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Old 16-12-2016, 09:40   #16
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

I have been through the Port St. Lucie inlet several times. I consider it one of the most dangerous inlets in Florida because the fishing boats that go in and out of that inlet have no regard whatsoever for a sailor. They will scream past you at top speed with little concern for their wakes. One boat owner was thrown from his boat a few years ago from the wakes and was killed. Avoid the weekends!

That said, it is easy to navigate, plenty of deep water, but strong currents. I try to avoid it, generally, now and use any other inlet. I also, when going up and down the FL coast, stay close to the shoreline, generally following one of the contour lines about a mile off shore, I don't see why anyone would want to do this east of the Gulf Stream.
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Old 16-12-2016, 10:13   #17
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

I'm not sure why some people are urging you to go inside. This is an easy trip. Prevailing winds in January will be primarily abeam to aft. If there is a cold front coming and you don't wait for it to actually pass over, you'll be surfing! Stay at the 100' line and you will not only avoid the stream but will generally benefit from the counter current.

Just don't go for at least 2 days after a cold front has gone through or let one catch you en route. Other than that, piece of cake! 27 foot isn't exactly a sailing dinghy...

I'd make that trip in a heartbeat.

PS, everything that's been said about PSL inlet is absolutely true. Local knowledge is essential.

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Old 16-12-2016, 10:15   #18
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

Just chiming in here. I'm for the offshore as well if you are just hustling down. That being said a Westerly puts you in the lee and staying just offshore (1 mi) makes for a nice sail. If not in a rush the run inside from Ponce Inlet is nice. Just did this run last year solo and basically motorsailed all the way down. Ya do what ya gotta do ;-)
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Old 16-12-2016, 14:39   #19
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

I have done that trip many times and I always hug the shore all the way down, even stay within about 5 miles off at Cape Canaveral. The on;y inlet I try to avoid is Ponce Inlet, the currents and shallows vary almost daily and as a result it can be a difficult inlet. The time of year may be a problem due to rough weather though.
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Old 16-12-2016, 17:25   #20
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailingFan View Post
The Matanzas area is indeed where we had our primary problems, it was shoaled all over, and the light was fading so we gave up for the night after some close scrapes with bottom (shoal draft Hunter 27... 3.5 feet I think, and no depth finder at the time), primarily mud or sand, missed most of the harder shell mounds. Once clear of the Matanzas section, it was indeed clear sailing (well, motoring anyway) and we went the rest of the way without negative incidents.
When was this. For the past five or six years Matanzas has had plenty of water if you take heed of the buoys. I do Ponce and Matanzas every year. If your trip was after Matthew I'd like to hear more. I draw five and a half feet. I'll be doing Matanzas in a couple of weeks.

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Old 16-12-2016, 18:27   #21
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

I've done this many time both inside and out. If the weather cooperates I definitely prefer the outside. I stay about 3 miles off shore. If there is a strong ESE to SSW wind the inside is a better choice. I stay just outside the safety zone at the cape denoted by the charted YC "A"-"D" buoys. There is a charted passage through the shoals due south of The "D" buoy that I have always used but I have not been through there since Matthew. Once through the shallowest area you can head directly to Ft. Pierce inlet. I have had a counter current boost about 50% of the time and only had current from the south once. The remainder of the time I could not detect any current. I don't see any reason to go in St. Lucie inlet. Ft. Pierce is a better inlet and it's an easy trip south on the inside from there.
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Old 16-12-2016, 19:31   #22
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

Look for a good weather window 2-3 days. stay west of Gulf Stream but far enough offshore for safety. The GS is well off the coast until Cape Carnival then it slowly closes the coast and will be 5-10 miles offshore at Fort Pierce.
Fort Pierce would be a good place to inter the ICW. St Lucie inlet can be tricky and would be dangerous in rough weather.
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Old 17-12-2016, 00:30   #23
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

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When was this. For the past five or six years Matanzas has had plenty of water if you take heed of the buoys. I do Ponce and Matanzas every year. If your trip was after Matthew I'd like to hear more. I draw five and a half feet. I'll be doing Matanzas in a couple of weeks.

