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Old 08-10-2016, 11:57   #1
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Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

Hi folks, if all goes well I will be the proud owner of a catamaran in SW Florida (3' draft). I will be initially commuter cruising out of the area for a bit. My first month (Oct/Nov) will be sorting the boat, and I would like to do a bit of cruising while I do it if I can. I was curious about gunk holing down south on the way to Marathon. Is it feasible to anchor anywhere in the Everglades? I though that might be a cool place to explore by dinghy with the kiddo...as long as we don't get eaten by croc's .... I understand the mozzies are deadly as well, but at least we are bigger than them...I hope...any thoughts on a coast-wise passage south would be appreciated...I realize an offshore passage is less of a hassle, would probably do that on the way back...cheers
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Old 08-10-2016, 12:31   #2
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

There are 10,000 places to anchor and dinghy about in the 10,000 islands below Marco Island. It's getting to be a great time of year down there, with less bugs, but still warm water.


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Old 08-10-2016, 13:28   #3
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

10,000 Isles! And don't miss Everglade City. There's a lot of wilderness down there, and in fact I think it's the best part of that not all that interesting coast (SW Florida).

Just be aware that you can run aground, even with 3' draft! Have you signed up for Boat US?

I don't think I could even get within sight of land, down there, in my present boat!
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Old 08-10-2016, 13:53   #4
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

[QUOTE=windhorze;2230535]SNIP

I was curious about gunk holing down south on the way to Marathon.

SNIP/QUOTE]

Active Captain is your friend. I have the Garmin app on my iPad with Active Captain and it is worth the money for the NA charts. Even just Active Captain alone is useful in showing anchorages. You need to be aware of the weather. If a cold front hits winds can be 20+ out of the North which limits where you may want to anchor. I have spent lots of time kayaking in the Ten Thousand Islands and would probably not go in there with a big boat with out some reason. The Garmin charts will give you a good idea of how far out you can/should anchor. There is a stunning seven mile long white sand beach just North of Middle cape you can anchor off of and explore. One nice thing about having to anchor half a mile or so off shore is the insects are less of a problem. Definitely stop at the domed houses at Cape Romano.

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Old 08-10-2016, 14:07   #5
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

thanks for the thoughts folks, some good food for thought. I have stumbled upon Active Captain...quite interesting and helpful. Tom, will have to take a look at the Garmin for ipad app. Are you saying that you use that in conjunction with Active Captain or they work "together" for accurate navigation? Guess I'm asking if you use them side by side or do they interact?

Anchor a 1/2 mile off? All this skinny water is really new to me! And yes I have BoatUS...looks like it will soon be "Unlimited Towing" with Boat US
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Old 08-10-2016, 20:44   #6
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

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Originally Posted by windhorze View Post
thanks for the thoughts folks, some good food for thought. I have stumbled upon Active Captain...quite interesting and helpful. Tom, will have to take a look at the Garmin for ipad app. Are you saying that you use that in conjunction with Active Captain or they work "together" for accurate navigation? Guess I'm asking if you use them side by side or do they interact?

Anchor a 1/2 mile off? All this skinny water is really new to me! And yes I have BoatUS...looks like it will soon be "Unlimited Towing" with Boat US
Active Captain is integrated in Garmin Bluechart. All the anchoring locations show on the chart. This is also true for some other chart plotters. I use my iPad to plan my trip with the routing in Garmin Bluechart. I also have a more conventional Garmin chart plotter mounted at the steering station that I use when sailing. Also have the iPad a few feet away on the seat in the salon if needed. One thing to remember about the Ten Thousand Islands and some parts of the Everglades is the water is so shallow that tidal flow can be significant. If you anchor a little off shore the tidal flow seems a lot less. As a rule if you anchor some ways off shore you also have fewer worries about the anchor dragging. Not saying you should skimp on ground tackle and setting your anchor; just that if there is nothing close to you there are fewer things to hit.

Another thing to remember is that National parks have restrictions you should be aware of. There are places anchoring is prohibited, same goes for places you can walk ashore. Even so it is a great place to explore.
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Old 08-10-2016, 22:30   #7
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

Back when I was a east coast sailor, I anchored off little shark river once and in little shark once. 1/4 mile off the beach is generally enough to keep the biting things away. However inside the river, screens are required so the horse flys don't get inside. They are relentless.

I've also anchor off the back side of the keys in calm weather. Lovely area.

For a weekend getaway, anchoring on the backside of merwin key or off Saint James city, Coyo Costa and Useppa is nice and protected.
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Old 09-10-2016, 02:39   #8
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

You got to be kidding me. Why no talk about the no-see-ums? To me these things ruin everything. If they are attracted to you you will need to be covered with deet.

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Old 09-10-2016, 10:12   #9
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

We live in Punta Gorda and go down towards Marathon fairly frequently. We have a Manta 40 Sail cat w/ 3'10" draft. We use the following quite often:

DOCTORS PASS - not real big but anchorages available.
GORDON PASS - inside there are places outside of the channel that have plenty of depth. This pass also leads to NAPLES
NAPLES - Lots of places to anchor in Naples, even in some residential neighborhoods. Marinas available.
MARCO ISLAND - Factory Bay (1), Collier Bay (2). Marinas available.
LITTLE SHARK RIVER - plenty of no-see-ums and deer flies. If Wx is good, do not hesitate to anchor off about 5nm - that will take care of most of the bugs.
INDIAN RIVER - In 10,000 islands, state park. Pleasant place to anchor.
MARATHON - lots of places/ To the North of the island .5 nm from the East end of the bridge. To the south of the entrance to Boot Harbor. Anchoring and mooring balls available in Boot Harbor. Marinas available.
PRIOR TO MARATHON - depending on Wx & destination, inside passage to Miami, Biscayne Bay, etc. Entrance on channel just North of Fiesta Key. There is a 56' bridge between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, so depending on Mast Height, you can go North on the ICW.
FROM MARATHON - easy access to upper & lower Keys.

