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Old 07-08-2012, 11:04   #16
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

While there have been some good suggestions already, frankly, with an "air draft" as great as yours, and ignoring the fact that you likely have an antenna and potentially other gear on the top of the mast, not counted in its height, I don't think I would try Moser Channel. Our mast height is 61' excluding antennas et al and the ping-ping-ping of the antenna bending over and snapping back on the underside of a bridge is pretty unnerving. Moreover, the span lighting hangs down quite a ways and one has to be careful of that.

After looking at the route, and assuming you've got good ground tackle, I suggest you consider a multi-part trip going from Ft. Lauderdale to Key Biscayne (No-Name Harbor), No-Name to Rodriguez Key; and, then Rodriguez to Vaca Key/Marathon. These are each relatively short legs 40+/- miles that can be done fairly quickly and will allow you to get anchored or moored well before the afternoon squalls get snotty (as they do in the summer). By leaving in the early morning, you should be able to get in and anchored/moored by early afternoon each day, which will give you time to rest and for some enjoyment before turning in early for an early departure the next AM. They will also give you time to get acquainted with the yacht under relatively benign conditions, which will take some time. This segment would be a 3 day excursion, say a Friday-Saturday-Sunday, after which--once the yacht were secured-you could fly home from Marathon late Sunday afternoon or early evening for the work week, returning say the following Thursday night.

The second excursion would be from Marathon to Key West--say to the Galleon Marina for a night--which is only about 42 miles and should go quickly as there will be quite a bit a westing in your headings and you should be able to run off at reasonably good speed in the prevailing south easterlies. A good afternoon and early evening there would set you up for your first long-overnight run--from Key West to Boca Grande. That's a long run--140 miles or so--but the northwest channel out of Key West is easy to negotiate and once clear of the channel, there are few obstructions. (While one could stop at the Little Shark River, at this time of year that will be a really unpleasent anchorage considering the mosquitoes, and will require a long side-trip for (in my view) no good reason.)

On this leg you will likely get some squalls in the evening but reefed down, the yacht should handle these pretty easily and, if you have radar, you can usually steer around some, if not all. The yacht should also move pretty quickly in the prevailing winds or if they fail you, under power. Assuming you can average 7 knots--which should be doable in that yacht, an 1100 departure from Key West would allow you to make Boca Grande early the next AM and then into one of the marinas there--say Miller's--for recuperation before continuing. You could then either leave the yacht there until the following week.

The following week you could continue in one or two segments, either to Venice and then St. Pete, or in one fell swoop all the way to St. Pete (84 miles+/-). Venice is an easy entry/exit and the Crows Nest is a good stopping place. The run from there up to St. Pete would be pretty easy.

The issues on the foregoing will be developing your skills as you travel; having good ground tackle and reefing gear; decent up-to-date charts; reliable engines for when the wind fails you; and patience. Whith the foregoing, and perhaps someone with some experience for the first few legs, you should do fine.

I made a similar trip in '92 and, aside from the cost of leaving the yacht at a marina each week between segments, it wasn't too bad. Just time consuming.

FWIW...
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:28   #17
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

I make this trip annually except starting from charleston harbor. Ill be soloing at about the same time. Il be making a lengthy stop at stock island where I have a couple of boats lined up to work on. Ditto the stops mentioned. I make an overnite stop near stiltsville where the hawks channel startsl , my stop bnefore that is lake worth near peanut island. As for the west coast of fl checkout Florida Sea Grant - Boating & Waterways - Anchorage Inventory
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:43   #18
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
While there have been some good suggestions already, frankly, with an "air draft" as great as yours, and ignoring the fact that you likely have an antenna and potentially other gear on the top of the mast, not counted in its height, I don't think I would try Moser Channel. Our mast height is 61' excluding antennas et al and the ping-ping-ping of the antenna bending over and snapping back on the underside of a bridge is pretty unnerving. Moreover, the span lighting hangs down quite a ways and one has to be careful of that.
My mast is 65' with all the usual stuff on top. My SS VHF whip is at ~67.5'. I go under 7 Mile bridge at Marathon all the time without a problem at a tide of less than 0.5' (Pigeon Key N or S tide station). I'm confident it would work up to ~1.0' of tide. The span light on 7 Mile is not lower than the bridge (per DOT).

