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Old 17-04-2014, 12:29   #1
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Florida Bay at Night

Hi all: just finished moving a 37' Beneteau from BVI to Miami, shortly will need to move it further to Punta Gorda (Ft Myers) via Channel 5. I know from other posts that there are a lot of crab traps in Florida Bay. Will it make it impossible to transit (under sail) at night? Due to scheduling constraints, we will probably need to push straight through nonstop.

Any other info on routes, etc, would be appreciated. Best, Pete
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Old 17-04-2014, 12:34   #2
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Re: Florida Bay at night

If wind was perfect you could sail. It is hard enough dodging them in the day time . Is that a sail drive or shaft with a strut? If either is yes I'd be very careful running thru their at night unless you stay in the park boundary line you will hit traps. Not sure how fun removing a trap line at night will be but a damaged strut or saildrive would be even less fun.
Of course you could go really slow with a spotter and a light on the bow .
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Old 17-04-2014, 12:35   #3
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Re: Florida Bay at night

Standard shaft drive. Can you tell me how to locate the "park boundary lines?" thanks!

EDIT: it looks like it may be demarcated as a dashed line averaging approximately 1nm inside the 3 mile limit line. Is that correct? I can't find an identifier on the charts. thanks, Pete
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Old 17-04-2014, 13:10   #4
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Re: Florida Bay at night

It Is a red dashed boundary line on our navincs hd for everglades Natl park if u are on the park side of the line there's no traps.

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Old 17-04-2014, 13:31   #5
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Re: Florida Bay at night

I was on the fl bay last summer. and there was a fairly new 44 foot sail cat that found the marker that marks the boundry of the park. It was a rusty 8 inch I beam. They drove right up on it and.were hooked like a fish. I was able to pull them off but it did the boat no good. at the same time I was able to hook a crab pot. This was in broad daylight
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Old 17-04-2014, 13:36   #6
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Re: Florida Bay at night

There are some of markers missing, but just like any marker I would never drive directly over or too close to where one was supposed to be on the chart. The ones shown for the boundary line are very close to where they are supposed to be. It is important to stay inside of, not right on the boundary line . We've run it several times at night.

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Old 17-04-2014, 15:58   #7
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Re: Florida Bay at night

For the most part the channel is the boundary although they will place pots right in the channel. So I stay out of the channel on the park side except where you have to join back up with the channel to pass through sandbanks. Don't run aground in the park though, that will cost you. Depth is affected by wind direction. Strong south to east will lower and west to north will raise the level significantly depending on where you are on the bay.
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Old 17-04-2014, 16:26   #8
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Re: Florida Bay at night

I've never picked up a crab pot while sailing with the engines off and saildrives in gear (props not spinning).

YMMV
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Old 18-04-2014, 08:11   #9
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Re: Florida Bay at night

Just made this leg again.

Crab season ends soon, so they are in pick up mode and the pots are less every day.

The wind definitely has an effect on the depths in the bay. I had to wait for the NE wind to subside before I had enough water to leave Islamorada on the Bay side.

The light at the tip of Cape Romano Shoals was out as of night before last. I finally saw it (full moon) at about 500 yards.

We enjoyed the beaches of Cape Sable (watch for the gators) and Indian Key before sailing overnight to Ft. Myers. Be safe.



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Old 18-04-2014, 08:23   #10
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Re: Florida Bay at night

End of the season, right... they told us that too! Seems they quit baiting them but don't always pick them up as quickly as they are supposed to; at least that was our experience.

I've never seen so many pots laid every-which-way as we did between Key West and Little Shark! It was like Maine or an unregulated section of the Chesapeake Bay! We pot dodged under sail and/or power and managed to only rudder hook one and considered ourselves lucky. We just couldn't find a 'clear path.' Same running up the coast from Little Shark to Naples, pots everywhere. The Hawk Channel had a few also but at least those were in a line...
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Old 18-04-2014, 11:46   #11
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Re: Florida Bay at Night

Pete, we have made that run numerous times from the Keys to the Little Shark anchorage on the mainland with a four foot draft. It is not just the crab pots but also the shifting sandbars, sandbores and the effects of the moon upon the tides. Also, since the water is shallow, it can get very lumpy when the wind is strong. Not dangerous, but very uncomfortable. And, we bumped many times in water where the charts were clearly inaccurate. I would strongly suggest waiting for daylight since eyeball navigation, in addition to your course line, is the soup du jour. There is one last reason for a day passage and that is that on a clear day, Florida Bay is every bit as impressive as the Great Bahama Bank. It is one of the least traveled areas in the Keys and one of the most beautiful. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 18-04-2014, 15:14   #12
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Re: Florida Bay at Night

On our last transit, we found a LOT of floats inside the park boundaries, so you can't count on that. I too highly recommend a daylight crossing. You don't want to be out there at night trying to untangle traps from your prop. At least I wouldn't Chuck
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Old 10-06-2014, 12:16   #13
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Re: Florida Bay at Night

Just thought I would update anyone who is interested. We made the trip 04-08 June. Between the Keys and Punta Gorda, we couldn't have seen more than 60-80 traps, usually in lines of 5-6, and we never once maneuvered to avoid a trap. I guess most of them had been picked up already, and I'm sure the season is a lot worse, but early in June it was basically a non-issue. BTW, we were between 3 miles (near the capes) and 15 miles offshore.

Maybe the crab traps and the wind went off on holiday together ('cuz we had neither...). pete
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Old 10-06-2014, 23:01   #14
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Re: Florida Bay at Night

Unless things have changed, note that the park boundaries are marked by unlit steel I beams (see post #5).
Crab/lobster pots can be a pita, but hitting one of those steel posts can ruin your whole day.
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Old 11-06-2014, 09:08   #15
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Re: Florida Bay at Night

We didn't see any of those either, I guess because we weren't following the park boundary. pete
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