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Old 13-02-2016, 09:35   #1
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Location: Wisconsin
Boat: Beneteau 46
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Recommended Cruising spots in Florida

We have a Beneteau 46 we plan to be sailing in the Salty Dawg Rally in November of this year. The plan is to cruise the VI and Bahamas and end up back in Florida around February 2017. We live in Wisconsin, so we truck the boat out in the fall and put it back together in hampton for the rally. Rather than trucking it right back when we hit the US in mid to late feb, we are thinking of leaving the boat in Florida for a week or two, then coming back down with our dog and cruising Florida (or we could head north or to the gulf coast if they were more interesting) for a month or so, and then ship the boat back to Wisconsin in early April or so. We have sailed in the rally twice before (once in the 2002 Caribbean 1500 on a J42, and with this boat in the 2012 Salty Dawg), but due to work and school restrictions we had quickly shipped the boat back North from Florida after the 2 earlier trips. This trip we have a little more time and wanted to enjoy the area in February and march.

I have never sailed in Florida, and outside of a few spots in Ft Lauderdale, do not know the area. my questions are:
- If you had 4 to 6 weeks to cruise, and were happy to cover distances, and did not mind where you ended up, as long as it had a marina that could unstep your mast and load a truck, what do folks recommend as spots to visit?

- Is there a good spot to leave the boat for a week or two when we get back from the Caribbean/Bahamas and need to check into US customs and to fly home? We have always stopped at the BahiaMar marina in Ft lauderdale before, it seems good enough, but pricey. It is close to the airport and not a bad spot to check back into US customs.

- Is there a recommended boat yard for the end of our trip to use to unstep the mast and ship the boat back. Ideally, we would spend the month cruising towards this spot and make it the end point of the trip in late march or April.

I know these are open ended questions, but I am sure there are some great spots that we should try to visit as we may not get back to Florida anytime soon.
Thanks for any advice.
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Old 13-02-2016, 20:58   #2
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Re: Recommended Cruising spots in Florida

As I'm sure you've guessed there are a gazillion answers to your question.

One thought is to head south from Lauderdale/Miami to the keys when you get back. Remember that the Julia Tuttle causeway bridge in south Miami has only 56' vertical clearance. You could work your way down to Key West using Hawk Channel, then when you're ready visit the Marquesas and the Dry Tortugas. Head from there north and west with the Tampa Bay area as your final destination. Tampa and St. Petersburg should have multiple haulout facilities to choose from.

On the way up you can visit places as diverse as Little Shark River (lots of mosquitoes but a secure anchorage) to Naples (lots of millionaires), also Venice, Ft. Myers, Sanibel and on and on. If you wanted you could go farther to visit places like Tarpon Springs, Apalachicola, etc., then turn back to Tampa Bay or find a suitable yard up North.
Check out Active Captain, the WaterWay Guide, and other sources for more info.

Sounds like a fun trip, enjoy.
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