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Old 27-05-2009, 19:58   #1
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Tarpon Springs to Ft. Myers on ICW

After traveling from Corpus Christi, TX to Tarpon Springs, FL we are now considering taking the ICW from Tarpon Springs to Ft. Myers. Obviously staying on the Gulf is quicker, but we are interested in seeing some of the towns and scenery on the ICW. Does anyone know if there are any bridges which we can't go under with a 68 ft. mast? Most appear to be bascule. Also, we have heard that in the past some of the bridges have been closed for repairs. Are any closed now? We are looking at charts and the information on the Active Captain website as well as cruising guides, but we don't want to miss a low fixed bridge which would result in having to turn around and backtrack. Any suggestions on this route, as opposed to taking the Gulf, would be much appreciated.
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Old 27-05-2009, 20:07   #2
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There are two new fixed bridges. One at downtown Clearwater (State Road 60) and the next one south at Bay Drive, Belleair. I think 68 feet would be cutting it pretty close.
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Old 27-05-2009, 20:19   #3
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Thanks for the quick answer. We found the 65 ft Clearwater Causeway Bridge, but the Belleair Bridge on Bay Drive is showing up as a bascule on the information we have. However, Clearwater is out for us with that 65 ft. bridge.
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Old 27-05-2009, 20:32   #4
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Belleair Bridge on the way to Ft. Myers

The Belleair bridge is brand new. Just completed this month.
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Old 28-05-2009, 06:40   #5
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We appreciate knowing about the new 65 ft bridge. We found another one on the ICW which is 65 ft, the John Ringling Bridge in Sarasota Bay. Too bad Florida doesn't build higher fixed bridges like Texas where they are 70 feet or higher. We had no problem going under bridges on the GIWW with our 68 ft mast all the way from Mobile to Corpus Christi. We just went on Active Captain and changed the height for the Belleair Bridge and hope others with local knowledge will check out that site and update details when needed. It's an excellent supplement to Cruising Guides and at times more helpful as the reviews are done by actual cruisers.
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Old 28-05-2009, 08:02   #6
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It's not technically the ICW but the Matanzas Bridge at Ft Myers Beach is also fixed 65ft. That will keep you out of the city mooring field. Also note that you must use the west side passage around Pine Island - it IS the ICW route - due to overhead power lines. The eastern Pine Island Sound looks tempting but the power lines are only 45ft above MHW.

Enjoy the trip! Hop outside to Venice then the ICW should work for you all the way down to its end at Sannibel.

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Old 28-05-2009, 08:02   #7
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The Ringling Casueway Bridge in Sarasota is only 65' and the channel is very narrow due to an accumulation of debris from the distruction of the original bridge following completion of the new. It should have been removed but wasn't and has caused damage to quite a few unsuspecting yachtsman.

Further, there has been a good deal of shoaling in the channel on the southeast side of Jewfish Key and we've hit bottom there--but been able to plow through the mud--on a mid tide with our 6.5' draft. There has also been a good deal of shoaling in the channel to the sea bouy on the west side of the Longboat Key bridge. Some friends of ours with a sister-ship to ours could not clear the channel at mid-tide and had to return to the ICW through the bridge and go back up to the Southwest Channel at Egmont to get to the Gulf.

FWIW you might want transit from Clearwater to the northwest Channel at Tampa and then potter around the south Tampa Bay area and Manatee River area a bit but then head back to sea through the Southwest Channel to Venice Inlet. From Venice you can make it all the way south to the Ft. Myers area on the ICW. Note, however, that there are two bridges on the Caloosahatchie River, the first at Cape Coral, that are only 55' and will not allow you to actually reach Ft. Myers proper. And the new fixed Sanibel Island Bridge between Punta Rassa and Sanibel Island is only 65' and has some lights hanging down about 5' below the bridge at mid-span. Given the foregoing, once you reach Pine Island Sound on the ICW from Venice, your only access to the Gulf will be going back up to Charlotte Harbor and through Boca Grand pass.