Happy Sailing!
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Old 09-10-2016, 10:15   #10
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

Quote:
Originally Posted by windhorze View Post
Hi folks, if all goes well I will be the proud owner of a catamaran in SW Florida (3' draft). I will be initially commuter cruising out of the area for a bit. My first month (Oct/Nov) will be sorting the boat, and I would like to do a bit of cruising while I do it if I can. I was curious about gunk holing down south on the way to Marathon. Is it feasible to anchor anywhere in the Everglades? I though that might be a cool place to explore by dinghy with the kiddo...as long as we don't get eaten by croc's .... I understand the mozzies are deadly as well, but at least we are bigger than them...I hope...any thoughts on a coast-wise passage south would be appreciated...I realize an offshore passage is less of a hassle, would probably do that on the way back...cheers
===

We do that run fairly regularly. Interesting stops/anchorages include Naples (Champney Bay), Rookery Channel to Big Marco (across from the Snook Inn), back channel from Marco to Goodland Bay, Everglades City (dock at Everglades Rod and Gun Club), Little Shark River (lots of good bug repellent needed except for January and February; bring a pocket GPS if you go dinghy exploring), north side of Middle Cape in settled weather, Flamingo (anchor off and take dinghy in to marina for Park Service boat tour), anywhere in Keys via the so called Yacht Channel (watch chart carefully).
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Old 09-10-2016, 11:02   #11
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

To add to djtj' list


All of these except duck key are bayside.
Key Largo bayside
Off the Lorelei restaurant Islamorada
Off the Islamorada Fish Company restaurant
Duck Key (Hawks Key marina)
Bahai Honda State park
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Old 09-10-2016, 15:37   #12
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

That cat will take you places that most monohulls will not go. When you get past Marco Island, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Everglades City, etc., interspersed among the keys, there is a remarkably landscape of shallow estuaries, a number of navigable channels and ports that extend down the coast all the way to Cape Sable Peninsula. Great place for kayaks, fishing and exploring.

Here is a link for various cruisers accounts of ways to get around Florida Bay and the Keys :Keys 9 – Routes to Cape Sable; it's an archive that spans 2009-2014 from Cruisersnet. You might find some interesting tidbits to research. A trip like this shouldn't keep you busy for more than a year or three. Hope you have a great time.
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Old 18-11-2016, 10:59   #13
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

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Originally Posted by windhorze View Post
Hi folks, if all goes well I will be the proud owner of a catamaran in SW Florida (3' draft). I will be initially commuter cruising out of the area for a bit. My first month (Oct/Nov) will be sorting the boat, and I would like to do a bit of cruising while I do it if I can. I was curious about gunk holing down south on the way to Marathon. Is it feasible to anchor anywhere in the Everglades? I though that might be a cool place to explore by dinghy

We coastal cruised in our Leopard 42 catamaran (4.5'draft) from St Pete to Marathon last April/May and enjoyed it so much that we'll backtrack to Cayo Costa and do it again in Feb/March, with more time in the Everglades. Wonderful anchorages at Indian Key and Russell Pass. Had Little Shark River to ourselves, and simply closed up the boat an hour before sunset to keep the gnats and mosquitos out (OK, we do have genset and A/C). Explored by dinghy and kayak (definitely recommend a handheld gps - very easy to get lost among the 1000 Islands). For picking anchorages, I like Sea IQ on my iPad which automatically updates NOAA charts and incorporates Active Captain for anchorages and marinas.

Safe Sailing, JAMU
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Old 18-11-2016, 11:11   #14
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

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Originally Posted by wayne.b View Post
===

We do that run fairly regularly. Interesting stops/anchorages include Naples (Champney Bay), Rookery Channel to Big Marco (across from the Snook Inn), back channel from Marco to Goodland Bay, Everglades City (dock at Everglades Rod and Gun Club), Little Shark River (lots of good bug repellent needed except for January and February; bring a pocket GPS if you go dinghy exploring), north side of Middle Cape in settled weather, Flamingo (anchor off and take dinghy in to marina for Park Service boat tour), anywhere in Keys via the so called Yacht Channel (watch chart carefully).

How do you manage docking at the Everglades Rod and Gun Club?

We left our sailboat at anchor in Russell Pass to dinghy into Everglades City. Any thought of docking at Rod and Gun Club dissipated when we saw the decrepit bulkhead. With a 3-4' tide, that looked like a nightmare.
The RV Resort/ Marina looked far more attractive if one needed a dock.

Safe Sailing, JAMU
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Old 21-11-2016, 13:41   #15
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Re: Fort Myers to the Keys by Catamaran

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How do you manage docking at the Everglades Rod and Gun Club?..


We went in with our Mac and spent a few days there, a couple more than planned for. I got food poisoning at a restaurant that I won't name but that has a good reputation (not the Rod and Gun Club), so the reason for staying longer than we wanted.

The tide is high there and the currents are very strong, so keep that in mind and use spring lines and such accordingly. Also some of the commercial fishing boats would go out with the tide in the middle of the night and they definitely didn't run with a 'no wake speed' so the boat really moved around to the extent of waking you up as they passed.

More about staying there here....

FL Spring 2011 page 13

....and on the trip from Charlotte Harbor down to the Keys, with lots of anchorages and insights, here.....

Florida Spring 2011 Trip Index

Loved the 10,000 Island area,

Sumner
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