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Old 07-08-2012, 07:55   #1
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Key West to Panama City Fl in August

Hi, I'm writing to obtain information for a friend. He just purchased a Cal 36 in Key West, Fl. and is intent on bringing it north to Panama City, Fl. as soon as possible. He is getting a lot of scuttlebutt from the captains in the marina that insist that this is a bad time of the year to go north. At first I assumed this was due to hurricane season but this was not the case, they say the winds are wrong and the waters are like a washing machine. They say wait until at least September or later, that nobody sales that way this time of year. Can anyone give me some feed back on this.
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:08   #2
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

Hurricane season is certainly the most significant consideration this time of year -- don't under estimate that -- there is a big difference between being a little uncomfortable due to rough seas and unfavorable wind and being dead. If he chooses to do this now, then he should choose his weather window very carefully -- based upon Mother Nature's schedule -- not his or his crew's.

There are also more squalls in the summer months and they can be quite intense, but manageable with sufficient experience aboard. I've been in a few along this coast with over 50 knots sustained wind, but most are not quite this intense.

I've run this section of coast many times in both directions. It can get a little bumpy and squally any time of year (as said, more in the summer months...or during winter cold fronts). But, it can also be easily broken down into a series of short hops through a great cruising ground (the whole SW coast of Florida) -- giving you plenty of opportunity to wait out bad weather and plan the next hop.

Pilot Charts show long term historic averages of wind, current, and other climatic factors. You can find the Pilot Chart covering this area for August at http://msi.nga.mil/MSISiteContent/St...106/106aug.pdf.

What the Pilot Chart shows for this area is that on average winds are E to SE this time of year and there is a slight favorable current close along the SW coast of FL. Note that local conditions and current conditions/forecast can certainly vary from this, but these are the longer term, large scale, trends. Pay attention to the current conditions and forecast too.
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:13   #3
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

we sailed gom in hurrycame season--only thing to do is watch your weather. is good sailing in summer--i know. just go--but DO WATCH THE WEATHER. it will change on you--and noaa is wrong most of the time, so computer for weather, not vhf.
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:36   #4
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

An unforgettable summer trip out of Tampa bound for Galveston is memorable for three days of thunder, lightening, and a few water spouts. The storms weren't predicted, but built up each afternoon and extended almost until dawn. Great light shows, never knew there were so many forms of lightening. Not too much wind and wave or maybe I was to scared of the electricity to notice. Have chosen to avoid that area in the summer months.

One other note: A large area South of Eglin AFB is, or at least was, part of a gunnery/rocketry range. Have been redirected several times when they were "shooting". I think you can chack activity online.
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Old 08-08-2012, 17:32   #5
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

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An unforgettable summer trip out of Tampa bound for Galveston is memorable for three days of thunder, lightening, and a few water spouts. The storms weren't predicted, but built up each afternoon and extended almost until dawn. Great light shows, never knew there were so many forms of lightening. Not too much wind and wave or maybe I was to scared of the electricity to notice. Have chosen to avoid that area in the summer months...
Yes, FL has lots of lightening activity. Have been in some really intense electrical storms there.
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Old 08-08-2012, 17:37   #6
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

we found sailing 60 miles or more offshore was the ticket--less storm activity
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Old 08-08-2012, 17:51   #7
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

There are right and wrong times to go any month of the year, September is no different than August and anytime the Gulf kicks up is unpleasant. With a sound boat and maybe radar to avoid the thunderstorms, it can be done without a lot of fuss. The other option is to run up the coast and jump inside for occasional rests and to avoid weather. We have made that trip at about every time of year and the winter months and fronts are the worst. So get up there soon. You will have plenty of notice, weeks, if a tropical system is brewing. It's not like they suddenly appear on top of you. It's only about a three day sail if you do a straight shot. Most of the dock advise you get are from sailors that seldom if ever leave the dock. Chuck
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Old 08-08-2012, 17:53   #8
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

Listen to Zee!! she's right ! it's doable!! if ya have internet, get Wunderground.com the tropical one ! it will give ya at least 7 or 8 days advance notice of any Hurrycanes, or tropical storms headed to the Gulf (and the rest of the world also) Gives ya plenty of notice to get in to shore to get safe ! theres always wind to sail even slowly LOL up the coast even if ya have to tack a bunch !! Just my 2 cents
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Old 09-08-2012, 02:36   #9
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I don't think its a big deal. Just be careful w the weather. There are tons of marinas near the gulf from Naples northward to Tarpon springs if weather turns foul. And even more good anchorages along the way. Just remember if you see a squall line of white low clouds bearing towards you it could be moving 50-60 mph and will be covering a mile a minute. Lots of sails blown out from not reefing fast enough. You have minutes to reef or furl ifbyou don't have radar. Still an easy fun trip.
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Old 09-08-2012, 14:40   #10
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

We did the trip on our Cal 35 going from Panama City to Key West in June.
Everyone is right - heed the weather! We looked at the weather and still got caught in some storms that we had not seen coming. If the winds aren't in your favor (they weren't in ours half the time), you'll bash going to weather. Our main was reefed and still ripped, as did our jib. Not saying don't do it, but the weather can be a little crazy this time of year, so just find a good weather window and be safe!

It won't let me post the image here but this shows you what it looked like on more than one occasion on that trip.
STORM PHOTO



Happy sailing!

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Old 10-08-2012, 20:31   #11
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

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We did the trip on our Cal 35 going from Panama City to Key West in June.

It won't let me post the image here but this shows you what it looked like on more than one occasion on that trip.
Was that weather from Debby?
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Old 10-08-2012, 20:35   #12
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

Check your WX, but no reason to wait... IMHO.

I would make this run.. no sweat.
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Old 11-08-2012, 16:56   #13
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

Coming up from Key West.... make an early start in the morning...see if you can make it to Snake River to anchor. Then from there on up its easier til you get north of Tarpon Springs.... If you look at the charts...there is a channel that leads from the Gulf inland and passes under US19 on the land maps...it is near the nuke plant at Red Level.... you can anchor up in there....then from there to Steinhatchee unless you make your jump to Carrabelle or Appalachicola early.... Steinhatchee across is more direct, and if your stick isn't too tall...you can take the GICW the rest of the way.

Depending on sea state...and your draft.... you are going to have to stand off of the coast a bit as there are some skinny spots.
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:18   #14
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I would disagree that you will get plenty of notice of tropical storms brewing in the Gulf. Sometimes they have popped out of nowhere.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:17   #15
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Re: Key West to Panama City Fl in August

Not no-where. Follow the NOAA equatorial waves.

If a low pressure is anywhere near one you can expect stormy conditions that can spawn a tropical depression.You won't see them on the news until Tropical storm force or better.

They run 3 -5 days apart, so if you start right after one crosses by you have several days of clear weather before the next one hits. Even then, if it starts to develop, you have several more days before it becomes severe enough to be dangerous.

The Keys to Panama can be done close enough to be within a couple of days of safety. One bad thing is these storm stir up the entire gulf, so expect it to be rough, if the storm develops anywhere past Cuba.
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