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Old 07-11-2008, 13:36   #1
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Marinas and Anchorages on the Gulf Coast

We have left Florida after using up our 90 day decal and now must spend six months in other states before we can return to Florida. (Since our new boat was delivered to Florida, and we didn't register it there, we will pay 6% sales tax to Florida if we return before following these guidelines.) We are presently in a marina in Mobile, AL and would like to travel to anchorages along the Gulf. We are willing to occasionally stay at marinas if that is our only choice. Traveling on the GIWW is limited due to our inability to go under many fixed bridges with our 68 ft mast. The cruising guides we have looked in dwell extensively with GIWW anchorages and marinas, many of which we can't reach. We want to be in areas where we are able to use our dinghy to get to shopping, beaches, restaurants, etc. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, especially from anyone who has traveled this route with a high mast and inability to navigate the GIWW.
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Old 07-11-2008, 13:56   #2
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Jan, Have a look at one of our web sites at Voyages of Sea Trek since we just did a transit from Houston to South Carolina so you should be able to find plenty of info.
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Old 07-11-2008, 15:37   #3
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Chuck,
We have read your website. Did you go under any bridges which we couldn't clear in Texas, Louisiana, or Alabama? We've looked at a number of marinas and anchorages but most are along the GIWW. Our draft is 4'5" so that isn't usually the problem but there seem to be many low clearance fixed bridges.
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Old 07-11-2008, 15:46   #4
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Our mast height was 57 feet so if the bridges were fixed they were at 50 feet and we had to go outside. It is in the posts on the sight where we had to do that. There is no shortage of anchorages and marinas are rare through Louisiana and after leaving Houston in our case. The fixed bridges are not many but do require you to jump outside when they cross the waterway. It is all in the posts so look there for details.
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Old 08-11-2008, 17:31   #5
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How about the Redneck Bay Areas? Texas has some great ports to unwind in. You would have to sail around the delta, but I haven't minded sailing there- its cheap and if you have go somewhere you might as well explore it. I can think of bridge free ports all the way down to south Padre Island.
And if your going down that far- How about Mexico? Honduras? Panama.
I just wish I was in your shoes...
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Old 09-11-2008, 11:08   #6
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Thanks, Newt, for the encouraging words and for putting our "search" into perspective. Yes, we are fortunate to be in this situation where we are free to travel anywhere (except Florida). We have poured over charts and cruising guides and all we seem to find along the Alabama and Louisiana coasts are anchorages and marinas we can't reach with our mast restrictions. I guess we'll be traveling to Texas where there are more possibilities. Yes, we know we can duck in and out of the GIWW, but we are looking for anchorages and/or marinas close to the coast. We were hoping to get some specific recommendations on this forum. Ideally, we want to find an area where we could base ourselves for awhile, as family obligations require us to be near an airport at least through January.
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Old 10-11-2008, 06:44   #7
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Jan,
Our favorite place on the Texas coast is the Corpus Christi area. There are lots of anchorages in Corpus and Aransas bays, no bridges in the way, and dowtown Corpus Christi is right on the bay if you need civilization. South Padre is an easy sail from there for a change of scenery. If you want to head for Mexico and beyond the easiest, shortest way to get there is straight across the Gulf to Isla Mujeres from where you are.
Good luck,
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Old 10-11-2008, 07:09   #8
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It's the right time of the year to head to the Bahamas. I can't think of a better place to spend the next 6 months. Georgia is a short run from the Bahamas. With your mast heigth, and the stream you can be there in less than 2 days leaving out of the Abacos.
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Old 10-11-2008, 08:37   #9
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My first thought was the Bahamas as well because I'd rather be there than just about anywhere on the Gulf coast. Plus, they have numerous small airports from which you can get short inexpensive flights to Florida. But, if you're already in Alabama, it would be kind of hard to get a boat to the Bahamas without stopping Florida.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:01   #10
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slomotion,

What would make it hard? Just look at it as a short passage. Or is it a beat the whole way? I am not familiar with the west coast of Florida.....i2f
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:34   #11
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Hmmm - from Mobile Bay you could make for the Dry Tortugas, which I don't think counts as Florida; and then .......... I say go for it!
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Old 10-11-2008, 12:04   #12
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or,,
if you can aford a brand new boat deliverd from france,,
maybe you could aforred 6% or do you not want clean marinas and pump out subsides for those that do live in fl??
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Old 10-11-2008, 14:45   #13
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Dry Tortugas is part of Florida- and don't you know it some ranger would record your visit there.
I'd vote for Houston area (cheap flights and big city) or CC (beautiful). Or who knows- you may want to dive in Cosumel.
I've gone down the coast of Florida to the Everglades, then under the bridge at Marathon and from there to the Bahamas. Nice trip but it would bite not to be able to stop. (forgive me but I love the seafood along that coast!)


