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Old 26-05-2012, 10:39   #1
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Tampa Bay to Marathon

What is the best route/plans for a trip to Marathon in a 30ft sail boat?

Im relatively new sailor and will be single handing...I dont want to take the ICW, unless weather dictates it.. I wont mind tucking in there for an occasional overnight or tour of any scenic spot...

From what I can tell, I can cut thru Passage Key and head out about 2-5 miles and then stick to a course of 155degrees all the way to Marco Island... from there down to Cape Sable and then 180 degrees to North Marathon and then thru 7mile bridge...


Is it better to head out to deeper water?

If I were to get another crew member would that make a difference in my route?

Should I set course for 180degrees from Tampa Bay then head back in towards Marco/Cape Sable

If the winds are from the east could I take a port tack even if that tacks me off course, and or tack back?

Bascially, as a new sailor, how can i determine velocity made good without spending too much time thinking and planning only to find conditions different once I get there?...

I calculate distance to be about 220nm and my fuel tank is 21 gallons, and I average .3-.4gal/hour without sails up. Im guessing I will need to top off fuel in Marco if I motor a lot... I will have one 5gal jerry can of diesel

thanks
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Old 26-05-2012, 10:50   #2
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

Sailinman,

30' what...?


I don't have chart handy but I would recommend going NW channel to key west then around Hawks channel to Marathon.
I'm sure others will chime in.

mm
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Old 26-05-2012, 11:04   #3
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

Predicting wind this time of year is a crap shoot. It seems the summer pattern has set up early this year. If you stay no more than 5 miles off, you'll have to put up with the sea breeze every afternoon, not a bad thing, but it'll probably force you to change your sail configuration.

I don't know about much north of Boca Grande pass, but starting there heading south you can tuck into Cayo Costa for the night. Then if weather forces you inside, from there to Ft. Myers Beach is pretty good. If you stay outside, it's a few miles out of your way to get back east to Ft. Myers Beach, but doable. There are some places to hide south of there and then another ICW from Naples to Marco if needed. A couple of good anchorages around Marco Island, Factory Bay or Smokehouse Bay. South of Marco, Panther Key and Russell Pass are nice.

On the outside south of Marco, round the Cape Romano Shoals light and then straight to Little Shark River (lots of bugs this time of year), or head for Marathon.

Good Luck!
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Old 26-05-2012, 11:06   #4
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

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Originally Posted by mangomuffins View Post
Sailinman,

30' what...?


I don't have chart handy but I would recommend going NW channel to key west then around Hawks channel to Marathon.
I'm sure others will chime in.

mm
Going via Key West will add ~50nm to the trip.
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Old 26-05-2012, 11:15   #5
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

This is true...however, depending on your inclinations, might be worth it.
RE: marathon mooring thread

mm
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Old 26-05-2012, 16:46   #6
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

the boat is an S2-9.2a

What heading should I choose? i.e is there a 'preferred' heading... 180? then when close to the keys, change to 90? and either go around key west or head towards cape sable then 180 down to marathon... and yes I am reading the marathon/anchoring/mooring thread...

what I am kinda getting too is... I am getting info from lots of sources and each is contradicting each other and stating each other is WAY off, ie dont know wtf they are talkin' about...

one source is adamant that I should head out about 25 nm at 270 to get to 60ft or deeper water... so it will be 'safer'... no chance of faling asleep and drifting to shalows... or heading into other boater traffic...

i think that is crazy... the boat is basically untried under those conditions and so am I... it is beyond vhf and cell fone range...

I also think it is 50nm out of the way...and will add time to the schedule.... not to mention not seeing any of the sites... but the source suggests to not worry about the inner water sites and look at the deep water sites....the source also suggests motoring most of the way. and rasing sails only if it is on the heading... no tacking or gybing...

the weather shows northerly winds from 5-10.... and then at cape sable the winds are southeast then shifting to south west.. but i think the weather is is way too far out to deal with or worry about, unless it is showing heavy or sever stuff... (due to the distance involved), what could be good on monday 139 miles south will be crap by wednesday when I get there

would the heading out to sea be a better route if someone was 'delivering' the boat? would that really matter.

from what I can tell, 5 miles out and heading of 155 will bring the boat to the tip of cape sable, and still 5 miles out, then heading of 180 down to marathon into the north channel to 7mile bridge?

