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Old 21-12-2009, 14:45   #1
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Around Florida from West to East...

Hi there! I usually hang out on boat building forums, but I've just bought a classic Tom Gilmer designed "Blue Moon" ... a 23' pocket off-shore cruiser.

She's currently in the Florida Pan Handle... I plan on sailing her back to my home waters of Long Island Sound, probably in 3 or 4 legs.

The first leg is from Steinhatchee, FL to somewhere on the east coast of FL around Jupiter.

I've never sailed in the Gulf before and am looking for some info on what conditions might be there in January. I have the pilot chart with the wind info for January. Looks like the prevailing winds are fairly light but out of the north east, which is favorable for heading towards the Keys.

I'll probably do most of the trip off-shore, but will probably need to put into port a few times to rest up and re-provision.

My questions: What kind of weather should I expect, and which ports on the west coast are the easiest to sail in and out of in a small boat? I do have a small engine, but mainly good for getting in and out of harbors. Will be sailing all the way.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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Old 21-12-2009, 15:34   #2
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Bring good weather gear">foul weather gear.....the Gulf can be really nasty in the winter.
Good luck.
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Old 21-12-2009, 15:44   #3
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By the way. Cedar Key is an easy stop headed south from Steinhatchee.
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Old 21-12-2009, 15:50   #4
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Marco Island is about the last civilization on the west coast before the Keys. It's easy in and out. January can be the pivotal month with the stronger winds usual in Feb-Mar. January is cold to us Floridians.....

Good Luck
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Old 21-12-2009, 16:07   #5
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PassageWeather - Sailing Weather - Marine Weather Forecasts for Sailors and Adventurers

This site will give you an indication of the days wind and waves along the coast.
If you get pressed for time you might look at trailering the boat across to the East Coast of Florida or crossing via Lake Okeechobee. You'll save some lots of time but miss out on some nice sailing down to the Keys and back up the East coast.
Good luck,
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Old 21-12-2009, 16:59   #6
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I have a similar question for a different reason. We are going to do a survey and sea trial on a 43' boat. The survey will be Jan 6, sea trail in the week following. Obviously I'd like to "exercise" the boat a bit.

For various reasons we are more interested in "swell" rather than "chop." My wife handles chop fairly well but succumbs to seasickness in swell.

I was only there once and from looking at the shore line my guess is that there is very little "swell" on this coast?

Is this a fair assumption?
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Old 21-12-2009, 17:12   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CapnTony View Post
By the way. Cedar Key is an easy stop headed south from Steinhatchee.
Just been checking out the Coastal Pilot for Cedar Key. Looks doable. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 21-12-2009, 18:08   #8
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Check out free dock higel park in venice fl. Quick in out groceries short bike ride away. How many crew? Tillerpilot? Have traveled area extensively. Do you plan on daysails or ?
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Old 21-12-2009, 18:32   #9
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I would plan on Cedar Key then Tarpon Springs which has a protected anchorage by the power plant. Easy in and out. If the weather is good and you are moving well Venice is a good stop. Easy inlet and Heigel Park is close to the inlet. If not plan on a stop by Tierra Verde then Venice. From there Cayo Costa State Park, great anchorage. Marco, Shark River then the Keys.

Good Luck
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Old 21-12-2009, 19:08   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevensc View Post
PassageWeather - Sailing Weather - Marine Weather Forecasts for Sailors and Adventurers

This site will give you an indication of the days wind and waves along the coast.
If you get pressed for time you might look at trailering the boat across to the East Coast of Florida or crossing via Lake Okeechobee. You'll save some lots of time but miss out on some nice sailing down to the Keys and back up the East coast.
Good luck,
Steve
Oh, great. I thought that website was history. It was down the last time I checked it. Great resource.
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Old 21-12-2009, 20:09   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forsailbyowner View Post
Check out free dock higel park in venice fl. Quick in out groceries short bike ride away. How many crew? Tillerpilot? Have traveled area extensively. Do you plan on daysails or ?
Excellent. The crew is going to vary between single handed (me), with some help from my kids and brother, but mainly me.

The Blue Moon should self-steer well with simple sheet-to-tiller gear. That's the plan, anyway.

As far as length of legs goes, I'm going to have to play that by ear. I don't want to anchor every night... that will really be slow. When I have crew available, I'm going to do 2-3 day legs. When it's just me, I'll have to see how it goes. I've never really sailed that far alone, before, so not sure what I'm in for .

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Old 21-12-2009, 20:12   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soiree View Post
I would plan on Cedar Key then Tarpon Springs which has a protected anchorage by the power plant. Easy in and out. If the weather is good and you are moving well Venice is a good stop. Easy inlet and Heigel Park is close to the inlet. If not plan on a stop by Tierra Verde then Venice. From there Cayo Costa State Park, great anchorage. Marco, Shark River then the Keys.

Good Luck
Great, I appreciate that detailed itinerary. I'll chart it out and see how it looks.

BTW, are there any good cruising guides for W. FL that are worth having on board?

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Old 22-12-2009, 00:26   #13
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port st joe, appalaqchicola and fort myers are decenht places to stop --as far as re[provisioning goes--they all are convenient--ft myuers has trolley bussses for 50 cents lol each way--decent price--the other 2 are closer to shops aqnd such....have fun marco island we didnt provision but there are some egood halibut in the anchorage ....lol..
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Old 22-12-2009, 07:12   #14
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I would strongly recommend the investing in a tiller pilot. They don't cost much compared to the benefits of a full time helmsman. I had the tp20 simrad on my 23 that interfaced with gps. For battery a single 8d never let me down. Charging was done via 1, 15watt solar panel and the 12 amps delivered by the Yamaha outboard. Some legs will neccesite overnite, cedar key to tarpon springs is one. Daysailing for parts of the trip isn't bad as long as you pick quick in and out anchorages or simply dropping anchor off the beach. This is a good option during east winds. A possible ininerary would be from honeymoon island south, long day to venice inlet, long day to protected area s of johnson shoals near boca grande. Day trip to marco, long leg to shark river, boot key, rodrigues island along hawks channel, protected channel near stiltsville miami, lake worth, stuart or ft pierce. We are doing this trip in reverse right now. Currently in ft pierce heading to stuart for xmas then following above itinerary. Most legs average 50-60 mi with pull over for the night type stops. Again, tieing off tiller will be problematic and take constant supervision. The winds are seldom steady directionally in the gulf. Tillerpilot will make life much more enjoyable.
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Old 22-12-2009, 08:27   #15
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If you stop in Tarpon Springs, get ready for some fabulous Greek food. The touristy Sponge Docks, the center of civilization in TS have bakeries, restraunts and so forth. 3 days there, go back to sea and you will not need to eat until you get to Key West.
The northern Gulf, Homosasa Springs and northward, if your boat sinks 20 miles offshore you can walk to the beach from there. Damnest slow drop off to deep water I think I have seen. Lastly, the Gulf can be a real bitch, it is a small bath tub. Weather will cause seas like any other body or water but the wave distance from peak to peak is so short seems you can have 10 ft seas and be hitting the next wave b4 coming off the preceeding one. Added to that it seems the seas are often so unsettled. You can be steaming along merrily getting the shi+ kicked out of you with say seas on the port quater, then out of nowhere comes a rogue that slaps the hell out of you from the starboard beam..
Good luck and safe sailing
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