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Old 10-10-2012, 08:46   #16
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Re: Newbie Cruising Grounds!!

Here is my newbie perspective for sailing the keys.

1) The coastal areas are VERY shallow. In a lightweight trimaran, you should not have any problems. Keep in mind, though, that in some protected areas you can be fined for running aground

2) The shallow areas run far from shore, so you will want to keep any daggerboards (if you have them) retracted unless you are in clear blue water

3) If you stick to marked channels approaching land, be aware that the channels are VERY snakey... it can be tricky to figure out where the channel begins , and in which direction it runs. A good detailed up to date chart plotter is a big help in this regard. Visually, the markers appear to be randomly scattered about until you are actually lined up on the channel!

4) The keys (at least where I was) are not a sandy-shores kind of place. Most shores are crowded with mangroves. Harbors are very expensive places to stay. The backwaters are so shallow that, even where there is a beach, you may need less than 2' draft (maybe much less) to reach the shore. One one popular beach, I have only seen dingy's and some Wharrams actually reach the sand.

As previously mentioned, you can anchor freely just about anywhere. You will see dolphins, and if you do a little diving there are a lot of reefs and a few wrecks. All are freely available to you. The greatest challenge that I saw there was actually getting back onto shore.
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:53   #17
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Re: Newbie Cruising Grounds!!

P.S. I like the suggestions about sailing the gulf. You will save two days of driving (at least), which is two more days you can spend on the water.

Also, the gulf is lined wall to wall with the world's whitest, sandiest beaches. The weather there is noticeably cooler than in the keys, though, possibly good or bad depending on how your internal thermostats are set.
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:24   #18
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Re: Newbie Cruising Grounds!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ATM View Post
P.S. I like the suggestions about sailing the gulf. You will save two days of driving (at least), which is two more days you can spend on the water.

Also, the gulf is lined wall to wall with the world's whitest, sandiest beaches. The weather there is noticeably cooler than in the keys, though, possibly good or bad depending on how your internal thermostats are set.
I agree with doing without another 1-2 days of driving to the keys and spending it in the panhandle. World class sugar sand and everything else there is would make it my choice.

If you want to drive more and have beaches to anchor next to then drive to the Ft. Myers area. Lots of mangroves and marinas. Plus beaches on the outside and the inside if a front can still make it through.

March is the transition month. Sometimes cold (2010) sometimes not (2011). April is about guaranteed as the best month for sailing "storm free" in Fl. (though we did have 47 knots sustained for 45 min in the Dry Tortuga's )
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