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Old 22-02-2015, 13:52   #1
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Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

I am planning for a 14 day sail in Florida early this May and would like some destination suggestions. We will be trailering our Lancer 28 down from Tennessee so we can pretty much go anywhere in Florida or along the East Coast. My current plan is to start in Pensacola and head towards Apalachacola. Spend the first day or two on the ICW then maybe jump outside and do some sailing out in the Gulf, get as far as we can in the first 7 days then turn around and head back. My question is, if you had the choice to sail anywhere that time of year, from Pamlico Sound to Mobile, where would you go and why? This is going to be our first big trip, currently we've only day sailed on the lakes here in Tn, we're not divers so that's not a major concern. We just want a good cruising area to start off with and get our feet wet for the cruising life. Originally I wanted to go to they Keys, but Pensacola is so much closer it means an extra 2 days on the water. What are your thoughts?


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Old 22-02-2015, 14:45   #2
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

Pensacola to Apalachicola (or Carrabelle) is a nice run. We've done it both ways when leaving, and returning to Texas.

We do all outside because of airdraft. A nice sail from Pensacola to Destin. We anchor in Destin Harbor. Good holding and protection all around. Take the dinghy ashore. Nice bars and restaurants if that is something you like. If not, just stay on the boat and enjoy the scenery.

Destin to Panama City. Another easy offshore day sail. Panama City has several anchorages that are enjoyable. Marinas if you want, too. You can spend a good bit of time in the area easily. If you want to keep moving, head on down to Port St. Joe. A 36 mile jump outside if you still have good weather. Check out the anchorages there. We just stay at the marina. Free newspaper and muffins delivered to your boat on Sunday morning.

From there, we go inside down to Apalachicola. It's a very scenic run, and a pretty easy day. We usually head to Carrabelle, and anchor at Dog Island. One of our favorite anchorages anywhere.

Have fun, and look at your options on this trip. I don't know what you are looking for (what you like). I may be able to answer specific questions if you have any. I think you will enjoy this area of Florida. Way less traffic and craziness than south Florida and the Keys.


...and here is a blog from Raindog, who is a member here, and making their way down the Florida coast for the first time (currently in Port St. Joe) - https://raindogps34.wordpress.com/

Ralph
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Old 22-02-2015, 18:27   #3
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

Thanks for the reply Ralph. This trip will be a precursor to full time live aboard cruising. I am confident that I will love cruising, the admiral however has her doubts. So this trip will give us the opportunity to really spend some time on the boat, on the water and living the life. We don't want to spend a ton of money so we'll be staying on the hook for most of the trip, but we'd like to hit a bar or good local restaurant a night or two. We just want to relax, cover some distance, see some scenery and get an idea of costs and the lifestyle overall.


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Old 22-02-2015, 19:16   #4
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

I have done the ICW from the Rigolets (LA) to Destin, and I have to say the entire stretch east of, say, Mobile Bay is beautiful. My wife and I find it much more interesting seeing the scenery close up than sailing outside and seeing it at a distance. Between Destin and Panama City may be a different story, since there is a long stretch of man-made canal, but I've never done it. Maybe you could go inside in one direction, and outside the other, depending on weather.
There's so much to see in the FL panhandle, you might not get as far as you think. And bridge height shouldn't be a problem for a 28-footer.
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Old 22-02-2015, 20:48   #5
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

My first choice would be SW FL, great cruising ground between Tarpon Springs and the Keys, but also a good cruising ground all the way from the Rigolets to Pensacola.
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Old 23-02-2015, 07:23   #6
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

The Alabama, Florida Gulf Coast has been our favorite. For a first time cruise, the panhandle will be excellent and you will find more wonderful places to visit than you will have time. If you venture out into the Gulf, watch the weather, it can get quite nasty quickly and very uncomfortable to downright dangerous in a boat your size. I suggest considering in and out day sails with a good weather forecast. You'll find everything from remote, protected bayous to spectacular beaches along the barrier islands. You can find several considerations in some of our Trawler Beach House blog posts on our last two recent transits. Chuck
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Old 23-02-2015, 08:06   #7
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Transporter2112 View Post
Thanks for the reply Ralph. This trip will be a precursor to full time live aboard cruising. I am confident that I will love cruising, the admiral however has her doubts.


