We like the cut from Little Shark River by Schooner Bank and through Yacht Channel to Lower Matecumbe where you can cross under the 65' fixed bridge to Hawk's Channel and up to Miami or stay "bayside" and into Biscayne Bay. During much of this passage you can stay within the Everglades National Park boundry where trap floats are not allowed. This route requires a draft of less than five feet. You may wish to list your clearances for the best advice.
This +1. I've run the Yacht Channel with close to six-foot draft, but it was touch and go, so to speak. Better off with less than 5 feet. If you can't do this I would just take a straight shot to the NW Channel at Key West
, or maybe leave from Ft. Myers Beach and do it in one overnight. Hawk Channel up inside the Keys is fine sailing and somewhat sheltered, depending on wind
direction, but sort of difficult to follow at night. If you're in a big hurry just go through Key West
and get back out in the Gulf Stream
and ride it on up to Ft. Lauderdale.
Unless you can clear the 49-foot lift
bridge at Port Mayaca you can't do the Okeechobee Waterway that runs from Ft. Myers across the middle of Florida
to St. Lucie. Also, Okeechobee can have lock closures and shallow problems at times--not sure of the current