the charts show a 'preferred' route "(maptec chart)

also, i motor most the way, I calculate that I will 'just make it' with little to spare... this doesnt take into consideration unfavorable currents or winds.. (this is the 25 miles out heading) If I go that route, then choose to refill the tank at Marco Island, then I will need to come back in 25 miles to re-fuel
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Old 26-05-2012, 16:54   #7
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

on a kinda side note: if the boat was being 'delivered' by a crew, would it be responsible/reckless/prudent(?) or what to take the boat 25 miles + off shore in a boat that they dont know??? just to get the job done quick as possible? or isnt the shorter distance, (closer to shore) the faster route possible? or is it all about deep water, and minimal boat traffic or less risk of shallow water?

or is that deep water route something that maybe some volvo america's cup wannabe ideal route? ( as long as it is someone else's boat?)
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Old 26-05-2012, 17:17   #8
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

I think that dotdun's viewpoint is perfectly valid.
Through the back country (shorter) or coastwise to the N.W. channel and K.W. are both fine.
The depth along the coast is quite shallow until you get a ways out, so... in a blow, you might encounter some really choppy stuff...read 8-10' waves every 10 seconds or so that can be pretty much square and just beat the crap out of you. Further off...deeper water, more leeway in an onshore wind. I,ve seen more than one boat come ashore due too hugging the coast to closely.
I think 15-20 miles out should be sufficient for coastwise.
If you choose the K.W. route you have a nice cruise across the bay (12 hrs or so?). If your motoring mostly, just take another can or two of fuel.
This is not a big deal so pick a plan and go...enjoy

cheers,

mm
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Old 26-05-2012, 19:30   #9
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

What is your experience in sailing ( relatively new sailor ) ? The Gulf is a shallow body of water until you are miles out from shore. I would take another crew member along ( with more experience in sailing ) to help stand watch ect. Do you have a bimini to get some relief from the sun ? It is very easy to get too much sun and dehydrated, which leads to potential problems that could be life threatening. An extra crew member, with more sailing experience, is a smart move. Does the boat have a auto pilot ? Being able to leave the tiller/wheel for some rest is important to make this trip a positive experience. Watch the weather and use what mother nature gives you. ICW or offshore both can be fun and positive if you are properly prepared.
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Old 26-05-2012, 19:51   #10
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

Passage Key is very tricky usless you have local knowledge. A couple got stuck there a few weeks ago with some major dammage to their boat. Go out south west passage much safer.
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Old 26-05-2012, 20:19   #11
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

There are a few unlit towers offshore too south of marco. I came close to one during one midnight watch.. on the way to the dry tortuga's.. Blondes at the wheel... Check the charts.

Very shallow till quite a ways off shore 10-15 miles. Fine in good weather, but if the winds are up, head a little more offshore. Lots O fun bashing in the shallows... not.. I'd plan the route for several different weather patterns just in case.
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Old 26-05-2012, 20:48   #12
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

Made a delivery the other way (Marathon to Cedar Key) in March. Went out the 7 mile bridge/Moser Channel route. There are some shoals to be carefully avoided on the Florida Bay side, but easy enough to do with the proper route planning.

I would definitely go offshore to there, unless I planned overnight stops along the way. There is too much to avoid near shore.

If you are singlehanded, maybe plan to break it up into day (or so) long trips, then anchor and rest. The possibility for heavy weather sneaking up on you would rule out the singlehanding for me unless I was far enough offshore to heave to with sea room to spare.

Does the boat have radar? AIS? How will you stand 24 hour watches near shore? Not a lot of ship traffic once you clear the Tampa area but lots of fishing boats and they are not always looking for sail boats that don't blip the radar or blow up the AIS alarms.
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Old 27-05-2012, 11:52   #13
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailinman View Post
What is the best route/plans for a trip to Marathon in a 30ft sail boat?

Im relatively new sailor and will be single handing...I dont want to take the ICW, unless weather dictates it.. I wont mind tucking in there for an occasional overnight or tour of any scenic spot...

From what I can tell, I can cut thru Passage Key and head out about 2-5 miles and then stick to a course of 155degrees all the way to Marco Island... from there down to Cape Sable and then 180 degrees to North Marathon and then thru 7mile bridge...


Is it better to head out to deeper water?

If I were to get another crew member would that make a difference in my route?

Should I set course for 180degrees from Tampa Bay then head back in towards Marco/Cape Sable

If the winds are from the east could I take a port tack even if that tacks me off course, and or tack back?

Bascially, as a new sailor, how can i determine velocity made good without spending too much time thinking and planning only to find conditions different once I get there?...

