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Old 07-11-2010, 09:53   #1
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Best Route Panama City, FL to Key West

This will be our first lengthy trip and I was hoping for some good advice on the best route to Key West and a good anchorage when we get there. Should we stay closer to land, cutting across the big bend? Or should be just cut straight down across the gulf? I see in the loop current charts that there can be a lot of current against us. Any suggestions?
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:28   #2
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It depends upon when you intend to leave. Right now, the set of the loop current is generally easterly at Cape San Blas turning to southerly further east with a drift of less than one knot. For the next several daze, winds are projected to be from the northeast in the 15-20 knot range, making for a nice steady broad reach. As it is only about 185 miles from Cape San Blas to the northwest channel at Tampa Bay; and a like amount from there to Key West, both of which you should be able to cover in 30 hours in your boat, if I were making the trip with family that is the route I would follow. Alone, or with a couple of other fellows, I think I might just go direct, figuring I would be sailing for roughly 3 daze.

You can use PassageWeather.com to get a pretty good 3-4 day projection based on the GFS and/or NAM model whch seem to be pretty reliable.

FWIW...
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Old 07-11-2010, 11:08   #3
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It appears to be about 400 nm between Panama City and Key West as the sea gull flies. There is a missile test range and probably a flotilla of commercial fishing boats along the direct route and then a passle or two of towers used as targets by Naval Aviation.
- - It personally seems like an ordeal by missiles, fishing nets and bombs (if the range areas are hot). So you need to decide is doing about 4 days at sea is worth it. Or daylight coast hop down which would probably take twice the time not counting land shopping and touring days. The western side of Florida is rather wild and unvisited from Tarpon Springs north. Might be interesting.
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