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Old 12-10-2016, 15:35   #1
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Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

Hello all.

I'm new to sailing and just bought a Hunter 28.5 sailboat. Because I don't have experience sailing yet, I want to take the boat home(Tampa) on the inside and not go out into the Gulf Of Mexico. Has anyone ever done this route? Is it possible in a sailboat? The clearance is 42' and the draft is 5.2' according to sailboat data website. Any inside info would be greatly appreciated. It seems like the trip might be around 165 miles with the end point iin Old Tampa Bay by the Gandy Bridge.

Thanks!
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Old 12-10-2016, 15:58   #2
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

Inside would not be a problem as long as you have enough fuel and the engine runs. Several bascule bridges between Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay.

Your estimate of 165nm is too much, without plotting, I'd guess 110-120nm.
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Old 12-10-2016, 16:02   #3
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

Get some charts and start looking at the route. Charts are available for free (viewing or printing in booklet format) at the NOAA website.

If you are coming inside, you will likely motor the whole way. Sailing in the narrow channels could be tricky without a lot of sailing experience. The water on the west coast of our state can be really thin in places.

You need to know what the air draft of your boat is as well, for dealing with fixed bridges. Air draft is the distance from the water to the top of the mast, including any antennas. Good luck. It's very doable, with a dependable motor.
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Old 12-10-2016, 16:02   #4
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

Thanks... It seems like there are a lot of shallow areas. The draft is my main concern. Do you think that will be a problem if we stay in the markers?
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Old 12-10-2016, 16:05   #5
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

Quote:
Originally Posted by MICHAEL SNAYD View Post
Thanks... It seems like there are a lot of shallow areas. The draft is my main concern. Do you think that will be a problem if we stay in the markers?
Your draft is OK, the miserable mile (south side of St. James City) is ugly if you get outside the channel, but in the channel will support your draft.
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Old 12-10-2016, 16:07   #6
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

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Originally Posted by DotDun View Post
Your draft is OK, the miserable mile (south side of St. James City) is ugly if you get outside the channel, but in the channel will support your draft.
Awesome, thanks for the info. That was one of the places I noticed on Active Captain that made me wonder. I'll be careful about the channel there.
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Old 12-10-2016, 17:00   #7
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Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

I have a Hunter 356 with a draft similar to yours - 5 feet. My air draft is 58.4 feet to the tip of my antenna. I have made the trip and you can make it fine. You can run aground anywhere in SW Florida if you don't pay attention to where you are. The GICW mile markers are in statue miles and just above the bridge at Ft Myers is mile 0. Just west of the Sunshine Bridge in Tampa Bay is mile 105, so your trip is 105 statue miles plus wherever you are going east of the Sunshine Bridge in Tampa Bay. It is an easy two day motor trip up the intercoastal. Just stay in between the channel markers and you will be fine. The bridges mostly open on demand but some are on a schedule. Look them all up and make a spreadsheet and you can know which ones you have to wait to open.

There are a number of marina's available to stop on your route. If you want an experience, stop off for lunch at Cabbage Key - mile 21.4. With your draft you can get into the docks there but stay in the channel. Venice Fisherman's Wharf is at mile 57 and just north and to the west is the Crows Nest. The current can be tricky coming and going from Crows Nest during tidal changes, so just watch the tides and current coming and going if you stay there. I've stayed twice at Crows Nest and the restaurant there is excellent.

Get a Nav app like Navionics or INavX for your tablet or phone and you can know where you are all the time. Also, since you,are in SW Florida with 5 feet of draft, sign up for BoatUS or Towboat for unlimited towing. You will run aground sometime and it is well worth the money. If you do, just back off with your motor. It is soft sand and won't damage anything but your ego and wallet if you don't have the unlimited towing.

You will need a phone or VHF to call the bridges. Plan ahead with Active Captain. It will be a fun trip for you.


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Old 12-10-2016, 17:11   #8
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Thumbs up Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Clark H356 View Post
I have a Hunter 356 with a draft similar to yours - 5 feet. My air draft is 58.4 feet to the tip of my antenna. I have made the trip and you can make it fine. You can run aground anywhere in SW Florida if you don't pay attention to where you are. The GICW mile markers are in statue miles and just above the bridge at Ft Myers is mile 0. Just west of the Sunshine Bridge in Tampa Bay is mile 105, so your trip is 105 statue miles plus wherever you are going east of the Sunshine Bridge in Tampa Bay. It is an easy two day motor trip up the intercoastal. Just stay in between the channel markers and you will be fine. The bridges mostly open on demand but some are on a schedule. Look them all up and make a spreadsheet and you can know which ones you have to wait to open.