FWIW....
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Old 28-05-2009, 08:08   #8
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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
... And the new fixed Sanibel Island Bridge between Punta Rassa and Sanibel Island is only 65' and has some lights hanging down about 5' below the bridge at mid-span. Given the foregoing, once you reach Pine Island Sound on the ICW from Venice, your only access to the Gulf will be going back up to Charlotte Harbor and through Boca Grand pass. FWIW....
You are exactly right - I'd forgotten about the new Sannibel causeway bridge.

At least they can avoid the Miserable Mile then..
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Old 28-05-2009, 08:25   #9
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Yep--We re-discovered that bridge after a miserable all night sail from Key West, arriving there at 0430. We pottered around awhile until we had a little light from the sun-rise but then made our way to the bridge. I had to swerve the yacht at the last minute to avoid hitting the darned lights and our radio antenna did ping it as the yacht heeled away from the turn but we got through without damage. Definately raised our blood pressure, however, and we were surely wide awake as we headed up past the Sanibel Harbor Resort to the miserable mile.

FWIW...
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Old 28-05-2009, 10:47   #10
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Another consideration is draft. If you have a 68 ft stick I suspect you draw a bunch more than 5 ft. From Tarpon to Dunedin, just north of the Dunedin causeway you are quite likely to run aground in the middle of the ICW. I would hesitate to take the trip with my 5 ft. Also, in the channel that runs along the west side of the Sunshine bridge the water is awfully thin on the north side of the bay. Again, with 5 ft, I've bounced a few times.

It's been awhile since I've taken the inside route so perhaps others have additional or more up to date info.

Rich
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Old 28-05-2009, 11:28   #11
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Our draft is 4'7". We decided to stay on the Gulf at least for today as there were storms on land as we left Tarpon Springs this morning. The only problem has been that the forecast was for SW winds and they've been south all day. Therefore, we've been tacking. We just turned at Clearwater and should speed up now that we can go SE. It is a beautiful day out here on the Gulf, but probably a much smoother ride on the ICW. We will most likely enter the ICW at Venice. Thanks to everyone who has added their comments. They've been extremely helpful. We have a long way to go, as we are sailing around Key West and up the east coast out of the hurricane zone. Obviously, we'll run into the same mast height problems on that ICW but we knew that when we bought this sailboat.
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:13   #12
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Jan B - were you berthed in Venice Inlet Sunday morning? I passed a Lagoon Hybrid on my way out around 9:15 am. I almost stopped to ask if the Captain would scrub my windows too...

Hope your trip is going well. FYI up at the Venice Yacht Club just across the channel to the south is a public park and free dockage for 18hrs maximum. If you ever get back to the area and/or need to spend a night.

Have a great trip!

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Old 01-06-2009, 10:23   #13
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Yes, that was us at the Crow's Nest Marina in Venice. We knew about the free dockage but didn't get into Venice until 8 pm and figured it was full.

Thanks for all the ideas for anchorages, bridges, etc. we received, as it made the trip easier. We entered Johns Pass to escape a storm which never got there. We anchored two nights in Madeira Beach and then stayed on the ICW to Venice. We continued on the ICW the next day to our anchorage last night at Pelican Bay. That's a great anchorage but even following the directions to hug the shore, we were in four feet most of the way in. Thanks for the detailed instructions, Scott. Now we're at Captiva where we'll spend a few days before continuing south.

I won't bother readers here with a long story, but if you believe in guardian angels go to this link on our blog Our Guardian Angel to read about a series of miracles which happened to us in Madeira. You can skip the first three paragraphs which just sets up the Guardian Angel part of the story.
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Old 04-06-2009, 06:34   #14
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Jan--

When you get a chance, let me know when you actually went into Pelican so I can check the tides/currents against our plot. It may be that the entrance has shoaled even more quickly since the last survey. If so, we'll be locked out!

Cheers,

s/v HyLyte
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Old 04-06-2009, 07:00   #15
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Pelican Bay

We entered the anchorage area at about 4 pm. We tried to stay closer to the shore where it was deeper, but there were swimmers near the beach. However, we never went aground with our 4' 8" draft. We didn't go to the deepest area where most of the other boats were anchored, as it was already fairly crowded. We anchored between the boat dock and the beach area. In the morning, we watched a boat leave and they stayed very close to the shore and then went diagonally to the ICW. We followed that same course out at 9 am and had no problem.
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