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Old 10-09-2013, 06:40   #1
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West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

I really do not know where to start-- but we are looking for a piece of property somewhere in the S. Tampa Bay area or a smidge South of Tampa with deep canals. Could use some advice on where exactly to start looking for property with a min. of a 50ft dock to accommodate a sizeable sailboat. Canal needs to be at least 9ft deep to accomodate a Full-Keel.

Anyone have advice on the terminology I need to watch out for-- or LOOK for in perusing the On-line real-estate properties?

Thank you in advance,

Thomas & Kelly
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Old 10-09-2013, 06:51   #2
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Wow, 9ft is a lot of draft in W FL, you will be very constrained on where you can go. In fact, off the top of my head, w out reviewing charts, I cant think of many places you can get into. Even if you can find a dock, the draft makes the boat unusable in most of W FL.

My first thought was the Manatee River, but charted controlling depth on the entrance channel is only 7.9ft. And most of the residential canals are shallower than this.
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Old 10-09-2013, 06:59   #3
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

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Wow, 9ft is a lot of draft in W FL, you will be very constrained on where you can go. In fact, off the top of my head, w out reviewing charts, I cant think of many places you can get into. Even if you can find a dock, the draft makes the boat unusable in most of W FL.

My first thought was the Manatee River, but charted controlling depth on the entrance channel is only 7.9ft. And most of the residential canals are shallower than this.

If there is anywhere you should stay away from it is the Manatee River. The entrance is 7.9 on a GOOD day. On a rough days, the waves build rapidly and close together because of the shallows on both sides. Once you get even 3' waves in there, the troughs are shallower. I bottomed out in the Manatee River between markers 7 and 9 on a rough day -- and bent my rudder shaft badly enough that the rudder had to be replaced. The insurance co. paid to have her hauled to make sure the hull was still sound because it was such a hard bang.

You need to carefully study the charts for S. Florida. You MIGHT be able to get into Apollo Beach (which is a pretty little town), but I'm not sure. As the other poster says, your options for sailing around Florida will be very limited.
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:28   #4
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

I am guessing the East Coast of Florida doesn't have these shallow canal issues? I am sure property has got to be 50% more expensive being on the eastern seaboard? Wondering.....
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:52   #5
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

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I am guessing the East Coast of Florida doesn't have these shallow canal issues? I am sure property has got to be 50% more expensive being on the eastern seaboard? Wondering.....
Evelyn, you've just got to do more research. You would THINK that waterfront property is always more expensive, but I know a mixed-culture community on the Miami River -- direct access to Biscayne Bay -- with moderately priced homes.

In fact, you might look at Miami and the Miami River, because it seems to me that where my friend bought his boat, the river was pretty deep. It's a commercially used river, and that may be why. LOTS of bridges but they open pretty frequently.

Once you're in Biscayne Bay you have to plan your route out carefully because it's Florida. There are some very shallow spots. There is at least one commercial lane pleasure craft can't use.

Another place to *look at* is Jacksonville. I don't know how universally deep the St. John's River is -- I believe there are people here very familiar with it -- but I know that it's deep in some places. It is also used commercially, but I know of one person who keeps his boat in Palatka and just sails on the St. Johns, which is very wide in some places -- also very pretty in some places, something you can't really say about the Miami River.

There may be other deep rivers on the east coast. Those are the only two I am familar with.

You can leave either Jacksonville or Miami it's not that far to deep water and all sorts of destinations from the Azores to the Canary Islands. I don't have first hand experience but I think you will also have trouble with your draft a lot of places in the Caribbean, and I hope you know the kind of damage a coral reef can do to your boat. Think about that and research it very carefully before goine. Others here have lots of first hand experience there.

What I'm very familiar with is coastal cruising on the west coast of Florida, and yours is the wrong boat for that. I'm not confident you could find a place to dock it -- and consider what might happen if we had a significant TS or hurricane -- extreme high tides, but also the possiblity of extreme LOW tides. the waves and wind would still be beating on your boat. I just don't think the west coast is the place for your baot.
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:18   #6
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

How about the Port Charlotte, Fort Meyers area? I don't know what the depths are, I was just thinking of another port of Call.
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:26   #7
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

I don't think you're going to find 9' in Port Charlotte/Fort Myers (note: only one "e").

In fact, 9' is going to be a real problem anywhere in Florida. Not that you CAN'T find canals that deep. Just that they are going to be very much the exception, rather than the rule.

I think you're going to have to start with finding the places that allow that much depth, and then see what (if any) real estate is available there. Going the other way around--that is, finding real estate you like and then checking the canal depth--is a good way to spend a whole lot of time looking at properties with canals that are too shallow.

