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Old 17-04-2011, 15:18   #1
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Fort Myers to the Keys

Good day. Getting ready to take a trip to the Key's from Fort Myers, and stumbled on this site. Looking for reviews of how the trip would be and decided to join. I keep hearing beware of water cops, and mosquitos. How can I avoid both?
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Old 18-04-2011, 09:27   #2
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Re: Keys to Fort Myers

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Diesel.
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Old 18-04-2011, 09:32   #3
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

Where in the keys, and what do you draw?

I sailed across Florida Bay and used the 'Yacht Channel' to pass through Channel 5... it was a bit shallow at times but usable...

Part of the answer depends on where you desire to go.

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Old 18-04-2011, 10:34   #4
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

Diesel, I've not found the water cops to be that bad, but if they show up they're unavoidable. Make sure you keep your y valves or overboard seacocks locked closed unless you like making donations of cash to the government.

Mosquitos are best avoided by staying away from land, especially near the mangroves. No-see-ums will be worse than mosquitos as they come through most standard screens. You need no-see-um proof screen to keep them out and that blocks most air movement through the ports. Again basically a problem near land, but a couple of hundred yards off shore and there is no problem in most cases. If you are closer to land, screens and lots of deet are your only real protection. I like Deep Woods Off myself and have found that spraying a bit on standard screens will keep the no-see-ums from coming through, though the oils and propellents are not compatible with some plastic screen material so be careful. Metal screens are no problem.

You didn't say if you were a power or sail boat, though I would infer from your handle you are a power boat. You also didn't say where you are going in the keys. That information might help some of us to suggest nearby docking areas or anchorages that might be less buggy than others.
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Old 18-04-2011, 10:50   #5
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

Welcome aboard Diesel! Can't comment on the route without know where in the Keys you're headed, but I can about the water cops and bugs. I've been boating in Florida for a loooong time and I've never had an unpleasant encounter with the water cops (I guess I've just not anchored in the right places yet ). The bugs are a completely diferent story though. As Capt. Bill advises, stay out away from land a bit when you anchor - especially in the evening. Watch your depth and have a safe trip.

Bob
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Old 18-04-2011, 12:05   #6
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

Thanks for all the advice. I guess I am a glutton for punishment, and have a deep dislike for money. Because I find myself with two boats. The first she is a 27 ft Watkins sloop which I have docked on the south coast of Puerto Rico, the second we have a 36 ft Carver Aft Cabin in Fort Myers, which we just recently acquired. We are concedering moving the Carver to Key Largo, to liveaboard for awhile. Debating on going east to Stuart, then south to Key Largo or south to Ket West and follow the Keys up to Largo. Hopefully having fun along the way. The Carver draws 3.5 ft. Thanks again and really enjoying this site.
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Old 18-04-2011, 15:05   #7
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

I would go to Dry Tortugas, then to Key West and on up the Keys...

Welcome aboard CF and enjoy..
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Old 18-04-2011, 16:21   #8
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

With a 3.5 foot draft, all options are open. As stated earlier, the route directly to Channel 5 is the shallowest, you will most likely trim the grass along the way. You can pick up the ICW about 12 miles west of Channel 5 and have a straight run from Little Shark down there with no depth issues. 7 Mile bridge is another option, or even Key West. Once down there, either inside or outside, although from Channel 5 to Key Largo on the inside is the shallowest so that stretch you might want to venture into Hawk Channel.

BTW, Marathon/Boot Key Harbor is very cruiser friendly with 200+ mooring balls, if you can get one.

Have Fun!
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Old 18-04-2011, 16:32   #9
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

The main thing I would do is choose my route based on weather. If it is calm, the route down to Key West offshore or the Yacht Channel can be really nice, but you are offshore and totally exposed to whatever the weather brings. If it is blowing, the route through the Okeechobee and down the ICW on the inside is better, but slower (lots of bridges and slow speed zones). Both are interesting and fun in different ways. If the Carver is new to you and you're still working the bugs out I think the Okeechobee route is safer and less stressful--a safe sheltered dock or anchorage every night, and plenty of places to get parts and/or repairs and fuel.
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Old 18-04-2011, 17:18   #10
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

If you are considering Okeechobee, monitor the depths here:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers®*— Jacksonville District

Route 1 has 4.06' depth today, Route 2 has 5.86' depth
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Old 19-04-2011, 07:32   #11
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

See the Southwest Florida Anchorage Inventory
Florida Sea Grant - Boating & Waterways - Anchorage Inventory

http : //www . flseagrant.org/anchorage/anchorage_inventory.php
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Old 19-04-2011, 07:35   #12
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Thanks for all the info and advice. The old navy guy in me likes the idea of going offshore. Though from what I have been reading crab pot floats can be an issue. And weather. I'm guessing the old girl can average about 8 KTS if it's not to bumpy. Would like to visit FT Jefferson and Key West.
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Old 19-04-2011, 07:58   #13
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

Welcome to CF Diesel!

What sort of range do you have... Ft Jeff is 125ish from Ft Myers and then another 70 back here to KW. Almost the same mileage to Key West, where you can tank up, then 140 round trip to Ft Jeff.

FWIW, another nice ride is to coast hop to Capri Pass in Marco, then follow the inside route to Coon Key behind Cape Romano. Run down the coast of the 10K islands to Flamingo, and if you're a real crafty helmsman, you can cross Florida Bay to Key Largo. In order to do this with 3.5' you have to plot carefully and "hole up" at low tide in a swash channel or bomb crater.. It IS doable.... I did it in a 28' Bertram with 3.5' about 10 years ago. Use your dink at low tide while the mother boat is holed up to find the route to the next hole... Took 2 days, but was a fun time!
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Old 19-04-2011, 10:17   #14
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys

Marathon, Key West & the Dry Tortugas may be fun added cruising, but if you want to take a 3.5' draft from Ft. Myers to Key Largo the easy route is following the Everglades Nat'l Park boundry from Little Shark River where there are no lobster pots. Passing by Oxfoot and Schooner Banks and then through Arsenic Bank Pass & Yacht Channel leads you to Channel 5 and your choice Bayside or Hawk's Channel to Key Largo. I regularly take my 4'3" draft on this route at any tide.
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Old 20-04-2011, 04:20   #15
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Not sure of the range yet as I haven't had the boat that long or operated her enough to get a feel for it. She holds 250 gallons and has twin 9.0 L international harvesters. If you keep her at or about 8 knots, fuel consumption is not to bad. WOT burns about 25 gallons per hour and get you around 18 KTS. So as you can imagine I will be running her at a slow bell!
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