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Old 20-08-2012, 15:56   #1
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SW Fla: 10,000 Islands and a shallow draft boat

We've decided to trailer the boat down to Fla for the winter....it's a 19' trailer sailor. We'll be knocking around coastal Fla and the Keys, doing the thin water gunkhole thing, and we're looking for suggestions and any particular places to stay away from, as well.

Mostly, we'll be on the hook, rather than a marina, and only draw a hair over two feet of water. Our sailing range will more or less cover from Key West to up around St Simon in Ga, to break the 90 day requirement to register and pay Fla fees, which would be documented by a quick Georgia fuel purchase and marina stop,. Also, if weather permits, maybe a hop out to the Dry Tortugas.

The boat is a shoals draft fixed keel that's a 19' pocket cruiser (MFG Bandit 19) for those of you that don't know me yet. I have all the NOAA charts in electronic format, as well as disc backups.

Suggestions welcome and thanks in advance!
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Old 20-08-2012, 17:22   #2
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Re: SW Fla: 10,000 Islands and a shallow draft boat

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particular places to stay away from, as well.
Can't think of any really.

If you go to anything SW this might help.
Florida Sea Grant - Boating & Waterways - Anchorage Inventory
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Old 20-08-2012, 20:00   #3
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Re: SW Fla: 10,000 Islands and a shallow draft boat

Sorry Tom but the 10,000 Islands is nowhere near the Keys or between there and Georgia. So the title of your post might not get you the info your looking for. A good set of charts will tell you where you can and can't go. You said you have all the NOAA charts so spending some time studying will help. Then you need to decide if you want to hang out in more isolated areas or be where the action is. The area your asking about covers a lot of territory. Chuck
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Old 20-08-2012, 20:10   #4
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Re: SW Fla: 10,000 Islands and a shallow draft boat

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Originally Posted by Waterwayguy View Post
Sorry Tom but the 10,000 Islands is nowhere near the Keys or between there and Georgia. So the title of your post might not get you the info your looking for. A good set of charts will tell you where you can and can't go. You said you have all the NOAA charts so spending some time studying will help. Then you need to decide if you want to hang out in more isolated areas or be where the action is. The area your asking about covers a lot of territory. Chuck
If I go up to St Simon, for example, it'll be to visit a friend, but we'll wind up coming back down, hit the keys, and then work west. We'll be down there for a few months, so there's lots of time.

Ideally, I'd like to get a mix of getting away from it all, as well as some civilization as well.
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Old 20-08-2012, 20:18   #5
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Re: SW Fla: 10,000 Islands and a shallow draft boat

10,000 Islands is a cool place, bugs can be nasty, don't get lost...

From there north all the way up to Tarpon Springs this entire coast is an awesome cruising ground. The East coast not so much.

Dry Tortugas is unique place, but watch the weather, it can get a little bumpy between there and Key West.
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Old 25-06-2013, 21:47   #6
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Re: SW Fla: 10,000 Islands and a shallow draft boat

Think about heading WEST from Ft Pierce - ochochobee, caloosahatchee, come out at Ft Myers. Heads to Siesta Key #1 beach in the country and anchor in 10-15 feet of water on calm weather windows. Swim to bars, showers and groceries.
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Old 27-06-2013, 09:07   #7
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Re: SW Fla: 10,000 Islands and a shallow draft boat