Good luck.
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Old 10-09-2013, 09:38   #8
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

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I don't think you're going to find 9' in Port Charlotte/Fort Myers (note: only one "e").

In fact, 9' is going to be a real problem anywhere in Florida. Not that you CAN'T find canals that deep. Just that they are going to be very much the exception, rather than the rule.

I think you're going to have to start with finding the places that allow that much depth, and then see what (if any) real estate is available there. Going the other way around--that is, finding real estate you like and then checking the canal depth--is a good way to spend a whole lot of time looking at properties with canals that are too shallow.

Good luck.

I would rule out virtually all man-made canals in Florida. There simply is no demand to make them deep.

this is why I say look at the rivers. In Miami, along the Miami River there are a number of high-rise condos with docks. Whether the docks are deep enough I don't know but I suspect there may be some. We had to move way over to one side or another due to commercial traffic and always had deep water on that river.
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Old 10-09-2013, 19:25   #9
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Are you just looking to store the boat or do you want to use it frequently?

If you want to use it then W FL is going to be almost pointless. Its a great cruising ground, but you wont be able to access most of it.

E FL has more options for you. Jacksonville, as mentioned, is a prerty area and a lot more deep water there.
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Old 10-09-2013, 20:55   #10
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Passagrille. Mud Key Channel is 10 deep. Very nice location and community.
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Old 11-09-2013, 07:17   #11
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

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Passagrille. Mud Key Channel is 10 deep. Very nice location and community.
The latest charts show it as 7' at low tide. Of course, it wouldn't be the first time the charts have been wrong. Do they dredge that channel?
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Old 11-09-2013, 12:12   #12
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

Evelyn, a vessel with a 9 foot draft is not a good Florida/Bahamas boat. The few properties on the East/West coast of Florida that offer a deep canal are extremely expensive with staggering property taxes since that is prime waterfront property in Florida and some are willing to pay for it. If you plan to retire in Florida, buy a shoal draft boat and enjoy the incredible waters both coasts offer. You'll have many more affordable options. I can assure you, you won't have much fun with your present vessel in Florida. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 11-09-2013, 12:28   #13
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

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How about the Port Charlotte, Fort Meyers area? I don't know what the depths are, I was just thinking of another port of Call.
We just finished cruising and purchased a home in the Canals of Punta Gorda on Charlotte Harbor. Charlotte Harbor is over 20 miles long and has some great sailing, but is shallow and water depths are actually effected by strong winds (over 35-40 mph). North winds will lower the water level 1-2 feet and westerly winds will raise the Harbor's water levels 1-2 feet.

Our 47 foot boat draughts 6.0 feet and we looked all over the area for canal homes and found it difficult to get water 6 feet deep. Settling for moving the boat to the Bay no more than 2-3 hours within High tide.

Canals for a 9 Feet draught vessel anywhere on the West Coast of Florida is going to be very difficult, if not impossible to find.

Remember, just because the realtor says the home has a sailboat dock, doesn't mean it is deep water, only that there are no bridges along the way to the house.

You can PM me if you need any information about Punta Gorda or Charlotte Harbor.
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Old 11-09-2013, 14:28   #14
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Re: West Florida Coastline: Looking property w/Deep Canals

Another thing to watch out on deep water docks is power lines. There are a few canals listed as sailboat access in cape coral for example with about 50-55' power lines blocking tall masts. One fellow had to destep his mast to get the sailboat to his property.

As others have said a none foot keel is going to be a problem in most canel locations on the west coast of Florida. 6 feet is bad enough but doable. 7 feet is pushing it.
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Old 11-09-2013, 14:40   #15
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I am guessing the East Coast of Florida doesn't have these shallow canal issues? I am sure property has got to be 50% more expensive being on the eastern seaboard? Wondering.....
Yes, it does, but it has more deep water entries like Government Cut in Miami and more of the ICW thats deeper, but still lots of sections that are not. As mentioned, most of the deep water areas are way spendy or commercial ports.

Many of the residential canals on the E coast also have low fixed bridges over them. Have a buddy w a nice canal home in Ft Laud and it is striclty small power boat acceses due to this.

Get a chart and work your way up the coast from Miami to Jacksonville, the over 9' entrances are mostly marked commercial channels and easy to spot.

Drive thru Ft. Lauderdale and look at the mega yachts docked there, and the mega homes,....thats the deep water canals.

And E FL is not nearly as interesting as a cruising ground, the best options from there are the Keys and the Bahamas...and 9' is going to be very limiting there too.

When I lived in W FL, I had a mono that drew 5.5' and could get into most places, often w inches under the keel, but any thing over 6' is going to be a real challenge.

Rather than being "constrained by draft", why not change boats? When in FL, I went from the 5.5' draft mono to a 3.3' draft cat...WOW...that opened up a lot of options!
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