Like I mentioned previously, the paddle boards are misleading. I can go under 7 Mile with the paddle boards showing 67.5' and scrap the antenna on the bridge, do the same on Mantanzas Bridge in Ft. Myers and the antenna never touches.

But, as was suggested, Key West is a good visit also!
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:18   #19
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

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My mast is 65' with all the usual stuff on top. My SS VHF whip is at ~67.5'. I go under 7 Mile bridge at Marathon all the time without a problem at a tide of less than 0.5' (Pigeon Key N or S tide station). I'm confident it would work up to ~1.0' of tide. The span light on 7 Mile is not lower than the bridge (per DOT).

Like I mentioned previously, the paddle boards are misleading. I can go under 7 Mile with the paddle boards showing 67.5' and scrap the antenna on the bridge, do the same on Mantanzas Bridge in Ft. Myers and the antenna never touches.

But, as was suggested, Key West is a good visit also!
DotDun--

You are the first person I have heard from that has made the traverse of that bridge with a mast that tall without problems so that is certainly good information and could cut out a good bit of the run up the west coast. Getting across Florida Bay can be a pain in the neck but once clear, it would be good run to Boca or one could stop at Marco Island or Naples for a somewhat shorter run. Absent a generator for air-conditioning and tryveck suites (for on-deck work) I would definately skip the Little Shark River at this time of year, however. As for the bridge lights, several of the bridges here abouts have their lights suspended from the underside of the bridge that represent a lower than posted height hazard and I assumed that might also be the case there (so much for assumptions, eh?). Given your comments, the OP might also be able to pass through the new Sanibel Island Bridge which would make the entry to Pine Island Sound and the trip up to Boca Grande somewhat shorter than the outside route (although I prefer outside to inside just to avoid traffic).

FWIW...
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:34   #20
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

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DotDun--

You are the first person I have heard from that has made the traverse of that bridge with a mast that tall without problems so that is certainly good information and could cut out a good bit of the run up the west coast. Getting across Florida Bay can be a pain in the neck but once clear, it would be good run to Boca or one could stop at Marco Island or Naples for a somewhat shorter run. Absent a generator for air-conditioning and tryveck suites (for on-deck work) I would definately skip the Little Shark River at this time of year, however. As for the bridge lights, several of the bridges here abouts have their lights suspended from the underside of the bridge that represent a lower than posted height hazard and I assumed that might also be the case there (so much for assumptions, eh?). Given your comments, the OP might also be able to pass through the new Sanibel Island Bridge which would make the entry to Pine Island Sound and the trip up to Boca Grande somewhat shorter than the outside route (although I prefer outside to inside just to avoid traffic).

FWIW...
It takes some careful planning, but yes 7 Mile bridge is doable with a 65' mast.

As for Florida Bay, from green 15 north of Marathon on Bullard Banks to a point 1 mile west of Cape Romano shoals light is a nice run, no depth problems. Of course, in crab season (Oct. 15 to May 15), it's a mess, a literal mine field of fun. I won't venture it between Little Shark and Marathon in the dark during crab season.

The Sanibel bridge is 70', so no problem. The power lines on the west side of Pine Island are 95'. And like I mentioned, the Mantanzas bridge into Ft. Myers Beach is a 'friendly' 65'. I've stomped around this area quite a bit. I do like the outside run around Sanibel/Captiva/etc., a nice sail when there is wind. Mostly motoring on the inside, the marked channel is just too narrow.

I definitely agree on Little Shark this time of year. A 10kt breeze can make all the difference there.
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:53   #21
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
While there have been some good suggestions already, frankly, with an "air draft" as great as yours, and ignoring the fact that you likely have an antenna and potentially other gear on the top of the mast, not counted in its height, I don't think I would try Moser Channel. Our mast height is 61' excluding antennas et al and the ping-ping-ping of the antenna bending over and snapping back on the underside of a bridge is pretty unnerving. Moreover, the span lighting hangs down quite a ways and one has to be careful of that.

