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Old 29-01-2010, 09:29   #1
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Abacos to Daytona Beach - Best Way In ?

We'll be bringing our boat to Daytona Beach from the Abacos in April, and I'm wondering what best entry to the ICW would be? I understand Ponce de Leon inlet is shoaled and not a good option for a 6' draft sailboat. Do I just need to enter further south and resign myself to a motor up the waterway?

Thanks
Chip
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Old 29-01-2010, 10:31   #2
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Old 29-01-2010, 11:00   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerSailor View Post
We'll be bringing our boat to Daytona Beach from the Abacos in April, and I'm wondering what best entry to the ICW would be? I understand Ponce de Leon inlet is shoaled and not a good option for a 6' draft sailboat. Do I just need to enter further south and resign myself to a motor up the waterway?

Thanks
Chip
I have done this with a 6' draft in two inlets; St Augustine and Port Canaveral w/o any issues: Through Whale Cay pass and direct route to FL coast taking into account Gulf Stream and Antilles current (favorable) impact. Then, of course, you'll need to take the ICW to Daytona Beach. Between these two inlets, my preference would be Port Canaveral: You'd have to go through the 401 hwy bridge and lock, then the barge canal to make it over to the ICW, ultimately North through Titusville and the Haulover canal section to land side of Ponce inlet.

Ponce inlet is not as bad as advertised, however. My (personal) advice, FWIW, would be to avoid entering the inlet during an ebb tide with a countering strong wind (E, NE, SE) - one look at the inlet during these, you'll know what I mean there are steep standing waves and I have seen them up to 6'. During these, you'll see several boats hanging around to wait for the tide to turn and everyting gets much better

Fair winds!

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Old 29-01-2010, 12:07   #4
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For that area, I would only go into Port Canaveral or St. Augustine. Both are well-maintained inlets that large boats (fishing and commercial) go through. I've done both in my 6' draft boat including once directly from the Abacos (Port Canaveral in April!). I would not go through Ponce inlet without a lot of local knowledge about the conditions of the shifting sands.

I wouldn't want to go through the St. Augustine inlet in the dark because there are temporary markers that are used there. For Port Canaveral, I would (and have) gone through it before sunrise. Port Canaveral is well maintained and very well marked with large buoys including flashers on all turns.
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Old 29-01-2010, 12:20   #5
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Thanks, everyone. I've been through both Port Canaveral (easy) and St. Augustine (gotta be careful). I don't know what else I was hoping to hear, unless it was that Ponce was once more do-able.
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Old 29-01-2010, 18:59   #6
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Thanks, everyone. I've been through both Port Canaveral (easy) and St. Augustine (gotta be careful). I don't know what else I was hoping to hear, unless it was that Ponce was once more do-able.
If you are able to locate someone from Halifax (Harbour - I think) YC or the adjacent Halifax marina, they can -likely- provide for you very current Ponce inlet information. They typically use Ponce for ocean access - this Spring, there is an (annual) off-shore race with multiple legs including Daytona Beach (using Ponce inlet) as well as the Gulf Streamer race (Daytona-Charleston) starts at just outside Ponce inlet (after traversing the inlet)

Once again, as ActiveCaptain mentioned, local knowledge certainly helps -just a matter of finding it... An idea that comes to mind is to pay for one of the commercial guys or tow Boat/US to guide you in - would save you a bunch of time and would probably not be a huge expense.

If you decide on St Augustine, PM me, and I'll send you a 'route' through the inlet to give you an idea of where the deeper water is. Occasionally, the inlet is rough and the channel markers are not easy to spot.

Fair winds!

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Old 30-01-2010, 07:08   #7
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Thanks, everyone. I've been through both Port Canaveral (easy) and St. Augustine (gotta be careful). I don't know what else I was hoping to hear, unless it was that Ponce was once more do-able.
I'd let the weather dictate what you do...
Tom
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Old 30-01-2010, 08:45   #8
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How tall is your mast? The Barge Canal has some 65ft power lines.
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Old 30-01-2010, 16:36   #9
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Originally Posted by SoonerSailor View Post
I understand Ponce de Leon inlet is shoaled and not a good option for a 6' draft sailboat.
I've entered Ponce in a boat drawing just under 6'. It wasn't a problem at all, and the entrance and channel actually were quite well marked and easy. I'm not sure I'd try it in a heavy easterly, but that aside, I didn't find it that tough at all.

What charting software are you using (if any)? We had a Raymarine plotter with Navionics chart chips, and it was spot on accurate. That made it quite a bit easier too.
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Old 30-01-2010, 19:01   #10
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I have a 55 foot mast, so would be OK on the barge canal. Thanks for the lead on local knowledge, Sailndive.

Looking at Google Earth images, I got the impression that at least when those photos were taken, there was a fairly deep but narrow channel through Ponce inlet.

My charts are NOAA BSB on SeaClearII. I wonder if the water is likely to be clear enough to creep in using sight navigation - assuming a benign wind direction.
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Old 30-01-2010, 19:36   #11
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I have a 55 foot mast, so would be OK on the barge canal. Thanks for the lead on local knowledge, Sailndive.

Looking at Google Earth images, I got the impression that at least when those photos were taken, there was a fairly deep but narrow channel through Ponce inlet.

My charts are NOAA BSB on SeaClearII. I wonder if the water is likely to be clear enough to creep in using sight navigation - assuming a benign wind direction.
FWIW, my recollection of Ponce transit is that you have to enter at the center of the mouth of the channel and veer north a bit (closer to the north jetty) for the rest of it. If I can find out more for you, I'll let you know.

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Old 31-01-2010, 07:30   #12
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If you do Ponce Inlet. Make sure you go south at the end of the jetty until you hit the ICW. It's tempting to make an immediate northern turn after turning south. It's a short cut, but I have seen boats go aground here. It's hard to read the water, because of the murky appearance. It's a local knowledge kind of spot. We take this route, but we draw only 3'9", and go very slowly.........i2f
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Old 31-01-2010, 08:41   #13
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If you do Ponce Inlet. Make sure you go south at the end of the jetty until you hit the ICW. It's tempting to make an immediate northern turn after turning south. It's a short cut, but I have seen boats go aground here. It's hard to read the water, because of the murky appearance. It's a local knowledge kind of spot. We take this route, but we draw only 3'9", and go very slowly.........i2f
Good point! I have done what i2f mentioned a number of times (the shortcut) and it is like sailing by braille and helps you build a lot of character

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Old 26-02-2010, 09:33   #14
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I realize I'm a little late to the discussion, but maybe I can still help. I live in Daytona and regularly go through Ponce Inlet in different boats for racing and cruising. All the above is great information and it is a very doable thing, even with your draft. The inlet is well marked, but I would recommend only a daylight run with wind anywhere but from the east. The water is deep all the way up to the north jetty, so hugging those large sharp rocks is the safest route. The channel is very narrow at a couple points and power boaters aren't always appreciative of the needs of sailors...

Also, definitely take the south route once in. Even local racers run aground regularly using the short-cut. Once in, head south and then you will loop back NW and then north once in the ICW. The short-cut will save you an easy hour, but only if you don't touch.

Even in the ICW there is a short stretch that I would only take on a rising tide. This is a couple miles into it, just before the short-cut merges with the ICW again north of the inlet. There is a sharp S-curve that is narrow and shallow.

So, start your run at slack tide and enjoy the increased safety and speed of that rising tide all the way into Daytona
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Old 26-02-2010, 12:52   #15
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Thanks, DJ. Not to late at all, our passage is still 2 months in the future. And thanks for the detailed information.
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