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Old 09-11-2016, 12:25   #16
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

I normally tell people not to underestimate the Gulf but if I had a 58' Alden I'd head out in the nastiest weather I could find. That boat looks like a beast.
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Old 09-11-2016, 14:23   #17
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

End of March is when things start to settle down with that Southern air moving back North. Yesterday as a small front came through here the wind shifted from North to South and then to the East. I had my glass storm door propped open while I hauled in some groceries. Today I had to fix the screws that it stripped out as the wind gusted rapidly enough to hammer them out of the door facing.

It's going to be that way until March with every front that moves this way. There is sometimes a few days of steady wind out of the North at a time, but it's pretty random as far as I can tell through the winter. The cold isn't a low temperature, but it gets in your bones. I've been in far colder conditions with ice on the ground solid that didn't feel as cold.

I've yet to see an accurate wind forecast in 30 years of living on the Gulf of Mexico. When March gets here it rains along the coast every day, but not for long and usually in the evenings. It also starts to get hot in a humid way that sucks the life out of you. Ever wonder why things move slower in the South. I'm thinking that is why.

Any different on the South end of Florida? I'd imagine the trip from Texas to NW Florida will be as described above. Oh, and choppy seas all the way.
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Old 09-11-2016, 14:55   #18
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

Capngeo I want to borrow your tag line. Having built my own, and determined in retrospect that no matter how much I love my boat, building it was a very bad decision, you have expressed my feelings very well. Did you build one?
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Old 10-11-2016, 08:34   #19
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

As others have said, the GOM can get really nasty during fronts. NOAA synoptic charts are one of the best options for frontal passage forecasts (GRIB data does not show fronts).

Ive been in the GOM when several fronts converged (not forecast)...we had 65 kts sustained, gusting 80 kts for 24 hours, seas 25' and confused...yeeha.

Also familiarize yourself with the Gulf Loop Current. It can meander quite far N into the GOM.

Good news is there are plenty of coastal hop options for short weather windows.

Take the GOM very seriously.
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Old 11-11-2016, 02:49   #20
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

I'm literally typing this from 170m South of Grand Isle, LA as I work out here on a OSV. We are currently running weather patters on standby near the drill ship. The seas are roughly 8' and have been confused for the past couple of days. The GOM picks up very quickly, I would not recommend Feb, it's the worst month for fronts. You get only a few days after one front before the next one is coming. You may only need a few days but the fact that fronts bring differing directions of wind makes this a giant wave pool of confusion. It's not uncommon to see waves peak into a pyramid and drop out to nothing. If you could swing December or earlier it would be best. January or March isn't much better than Feb, but early Jan or late March would probably work.

The wave period to wave height isnt anything to underestimate, even with your boat. The Gulf tosses our 300' vessel if we don't mind it.

Blessed sailing,
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Old 11-11-2016, 04:21   #21
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

It was mentioned but just want to reiterate the shallow water in the Gulf off the coast at least from Yakee Town to Tarpon Springs. You will need to stay 10 - 12 miles off shore to be safe. 10 miles off shore will mean you are in approx 10' of water.
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Old 11-11-2016, 05:30   #22
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Gulf of Mexico in February ??

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Originally Posted by tuffr2 View Post
It was mentioned but just want to reiterate the shallow water in the Gulf off the coast at least from Yakee Town to Tarpon Springs. You will need to stay 10 - 12 miles off shore to be safe. 10 miles off shore will mean you are in approx 10' of water.

I have run aground on plane in a 23" fishing boat out of sight of land in that area years ago, had to wait for the tide of float me off.
I guess it was about 1 ft deep?
Look at the small fishing boats in that area, most all of them have some kind of innovative guard for their lower units, and there are limestone rocks out there too.
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Old 11-11-2016, 06:21   #23
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

If you can wait until the last week of March you won't get kicked around by the wx so badly. ICW is a PITA but is nicer once you get past Mobile. Mobile to Carabelle (end of the line!) is actually kinda nice. Just saying. If you simply must do this in Feb, I would take it in hops. Once you get to W coast FL, you might inquire locally about cutting across via Okeechobee, as controlling depth changes a lot. It is a very scenic inland passage imho.
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Old 11-11-2016, 06:30   #24
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

Straight line Carrabelle to Clearwater (Tarpon Springs is a bit shallow) Keeps you in safe water, with only some fishing boats, anchored barges, and Air Force range markers to dodge. The shallow side means you can anchor for the night. Carrabelle is the end of the ditch, and we have a marina (C-Quarters) that specializes in loopers waiting for a weather window to jump the gap.
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Old 11-11-2016, 06:47   #25
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

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Straight line Carrabelle to Clearwater (Tarpon Springs is a bit shallow) Keeps you in safe water, with only some fishing boats, anchored barges, and Air Force range markers to dodge. The shallow side means you can anchor for the night. Carrabelle is the end of the ditch, and we have a marina (C-Quarters) that specializes in loopers waiting for a weather window to jump the gap.
That's your best bet. I'd tie up at the Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina. There's always room for transients & plenty of restaurants within walking distance. From there you can run the ICW south if the weather's bad or wait for a window & head outside.
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Old 11-11-2016, 06:50   #26
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

The Clearwater marina at the bridge is much nicer, but fuel is at the beach marina.
Also there are a lot of tour boats that wake you at the beach marina,but not at the bridge
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Old 13-11-2016, 16:52   #27
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Gulf of Mexico in February ??

I stayed at Clearwater Beach 2 days in December 2013 and 5 days in 2014 waiting for a front to pass so I could cross to Pensacola Bay. We enjoyed the location close to restaurants, Publix and the beach. There is a trolly service you can ride to get to and from Publix if you need provisions. Like A64 says, there are a number of tour boats that come and go. We were located out near the fuel dock but did not notice the tour boats coming and going and did not experience any wake issues. We enjoyed our stay there and the staff was very friendly and helpful.
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Old 13-11-2016, 19:18   #28
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Re: Gulf of Mexico in February ??

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The Clearwater marina at the bridge is much nicer, but fuel is at the beach marina.
Also there are a lot of tour boats that wake you at the beach marina,but not at the bridge
It's true that the new marina is nice but there's not much going on around there unless you're a Scientologist. Staying at the beach is a lot more fun. You've got a world class beach across the street, a fishing pier, lots of street performers, arts & crafts & tons of restaurants within walking distance. It's a no wake zone there so normally wakes aren't a problem.
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