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Old 27-11-2019, 13:34   #1
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Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

Okay. So I am going to be working in Orlando during the week, commuting from up north. So that really opens the door for me to put a sailboat down in Florida for some weekend getaways.

But where? Which coast?

Initially I was thinking CLOSEST port - but then realized why not drive a few hours if the sailing is substantially better?!?!?

I'd love your ideas on where I should dock the boat? Closest is Cape Canaveral area, or Daytona, but the inland waters look very shallow. Should I look elsewhere on the EAST coast? Or head WEST? Tampa? Port Charlotte? etc?
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Old 27-11-2019, 13:54   #2
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

You need to consider distance from where the boat would be stored to where you could acturally sail. For example Daytona is loooong way to getting out into the ocean at Ponce de Leon, plus that is kind of a fair weather entrance.

There there is a normal winds to consider. If you got a spot in the east side of Tampa Bay you have a nice reach/broad reach across the bay to the gulf, but a beat to get back.

Overall I would say if you want to sail, the east coast is going to be better.
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Old 27-11-2019, 14:03   #3
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

I’ll second Sailor Boy’s comments, and add that getting to the Cape Canaveral área from Orlando is orders of magnitude easier than anywhere on the gulf coast. It can easily take 2-3 hours to get to a marina in the Tampa Bay Area from Orlando even if there are no out of the ordinary traffic problems - Port Canaveral is an hour or so.
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Old 27-11-2019, 15:15   #4
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

Also, depends on what kind of sailing you want to do. If you want to leave the dock, hoist sails, sail around an hour or two then go back to the dock then east from Orlando is close and way, way less traffic to get there.


If you want to cruise around, visit a few places, anchor out here and there then the west coast has a lot more to offer. Tampa Bay offers lots of places just in the bay, then you can go north or south from there to see more places. One caveat, lots of shallow water on the west coast so either go for a shoal draft boat or watch carefully where you're going and limit your options a bit.
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Old 27-11-2019, 19:37   #5
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

I vote for SW coast as by far the better cruising ground...add to that the Keys and Dry Tortugas. But all thats a long way from Orlando.

The N Gulf Coast is a good cruising ground too...all the way from Pensacola to Mississippi Sound.

The E Coast is mostly just a straight shore line.
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Old 27-11-2019, 19:40   #6
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

Thanks. Would the East coast sailing be mostly in the Atlantic, then? Doesn’t seem like many bays or inland sailing, right?
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Old 27-11-2019, 19:48   #7
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

That’s very helpful. And touches on one of my concerns. I’m from the northeast, so I like varied ‘terrain’. An island here and there. A hidden cove. Some protected bays - and some open water. And some destinations to target within 6-8 hours.

When you said the East Coast is ‘mostly straight shoreline’, that makes me think the Wesr, or SW (or SE) might be more varied and interesting?
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Old 28-11-2019, 04:28   #8
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring-Fever View Post
That’s very helpful. And touches on one of my concerns. I’m from the northeast, so I like varied ‘terrain’. An island here and there. A hidden cove. Some protected bays - and some open water. And some destinations to target within 6-8 hours.

When you said the East Coast is ‘mostly straight shoreline’, that makes me think the Wesr, or SW (or SE) might be more varied and interesting?

99% of the FL east coast will be out the inlet, turn left or turn right, go up the coast and for a short cruise turn around and go back or for a longer one, go in at another inlet come back down the ICW. Good once or twice but for repeated sailing, unless you like sailing just for the sailing and don't care where you're going, it gets old fast.


There is a bit of variation around the Indian River and the Cape but 90% of that area is about 1' deep outside the channel so again you're limited.


If you want islands and actual cruising the west coast is really the option. But again, a lot of shallow water so a moderate draft will open a lot of options for where you can go. We're on N Captiva now for the week and even with my 19' motorboat we drag bottom a lot of places
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Old 28-11-2019, 04:33   #9
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

One caveat, the FL west coast has maintained a lot of the natural shoreline IE mangroves and marshes. That means bugs can be an issue.



About an hour before sunset we've had to head inside and close up to get away from the noseeums. Summer and rainy times the mosquitoes can be really brutal. Good screens are essential around here.
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Old 28-11-2019, 09:50   #10
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

I live Orlando ,
What boat size are you coming down with ?
30 ft Cat or 18 footer ??
I kept my boat Cape Canaveral many years recently moving ICW
Daytona ,
Cape Canaveral is a major port , Lots too do , Good restaurants,
Kennedy space center and a straight shot from Orlando on 528 Bee Line
Cruise ships, Navy port , gambling ship,
Bunch of marinas at end of channel by lock , some offer transient dockage
Cape Marina, Port Canaveral Yacht Club , one other don't recall name offer
transient ,
Cape Marina offers crane and can launch, offers transient , has pool
general store ,
A boat ramp is also at lock . sort of hidden ,
Construction starting on lock and maybe closed ,
Takes boaters too Merit Island ICW
Cape Canaveral ( Jetty Park ) new huge boat ramps with parking ,
Once in water your almost out too sea , Also a state park separate
from boat ramps that offers camping , beaching
Once out at sea next opening South is Sebastian Inlet , getting into
inlet currents extremely strong. once thru its beautiful
I forget how far at least 40 miles south , Beautiful boating
area , once thru your in shallow water , must watch channel markers

Or head north once out of cape and next jetty opening is New Smyrna
Ponce Inlet , around 40 miles there is a marina just north ICW ,

St Johns River is close too Orlando , runs north , If your keeping your boat
with you it offers many boat ramps , Exit 104 off I -4 two ramps
Old Fl along the way up too Jacksonville. Land both sides ,Scenic
You have too consider traffic , Construction all over ,
Going too Tampa side along I-4 , traffic can suck the life out of U.

FEEL LIKE I SHOULD BE A TOUR DIRECTOR ,
HAVE FUN ,
























Are you planning on dropping in water , leaving at a marina ??
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Old 28-11-2019, 10:28   #11
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

I spent six months in Cape Canaveral. Its a great port to day sail from. Quick ocean access with deep water. As said above, 4-5 restaurants and other things going on along the port. The Port C Yacht club is an everymans yacht club. Very reasonable. But fixed docks. If your tastes are more upscale rent a slip from the condo marina next store with floating docks and a small pool. There is a third marina there too, east of PCYC. The Port is the closest place to sail from Orlando. You could go N to Titusville but why? I would never go West.
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Old 28-11-2019, 11:08   #12
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

Two areas cone to mind and neither is really close to Orlando but they are far and bryone the best in Florida IF you don't wantbto sail in the ocean.

Biscayne Bay in South Florida and Charlotte Harbor near Fort Meyers are the two best sailing areas in Florida. Both are relatively protected and rarely get more tgan a 3 ft chop and both have intersting pkaces to explore with fantastic amenities in both areas.

I'm partial to Biscayne Bay as I learned to sail there in 1955.
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Old 28-11-2019, 11:51   #13
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

Melbourne area is good. Daysail in any weather on the Indian River. Go out thru the lock at Canaveral for ocean sailing. Relatively safe in storms because of the lock at Canaveral keeps any surge at bay.
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Old 28-11-2019, 12:19   #14
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

Take a look at the lakes in and around Orlando. St. Cloud and Apopka may be an option.
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Old 28-11-2019, 12:37   #15
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Re: Florida - Where are best sailing grounds?

I sail out of StAugustine. I can be out the inlet in about 10 minutes from my mooring. The ICW around here is easy to navagate and has lots of natural shore line. Get really nice sunrises and sunsets. The drive to Daytona is horrible north to St. Augustine usually ain’t to bad.
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