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Old 24-11-2014, 10:51   #1
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From Texas to Florida

I am going to move my 35' sailboat from Texas Clear Lake/Galveston area to the FL panhandle and would like others advice on the best approach. I was thinking that sailing around the delta offshore was the better way to go as opposed to ICW navigating through New Orleans. I am somewhat familiar with sailing in the gulf and dodging oil rigs via a few Harvest Moon regattas. I have heard that Vermilion Bay is a good bail out to get out of gulf weather and waves in the event things turn nasty. I heard getting through New Orleans area locks was a pain. What do others think?
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Old 24-11-2014, 16:14   #2
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Re: From Texas to Florida

If you are going this time of year my vote is for the ICW. Plenty of places to Wait out if a north front comes through.
The days are short probably take you 7 or 8 days to Pensacola.
I made the westbound trip 5 or 6 weeks ago. We travelled through the night with a good moon. Plenty of people on here tell you how unadvised that is but I have done it a couple of times. If you can keep up with the commercial tows around 6 mph find one to follow.
Make sure you know the names of the swing bridges, lift bridges and locks. There is a thread on that you could search for.
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Old 24-11-2014, 16:15   #3
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Re: From Texas to Florida

I should have added that the trip will be made in April or May.


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Old 24-11-2014, 16:45   #4
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Re: From Texas to Florida

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Old 24-11-2014, 16:54   #5
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Re: From Texas to Florida

April/May are the best time. Although I've had my butt kicked in the Gulf then too.

Your Harvest Moon experience is a good thing.

Rigs and traffic lighten up near Alabama.

NOLA locks aren't so bad depending on river stage. I've even done them single handed with no difficulties (dont recommend that though).

Mississippi Sound to Pensacola is a good cruising ground and an easy section. I would duck in somewhere soon past the Rigolets.

If you have good crew, AIS, and RADAR then run outside non-stop, or nearly so, but still be very attentive in the oil patch of course. VHF at them helm almost a necessity in some areas...a good idea anywhere on this route.

Check out the latest data on the Gulf Loop Current. It can come surprisingly far north. I've found it 150 nm S of Mobile! Though that's very unusual. Should be favorable if there on your W-E route.
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Old 24-11-2014, 18:03   #6
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Re: From Texas to Florida

Take the ICW. Nothing but fun.
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Old 24-11-2014, 18:22   #7
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Re: From Texas to Florida

You don't have to go through NO. Go into Tiger Pass and come out at Baptist Collete Pass. You can spend the night in Venice.
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Old 24-11-2014, 18:25   #8
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Re: From Texas to Florida

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Originally Posted by scottthardin View Post
I heard getting through New Orleans area locks was a pain. What do others think?
Not a big deal, really. We've slid through Harvey locks twice with no issues at all. Don't forget to call Gretna Light traffic control once clear of Harvey locks. Industrial lock - we've had one easy pass through, but another where we got held up for commercial traffic for a couple of hours. Still, no big deal. Just go with the flow, and enjoy the scenery.

We plan to head that way again in March/April.

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Old 25-11-2014, 06:57   #9
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Re: From Texas to Florida

I would ask for some crew I'm sure some would love to sail with you, we would if we were close, and I'd stay out of the ditch. It requires constant focus and a coastal sail in the Gulf is always amazing. And fast less stressful. no tide issues other boats ect.

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Old 25-11-2014, 08:17   #10
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Re: From Texas to Florida

Keep in mind that if your mast height is over 50 feet, there are GIWW fixed bridges you won't clear. Otherwise, the GIWW is a great trip. We're currently in Apalachicola. Chuck
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Old 25-11-2014, 09:57   #11
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Re: From Texas to Florida

I've made that trip several times: from Galveston to 28-27.6, 088-26.4, then to Mobile Bay because the trip on the ICW from there to Pensacola is very nice, or direct to the entrance to Pensacola Bay. You should have some nice sailing at that time of the year, and the resulting course keeps you clear of most of the shallow water rigs and fishing boats. You'll want to have AIS, because there's much more traffic than there was a few years ago.
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Old 25-11-2014, 18:00   #12
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Re: From Texas to Florida

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You don't have to go through NO. Go into Tiger Pass and come out at Baptist Collete Pass. You can spend the night in Venice.
Just be advised Baptist Collette has got to be the foggiest waterway I have ever transited. And be sure you know where the ends of the dredge spoil banks are. I ran a quad screw crew boat aground there once. Bent 3 wheels and 2 shafts. Follow a tug or a big shrimp boat out, and you won't have a problem. Tiger pass can be foggy at times too.
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Old 25-11-2014, 18:08   #13
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Re: From Texas to Florida

AIS and a full featured DSC VHF are worth having, going through the patch. And a good spotlight, for if you get caught out on inshore waters after dark. Lots of crab traps. I have never fouled one under sail as far, as I know, but when motoring it can happen to the unwary. Especially when you slide over to the edge of the channel to let faster deeper draft vessels overtake.
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Old 26-11-2014, 06:50   #14
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Re: From Texas to Florida

A lot of folks here have made this trip more than me but I did the outside the whole way except between Clear Lake and Sabine pass to avoid rough winds, and the cut through at Venice to save time. That cut can be shallow at three feet or less on the Gulf side so something to look at. Advice on checking with Gretna is right on. When we got close one lock was being repaired and the other had a commercial first back up of nearly two days. Also I would rather sail than motor.
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Old 02-12-2014, 10:14   #15
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Re: From Texas to Florida

If we did not have dogs, I would do the Gulf crossing. My crew used a satellite phone that was rented, to get updates on the weather from passageweather or buoyweather from home. Helped in preparing for storms at sea. The rigs in LA gulf area were well lit but the crew boats were the one that nearly hit them in the daylight. You will not have to worry about the red stain that most boats get from LA GIWW. Port Eads marina is newly opened and can get fuel. Last time they motored most of the way. Good luck and update us on what you did.
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