After looking at the route, and assuming you've got good ground tackle, I suggest you consider a multi-part trip going from Ft. Lauderdale to Key Biscayne (No-Name Harbor), No-Name to Rodriguez Key; and, then Rodriguez to Vaca Key/Marathon. These are each relatively short legs 40+/- miles that can be done fairly quickly and will allow you to get anchored or moored well before the afternoon squalls get snotty (as they do in the summer). By leaving in the early morning, you should be able to get in and anchored/moored by early afternoon each day, which will give you time to rest and for some enjoyment before turning in early for an early departure the next AM. They will also give you time to get acquainted with the yacht under relatively benign conditions, which will take some time. This segment would be a 3 day excursion, say a Friday-Saturday-Sunday, after which--once the yacht were secured-you could fly home from Marathon late Sunday afternoon or early evening for the work week, returning say the following Thursday night.

The second excursion would be from Marathon to Key West--say to the Galleon Marina for a night--which is only about 42 miles and should go quickly as there will be quite a bit a westing in your headings and you should be able to run off at reasonably good speed in the prevailing south easterlies. A good afternoon and early evening there would set you up for your first long-overnight run--from Key West to Boca Grande. That's a long run--140 miles or so--but the northwest channel out of Key West is easy to negotiate and once clear of the channel, there are few obstructions. (While one could stop at the Little Shark River, at this time of year that will be a really unpleasent anchorage considering the mosquitoes, and will require a long side-trip for (in my view) no good reason.)

On this leg you will likely get some squalls in the evening but reefed down, the yacht should handle these pretty easily and, if you have radar, you can usually steer around some, if not all. The yacht should also move pretty quickly in the prevailing winds or if they fail you, under power. Assuming you can average 7 knots--which should be doable in that yacht, an 1100 departure from Key West would allow you to make Boca Grande early the next AM and then into one of the marinas there--say Miller's--for recuperation before continuing. You could then either leave the yacht there until the following week.

The following week you could continue in one or two segments, either to Venice and then St. Pete, or in one fell swoop all the way to St. Pete (84 miles+/-). Venice is an easy entry/exit and the Crows Nest is a good stopping place. The run from there up to St. Pete would be pretty easy.

The issues on the foregoing will be developing your skills as you travel; having good ground tackle and reefing gear; decent up-to-date charts; reliable engines for when the wind fails you; and patience. Whith the foregoing, and perhaps someone with some experience for the first few legs, you should do fine.

I made a similar trip in '92 and, aside from the cost of leaving the yacht at a marina each week between segments, it wasn't too bad. Just time consuming.

FWIW...

I'm just going to say that there's no need to go all the way to Key West to get to St. Petersburg. In fact, you can skip Marathon and go through at Channel 5 if you have no need to stop at Marathon, and it will save you about 50 miles. Just look carefully at the chart, because the chanel out of there has some very tight turns.
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Old 07-08-2012, 13:48   #22
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

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I'm just going to say that there's no need to go all the way to Key West to get to St. Petersburg. In fact, you can skip Marathon and go through at Channel 5 if you have no need to stop at Marathon, and it will save you about 50 miles. Just look carefully at the chart, because the chanel out of there has some very tight turns.
A suggestion if you go thru Channel 5, stay on the ICWW on the north side until you get west of Bamboo Banks (~MM1185), before heading north. The yacht channel is too shallow and narrow turns for my taste. It'll cost you a few miles, but certainly better than the stress of yacht channel.

