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Old 24-10-2012, 12:42   #1
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ICW in Florida and bridges

We are planning a Bahamas crossing toward the end of December on our 26ft sailboat,and Indiantown seems to be our best starting point. As our end destination is George Town Exuma,I'm leaning towards going down the ICW to Angelfish Creek,and crossing to N Bimini.
It appears that some bridges on the ICW won't open during that time,according to chart books. Is this the case? Do we have to go outside for part of the trip?
Also,we will only be underway in daylight hours,so I'm wondering about anchorages(draft is not an issue),or, are marinas a better option?
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Old 24-10-2012, 13:01   #2
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

Visit Claiborne Young's site for Florida bridge schedules.
Cruiser's Net » BRIDGES – Eastern Florida
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Old 24-10-2012, 13:04   #3
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

Don't understand you comment re bridges. Some open on demand, others have a schedule but all open unless there is a mechanical problem. AFAIK none are presently out of commission.

Just go down to Miami, no need to go to Angelfish Creek. You can get a good shot at Bimini from Miami.

Lots of anchorages from Indiantown to Miami. No need to waste money on expensive marinas, and they are expensive in S. Florida.
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Old 24-10-2012, 13:12   #4
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

All of the bridges on your route have active operation year round. Many are restricted to openings at half hour intervals. None of the fixed bridges on your route would restrict a vertical clearance of less than 56 feet. There is no distance along your route without a clear and easy anchorage within a 35 mile span. 'sounds like you'll have a good cruise.
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Old 24-10-2012, 13:15   #5
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

You can anchor fine, most bridges open on a schedule, you'll want a water way guide anyway... those show the schedules. You can often time them well..... I went through about 15 bridges in one day once!
You can cross from Miami or Biscayne bay. Biscayne may give you a better angle, you'll be steering about 30 degrees off course to counter the current for an hour or two.
There is one bridge in Miami that isnt the usual 65 ft clearance and doesnt open...
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Old 24-10-2012, 18:40   #6
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

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...........There is one bridge in Miami that isnt the usual 65 ft clearance and doesnt open...
This is the Julia Tuttle bridge with the reversed numbers (56'). I heard this was an error in number reversal that was not caught before a completed potion of construction. You can actually get an extra foot of clearance if you pass to either side of the center steel span. Of course, out at Port Everglades (Lauderdale) and back in at Governor's Cut (Miami) bypasses this bridge with a simple 20 mile offshore hop, but against the gulfstream when southbound and it's hard to find any countercurrent inshore from the gulfstream from Palm Beach to Miami.
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Old 24-10-2012, 19:00   #7
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

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This is the Julia Tuttle bridge with the reversed numbers (56'). I heard this was an error in number reversal that was not caught before a completed potion of construction. You can actually get an extra foot of clearance if you pass to either side of the center steel span. Of course, out at Port Everglades (Lauderdale) and back in at Governor's Cut (Miami) bypasses this bridge with a simple 20 mile offshore hop, but against the gulfstream when southbound and it's hard to find any countercurrent inshore from the gulfstream from Palm Beach to Miami.
I've done that jump a few times and it seemed like a fast trip... I was sailing right near shore most the way just watching the sights! Not sure we saw any current there....
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Old 24-10-2012, 19:23   #8
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

Ditto on what was said above about bridges--plenty of opening ones between St. Lucie and Miami, and the lowest is the Julia Tuttle in Miami at 56 feet, but they all do open up on various schedules. Plenty of anchorages all along the way--you need a good chartbook and guidebook. But, the crossing to Bimini is a lot more fun and better sailing the further south you start in the Keys. I've jumped off from around Key Largo before and it means the current and the wind are basically aft of the beam and you are flying over the ground. From Miami you have to angle into the wind and current in order to make it across, and it can be a real slow slog on a small boat. The shortest distance across doesn't always translate to the shortest time across on a small boat.
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Old 25-10-2012, 00:36   #9
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