Tom, Here's my list of cool spots in the area you'll be cruising. Number one is Cumberland Island, a days sail south of St. Simon. Only the folks on the ferry and anyone taking their own boat are on the 17 mile long National park. We always stay for a couple days. Downtown Fernandina is cool. Good anchorage and the city muni has a cheap dinghy dock. Good restaurants. Off the ICW south of Amelia Island is the Kingsley Plantation. Swift currents, check your set at tide change. Anchor in the deep water channel, tide range is around 9 feet. If you want to work on your hull, anchor to the north east and you'll be high and dry at low tide on a sandbar. Look for Caps On The Water before you get to St. Augustine. Great lunch spot with dockage. St. Augustine is a must. Again, the city muni has a good dinghy dock, but you need to pick up a mooring ball or use one of the slips. Great town. Eat at the Floridian. The city of Cocoa has a free dock for day use. If its full, anchor off and run your dink in (lock it up). Lots of good places to eat, our favorite is Ossorio. Vero Beach muni has a mooring field. You can run your dink up through the houses to get to a grocery store on A1A. Stuart is nice, they have a mooring field, but we never stay there. We always anchor in Peck Lake for a couple days. Great anchorage and the last sane place in South Florida until you leave Miami in your wake. Lake Worth has a good anchorage. Drop hook on the north end, dink in (again, lock up your dink) and hit Publix for provisions. They also used to have a tap outside for cruisers to fill up jerry cans. Lake Boca Raton is a good place to drop hook. The park at the north west side gives you access to the city to provision or just grab a bit to eat. Avoid this pond on the weekend, it gets crazy. No Name Harbor at the end of Key Biscane is a lot of fun. Bike to the lighthouse or eat at the Boaters Grill on the harbor. Great protection, but crazy on the weekend. Key Largo is great for provisioning. On Plantation Key there's a Yacht Harbor Resort with great protection, but the BEST part is the county park with an Olympic sized swimming pool next door. A stop in Marathon's Boot Key is a must. The muni has a mooring field and dinghy dock. Find a restaurant called Keys Fishery and order the lobster Reuben. Bahia Honda has a great state park and a cool little port (two, actually). Great snorkeling. Key West is Key West. Remember, everything in moderation. Find the guy selling fish from the back of his pickup (assuming you know how to pick fresh fish) for the cheapest and best food in Key West. If in season, buy fresh Firecracker shrimp. If you can, go to Garden Key for a few days. No provisions are available, so stock up. Fort Jefferson is great, and at night you have the place to yourself (and any campers). The staff tends to stay in their quarters.

So, Cumberland and the Dry Tortugas bookend the tour, and they are our favorite places.

Good luck!
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Old 27-06-2013, 11:01   #8
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What time of year do you plan on doing this? Summer in the 10,000 islands for a newbie is suicidal. It can be done, but you need to be buttoned up in a tent before sundown.

Suggest you wait till autumn then launch in Florida City end of Everglades National Park, head north inside to highland beach and then head back open water down to the keys. Great views, wildlife and bird watching.

I have spent a fair amount of time in ENP feel free to PM me
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Old 27-06-2013, 16:12   #9
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Re: SW Fla: 10,000 Islands and a shallow draft boat

Tom, the SW coast between Marco Island to the north and East Cape to the south is a gunkholers dream. You have the perfect draft to explore this wild, beautiful area. Be certain you have good charts for the area and go exploring. You can't get into too much trouble with a 2 foot draft. There is nothing there but nature and the fishing is excellent. As others have mentioned, bring inspect spray. Don't expect restaurants and bars unless you go up to Everglades City. If you do, be certain to stop at the historic Rod and Gun Club--one of Zane Grey's and Hemingway's old haunts. This is one of the least explored and visited areas in coastal Florida and if you are an explorer by nature and want to experience an unspoiled primordial environment, don't miss it. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 28-06-2013, 09:10   #10
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Re: SW Fla: 10,000 Islands and a shallow draft boat

Did that trip from Everglades City to Flamingo solo in 18' sharpie with 9" draft(board up) but it was in Feb. so not too many bugs.I did much of that leg on the Wilderness Waterway but one must be prepared to drop your mast on occasion due to overhanging vegetation in the mangroves. Trip took a week but could be done much faster if out side in the gulf but then you will miss some of the very large reptiles ( mostly alligators but also pythons and the Crocs! )that hang out in the marina in Flamingo and elsewhere. If you go outside I reccommend highly the East Cape where you may still find my footprints intact since these 3 capes are inaccessible to any sailboat without extremely shoal draft.
The Nat. Park rangers were very helpful in planing my trip and through them one can obtain "Boat Camping In the Everglades and the 10 Thousand Islands" that also has an excellent bibliography.It may be out of print but will send a copy if needed. These waters are very brackish due to salt water intrusion and the wild life is so desperate for fresh water that I lost my main supply to raccoons nipping into my jerry containers on deck at night which put me on short rations for the last few days.

If you like oysters you may never leave as they are so plentiful on the mangrove roots that the whole village of Chokoloskee is built on shell mounds left by the original inhabitants of these parts.

Do your homework and lets us know which of the above mentioned creatures prove the most troublesome, I'm betting on the mosquitoes. Cheers ---Mike
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