There are a number of marina's available to stop on your route. If you want an experience, stop off for lunch at Cabbage Key - mile 21.4. With your draft you can get into the docks there but stay in the channel. Venice Fisherman's Wharf is at mile 57 and just north and to the west is the Crows Nest. The current can be tricky coming and going from Crows Nest during tidal changes, so just watch the tides and current coming and going if you stay there. I've stayed twice at Crows Nest and the restaurant there is excellent.

Get a Nav app like Navionics or INavX for your tablet or phone and you can know where you are all the time. Also, since you,are in SW Florida with 5 feet of draft, sign up for BoatUS or Towboat for unlimited towing. You will run aground sometime and it is well worth the money. If you do, just back off with your motor. It is soft sand and won't damage anything but your ego and wallet if you don't have the unlimited towing.

You will need a phone or VHF to call the bridges. Plan ahead with Active Captain. It will be a fun trip for you.


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Thank you so much for this answer, you have totally put my mind at ease.
Mile 57 seems like it might be a good place to stop for the night. Thanks for taking so much time to give me all this info. Happy Sailing!
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Old 13-10-2016, 10:16   #9
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

I have a 6 ft draft here in Sarasota, came up ICW from Bocca Grande to Sarasota no problems I think you will be fine, I do highly recommend the unlimited towing, with boat US or Sea Tow.

It's great piece of mind just in case the motor quits or aground.

Good vhf and cell phone a must, Sarasota has 20 dollar a day mooring, close to stores if you need anything.

Enjoy and have fun
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Old 13-10-2016, 10:26   #10
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

From personal experience, you don't need to be outside the channel on the miserable mile, just close to the edge. It's the first place I ran aground (just by merwin key) in a keel boat with me at the wheel. Memories

For a 5.2 draft it's should not a problem.
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Old 13-10-2016, 10:38   #11
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

No problem with clearance and draft. We did it in a Niagara 35 clearance 55' draft 5-9.
Biggest challenge for a novice will be the miserable mile which is a very long narrow channel just north of Ft. Myers heading to Pine Island. Don't wander off course here.
Other than that a nice trip inside. The other tight channel is at the north end of Sarasota Bay to Anna Maria Island.

Current charts are always a basic necessity and a good chart plotter is very helpful.
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Old 13-10-2016, 10:40   #12
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

A reliable depth sounder is a good idea as well. Relieves doubt and lessens stress.

While it's true generally if you stay in the markers all is good. But many of the more open areas have widely spaced markers. A little current or wind abeam and it may look like your heading straight to that next distant marker when you are not.

Looking back at the last mark is one way to gauge your drift. A glance at the depth and a nav app or plotter reassures.

Forgive me if I am telling you something you already know.

Have fun, congrats on the new boat.
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Old 13-10-2016, 11:03   #13
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

East itineray:

Day one anchor off St James city dinghy in for dinner
Day two Pelican Bay no facilities just ice at the Ranger Station
DAy three: Marina at Venice (pick one)
Day four Anchor south of the Cortez Bridge plenty of places to dinghy to and eat
Day five Home

Lokk at Cruisersnet.net for more info
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Old 13-10-2016, 12:59   #14
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

Be sure to have the engine serviced by a good mechanic. Check spare parts, have oil and coolant. Go over how to do all of this with the mechanic or previously owner. If you would like company on the trip contact me Sdwcheney@yahoo.com I am at Edgewater Florida j
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Old 13-10-2016, 13:18   #15
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Re: Sailing from Fort Myers To Tampa

Sailm8 gave you an easy itinerary. Going into Pelian bay is a little tricky. Take your turn at the 72 mark and go straight to the big white Slow Manatee sign and on in form there. The channel is right next to the shore on your starboard. Watch your depth finder and water color. Or Cabbage Key instead or also if your cruising. It's got a great old Florida flavor, only accessible by boat. You can go outside from at Boca Grande to Venice with an early start easily. The Crows Nest at Venice is a great place, right on the inlet, easy in, easy out or back into the inside. Great bar there too. Or spend a day, it's pretty cheap and they'll loan you a bike. Don't know how novice you are, but don't be afraid of the outside in good weather. Remember what the Old Salt said, "The ocean ain't dangerous...it's the hard stuff around the edges that'll get ya!" Take somebody with a little experience with you so your not stressed and have fun. You're going to love it!
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