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I've done that jump a few times and it seemed like a fast trip... I was sailing right near shore most the way just watching the sights! Not sure we saw any current there....
Maybe there's something that is counter to the Gulfstream in this area that I have not found. I know that, when growing up there, when you swim off the beach you ALWAYS had to walk south to find your towel and shoes.
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Old 25-10-2012, 08:52   #10
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

Welcome aboard, Dan! We have no reports of bridge issues that would prevent your passage, but a couple recent changes from the bridge schedules you find in our guidebook and many others: The Lake Ave. Bridge in the south end of Lake Worth is now on a :15 and :45 schedule rather than opening on demand, and the Lantana Bridge is currently "gone" so you do not need an opening for that one. Miami is a great jumping off point to Bimini...be sure to wait for the right conditions. NO winds from the north, especially in a boat your size...wait for a day with winds from the southern half of the pie. Be sure to account for the extra push from the Gulf Stream when crossing. Have a great trip...it's one of my favorites!
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Old 25-10-2012, 09:23   #11
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges



If you have a trailered boat you might also consider South Dade Marina....

FL Spring 2011 page 26

....better location to start from, but coming back you still might have to go back down the ICW or off shore to get back there. They have good storage prices and are only sailboat orientated,

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Old 28-10-2012, 15:39   #12
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

Thanks for the responses. I will get a guide for the ICW. I will probably still go to Angelfish to meet up with other boats crossing.
Return trip will be Abacos,and on to West End so it's a one way on the ICW.
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Old 28-10-2012, 16:28   #13
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

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..................Return trip will be Abacos,and on to West End so it's a one way on the ICW.
When returning I would recommend Fort Pierce Inlet from West End and easy clearnce at the airport. We usually break the inlet at Ft. Pierce and take a mooring at Vero Beach, then clear customs with a rental car to the airport and fit in a provisioning before turning in the car. Of course, we have the customs & border protection decal and phone in at arrival
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Old 28-10-2012, 17:21   #14
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

Since a 26 foot boat has a pretty low hull speed I concur with your decision to go to angelfish creek. This is especially true if you need to wait at Key Biscayne for a weather window. You might as well spend a day going to angelfish creek rather than twiddling your thumbs. If you are at Key Biscayne and have a good weather window that will not stay open long enough to go to Angelfish Creek and then cross, by all means cross from Key Biscayne. Just make sure you put plenty of southing into your initial heading and don't try to follow a rhumb line from Key Biscayne yo Bimini. If you try to stay on a rhumb line in a 26 foot boat you may be down to less than 1 knot VMG in the middle of the stream. The best bet is to figure out how far the stream will push you north and aim for a spot on the banks at that position south of Bimini and just hold a steady heading. Initially you'll move south of the rhumb line, but by about the middle you'll be pushed back to the rhumb line and then north of it. As the current in the stream slackens as you approach the banks you'll make your way back south and approach Bimini from the northwest. You'll have to figure your heading out based on your boat's cruise speed and the forecast speed of the stream.

With a 26 foot boat you should not have any problems with the fixed bridges. The Skipper Bob guide to anchorages on the ICW is an excellent source of anchorng information and has bridge opening information as well. I have found that ActveCaptain has a great deal of information on anchorages as well.
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Old 28-10-2012, 17:47   #15
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Re: ICW in Florida and bridges

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......................If you try to stay on a rhumb line in a 26 foot boat you may be down to less than 1 knot VMG in the middle of the stream.......................
I agree with much of the wisdom from Captain Bill, but I suggest that a departure from Angelfish would remove the risk of being slowed to 1 knot for your crossing. Only if you're departing from Ft. Lauderdale or Miami will you end up heading at about 120 degrees for your vector with the average 2.5 kt current from the stream to slow you this much. From Angelfish you will have a much better route to Bimini. One of the beauties of GPS is that it removes the sigmoid curve that you would follow and end up approaching Bimini from the NW as Captain Bill suggests. I would elect to depart from Angelfish even if you find yourself with good weather at Key Biscayne.
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