there that can take a 62ft sailboat? Any ideas on places to stop en route or is it best to go direct if winds allow?
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Old 08-05-2015, 19:51   #2
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

What's your draft and mast height? South Shore Harbor or Seabrook Marine are probably your best options in New Orleans.
A boat that size may have problems with fixed bridges on the ICW and the coastal inlets. You could duck in and out of Gulfport, Pensacola, Panama City, St. Pete, Bradenton, Venice, Charlotte Harbor, and Naples for starters. How is your crew size and experience? Even on a 62 footer the trip straight across could get interesting if you're not lucky with the weather.
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Old 08-05-2015, 20:41   #3
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

Hey Sandy, appreciate the quick reply! She's an old Deerfoot 62/2 with modified rig, giving us an airdraft of 82 ft and draft of 6ft. Good experience with a crew of 3. We just shipped her from Queensland Australia where we spent 3 yrs, so Gulf of Mex is a whole new ballgame. I've heard there are plenty of crab pots around. Is night passage in that area a truly difficult proposition because of these? Any cruising guides you can recommend for those ports you mentioned? Thanks for your help!
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Old 08-05-2015, 20:57   #4
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

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Hey Sandy, appreciate the quick reply! She's an old Deerfoot 62/2 with modified rig, giving us an airdraft of 82 ft and draft of 6ft. Good experience with a crew of 3. We just shipped her from Queensland Australia where we spent 3 yrs, so Gulf of Mex is a whole new ballgame. I've heard there are plenty of crab pots around. Is night passage in that area a truly difficult proposition because of these? Any cruising guides you can recommend for those ports you mentioned? Thanks for your help!

You will find that 75' is a common ht for bridges.

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Old 08-05-2015, 23:06   #5
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

Do you know where you will be picking up the boat? I am guessing the river, which means you have very limited marinas for yachts. Basically there isn't anything on the river this far down except for major commercial docks. You could lock through the industrial canal into the lake, but there isn't a way out except for locking back into the river on your way out of town.

Cruising down the lower Mississippi River is frankly a pain that locals avoid whenever possible. It's busy with big commercial traffic, and a lot of current and floating debris. Shifting sandbars are common, and did I mention the commercial traffic? These guys are pretty much all constrained in draft and maneuverability, so you should just expect to give way to everyone.

Once you are out of the river mouth the rest of the coast is relatively easy to navigate. Your size won't generally be a problem anywhere between New Orleans and the keys. Though you have to pretty much skip everything in the bight of Florida say everything from Apalachacola east to the south bend.

I am not sure when you are trying to head to the Keys, but this is a good time to be on the gulf coast. In about a month is the oldest distance race in the country, from New Orleans to Gulfport (you are too tall to participate, sorry). The next weekend is called Challenge cup in Gulfport with all the yacht clubs in the GYA sending boats for an inter-club regatta, then a major race from Gulfport to Pensacola, with a huge group of boats (about 100 mile jump).

Pensacola is a great place to spend a week or a month, but you again will have some issues with bridge height in the intercostal headed east from Pensacola bay.
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Old 08-05-2015, 23:41   #6
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

When went direct from NOLA to Key West from Southshore marina through the lake/rigolettes. We had a great window for crossing the gulf and a lot of fun doing it. I think the key is finding the right window to go. The gulf is pretty sloppy otherwise.
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Old 08-05-2015, 23:55   #7
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

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You will find that 75' is a common ht for bridges. ....................................
I think 65' is far more common as the clearance for fixed bridges in Florida; however, there is one 75' and one 74' fixed bridge in the Clearwater area.
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Old 09-05-2015, 00:16   #8
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

@82' he's not going far inland.


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Old 09-05-2015, 07:36   #9
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

Typically, 65' is the controlling height for bridges on the ICW. Night sailing is beautiful if done in nice weather, Surely the oil rigs will be lit up pretty well. Is this a sloop rig with an 82' stick? Wow! It probably takes a couple of husky guys to carry the mainsail off the boat to a sailmaker, wonder what that weighs?
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:04   #10
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

There are many fixed bridges at 50 feet along the northern Gulf. As for crab trap floats, they will be a nuisance close in shore, and along the Big Bend, especially around Tarpon Springs and Clearwater. They will be a problem once again from about Ft Myers Beach to the Florida Keys. Otherwise, not an issue. Even in the Keys, a direct run to Key West will be required due to the height of the Seven Mile bridge. Depths across Florida Bay will also be a factor. Offshore night runs should not be a problem for you as long as you are aware of the areas to avoid at night. Your best to do as much open water, offshore passages as possible. Chuck
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:06   #11
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

Lobster season ended in the keys on March 31. There are a few Stone Crab floats but the are close inshore and are widely spaced.
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Old 09-05-2015, 08:31   #12
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

Stone crab season ends May 15th.....the traps should disappear.
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Old 09-05-2015, 10:22   #13
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

The ICW bridges will be a problem for you. We are located close to the AL/FL line. ICW bridges in AL tend to be 74 ft, whereas the FL bridges tend to be 65 ft.

If I were you, I would still try exploring the gulf coast a little before you head south. You could probably anchor around Dauphin Island (Mobile); can certainly get into to Pensacola (definitely recommended); then Panama City or St. Andrews, Port St. Joe; then head south (Tampa or the Keys). The Gulf Coast is a wonderful forgotten area and should not be missed!

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Old 09-05-2015, 10:26   #14
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

Well, I guess a Deerfoot wouldn't have any trouble crossing the Gulf. Besides going down the river, you can also depart NO by going into the ICW from the Industrial Canal. The green bridge at Michoud has a charted clearance well over 100 feet.
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Old 09-05-2015, 10:45   #15
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Re: New Orleans to Key West

Macaway, I have made that trip 4 times, twice going East and Twice going West. Once we went down the Mississippi River and straight across to Tampa Bay. We tried a lot of the ICW west of the Mississippi and some in Florida but the most enjoyable was following the curve of the coast line around while staying in about 60 feet of water. The continental shelf is very slowly deepening in that area. This puts you about six miles off of the coast. This is too shallow for big ships and far enough off shore for little fishing boats. We anchored every night, met on the deck for sundowners and grilled something on the stern grill. After a good night's sleep we had breakfast and got underway. It was the slowest trip one could imagine and the most memorable.
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