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Old 09-01-2011, 14:48   #1
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Florida East Coast - Safe Inlets and Inlets to Avoid ?

Getting ready to head south from Hilton Head, SC for Marathon, FL.

Planning right now and I'd like some local knowledge on which of the east coast inlets to avoid (45' Sail, 5' draft, 61' mast). I have read about nasty situations at St. Augustine and Port Lucie.

Any others to avoid?

What are the favored inlets for stopping? Jacksonville, Canaveral, Ft. Lauderdale?

Thanks for the local knowledge.

Jeff
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Old 09-01-2011, 14:57   #2
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All the entries can be dangerous in bad weather especially from the north and the east. I have seen both Lauderdale and Miami so bad I would not enter them.
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Old 09-01-2011, 15:24   #3
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Originally Posted by JeffGIP45 View Post
What are the favored inlets for stopping? Jacksonville, Canaveral, Ft. Lauderdale?

Thanks for the local knowledge.

Jeff
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As Moondancer said,- any can be nasty in bad conditions, but other excellent Florida inlets in addition to those you listed are: St. Mary's River at Fernandina, Fort Pierce, Lake Worth Inlet (Palm Beach), and Governor's Cut (Miami). I would not hesitate to use the inlets at St. Lucie or St. Augustine in mild flat conditions. Some say Ponce Inlet between Daytona and New Smyrna is satisfactory, but, unlike the others, I've never used it.
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Old 09-01-2011, 15:51   #4
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Also, be careful with the inlet at St. Augustine. It's notorious for shoaling. Good idea to get local knowledge before entering. I also check cruisersnet.net for any updates beforehand.
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Old 09-01-2011, 16:00   #5
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Great advise from Dennisjay! I would not hestitate to call "any station" for local knowledge at an inlet! I am presently in Saint Augustine and it's important to note that the shoaling problem results in moving the channel markers and occasional dredging. I've been using the Saint Augustine inlet at times since 1974. After dredging the channel is a straight shot in and then over the years it snakes and curves to the south before going offshore. People that have the problems are those that are swept unaware out of the channel by currents or those that have not seen the markers that are blocked from consistant view due to wave heights. Jacksonville's class A-1 inlet is just thirty miles north if the weather doesn't suit, but if it's mild and flat, there's no reason to avoid St. Augustine.
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Old 09-01-2011, 16:12   #6
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I have been in at Jacksonville, Cape Canaveral, St. Augustine, and Ft. Lauderdale. You asked what favorites we might have, and my favorite is St. Augustine. There is no good reason to avoid St. Augustine. Just go in at daylight and in good conditions. You might ask for any station, but remember, any idiot can push the transmit button on a VHF. St. Augustine is a historic city with a lot to see, a number of fine restaurants, and has a decent downtown marina. Cape Canaveral is a commerical port, miles from anything, and you can't really walk anywhere from your boat. It is my least prefered inlet, but it is really well marked if you have to go in somewhere in bad conditions it would be the least risky.
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Old 09-01-2011, 16:43   #7
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with the st. johns river going out and a strong northeaster like we have today you can get 5 or 6 foot standing swells at the jax inlet .. almost like a rage. also there are huge ships coming in and out at all times. it's a long way to a marina or any anchorage. better places to stop at st. aug or fernandina.
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Old 09-01-2011, 17:49   #8
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with the st. johns river going out and a strong northeaster like we have today you can get 5 or 6 foot standing swells at the jax inlet .. almost like a rage. also there are huge ships coming in and out at all times. it's a long way to a marina or any anchorage. better places to stop at st. aug or fernandina.
Good advice to consider, but just to put a number on that "long way to any anchorage", it's 5 miles to good holding in sand at 12 feet in "Old River" on the east side of Blount Island about 30-50 yards off the houses on the east side and just north of the "caution manatee" sign. 'and, of course, the big ships use this inlet because it's big deep and wide.
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Old 09-01-2011, 18:24   #9
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The roughest ride we’ve EVER had going out an inlet was at St Augustine. No wind, outgoing tide and appeared to be FAC. (Flat Ass Calm) We asked at the municipal marina office if there was anything we needed to know before heading out the inlet, they said no, just follow the markers. (As TEE states – “You might ask for any station, but remember, any idiot can push the transmit button on a VHF.”) There was however a two-three foot swell that we couldn’t even detect rolling in from the east. All was smooth until we were well outside of the inlet and turning south to exit the channel. We and the boat leaving with us both hit the six to eight foot standing waves at the same time. Three to four minutes of “excitement” and burying the bow a couple of times and we were once again in flat water. You could not see the standing waves until you were almost on top of them. We now prefer the class A inlets.
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Old 09-01-2011, 18:29   #10
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what did you hear about st aug...i was in and out last month in good weather no prob...follow the dotted line
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:39   #11
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A recent post with local information regarding the St. Lucie inlet. It may not be as bad as reported: St. Lucie Inlet - Local Knowledge
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Old 10-01-2011, 09:45   #12
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Call TowBoatUS before entering an inlet if you are not familiar with it. They always respond and have the latest information
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Old 10-01-2011, 09:57   #13
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We keep our boat in St. Augustine and yes the inlet can be nasty any time the tide is against the swell. Despite the best efforts, the channel marking leaves a bit to be desired in my opinion. We were last in and out 9 days ago, follow the red channel markers tight and we never saw less than 12' of water. There were breaking waves on the channel side of the green markers...
The city is in the process of completing their mooring field, pumpout at your boat on the mooring and access to laundry and showers ashore.
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Old 10-01-2011, 18:51   #14
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St. Marys can get rough with eastern winds and outgoing tide, the jetty really funnels the water, didn't TowBoat lose a boat at St. Augustine inlet trying to tow a sailboat off one of the shores earlier this year?
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Old 10-01-2011, 20:43   #15
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ponce inlet is good on a nice day. on a nice weekend the inlet is sometimes heavily populated with local fishing skiffs. on a bad day i would avoid it, especially with wind against tide. you can get some pretty extreme overfalls at the entrance, may have to hang on to the wheel or tiller for dear life with you're stern is slewing around while trying to keep off the rocks to the north and the shoals to the south. on a really bad day it's worse.

so keep to the north side - the side with the ROCK JETTY. there is shoaling on the south side. the channel is well marked - the bouys inside the inlet are occasionally moved around by the coast guard station just inside the inlet on the south side. outside the inlet is well marked with floating bouys.

once inside you will probably want to go south to new smyrna beach where one lift bridge opens every half hour. just past the route 44 highway bridge (fixed 65 feet) there is an unofficial anchorage. you can land a dinghy on the north west side of the fixed bridge at docks provided by the town. limited shopping available.
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