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Old 12-06-2011, 12:37   #1
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Right Draft for Sailing out a 6' Deep Inlet

For various reasons we are looking at moving to a home that will make Boca Inlet in South Florida our nearest route to open water. After doing some research into the dredging operations I discovered that the goal is to maintain a minimum depth of 6 feet (MLW?). So the question is-- what is a reasonable draft sailboat to look at?

Before "Captain Obvious" says it, yes I know less than six feet! But how much less? Is 4' 6" cutting it too close? Should I focus on center boarders that can go through on 3-4 feet? When the specs state the boat draws 4' 6" is that with a light load, 1/2 load or fully loaded to the boot stripe?

Any insight will be appreciated,

Bill
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:49   #2
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Re: Right Draft for Sailing out a 6' Deep Inlet

I've been all around there with 6'5" draft. Being in So Fl I'd want 5' or less though....or really good towing insurance!
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:54   #3
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Re: Right Draft for Sailing out a 6' Deep Inlet

A dredged "goal" of 6 feet doesn't tell me much. You have to look at historical data. How often is the inlet shoaled up? How responsive are the authorities to the need for dredging? If the data is favourable I would not worry with a 5' 06" draft.
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:57   #4
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Re: Right Draft for Sailing out a 6' Deep Inlet

Unfortunately I don't see an exact answer to your question. Too many vonlariables.

For example, if you only plan to go out the inlet in calm conditions then a draft just under 6' would work. However, if there is a 3' swell in the channel then you could be bumping bottom with a 4' draft.

Then there is the kind of boating you plan. Will you go out often for short trips or occasionally for a longer trip? If you want to be able to go out of the Boca inlet any time you have a few hours to spare then you would want to go with a much shallower draft than if you go out less often for a longer sail. Then is your boating schedule flexible enough that you can time your in and ou with a rising tide. Would you want to consider the option of running up the ditch to Palm Beach?
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Old 12-06-2011, 17:39   #5
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Thanks for the inputs. Both Boca and Hillsboro Inlets have dredging gear on site year round. From what I have seen the volume of traffic and resources are significant enough to keep the dredgers diligent. So it looks like a max draft of five feet will be safe. Thanks

Since the board up draft of my previous boats for the last 20 years has been measured in inches, could someone help me understand how the draft specified by the manufacturer is set. Is that empty draft? Draft with fuel water and 50% load? Or fully loaded for a few weeks out?

Thanks trying to cover the details so I don't mess up!

Bill
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Old 12-06-2011, 17:53   #6
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Re: Right Draft for Sailing out a 6' Deep Inlet

What's the tidal range? An 8 foot draft might be fine...
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Old 12-06-2011, 17:54   #7
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Re: Right Draft for Sailing out a 6' Deep Inlet

More to the point is that the dredged depth is calculated at "mean low water", that is the average of the low water depths at low tide. If you have any qualms about your depth requirements, you might just have to enjoy another hour or so of additional sailing.
The more important thing to be aware of is the influence of tide verses wind. If there is an out going CURRENT and an EASTERLY wind, the Hillsboro inlet can be very rough and trickey. Add to this that there is a bridge that needs to be opened just inside the inlet, it could be an interesting ride!
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