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Old 09-12-2014, 11:45   #16
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

and you will need a dinghy in the Keys.............
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Old 09-12-2014, 11:46   #17
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

Almost everyone I know who has a shallow draft boat still obey the 6 foot depth contours on their GPS, as well as obeying 6 foot channel markers. That being the case, getting a shallow draft boats simply compromises its sailing ability. BTW, in shallow areas, a Marine GPS is far more important than depth sounders or chart books. I depth sounder simply tells you when you have run aground, a GPS will keep you from running aground.
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Old 09-12-2014, 12:20   #18
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

We live up north and keep our boat in Florida for winter sailing.

I think the advice above is very good, draft is very important. I sail the Keys and Bahamas with a 5 ft draft. I would not want any more for this area, but there are some that sail it with 6 ft. As we all know everything is a compromise.

I think we all start to watch closely when the depth is less than 6 or 7 ft. Some anchorages you can see the keel tracks in the sand of the boats that went in ahead of you. Once the water gets shallow we use our eyes and the depth sounder to check out an anchorage or get through a cut, not the GPS.

A large cockpit with bimini and dodger is great in this area, it really increases the real estate on a small boat. A full cockpit enclosure is a bonus when the Northern fronts come through.

We like a sugar scoop stern for swimming and getting in and out of the dinghy. In the Bahamas even with a shoal draft boat you will be hauling water, fuel and provisions in the dinghy and hauling it all up into your boat. This stern design makes it life much much easier.


Good luck, Bob
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Old 09-12-2014, 12:28   #19
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6ft contour line? Yuk!
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Old 09-12-2014, 12:45   #20
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

Gotta say for shallow water in warm climates a catamaran has lots of advantages.
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Old 09-12-2014, 12:48   #21
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

If I followed 6' contour lines I'd never get home. If you've got a 2' draft why limit yourself to 6' of water?
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Old 09-12-2014, 12:55   #22
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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Gotta say for shallow water in warm climates a catamaran has lots of advantages.
What took so long? I mean, really if we are talking draft Cats usually do shine there.
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Old 09-12-2014, 13:14   #23
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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If I followed 6' contour lines I'd never get home. If you've got a 2' draft why limit yourself to 6' of water?
6 feet is the shallowest contour line on a GPS; inside of that you have to know the water. I guess if it is your home water, and you know what's there, you can go inside. On the Chesapeake, I know no one who sails inside the 6 foot contour. I had a boat with a 2'10" draft; the leeway was terrible and it sailed like crap.
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Old 09-12-2014, 13:16   #24
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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Thinking of buying a sailboat and keeping it at a marina in Florida for winter months, to do mostly day sailing around south Florida, probably mostly Gulf side but also the Keys and possibly over to the Bahamas.

Love the Westsail 32 but am told they are too heavy and simply not needed for that type of sailing. Have been told to find a lighter boat with shorter draft.

Westsail draft over 5'.

Also thinking of the resale issue. There are a million boats for sale in Florida but many are obviously hard to re-sell. Not sure the Westsail would be as hard to re-sell whenever that day comes.

Any thoughts?
I notice that you don't include what your plans are with the boat during hurricane season. This is an important consideration. If you plan on leaving it in the Keys while you are far away, then instead of considering resale value, it might be best to consider the cost of loss. If you plan to take the boat up into the Okechobee Waterway or far up the New River in Lauderdale for the summer, you can trust in keeping a boat safe; otherwise, buy a boat that you can afford to lose and forget about resale value.

We sail the Bayside of the Keys for distances at 5' depths with our 4'3" draft. There is no 6' contour line rule, but a need to have accurate chart information and to know that we are risking a soft grounding with sand or mud.

Like most long term Florida sailors we don't value a large open cockpit exposed to the sun. A big bimini shading the cockpit and some cool dark well ventilated space below can be a great relief.
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Old 09-12-2014, 13:39   #25
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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6 feet is the shallowest contour line on a GPS...
Well, first off, a bit of a nit-pick, but a GPS doesn't have contour lines. A GPS is just a device for identifying your approximate location. A chartplotter, or some other software, then takes that information and displays it on a chart. It is that chart that has contour lines depicted on it. So it depends on the chart, not the GPS.

Secondly, I haven't sailed in the Chesapeake Bay, so I have no idea what most people do there, but here in the shallow waters of the Keys and Southwest Florida, I have never known anyone who just arbitrarily followed the 6' contour lines shown on the charts (unless, of course, they had a 6' draft). Indeed, given that 5' seems to be a very common depth that the entrances to marinas, channels, and so on are dredged around here, avoiding any water shallower than 6' would be fairly limiting.

Take a look at the charts for the Keys and you will see that there are vast areas that are less than 6 feet in depth. Down there, the shallower your draft the better--within reasonable limits, of course.

And, yes, I would agree with those who say that a catamaran might be the ideal boat for the Keys.
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Old 09-12-2014, 14:04   #26
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

If you think a boat with a shallow draft sails poorly try sailing a boat with a 6' drat in 4' of water. It hardly moves at all.
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Old 09-12-2014, 14:13   #27
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If you think a boat with a shallow draft sails poorly try sailing a boat with a 6' drat in 4' of water. It hardly moves at all.
That's funny right there :-)

Equating draft with sailing quality would be the same as using length or sail area, i.e. "I sailed a boat with only 150sq ft of sail area and it would barely go to windward! Therefore one must have more sail area to go to weather"
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Old 09-12-2014, 14:58   #28
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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6 feet is the shallowest contour line on a GPS; inside of that you have to know the water. I guess if it is your home water, and you know what's there, you can go inside. On the Chesapeake, I know no one who sails inside the 6 foot contour. I had a boat with a 2'10" draft; the leeway was terrible and it sailed like crap.
It's a big world out there beyond the Chesapeake. As unfathomable as it might sound, shallow draft is useful in some parts of the world.
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Old 09-12-2014, 15:18   #29
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

[QUOTE=denverd0n;1696431]"Well, first off, a bit of a nit-pick,...
Secondly, I haven't sailed in the Chesapeake Bay, so I have no idea what most people do there, but here in the shallow waters of the Keys and Southwest Florida, I have never known anyone who just arbitrarily followed the 6' contour lines shown on the charts (unless, of course, they had a 6' draft). Indeed, given that 5' seems to be a very common depth that the entrances to marinas, channels, and so on are dredged around here, avoiding any water shallower than 6' would be fairly limiting."

Yes, nit picking would be one way of describing it. Nowhere did I say or suggest that anyone arbitrarily follow the 6 foot contour lines--just "obey" them. To the contrary, 5 feet would be very arbitrary inasmuch as 6 feet is the depth for Coast Guard navigation and channel markers. Indeed, in all the states and countries I have sailed I have yet to see government navigation markers set any shallower than 6 feet.
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Old 09-12-2014, 15:37   #30
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Hehe! Come to Texas! You'll see plenty.
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