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Old 10-10-2012, 07:26   #16
cruiser

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Tampa Bay area
Boat: Hunter 31'
Posts: 5,731
Re: Tampa Bay to Cayo Costa

Quote:
Originally Posted by forsailbyowner View Post
I wouldn't call the anchorage past crows nest good. Last time I was there it required two anchors as there was no room to swing in the area that was deep enough for a sailboat. I quit stopping there when they stopped offering free dockage at the park. If the winds are east just pull up near the beach and drop anchor. I love that trip on east winds. Flat seas and nice beaches to watch as you cruise by. Cabbage key is worth stopping at. They gave us a free slip when we stopped for dinner and drinks. Met Randy Wayne White there who has written quite a few novels with that area as backdrop.

I also know someone who had their dinghy and motor stolen. They had davits but didn't use them, just tied the dinghy up at the stern. Then they fell asleep before securing it better.

If you don't have davits there may be a way to safely hang it from the boom, making it harder (but not impossible) to steal, and would probably make enough noise to wake you up.
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Old 10-10-2012, 07:30   #17
cruiser

Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Tampa Bay area
Boat: Hunter 31'
Posts: 5,731
Re: Tampa Bay to Cayo Costa

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
From the only likely anchorage at Egmont Key (south of the Pilot Station in settled weather) to and through the entrance at Boca Grande is a distence of about 67 miles. Assuming you are able to average 6 knots, you're looking at a transit time of a bit over 11 hours. In theory one could leave at the break of nautical twilight in the AM and arrive at Boca Grande just before sunset at this time of the year. That said, however, appearances on the chart not withstanding, Boca Grande is not a simple entry. Those with experience in the area know that, to the extent possible, one wants to make that passage at or near slack water. On the flood if the wind is westerly, or the ebb if the winds are easterly. Otherwise, some pretty good, steep waves can make up in that channel that one may not realize are there until one's already "in the soup". Accordingly, one is wise to time one's transit with the foreoging in mind. And, having made the entry, the courses to the anchorage at Cayo Costa, or further south at Useppa or Cabbage Key is not as straight forward as the chart might make them appear, particularly after dark on a yacht one is not quite familure with.

Given the foregoing, a stopover at the Crows Nest in Venice, and spending the night on the Long Dock would be wise. There is an anchorage in Venice, but it small and awkward and will be difficult for someone that doesn't have local knowledge. Admittedly, the Long Dock at the Crows Nest isn't the greatest, but it is adaquate with fenders and the restaurant is about as good as it gets in the area, (Eat downstairs rather than upstairs. The food's the same but the prices are lower and many think the service is better.) From there it's not a difficult run and only about 28 miles or roughly 5 hours running time, departure again timed on slack water at Boca.

Frankly, rather than spending 3, if not 4 days in transit--which can get pretty boring--you might be better served by skipping Cayo Costa and getting your off-shore leg to Venice and then working your way north through some nice cruising ground from there on the ICW to and through Sarasota et al. THere is a nice anchorage at Blackburn Point that you might be able to make; and, an excellant anchorage at Roberts Bay and another between Otter Key and Longboat Key, just south of the Sarasota Yacht Club. You can anchor there and take your dinghy up to St. Armand's Circle which is a fun visit. From there you can sail through Sarasota Bay to visit the Longboat Key Club and a bit further on to an anchorage just southeast of Jewfish Key or, if your up for it, a night on the long-dock at either the Mar Vista or Moore's Stone Crab. From there its an easy trip up to the Manatee River to visit DeSoto Point or, a bit further on, Bradenton where there is a good anchorage and two good restaurants to choose from, one each on the north and south sides of the River at either Twin Dolphins or Regatta Point. From there you're about 25 miles back up to St. Pete and you should spend at least one night on either a mooring at the Vinoy Basin or in a guest slip at the muni-marina so you can visit the St. Pete Pier and there abouts. A stop we always enjoy.

For more detail one prossible anchorages and facilities, zoom over to ActiveCaptain.com. Registration is free and there is a wealth of information.

FWIW...
Another entrance down there can be Longboat Key. There's a common event there -- a channel surrounded by very shallow water. When the wind picks up -- or worse, shifts after waves from a different direction have been established -- it can be like moving through a giant, front-loading washing machine.

Also be very careful if you enter the Manatee River. Be sure you go in at Marker 2 and do NOT take "short cuts." You'd be smart to stay to the south side of that entrance. The channel itself isn't that deep, and it's surrounded by shallow water. You have to go some distance up the river to get away from that, but opposite DeSoto Point (south side) is a lovely anchorage that is often sheltered from both active water and winds.

Great bottom for anchoring, too.
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