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Old 15-06-2016, 18:43   #1
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How much draft is too much for South Florida

I am considering buying a larger sailboat for personal use and also to charter occasionally for South Florida Miami area. I'll sail to the Bahamas at least once and to the Keys also.

The question is: How much draft will make my life too hard to enjoy the cruising grounds? The boats under consideration average 7.5ft of draft.
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Old 15-06-2016, 19:30   #2
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

Thats deep for the bahamas. Watch the Shards video in the bahamas on their southerly.

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Old 15-06-2016, 19:39   #3
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

I would stay below 6' feet if I had a choice.
7.5 is ludicrous in the Bahamas and Florida. You can however get away with it using careful planning and staying away from a lot of good anchorages and cruising areas.
Try a centerboard boat if you want the deep draft and the shallow
Cruising grounds.
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Old 15-06-2016, 21:46   #4
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

No more than 5'. I'm 4.5' and it's amazing how much of a difference that 6" makes. As boats get bigger, the draft starts to become an issue.
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Old 16-06-2016, 05:16   #5
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlaviusC View Post
The boats under consideration average 7.5ft of draft.
That would be extremely limiting throughout South Florida, The Keys, and The Bahamas. For me, for a personal recreational sailboat, I would want 5' or less. I would not even consider a boat over 5.5'. My research tells me that there are a lot of small marinas and anchorages that you can get into with 5' of draft that are going to be inaccessible with pretty much anything more. That seems to be the cutoff between "you can go almost anywhere you want" and "you are going to have to choose carefully where you go and when."

That said, of course you CAN get around with a draft of 7.5'. There are big cruise ships with much more draft than that. But then, they don't anchor in any of the really interesting places, they don't explore the best little coves and backwaters. They stick to the channels and go from one major port to another.

Bottom line is that The Bahamas, South Florida, and the Keys (and all of the West coast of Florida, too) all have a LOT of shallow water. Within reason, the less draft the better.
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Old 16-06-2016, 05:51   #6
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

As CSY posted you could go 7.5 but you will be limited and with charters the boat will go aground.

I would ponder keel/CB boats. But with bareboat charters there is potential for hidden damage.

I draw 4.5 and went aground in a channel on the west coast!




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Old 16-06-2016, 07:10   #7
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

I would agree that 5' is the useful max, unless you only want to use the major inlets, or are willing to wait for the high tide (even then, a lot of inlets are only 6' or so). 5' gets you into most of the inlets at most tides. Pete
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Old 16-06-2016, 08:46   #8
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

I live and boat on the west coast of Florida. Anything over 5' would be a nightmare.
It is a buyers market so keep searching. Your gem is out there!
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Old 16-06-2016, 08:48   #9
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

We draw 5' and when we travel the area to the south between Miami and Key West on the inside some areas are nail-biters in the ditch. There are also many marinas we cannot consider. I personally would not want to be even 6" deeper for this area.
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Old 16-06-2016, 08:49   #10
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

Don't do it! At least not for the cruising area you're talking about. 7.5 is way too deep for the Bahamas and S. Florida.

Ours is 4.5 and there were many many many "pucker moments".
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Old 16-06-2016, 08:57   #11
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

so what kind of 36-40' cruiser under 5' draft would you recommend?
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Old 16-06-2016, 09:00   #12
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

I'm with bratzcpa. We drew 4.5 with the board up and managed to take advantage of towboat US. You can "get away" with 30' of draft if you are VERY careful where you go, or stay on board the cruise ships. There are so many great gunk holes on the FL left coast that are limited to 5' or less. Many more at less.
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Old 16-06-2016, 09:07   #13
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

Just for your information: (Information, not advice).

I live in Ft Lauderdale (Lighthouse Point, near Hillsboro inlet) I have a small boat, a Kelly Peterson 46. My boat draws 6.9 feet. I have carried 7 feet across the banks with no problem from Cat Cay and South Riding Rocks, to Northwest Channel and Chub Cay. Down through the Exumas, and Turks and Caicos, and the east side of the Abacos, (Marsh Harbor) and Cat Island.

7 feet is not problem, but does limit you a bit. For instance in Hawk Channel your anchorages are a bit limited, but not too much more than if you had 6 feet. And there are times you have to play the tide. Places like little harbor in the Abacos, you have to anchor outside (good anchorage), or at high tide dredge your way in and out for a short ways.

Because my boat is an offshore boat made for crossing oceans I would hate to give up my draft. However, if I were to just wish to coastal cruise (US and Bahamas), I would probably look for something around 5.5 feet in something 37 to 42 feet or so.

I used to sail a 26 boat that drew 4.5 feet, again throughout the Bahamas and southern Florida, and it was nice having the shallow draft, but the size of the boat was a bit small and light. Everything is a trade off.

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Old 16-06-2016, 09:11   #14
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

I have 6 foot plus steel cutter. Yes it is deep and yes I have to be careful but I have been to Bahamas and Keys without problem and it rides better than some shallow draft stuff. That said the entire West coast is shallower than East Floridea. ICW can be a pain but .....
If you like it get the 6 feet but anything deeper will Severely limit you even up North in NE. Russ 44 ' Ted Brewer Kingsland.
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Old 16-06-2016, 09:26   #15
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Re: How much draft is too much for South Florida

I have to say that the idea of being able to get into places that others can't has influenced my thoughts about what kind of boat to buy. It seems like a great advantage to a cheap bastard who doesn't want to pay slip or mooring fees unless absolutely unavoidable.

Of course, most cats can get into really shallow water, but cats are relatively pricey for a cheap bastard. But when I look at boats like this one, I wonder just how seaworthy they are:

1982 Perfection Presto.

Centerboard monos might be able to tuck themselves up the creeks, anchor in the shallow areas of the harbors that the deeper drafts can't reach, but how well do they handle crossing to the Bahamas in weather?
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