Naaw-I think some harbor with polls sticking out of it in Texas has your name on it- You know Houston is the home base for Southwest
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Old 28-02-2009, 15:37   #14
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Where did you end up? I had a bunch of suggestions but my husband reminded me that you had a 68' mast which is huge for the ICW. We have a 58' and could make it to Pensacola from Palacios, TX according to the waterway guide. But starting in Pensacola, you run into 50' fixed.

Hope you found some great anchorages along the way.
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Old 28-02-2009, 19:23   #15
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Thanks for all of the suggestions

SailingChic, thanks for asking where we ended up. We followed the GIWW the whole way to Corpus Christi. Actually, the bridges weren't a problem. We just weren't able to leave the GIWW on side trips. Once we got into Texas, we had no problem as the bridges are all at least 73 feet (I believe) except for one in Aransas Pass.

It was not fun! Due to almost no wind when we were on our way, we did not go out into the Gulf. If anyone has the time or interest, our blog starting with this entry: Goodbye Mobile describes what we did and where we stopped. Many marinas were very cheap for transients and we stopped whenever we could, as it's difficult to anchor in the waterway. The barges pull up into the mud on the shore at night, and don't always see little sailboats. It may have been the time of year, but many of the anchorages suggested in Skipper Bob's guide were very shallow. We did go aground a number of times, and have heard the same stories from several other cruisers who came here on the GIWW. This link has many photos of our three week trip: Mobile, AL to Corpus Christi, TX.

It was an excellent learning experience for us, however, as we had a lot of practice anchoring and avoiding barges in the fog. We also met many wonderful people, including a man from the only fuel dock open at the time in Galveston who came out to meet us at 6 pm on New Years Eve and then insisted that we stay at his dock (the party boat pier) as he had an empty slip. He wouldn't take any money. There were no marinas open in Galveston or in several other towns hit hard by Ike.

For the people who suggested Texas, we are really enjoying Corpus Christi. There is always a wind here making sailing in the Bay ideal. We are staying for several months in the city marina, on Corpus Christi Bay. The cost is very reasonable and we are right across the street from the downtown area. It's a beautiful marina with over 600 slips. The city bus system is fantastic. A trolley stops right in the marina and connects with other buses at a downtown station, enabling us to get anywhere in the city. Of course, the weather is excellent and right across a bridge we can go to North Padre Island with miles of Gulf beaches.

Keyspc, ordinarily, I would agree with you that we should pay the Florida sales tax, except we do not plan on living in Florida and only had our boat delivered there because we followed the advice of our broker. We had planned on being there for several weeks while we took some ASA classes and then leaving the state. We stayed three months because it took that long to have warranty work done. We wouldn't care about entering Florida again, except we plan on spending most of our time for the next few years in the Caribbean and will probably need to stop in Florida to come back into the states from time to time. That isn't worth $30,000 to us, although I guess you think we should pay Florida that amount for the privilege of having the boat delivered there. Trust me, the state got a great deal of sales tax from us as we outfitted our boat in Ft. Lauderdale, perhaps one of the most expensive marine cities in the country.

Again, thanks to all of you who took the time to respond to our request for help. We are 62 years old. This is our first boat AND our first time sailing. As 50 year old Waterworldly says in another thread, "IT CAN BE DONE, but you GOTTA GET OUT THERE. Don't listen to nay sayers, IT CAN BE DONE. Don't let armchair weekend seasonal sailors scare the crap out of you IT CAN BE DONE. If you wait until all is perfect, YOU WILL NEVER GO." We are older than him and started with less experience, i.e. none, but we feel we are doing quite well and living our dream. At our age, we couldn't start out small and build our way up to a large enough boat to live on.
Jan
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