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Old 27-08-2010, 10:36   #1
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Miami or Key West for a Charter in November ?

My post title says it all - 4 or 5 of us are looking to charter during Thanksgiving week for 5 days, preferably in Key West. Key West seems like more of a sailing destination, with lots to explore, and enough to do in case of bad weather. Any advice on a charter company? Is a cat worth it for shallow draft, or will a sub 40' monhull with 5' of draft be ok there? Thanks - Bert
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Old 27-08-2010, 21:28   #2
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With the present satellite and computer modeling weather forecasting you should have almost a week before a potential storm forming up can get to you. So 5 days is well within a comfort zone of getting back to harbor. However, it your chosen week is also Mother Nature's chosen week to plaster Key West or Miami then what will happen to your fee/deposit if you do not get to go? On the other hand the rates ought to be very economical during that time frame.
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Old 27-08-2010, 23:39   #3
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most likely you won't have a hurricane at that time. season ends 11/30 it is possible but not likely. It is more probable that that you will get cold fronts or worse no wind. Look for something with less than 5' draft. If you leave from Miami you can go anywhere inside or out or both
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Old 28-08-2010, 07:50   #4
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sounds like Miami is a good choice, what about Tampa Bay area? the rates are so much cheaper. Dirty water? i've been to the Mississippi coast, and the water is a bit muddy. we're just looking for a short cruise with some random nightlife...thanks for your help so far.
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Old 28-08-2010, 08:49   #5
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We chartered in two places in Florida when my kids were young. One was in the Keys at Islamorada and the other was For Meyers. My kids refer to our first trip, the one to the Keys, as "The Real Florida." Fort Meyers is nice but the diving and fishing in the Keys was so much nicer.
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Old 28-08-2010, 10:28   #6
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Tampa and most of the West Coast are too shallow inside for much deep draft sailing, Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bays being the exception... BUT if you want to go somewhere and the weather limits you to "inside" be prepared to motor a lot in narrow channels.

Key West has the advantage of many islands and comparatively deep water (excepting the obvious shoals and flats), and you can choose either side of the "chain" to find better seas. The Dry Tortugas and back make a real nice 5 day trip!

Miami, like Tampa has inside and outside, excepting points south like Biscayne Bay, most inside will be narrow and under power. If the prevailing wind whips up the ocean too much you may be chartering a motorboat with a big stick on it!

Long & Short? I'd go to Key West if my time slot wasn't flexible. At least there you have a choice of a lee shore if the weather is butt-ugly, and there are a lot of things to do shore-side!

Are you looking to bare-boat or do you want a Skippered boat?
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Old 28-08-2010, 16:07   #7
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Miami also has the Bahamas. If it's a 10 day sail you can make the Exumas, and back. It's well worth the fee........i2f
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Old 31-08-2010, 22:12   #8
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I'd probably lean towards the keys. Miami is decent sailing, with some protected water, and yes, if your weather window is good, Bahamas are 'across the street' - but that time of year, we're starting to see some early fronts, so I wouldn't necessarily bet on a perfectly timed weather window to match your vacation.

Tampa Bay area is fine sailing actually, and I believe the W. Coast of FL is a wonderful place for a charter. I may be a little biased, or just know most of the places to go I suppose, but the best part is that our 'inside' is really inside. If it gets snotty, you can still travel. The depth issue is not a problem save for a few passes and yes, the ICW isn't all that wide in places, so depending on wind direction, not always 'sail-able' inside - however, Tampa Bay is great, Sarasota Bay is great, Charlotte Harbor is great, Pine Island Sound is great... and all of these have fun and unique destinations along the way, and protected water, marinas/services and anchorages close by if needed. Water in our area is nothing like up in Miss. Sound or around that portion. Much prettier in my experience. Rarely brown like that, unless we get a lot of rain. That time of year it will be nice and pretty clear.

As for the Keys, Key West is...well, Key West. and all that comes with it. The water down there is very nice / clear (provided it's not stirred up from one of those aforementioned fronts) and there is no shortage of destinations there either. Head W. to the Tortugas, or East (North) up the island chain and you'll find plenty to do and see. Sailing 'inside' down there means inside Hawk Channel which is fairly well protected by the reef and entirely functional in even a bit of a blow. The main reason I would suggest it is because mainly with the geography of the keys - you feel like you 'went somewhere'. it's just a unique place in general compared to Miami or W. Coast FL... so for a vacation, I for one, like to feel just like that - like I 'went somewhere'

Have fun, and if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask. I've travelled all of the above areas many, many times over.

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Old 31-08-2010, 22:14   #9
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PS, as for the draft - I'd say yes, you're OK with 5', just be diligent in any of the areas mentioned. A little less wouldn't hurt, but I've done all those areas with over 6' and been fine. So all are entirely do-able if you're prudent and aware.
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Old 01-09-2010, 06:30   #10
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Just be warned that the Hawk Channel and the keys all the way to Key West are in a very sensitive ecological zone where you had better know where and when to anchor/moor. You can get into a huge world of trouble if you run aground or drop the hook in an unapproved area or ecologically protected area. I believe you can get on-line a brochure about what to watch and avoid from the National Park Service or the Florida Park Service facilities in the Keys.
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