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This trip was in April of this year, 2016, so well before Matthew. Our draft is only something like 3.5 feet, too. Tides are an issue, but shoals were here and there out of line with the charts. You had to be very careful and it was often difficult to see where the channel actually was because markers were not always clear because the channel meandered so badly that you could see clear sand bars above the waterline occasionally through the channel markers indicated the channel was actually THERE. It was not.

We had to do a bit of hunting around, and even the anchorages were a little shallow that evening. I was not very happy, to be sure, and Monica was invaluable as a lookout to keep us off the bars. It was pretty crazy. Use that sonar! Don't even try it at night, either. Those markers are too hard to locate in low light, and the shallow and exposed bars are invisible when the moon is not bright (what we discovered in this case).
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Old 17-12-2016, 04:47   #24
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

We rode out Matthew in Beaufort =SC= and then came south to Ft. Pierce a week or so later.

Essentially, we did two rhumb lines. The first was to clear the restricted area at Canaveral, and the second was to clear the jetty at Ft. Pierce.

The GS is well offshore in that area, and not a factor. When we did it, there was little counter current, though we did have something somewhat from the side, which worked to our advantage.

Our Spot transmitter had a low battery, which is the straight line with no dots, but here's what we looked like from Beaufort to Vero Beach, all of which was well West of the edge of the Gulf Stream:

tinyurl.com/flyingpigspotwalla Copy/paste that to see that trip...

You can zoom in or out with a mouse wheel roll or pinch/expand on those other things to get detail, as well as click on the dots to see what was happening at the time.

I =detest= the ICW, as I'm allergic to engine noise, heat and fuel costs; there are limited opportunities to sail, as well. An earlier poster said something about strong westerlies... Bwahahaha Not this time of year, at least. But my biggest nitpick about the ICW is the need to, essentially, drive every inch of it, and stop over every night. And then there are sometimes bridges...

Offshore, none of these applies, and this time of year, you nearly never will be skunked for weather to sail it down. OTOH, if you're not intimately familiar with PSL inlet in real time (shoaling differences), coming inside to Ft. Pierce, hanging out either in front of the marina next to the Coast Guard station or under Causeway Island to get some good rest, and then heading south on the tide will have you in Stuart the same day you leave FTP...

Have a great trip!
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Old 18-12-2016, 09:04   #25
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

For those folks who recommended hugging the shore, how close in do you go when you round Cape Canaveral? I read in another forum here that you should clear the red can at Hetzel Shoal (about 12.7nm out) because the seas can be confused between there and the shore.

But it looks like (depth-wise) I can just head south along the line of yellow cans until Red 2, then head back toward the coast.

For those that hugged the shore, was the the route you took (yellow cans), or did you go farther east?

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Old 18-12-2016, 09:26   #26
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

As I mentioned in my previous post, the 100' line generally represents the area where you will get the most out of the counter current; simultaneously, it eliminates most other concerns (shoals, breakers, ATONs, etc.) except vessel traffic. And it's an easy course to follow! If you hug the shore you will not get the benefit of the counter current and you will have all sorts of other stuff to deal with. Just a thought.

Other than that, can't give advice on staying close to shore, I don't do it except when absolutely necessary. So you can consider this post irrelevant to your question if you like! Pete
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Old 18-12-2016, 10:02   #27
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

Thanks pete33458 - makes sense on the 100' line - greatly appreciate your advice. Last post was more for folks recommending a closer option. Weather permitting, going to head out the way you recommended. I always feel more comfortable with some more water around me (as long as it's not crashing on top of me). Thanks again!
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Old 18-12-2016, 12:08   #28
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

Yeah man! Have fun! It's a nice trip. Pete
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Old 18-12-2016, 12:40   #29
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

See my line (zoom in) - it's a rhumb line, and merely avoids the protected area. We're 7' draft...

Another rhumb line to the first buoy beyond the jetty at Ft. Pierce...
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Old 19-12-2016, 08:52   #30
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Re: Need Advice - Jacksonville > Port St Lucie

If you decide to stay in the 100'-150' you might as well drop some lines in for fishing. Mahi, Blackfin, and the occasional Sail might make that a trip of a lifetime
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