But then you miss Marathon! :^(
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Old 07-08-2012, 14:34   #23
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

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I'm just going to say that there's no need to go all the way to Key West to get to St. Petersburg. In fact, you can skip Marathon and go through at Channel 5 if you have no need to stop at Marathon, and it will save you about 50 miles. Just look carefully at the chart, because the chanel out of there has some very tight turns.
Guys--

Part of the rationale for the track I suggested was based upon the the OP being a relatively inexperienced sailor who will be sailing a new (to him) boat with which he will be unfamilure. The idea was to suggest relatively simple legs of relatively short duration (initially) with few navigational challanges to allow him to develop his sea legs and get a sense of the boat before he's confronted with much. He's also working and, unless he's going to take an extended vacation, may/will need a route that gives him secure options--Marinas--for leaving the boat between weekends that also have, relatively speaking, easy travel access--such as Marathon. One can certainly traverse Florida Bay from the Channel 5 bridge. However, one will be in the Bay--in very shallow water--for an extended period and will have to negotiate the yacht channel between Arsenic Bank and Tripod Bank--a 400+/- foot opening between 1-2 foot shoals. Assuming even a relatively early departure from Rodriguez Key he'd still be in Florida Bay in mid-afternoon, with shallow water and no place to tuck into if the afternoon weather gets snotty--and there it usually does at this time of the year (BTDT). My thinking was also to suggest stops that would be relatively easy but enjoyable. I agree there's no reason to go all the way to Key West other than to gain experience and have an interesting/enjoyable (albein not inexpensive) stop. The run from Key West to Boca or Sanibel is essentially all in deep (for southwest Florida) water with few hazards and something of a no-brainer but a good confidence builder. He can use that. Having brested the Sanibel Bridge, there's a good spot to stop for a rest in Glover Bight just past the start of the Miserable Mile and inside Cattle Dock Point. Or, having traversed the entrance at Boca Grande--there's a good stop just north of the pass at Miller's Marina.

N'any case, that's about all I have on the matter.

FWIW...
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Old 07-08-2012, 14:42   #24
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

Thank you all for the information. It is of great help. I'll be pouring back over these recommendations as the time nears. This forum is a wealth of information, and I appreciate the time you've taken to put together some recommendations!
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Old 25-10-2012, 13:55   #25
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Re: Ft. Lauderdale to St. Pete in September

Thanks again everyone for your input. I thought I'd update the thread and tell you how I did the trip. Again, I had a very strict 5 day window, so I had to make the trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Bradenton in that time due to work schedule. We did decide on hiring a captain given our relative inexperience and the necessity to remain on schedule. Looking back, that was a very wise decision and one I would make again.

We flew down Monday morning, arriving around 7:30 a.m. From there, the Captain picked us up and we went to the boat to prepare for the journey. By the time we checked out the boat, bought a few necessities and provisioned, it was around 4 p.m. when we left our slip. We overnighted that night and arrived in Marathon at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday. We motored that entire way because the winds were directly on our nose the entire time. They shifted as we turned the SE corner of Florida. We stayed overnight at Marathon Marina. The rest of the afternoon we did a little more boat work and familiarizing ourselves with the vessel and had dinner at Porky's Bayside BBQ and Seafood (good food and a little slice of Americana).

The next day (Wednesday) we pulled out of the marina mid-to-late-morning and passed under the 7 mile bridge. We pulled another overnight passage in order to keep to our 5 day schedule and arrived in Venice in the late afternoon on Thursday. We anchored in front of Venice Yacht Club and had dinner aboard. No time to explore. The winds were light and variable on this leg of the trip. We motored and motor-sailed this entire time. Unfortunately, the winds were such that at no time were we able to go under sail alone.

Friday (our deadline day), we motored up the ICW from Venice to Bradenton where we our boat will remain. This was a very pleasant change of pace from the outside passages on the previous 4 days. We left around 9 a.m. and arrived mid- afternoon (4:30 or so).

So... In answer to my own question. Five days is doable, but pretty much required two overnights. If we had gotten out of Ft. Lauderdale early on Monday we probably could have avoided one of the overnights, but I had 5 days including travel to Ft. Lauderdale. No time for sight-seeing or exploration but the trip was a success and completed in the time allotted. It was really a good experience for us and we are enjoying "Beatitude."
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