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Old 02-05-2010, 20:03   #1
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Cruising Florida's West Coast in July

The title says it all... My family's vacation (husband, wife and two kids 10 and 12) this year is scheduled for july and we plan to sail between Saint-Petersburg and the southern tip of Florida. Many people comment on the heat, light winds and ubiquitous late afternoon thunder storms. In other words, I'm finding it difficult to get motivated to do it. However, my boat is already there and the timeline as well.

Can any local sailors shed a little encouragement and cruising tips (destinations ) on the plan?

Thx.
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Old 02-05-2010, 21:02   #2
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You forgot lightning, mosquitoes, and sand gnats/no-see ems. Aside from all that you can have a great time. I would cut a trail for the Keys and hang out there, maybe catch the Dry Tortugas on the way back if you are doing a round trip. You want to avoid the Southern tip of the Florida mainland proper (Cape Sable, Everglades and environs) unless you really really like hungry insects. If you find yourself sailing along the Gulf coast at night you can often avoid thunder storms by staying close to shore. Otherwise either anchor early or play "Dodge the boomer". Bring suntan lotion, bug repellent, and screens for the hatches/companionway. Hopefully you have a Bimini top, and an awning for anchoring. Got a Windscoop? 12 volt fans? If your crew hasn't already got a tan, wide brim hats (Tilleys are great) and light weight long sleeve shirts and pants are good things to have.
Don't let this put you off. With the majority of the tourists gone the locals come out to play. Some fun stuff goes on. I lived at anchor in the Keys for years and never had AC but I did have a good time.
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Old 04-05-2010, 05:50   #3
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Thanks for the reply fsmike.

For your info, I am picking up my NEW boat in Saint-Petersburg last week of june. A 1993 45' Wauquiez Centurion. Fully equipped with AC, bug screens and wind scoop. As well it has a very large awning in addition to the bimini. We should be able to cope (?) with the heat and elements although we are from the great white north. Bug season is just starting here, so we'll get a head start!

Could you suggest your favorite spots between Saint-Petersburg and Naples. Favorite ports, favorite anchorages, etc?

Also, I wish to leave the boat in that general area from august to november (4 months) before picking it up again to leave for our 6 month Bahamas/Carribean cruise. Would you suggest a marina/moorings/boat yard where I could leave the boat?

Thx,
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Old 04-05-2010, 07:23   #4
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See the following posts for information on West Florida:

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f71/western-florida-anchorages-18037.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f19/icw-tampa-to-charlotte-harbor-22656.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f71/cruising-around-florida-7326.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f16/key-west-3166.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f19/advice-on-tampa-bay-to-key-west-4529.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f2/well-here-is-our-trip-from-april-39985.html

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f19/naples-fl-to-key-west-dry-tortugas-overnight-37492.html
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Old 04-05-2010, 08:45   #5
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120 miles or so South of St. Pete are Captiva and Sanibel Islands (really one piece of land, don't know why it has two names). The Sanibel Harbor Marina is a nice spot. As with just about all the coastal areas, keel depth can be an issue. Don't know about your boat and navigating thru Pine Island Sound. Always found it to be a very pleasant place to be on a boat. Used to dock at the Green Flash Restaurant on the Pine Island Sound side of Captiva Island, for a cold beer and a fried grouper sandwich. Nothing too flashy, but pleasant and easy. Sort of like the rest of SW Fla.
Fair winds to you.
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Old 04-05-2010, 08:47   #6
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I would head south from Tampa and pull into Charlotte Harbor. It is a nice sailing area. From there maybe spend a night or two anchored off of Fishermans Village on the east side of Charlotte Harbor. Touristy, but fun. You can also pull into the marina there. It is a nice marina, but solid non-floating docks make your approach critical. Draft can be an issue too. We pull about 6 and had to watch tides.

From there, head around to Cabbage Key/Useppa. You can anchor off of Useppa and dinghy around there. These islands are on the SW corner of Charlotte Harbor. GO have a 12 cheeseburger at Cabbage Key (and a few beers), and bring a dollar to hang on the wall. It is a fun place. Actaully pretty good food too - especially if you have been sailing all day!! We go there a lot. You can also dinghy into Caya Costa SP which is just north of there. Nice beaches and nature trails.

Head south from there to provision in Fort Myers Beach. If you grab a ball at the beach (Mantanzas Pass), you can hop in the dink and head to Snook Bight marina and walk to Publix which is litterally on the same parking lot. THe beach has really been trying to clean up its act over teh last few years and has a LOT of eat out and baot accesible bars. SO are expensive... some not. If you want specifics on what restaurants are good, and have a price range, let me know.

From there you could either head south to Factory Bay (Marco) or the keys or Tortugas. Tortugas are about 120ish miles SW from FMB. It is one of our favorite places. We jsut got back from there a few weeks ago. I will caution you that it is all offshore with little or no VHF for a good piece of it should you head out of FMB. Another option is to round the keys to Marathon and stay there... and though we aer heading back there in a few weeks on our way to the Bahamas, I am not a huge Key West fan and kinda see Boot Key as more of an easy stop over. Others will dissagree, but I have kids and Key West is not the most kid friendly place in general. My opinions. Fun to visit as a couple more than with kids - especailly cruising kids.

ANyways, any of that is at least a week or more of adventuring. If you want details, let me know. I am in/out of internet ability and will try and respond as I can.

Brian

PS Here's a shot of me and my boys on top of the wall in the Tortugas.

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Old 04-05-2010, 09:40   #7
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By coming down to the Keys you will avoid almost all the t-storms that make the west coast of Florida the lighting capital of the world. No land mass = less heat = less t-storms. Can also store your boat on the hard at Rock Harbor for cheap depending on your draft.
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Old 05-05-2010, 19:42   #8
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Thanks for the many replies folks, I didn't realize the volume of info already in the forum...

The keys option is certainly very appealing. I will consider all that is suggested, Thanks again for the info.

I think we'll end up spending the first week getting acquainted with the new boat, do day sails around Saint-Petersburg and head out on week two, three and four.

All I will need to decide is where to store the boat from august to november, just before the 6 month Bahamas/Caribbean cruise.
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Old 06-05-2010, 10:37   #9
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pjazz -
Since you want to store your boat during the height of the hurricane season, you might want to research Indiantown. Out of your way, but less likely to have severe hurricane damage since it's inland. You'd have to access it from the East coast.
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Old 06-05-2010, 20:03   #10
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There is lots of good advice on this thread so I won't belabor the main points. I have cruised this area in June and had lots of fun. Remember with a deep draft vessel to get out beyond the shoals at Boca Grande...We have brushed them once. I would not limit your daysails to Tampa Bay. Go out in the Gulf (as long as the oil hasn't gotten there.)
Of course- it is hurricane season. And I always thought the thunderstorm came from the land, so staying offshore a bit always made sense to me...
But have fun anyway.
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