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Seeing that is the reason for this cruise, I might suggest staying in nicer towns in marinas more as opposed to sailing and anchoring in isolated places like Dog Island. I'd spend most of my time in PC, Destin, maybe Pensacola. I'd try my best to do what she likes to do as opposed to what you like. If you want it to be successful, make this vacation about Her.
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Old 23-02-2015, 08:23   #8
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

From Pensacola, if you go westward in the ICW, there are plenty of little places to gunkhole, east to west, these come to mind:

Fort McRee/Perdido Key/Big Lagoon area; Perdido/Gulf Shores/Ono Island (see the Flora-Bama!); Innerarity, Roberts Bayou (Pirate's Cove, a must-see); Ingram Bayou; Wolf Bay; LuLu (Buffett's sister's restaurant, next the bridge at Gulf Shores). You could continue in the ditch westward to Mobile Bay, but there's not much that direction within close reach.

Heading eastward from Pensacola in the ICW, you can go to Pensacola Beach (Little Sabine, Paradise Inn, Peg-Leg Pete's); Juana's Pagodas at Navarre Beach; Specter Island off Mary Esther; Ft Walton/Choctawhatchee Bay; Destin.

to go east of Destin on the inside/ICW is pretty ditchlike - you could go out Destin Pass and head for Panama City, but that's not a short trip.

If you launched at Panama City, you could dink around in those bays and head eastward toward St George and Apalachicola (I don't know that area as well).

ActiveCaptain is a good resource, have a look

have fun
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Old 23-02-2015, 08:28   #9
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

If you are going in one direction for half the trip, then returning only go 6 days out. This way you have leeway for bad weather. You don't want to push it on lousy weather.
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Old 23-02-2015, 10:06   #10
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

McRaes(sp) mentioned earlier near Pensacola inlet is great anchorage. Walk beach but esp watch Blue Angels buzz you as they practice I think Tuesday and Wednesday at 11AM. Little Sabine anchor or cheap slip. Again, super beach with Bands on the Beach on ? Thursday. Free dock just before Fort Walton Beach Bridge on nort side and fun out back sand Tiki bar 1 block north. Get Skipper Bob's Cruising the Gulf Coast. Also anchor near Shell Beach near Panama City Beach. Pirates Cove by Orange Beach is a interesting fun spot. Jimmy Buffet cheeseburger history here. Get one and people watch. All good with tons of super white sand
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Old 23-02-2015, 10:24   #11
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

Check out this event
B.E.E.R. Cruise - Home

Although it happens a month later than your trip, you can get some ideas of where the organizers think is the best cruising is for the type of experience you are looking for.

The itinerary is different this year. The last time I explored the website, they had previous years' itineraries posted. The B.E.E.R. Cruise is shorter than your trip, but following their itinerary would be a good intro to the area, then you could let weather and your whims guide the rest of your trip.
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Old 23-02-2015, 10:50   #12
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

No info on where to go, but I would "sail" one way then rent a car to pick up your tow rig. Get to see more this way. Use the advantage of a trailer sailor to the max benefit.
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Old 23-02-2015, 11:19   #13
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

My favorite part of Florida has always been the Alabama/Florida line, to Carrabelle.

But, don't tell the Yankees! Let them keep heading to south Florida!
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Old 23-02-2015, 11:22   #14
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

Lots of good advice here.

If she is comfortable sailing on the lakes I would mostly stay in the protected areas with short forays on the open Gulf.

The idea of going one way on the water makes sense to me also. Watch the weather and work a down wind trip on the boat. Enterprise car rentals have some very low weekend rates and will pick you up at marinas. They are closed Sundays so you have to return Mon.
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Old 23-02-2015, 12:17   #15
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Re: Cruising options in Florida, where would you go?

I would strongly urge you to consider a64pilots suggestion make it her vacation that way she will be totaly hooked on the cruising life.

John
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