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Old 31-08-2011, 16:45   #1
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Sailing West Coast of Florida

Hi,

I am planning my cruise for after the hurricane season. Presently still in Curacao but planning to move up North via Cuba. Foreign flagged vessel, thus no problem
One of the area's I am looking into is West Florida...can I sail/cruise there with a yacht with 6.5 ft draft and 60ft height above the water?

thanks,
Ben
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Old 31-08-2011, 17:01   #2
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Re: Sailing West Coast of Florida

Midway up the west Florida coast, north of Tarpon Springs/Anclote Key (north of Tampa) water depths are quite shallow for 2-3 miles off shore - at some places dropping to 3' or less. Harbors between Hudson, FL (north of Anclote Key) and Steinhatchee are scarce, and can only be reached via narrow, shallow dredged channels, some of which cannot be navigated at low tide. If you are planning to visit the Florida Panhandle, your best bet would be to bypass the coast north of Anclote Key and go into either Cedar Key, Carabelle or Apalachicola.
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Old 31-08-2011, 17:05   #3
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Re: Sailing West Coast of Florida

Thanks, but what about between the Keys and Fort Meyers
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Old 31-08-2011, 17:10   #4
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Re: Sailing West Coast of Florida

Hi Ben,

I have a little experience on Florida's west coast from the Fort Myers area south to the Keys. Depending on your goals, you should be ok with your boat. That said, there is a lot of thin water. I've never been on the inland waterways but it is my understanding that most bridges provide 55' clearance at mean high water.
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Old 31-08-2011, 17:21   #5
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Re: Sailing West Coast of Florida

Between the Keys and Fort Meyers I think you might have some problems with your draft if you wished to pull in someplace such as the Shark River, but the trip to Fort Meyers is relatively short. From Ft Meyers north to Tampa Bay and even to Tarpon Springs, things look up a bit for you but I'd say Tarpon is about as far north as you're going to get without heading offshore. If you try to get into Naples you will probably find portions too shallow for you on the river. Bridge height shouldn't be an issue because they will either open or if fixed, I believe their clearance is 65 ft. Be wary of the ICW because portions have shoaled. Entry into places such as Sarasota is probably out of the picture because of shoaling. I draw 5 ft and wouldn't attempt it except by using the ICW from Tampa Bay.

You will have to watch the tides and your depth finder. Even in Tarpon Springs, which is where I'm based, you will find the river deep enough, particularly at high tide but the offshore area around Anclote Key can have some rapid depth changes and is only around 10 ft to begin with. It can be done but go slow. Your draft is not too common around these parts, most are 5 ft or less.

Rich
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Old 31-08-2011, 17:37   #6
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Re: Sailing West Coast of Florida

Quote:
Originally Posted by benkooiman View Post
Hi,

I am planning my cruise for after the hurricane season. Presently still in Curacao but planning to move up North via Cuba. Foreign flagged vessel, thus no problem
One of the area's I am looking into is West Florida...can I sail/cruise there with a yacht with 6.5 ft draft and 60ft height above the water?

thanks,
Ben
Yes. Easily. Our draft and "air-draft" are about the same as yours and we have no difficulty. Between Smith Shoal and Marco Island one can stop at the Little Shark River which is a very nice anchorage and very pleasant and well protected. The west coast of Florida is (fortunately) under rated, but a great place to sail. I suggest you register (for free) at ActiveCaptain.com. It will give you a lot of information on the area.

FWIW...
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Old 03-09-2011, 15:19   #7
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Re: Sailing West Coast of Florida

Most of the bridges over the ICW are 65 feet. However, there are a few 50 footers. If you plan on much ICW work, you will need an ICW cruising guide of which there are several.

Having said that, the ICW is not continuous on the west coast of Florida.

You souldn't have any problem with your draft as long as you have the right up to date charts. Some of the anchorages from the Keys to Tampa are shallow to get into, but once you're in places like Little Shark River there's plenty of water. Even then, you should still have enough water to enter most anchorages (certainly at high water).

Once you get to Tampa, or thereabouts, you might want to skip most places (except you might want to stop at Anclote Key) and go to Appalachicola. It's about 30 hours from Tampa and maybe 24 from Anclote Key. There's a great anchorage once you make landfall at a place called Dog Island (it's closer to Carabelle than Appalachicola).

I think you will enjoy the west coast of Florida.
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Old 04-09-2011, 18:19   #8
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Re: Sailing West Coast of Florida

Tank you all, very useful feedback, appreciated
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Old 04-09-2011, 20:17   #9
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Re: Sailing West Coast of Florida

Ben, We are in Fort Myers and cruised the west coast extensively with a 6 foot draft. You will enjoy it here and will have no more issues than on the east coast. The bridges are 65 foot or will open for you with the exception of a couple in the panhandle. Chuck
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