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Old 09-12-2014, 15:43   #31
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

Gunkholing is the real reason for shoal draft. If just want to stay in the channel till you get into deep water & then sail around till you're tired & then take the channel back in, don't worry too much about draft, but it you want to really explore Florida & the Keys you're a gunkholer & you know what I'm talking about.
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Old 09-12-2014, 15:51   #32
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

You can Gunkhole with 5' draft, just very carefully. I know leaving Marathon headed North, it was hours before I saw 2 digits on the depthfinder.
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Old 09-12-2014, 15:57   #33
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Well said Scout.

My apologies to the OP for helping this get off track. One can usually go by the numbers, see how many ate telling you you'll want shallow draft!

Take a look at active captain, specifically the anchorages in the Keys. Look at the satellite view and see where the boats are close together, then switch to charts view. You'll see they gather in the deep water, because so many "normal" sailboats with 4.5'+ draft are there. Now look at the areas right next to these areas with 3' to 4' of water, and see how much open space becomes available when you're there in a shallow draft boat.

Anyway, I'll not belabor the point further, opinions abound. But ask Tow BoatUS how many sail boats of 4' draft or more they unground from shoals INSIDE the channel markers, the answer will surprise you! Being between a red and a green does NOT equate to a promise of >6' of water anywhere, but ESPECIALLY not in the waters from Florida to Mexico!
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Old 09-12-2014, 16:00   #34
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

If you're in the Keys & you're not bumpin bottom you're not gunkholing!
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Old 09-12-2014, 16:28   #35
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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Originally Posted by bmz View Post
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.
Yeah... it worked well for Team Vestas!
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Old 09-12-2014, 17:42   #36
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

All it takes is one storm to change charted depths considerably,
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Old 09-12-2014, 20:04   #37
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

I live full time in the keys on my Westsail 32 and spend very little time in the cockpit. With 14 bronze port lights opened, forward hatch opened and a couple 12 volt fans I'm quite comfortable in my roomy boat.
A sunshade over the cabin top is a great plus.
5 foot draft has not been a problem inshore but it sure feels great when offshore for both motion comfort and for seaworthiness.
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Old 09-12-2014, 21:18   #38
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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If you're in the Keys & you're not bumpin bottom you're not gunkholing!
Hey, a few years back we bumped ground in Ft Laud, near Las Olas, getting to a fuel dock. Even though it was low tide and the chart said 12-13' up to the dock but the skipper new that the tides were extra low so we asked the dock boy telling him we had 8' draft. He said sure, not to worry will be at least 9' there. Sure enough we bumped and had to move around the deck and push off with poles to get off. They probably rarely see anyone over 7' there so they do not bother to keep an eye on the silt.
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Old 10-12-2014, 05:21   #39
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

Just curious, what were you in with an 8' draft? Must have been a big boat.
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Old 10-12-2014, 05:56   #40
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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Indeed, in all the states and countries I have sailed I have yet to see government navigation markers set any shallower than 6 feet.
Then you very obviously have never sailed in the waters that this thread is all about. Perhaps if you had, you would understand why those of us who are familiar with the sailing area that is being discussed here, are saying what we are.
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Old 10-12-2014, 06:06   #41
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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I live full time in the keys on my Westsail 32 and spend very little time in the cockpit. With 14 bronze port lights opened, forward hatch opened and a couple 12 volt fans I'm quite comfortable in my roomy boat.
A sunshade over the cabin top is a great plus.
5 foot draft has not been a problem inshore but it sure feels great when offshore for both motion comfort and for seaworthiness.

I believe that's the crux of it, you live on the boat, if the OP is just going to day sail around, stay in hotels or whatever then of course the need is completely different. I assumed by his saying he really liked a Westsail 32, that he had intentions of staying aboard?
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Old 10-12-2014, 07:24   #42
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

I have sailed the bay side of the Keys several times with a boat that had less than a 4ft draft. We did touch bottom a few times, nothing to worry about, a little less draft would have been better, but quite do-able. I would not attempt going down the bay side with our present boat with a 5ft draft. So we are restricted to the ocean side of the Keys for the most part. I think the bay side is really more interesting, lots of anchorages, deserted Keys to visit. I think the bay side is probably the sailing experience most are thinking about when the Keys comes to mind. A lot of the marinas in the Keys are not accessible with a 5 ft draft.
A cat is certainly a good choice but much more expensive option than the vessel the OP was considering.
When sailing the Keys with a dog it can be difficult to find public land to walk the dog (a lot of the Keys are park land and animals can not come ashore). We often anchor within dinghy distance of a bridge, land under it and walk along the highway.
I attached a slideshow of our 2010 cruise through Ft Lauderdale to Biscayne Bay and down the Bayside. We were on our Hunter 260, centreboard with a 4 ft kick up rudder. We did have the rudder kickup in a few places. The "channel" can be quite twisted and have many crab pots to thread your prop through. Easy to touch bottom .

Bob
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Old 10-12-2014, 08:50   #43
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

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Just curious, what were you in with an 8' draft? Must have been a big boat.
46footer, originally built for Admiral Cup entry. Thus the deep keel.
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Old 10-12-2014, 16:53   #44
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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?
We had a 5'6" draft when sailing down to the Keys. We chose Anglefish Creek as the southernmost point deep enough to take us outside the Intracoastal. We wanted to stay inside longer because the kids were having so much fun taking the dinghy and exploring the shoreline but the charts told us it was time to head out.

If you haven't yet, download Open CPN to your computer and get the NOAA charts for the Keys. "Cruise" the charts and you'll see where you can and can't go with a given draft.
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Old 11-12-2014, 16:43   #45
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Re: Cruising Florida Keys-What Boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Julie Mor View Post
We had a 5'6" draft when sailing down to the Keys. We chose Anglefish Creek as the southernmost point deep enough to take us outside the Intracoastal. We wanted to stay inside longer because the kids were having so much fun taking the dinghy and exploring the shoreline but the charts told us it was time to head out.

If you haven't yet, download Open CPN to your computer and get the NOAA charts for the Keys. "Cruise" the charts and you'll see where you can and can't go with a given draft.


Julie,
You can easily take 6 feet all the way to Sunset Cove on the Bay side. After that, it gets dicey. Next time, give it a try. Good luck and good sailing.
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