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Old 12-08-2013, 08:26   #1
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Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

Hey Everyone. I need advice on a route from Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL. I have experience with the ICW and Offshore from Baltimore to Charleston for many years. I want to avoid the ICW if I can, I just like offshore sailing. There will be two onboard and I will be leaving Charleston on Nov. 30 so it will be late in the year. What would be the best way to plan this trip?
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:41   #2
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

If you want to stay offshore, just head south to the keys (Marathon or Key West would be simplest) then turn north up the gulf coast.
That time of year keep a close eye on the weather and plan your ports of refuge if necessary due to a strong norther or other bad weather.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:39   #3
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

Going offshore as you get further south, about Cape Canaveral on down, you need to hug the coast to stay out of the north setting Gulf Stream.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:46   #4
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

South of Miami, I like the Hawk Channel (inside the reef) and take the Channel Five bridge (between Lower Matecumbe Key and Long Key). This cuts many miles off rounding at Key West.
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:14   #5
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

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Going offshore as you get further south, about Cape Canaveral on down, you need to hug the coast to stay out of the north setting Gulf Stream.
Skipmac, how close does the gulf stream come in? Do you know of a website that tracks it?
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:27   #6
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

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Skipmac, how close does the gulf stream come in? Do you know of a website that tracks it?
From Lake Worth Inlet at Palm Beach down to Key Biscayne you'll likely have a 0.5 to 1.0 knot north set current up to the beach, but still less than five to ten miles offshore. This is the span where the Gulfstream is closest. Some say that you can find a countercurrent to the west of the stream, but I don't think you'll likely find that along this stretch. We take our Morgan 41' (a little less draft than your "classic" under the bridge at channel 5 and through Yacht Channel, by Schooner Bank and up to anchor at Little Shark River. Rounding Cape Romano leaves you a clear ride up to Tampa Bay.
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:36   #7
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

Given the gulf stream runs this close to shore do you recommend the ICW for part of the route?
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:40   #8
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

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Skipmac, how close does the gulf stream come in? Do you know of a website that tracks it?
Well as CaptForce says, it's closest from Lake Worth (Palm Beach) south to Miami. I have been diving off Palm Beach and seen 2-3 kts 1/4 mile or so off the beach but that was unusual.

The Stream does meander about so hard to say exactly but I would say north of Cape Canaveral a few miles off will be OK. South of the Cape a couple of miles until you reach Palm Beach where I would stay as close in as you are comfortable. Don't forget there is a FL law to stay a minimum (100 yards, 300 yards???) off the beach to avoid hitting swimmers.

Has been years since I was north of Jupiter but as I recall from there south there are no off-lying hazards except jetties at the inlets so you can stay close.

There is the fabled counter current but don't think I have ever actually seen it so it could be not only fabled but completely mythical.
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:43   #9
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

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Given the gulf stream runs this close to shore do you recommend the ICW for part of the route?
If you stay in close to the beach the little you lose in northerly set from the Stream will probably be less than the time you lose waiting for all the bridges from Palm Beach on south in the ICW.

If you haven't done this section, depending on your preferences it can be interesting to look at all the waterfront homes but after a few miles when you've seen one palatial mansion you've seen them all.
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Old 12-08-2013, 11:50   #10
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

Wow, offshore I am never closer than 10 miles! You are telling me you can sail safely that close to the beach? What is the typical depth? That will be a new one for me, sailing close to the beach. Gives me the shivers
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Old 12-08-2013, 12:13   #11
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

In S. Florida 10 miles out you will be punching 1-2 knots of northerly going Stream. At Lake Worth the current is within 1 mile.

South of Cape Canaveral I stay less than a mile off the beach unless there is a a strong on-shore wind. The only hazards are the fishing piers and the sports fishing boats providing you are in 60 ft of water.

The ICW in S Florida is nothing but lift bridges and is very difficult at night.
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Old 12-08-2013, 12:34   #12
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We found 1-2 knots of n current within 1 mile, of land all the way from port Canaveral to n Miami. If yourthe un knowledgeable of depths i recommend charts or navionics and study them well. If you plan on running outside you will want a back up plan if weather turns to sht. We ran from jacksonville to port Canaveral then went outside until snake creek Islamorada than thru it to route 5 channel then towards Tampa. You will hit current in icw or outside i would say picking your route depends on the weather. And if your ok motoring alot.
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Old 12-08-2013, 13:21   #13
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

Might be some useful stuff here:

Ocean-Pro
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Old 12-08-2013, 13:56   #14
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

What do you guys think about the typical weather during this time? If the weather is good and I am running outside close to shore, how long would it typically take to get to Miami and then Miami to Tampa Bay? My boat sails pretty steady 5-7 kts in 10-15kt winds and motors at about 7 kts. One more question... If I were to make a stop for weather or some rest, what inlets would be best along the east and west side?
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Old 12-08-2013, 16:10   #15
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Re: Charleston SC to St. Petersburg FL

Back to the question about the ICW from Palm Beach down to Biscayne Bay southbound to avoid the Gulfstream. I find the ICW along this area easy and relaxing, but there are about twenty bridges to open and they are mostly on a restricted schedule at half hour intervals. I never have a problem with this but it bothers some. My favorite and easy inlets in Florida are, from the Georgia line to Tampa Bay, .... St. Marys River, St. Johns River, Port Canaveral, Fort Pierce, St. Lucie, Lake Worth, Port Everglades, Governors Cut, Cape Florida Biscayne Channel), Channel Five, Marathon, Little Shark River, Point Ybel (San Carlos Channel), Boca Grande, Venice Inlet, North Longboat, Tampa Bay (Egmont). I've used all these and some others that might not be as good in lesser conditions. Rakuflames is probably familiar with a few from here up to Clearwater.
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