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Old 04-02-2014, 18:02   #1
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SW FL, Crystal River and South

We'll be resuming our cruise of SW FL and South, departing the Withlacoochee River in early March. I'm studying the charts, guides, Active Captain etc. to consider every possible anchorage. Crystal River is a potential first stop, we would like to visit the Manatees, but I'm concerned that it might just be too shallow. The First Mate and I are on our Leopard 42 catamaran with 4'6" draft, 23' beam and 65' mast height. Yes, she's a bit broad and tall for up-river or ICW, but we managed to enjoy cruising her along MS, AL and FL to this point, going offshore as warranted. I'd appreciate current local knowledge about the Crystal River, and opinions on taking her up as far as Pete's Pier.
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Old 04-02-2014, 18:42   #2
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SW FL, Crystal River and South

There are quite a few tour operators that specialize in Manatee tours. Having said that the closest we got to them and best interactions were at the motel's dock where we stayed. I only know of the river itself, not the approach from the gulf etc., but the parts of it I'm familiar with, your way too big for. I don't know of Pete's pier, sorry. You have wet suits and mask, fins and snorkel? SCUBA is a waste of time for this and the noise seems to run them off too.
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Old 04-02-2014, 18:44   #3
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

For Manatee sight seeing now is better than March, the come up river seeking warmer water in winter, but leave as soon as the gulf begins to warm up
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Old 05-02-2014, 07:40   #4
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

JamuJoe, The Crystal River is certainly doable with your draft. Pay close attention and stay in the channel when coming into the river. There are rocks outside the channel. Keep in mind that winds blowing from the east can affect the channel and approach depths. As with any of the Big Bend rivers, try and do the entrance channels at mid tide or higher if possible. You should be able to get as far as Pete's Pier. Be sure and honor all channel markers. It's a great stop. Chuck
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Old 05-02-2014, 10:48   #5
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

I am in Crystal River for the winter - but on land. I have kayaked Kings Bay, Crystal River and the Three Sisters Spring numerous times. You will be able to get to Pete's Pier but not much further. The best times to see the manatee is in the morning before it warms up and they head out to the Gulf to feed.

If you want I can meet you and lead you into Three Sister's which is right around the corner from Pete's Pier. Not sure what else you would want to do while in Crystal River but I like it here because there are a dozen good places to Kayak. I can borrow kayaks if you want to kayak the Rainbow River 20 miles away. (That is my fav place).

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Old 13-02-2014, 19:16   #6
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

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JamuJoe, The Crystal River is certainly doable with your draft. Pay close attention and stay in the channel when coming into the river. There are rocks outside the channel. Keep in mind that winds blowing from the east can affect the channel and approach depths. As with any of the Big Bend rivers, try and do the entrance channels at mid tide or higher if possible. You should be able to get as far as Pete's Pier. Be sure and honor all channel markers. It's a great stop. Chuck

Thanks, Chuck.
We don't even have to get up as far as Pete's, if there is an anchorage nearer the mouth. We'll give it a try - nothing ventured nothing gained

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Old 17-02-2014, 18:09   #7
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

I was at Pete's Pier today. You really have to be careful and do need to come and go during high tide. Pete's Pier slips are all covered but there is one 35' to sailboat on buoy. Also for the 1st time I was watching the manatee come a go from 'The Bridge'. The other few dozen times I have been there I was in a kayak. Viewing from the bridge (which is within walking distance of Pete's Pier) is better than viewing from a kayak. I would not believe it but the bridge provides very good viewing so that is what I recommend. Just walk from Pete's Pier to the bridge.

I talked to the Harbor Master at Pete's Pier about sailboats coming up Crystal River and into Kings Bay. He said it is not a good idea as there are some rocks an few hard spots with most of the bottom covered with 2 to 3 feet of soft silt. The depth is 4 to 6 feet in the winter months and 6 to 8 feet in the summer.
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Old 17-02-2014, 18:44   #8
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamuJoe View Post
We'll be resuming our cruise of SW FL and South, departing the Withlacoochee River in early March. I'm studying the charts, guides, Active Captain etc. to consider every possible anchorage. Crystal River is a potential first stop, we would like to visit the Manatees, but I'm concerned that it might just be too shallow. The First Mate and I are on our Leopard 42 catamaran with 4'6" draft, 23' beam and 65' mast height. Yes, she's a bit broad and tall for up-river or ICW, but we managed to enjoy cruising her along MS, AL and FL to this point, going offshore as warranted. I'd appreciate current local knowledge about the Crystal River, and opinions on taking her up as far as Pete's Pier.
Shoot me a PM when you are going to transit the Sarasota area… From Tampa Bay to Flamingo, I know every rock and hole!
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Old 24-02-2014, 09:05   #9
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

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Originally Posted by tuffr2 View Post
I was at Pete's Pier today. You really have to be careful and do need to come and go during high tide. Pete's Pier slips are all covered but there is one 35' to sailboat on buoy. Also for the 1st time I was watching the manatee come a go from 'The Bridge'. The other few dozen times I have been there I was in a kayak. Viewing from the bridge (which is within walking distance of Pete's Pier) is better than viewing from a kayak. I would not believe it but the bridge provides very good viewing so that is what I recommend. Just walk from Pete's Pier to the bridge.

I talked to the Harbor Master at Pete's Pier about sailboats coming up Crystal River and into Kings Bay. He said it is not a good idea as there are some rocks an few hard spots with most of the bottom covered with 2 to 3 feet of soft silt. The depth is 4 to 6 feet in the winter months and 6 to 8 feet in the summer.
Thanks very much for that input. The Crystal River is looking less likely for us. A view from the bridge may suffice.
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Old 22-03-2014, 07:40   #10
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

I’m glad that we did not bypass Crystal River. We entered on 3/19/14 on the last hour of a rising tide and had an easy ride up the very pretty river to Kings Bay. Our draft is 4.5 ft. We anchored SW of Pete’s Pier in 7ft with fine holding. A Manatee swam by the boat just as the hook touched bottom. Pete’s is in definite need of investment, but with our 23 ft beam it wasn’t an option anyway. Low tides had us a few inches off the silty bottom, or perhaps in the silt, but that was no problem. Note that anchoring is prohibited between June 1st and August 15th. After April 1st speed restrictions are loosened and the bay becomes quite busy. There are floating docks for the dinghy at Pete’s Pier, the City Docks and Crackers Restaurant. Three Sisters Spring is just a short dinghy ride, and Manatees are generally hanging about near the bridge. All in all, a nice anchorage in a nice town. Definitely worth a visit.
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Old 22-03-2014, 07:46   #11
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

Glad you decided to stop. We love the Crystal River and plan to be there some time in May. We would miss out on lots of places if we listened to the less in the know and didn't just take a few chances on our own. That's what cruising is all about. Chuck
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Old 22-03-2014, 12:43   #12
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Re: SW FL, Crystal River and South

Glad you got to see a few manatee. Here is a pic from the bridge that is not far from Pete's Pier.

Also I think I saw your cat in Kings Bay just a few days ago. Nice Cat.

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