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Old 16-07-2006, 08:32   #1
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Advice on Tampa Bay to Key West

OK, old salts, I am new to Florida. I have a Catalina 27 just getting finished up (or, as close as I am going to get it).

Would love to take a trip to Key West, or maybe a shorter hop to Gasparilla, etc.

I know this is easy for you guys, and I am sure I could just turn on the GPS and go, but I still believe local knowledge is the best to have.

Can anyone share some tips and hints? Places to stop? What to watch out for? Time frames?

thanks!
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Old 17-07-2006, 10:59   #2
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Suggested itinerary

Taking your time coming South from Tampa, you could make easy sails from Tampa to Venice to Fort Myers Beach; Salty Sam's Marina- enter Matanzas Pass, go under 65' bridge for full service or anchor in the mooring field in front of Salty Sam's. From FMB, it's 4 hours to Naples, go to City Marina or anchor in Champeny Bay "first left" after entering Gordon Pass. Next hop would be to Marco Island; again anchor in Factory Bay or at one of the several marinas there. From there it's about 14 hours to Key West. You can go to Everglade City as the next stop or sail further to many of the anchorages in 10,000 islands. We stop at Little Shark River, beautiful but like many of the everglade anchorages, no see-ums a murder so we anchor about a mile off the river entrance. From there it's a straight shot to Key West, your longest leg. You can shorten it by going first to Marathon then West to Key West.
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Old 17-07-2006, 11:51   #3
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Anchorage Inventory ~ Florida Sea Grant
http://flseagrant.ifas.ufl.edu/ancho..._inventory.php
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Old 17-07-2006, 12:43   #4
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We did the trip this past winter. Lots of great anchorages (must better than the east coast). We also stopped at Little Shark and found no insects. The hurricanes last summer killed most of the mangroves and found no insects. Stopping at Little Shark is a must.

Roger
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Old 17-07-2006, 15:42   #5
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Offshore run

I recently ran offshore from Ft. Myers Beach straight to Key West. It's one easy overnighter if you have a favorable breeze. We had a light NE wind and had to motorsail about half the way. The former anchorage at Ft. Myers Beach has been paved over with mooring buoys and there is very little room to anchor--we couldn't find anything with six feet of water. Plus the mooring rental folks require all sorts of tedious paperwork, including proof of insurance which rules us out. The dinghy dock for the moorings is on the wrong side of the harbor, miles from most of the beach activity. It's too bad a great anchorage was ruined. Watch out for the submerged breakwater marking the north entrance to Key West. It really doesn't show above water, but should be easy to avoid as long as you don't short cut the markers. Key West, unfortunately, has gone the way of Ft. Myers Beach and has replaced the anchorage area (mostly) with rental moorings that are a long way from the waterfront. Besides, the harbor is so busy with cruise ships, speed boats, parasailors, etc. that it wouldn't be much fun to lump around out there. Move on further up the Keys or go to the Dry Tortugas for better anchoring opportunities.
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Old 17-07-2006, 16:58   #6
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Keep it coming! lol

Great advice, you guys are better than having cruising guides! Thanks for the website, Gord, it's a great resource.

Will and rleslie, thanks for the info about anchorages and places to stop, as well as a good time frame. That's exactly what us newbies to the area need!!!

It's a shame about the loss of anchorages. I hear that all the time since I have been down here, that and losing marinas.

Please, folks, keep it coming if you have the time to help me out, I really do appreciate the info. Making a running set of notes to plot out my trip, and you guys are helping me tremendously!!!

mike
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Old 21-08-2006, 16:56   #7
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Gordmay: That is a nice website you mentioned. So many nice achorages on the Florida west coast. Too bad I live up North.
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Old 21-08-2006, 18:07   #8
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Hi Ex:

Just did a one week charter in Port Charolette. Loved it. That website Gord reccommended is fantastic. I printed out the whole thing and then the boat that I chartered had the book on it. I would suggest buying the book. Couple of places that I can highly reccomend are Roosevelt Channel -- book says that there is no public access but when you are headed in there is a kayak rental place on the beach. North of them is a pier. Immediately North of the pier is the end of a street. I was told that accourding to FL law ends of streets are public right of ways and you can use that for access. From that access you get to see Downtown Captiva. I used it for a couple of days and never had a hassle. Plus there was a homemade ice cream shop right there.

We went Into the Gulf at Captiva Pass and sailed outside the islands up to Boca Grande. Really nice trip. Saved alot of navigation chores in the ICW.

Another fabulous anchorage was Tarpoon Bay/Ding Daarling there is a little inlet in Tarpoon Bay that is only about two to three feet deep but you can take the dink thru there and get into the activities at Tarpoon Bay and Ding Darling. Rent bikes -- See the nature center -- swim in the gulf.

Pelican Bay is another nice anchorage at the mouth of Boca Grande. Really nice spot with some of the best shelling I've ever seen (on the Gulf side of the island.)

We only had seven days and didn't manage to sail too far (i've got an 8 and 9 year old) but it was nice.

Unless you have a road warrior mentality or alot of time you've picked a very ambitious trip (all the way to the Keys) My suggestion would be to pick out how many hours a day you want to sail, multiply that times your boat speed, and then the number of days. Cut the sum of those three items in half and make that the extent of your trip. I'ts easy to pass over some really nice spots/

You can also calculate it by how many hours you want to drink and socialize, how far it is between spots to get ice and cold beer, then see how much time is left to sail each day.

Gord I sometimes think that you are a virtual link to all things nautical.
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Old 28-08-2006, 20:57   #9
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Hi ExR:

wondering how your trip went or your planning is going?
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Old 29-08-2006, 08:36   #10
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The Florida west coast is a beautifull place to be sailing all the way from Cedar Key to Marco,lots of beautifull river inlets and really nice anchorage especially if you have a cat.if you like fishing it is great, very laid back, if you like to chill out one of my favorite place is Cabbage Key in Charlotte harbour,very few places like that left.Still the old Florida.JC.
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Old 30-08-2006, 09:30   #11
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Hi! Planning is going great, the input here is wonderful. Bought that real popular crusing guide for western Florida, lots of good info. Looking to leave after Hurricane season.

I have been to Cabbage Key a long time ago, on vacation. What a great place!!!
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Old 30-08-2006, 14:30   #12
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simple trip, but i made the mistake once, (as a novice), of sailing rhumb line over the shoals of romano in a big norther at night..should have tacked offshore because the seas were terrible building up on the flats and there were lots of shrimp boats anchored or drifting there to avoid in the dark. in good conditions, there is probably no difference, but in 35 knots/night time it was a mess.
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Old 01-09-2006, 22:34   #13
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hello,

I sailed from Ft. Lauderdale to Clearwater in May. One of my favorite stops during the cruise was Useppa Island just south of Boca Grande Pass. It is across the channel from Cabbage Key. Good holding and great scenery. I could see where it would be "bumpy" on the weekends with boat traffic though.
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Old 06-11-2006, 14:25   #14
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exranger wrote,"and I am sure I could just turn on the GPS and go".

Correct, BUT what is your plan for when the GPS breaks or falls overboard?

That is the question. Best to have knowledge of DR and coastal piloting FIRST, then rely on the GPS. Keep a DR plot going and update it on a PAPER chart as you go. That way when the GPS craps you can go to the paper chart and know where you were some time previous.

Get a few good guides to the area.

best wishes
Randy Cape Dory 25D Seraph
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