I calculate distance to be about 220nm and my fuel tank is 21 gallons, and I average .3-.4gal/hour without sails up. Im guessing I will need to top off fuel in Marco if I motor a lot... I will have one 5gal jerry can of diesel

thanks
That is a long trip for a single handed passage and I suggest you put some more thought into it. At 30' that yacht will not average more than 5 kn and likely 4.5 so, absent a break you're looking at two full days and the southwest coast is not somewhere that one can cat-nap in the cockpit safely.

As for Pass Key, it would be very unwise to try and traverse the pass between the key and the north end of Anna Maria. You should either exit the Bay through the Southwest channel or continue along the ICW to Long Boat Key Pass and head seaward there. I would suggest the Southwest Channel simply because Long Boat Pass can get pretty exciting at times as you have to negotiate the bridge--which is relatively narrow--traffic can be heavy and the channel has migrated somewhat south from what appears on the charts and one must be very cautious. Southwest channel is a no brainer.

On your first day I would sugggest heading out the sSouthwest channel to the Tampa Bay Sea Buoy and laying a course to a point about a mile northwest of Venice Inlet, timing you arrival so that you get there by mid- or late afternoon. That will give you time to get a sense of the boat at sea and your body to accustom itself to the conditions. Overnight in Venice, say at the Crowsnest which, for a boat your size, will be relatively inexpensive (and moreso if you are a member of Boat US.)

The second morning you can time your departure to arrive at the sea bouy off Boca Grand Channel so that you can enter there at slack water flood, again, mid- to late afternoon preferred. You can cut south and enter either Pelican Bay just south of the Pass or head down a little further and tuck into the anchorage across the ICW from Cabbage Key, or simply take a side-tie/slip at Cabbage and enjoy the restaurant, showers et al. That would be about a 10 hour run in your boat.

On the third day, you can head down the ICW on the inside to Punta Rasa/Sanibel and pop under the Bridge there and back into the Gulf near Ft. Myers Beach. Depending upon the time of day you arrive, you could over-night again at Ft. Myers or, if its early enough, continue on south to Naples although that would make for a long day and the Pass at Naples can sometimes be a pip. There are a number of anchorages in the Naples area (see ActiveCaptain.com--it's free) as well as a muni-marina with transient slips.

The tough part of the trip is from Naples south. Once you pass Marco island you'll need to stay well off shore to maintain deep water (1 foot of depth per mile off-shore) and to have some sea room when you get slammed by a squall, which build up over the everglades during the day and head to seaward as soon as the sun sets. (At the first sense of a cool breeze from the east, tuck-in your first reef and a few rolls on your head-sail.) The squalls usually hit the track between Cape Romano and Smith Shoal Light between 2000 and 0100 and can sometimes be very exciting. (Wear a harness.) A boat will generally take care of itself in a good squall assuming the driver doesn't do anything really stupid so your objective will be to simply stay with the boat. You'll also have to keep your head on a swivel as there are shrimpers working, and they will not cut you any slack if they've got a trawl out, other boat traffic, and unlighted (or marginally lighted) towers to avoid.

If you time your departure right you should be able to make it to the little Shark River to overnight and, if so, in the AM you can head on down to Florida Bay and make that traverse to Marathon with the sun behind (west of) you, giving you good light to see the shoals and fish traps. If you want to get south in one go however, I'd suggest heading to Smith Shoal light and then into Key West. The northwest channel is relatively easy to negotiate and there are lots of good marinas and a few places to anchor if you choose. (Again, see ActiveCaptain). Note tho' that the leading lights at the entrance tp the northwest channel can be difficult to understand so you'll need to be well acquainted with your chart and have a list of the lights you'll be looking for. You'll also be tired which isn't going to help. Ensure you have a good pair of binoculars and a hand bearing compass and make up a table of safe and danger bearings to refer to by mark.

From Key West to Marathon is a no-brainer via Hawk Channel. Just leave early enough in the day to avoid the late afternoon squalls.

FWIW...
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Old 27-05-2012, 13:00   #14
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

svHyLyte helped me plan a trip coming the other way--from Marathon up to Tampa Bay. I can vouch for his excellent advice! Note especially his suggestion to cross Florida Bay with the sun at your back. Lots of shoals and billions of crab trap floats to dodge! We went under Seven Mile Bridge at about 7 am headed west, and had two lookouts in addition to the helmsman to spot the buggars.
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Old 27-05-2012, 13:41   #15
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Re: Tampa Bay to Marathon

THANKS so much for your detailed post. this is basically what I had prepared for already and it is great to get a confirmation....Im guessing that the northwest passage towards keywest is about 180 degrees, vs the 155 towards cape sable??? the only difference would be returning thru hawks channel south of Key West vs cutting to south cape sable and then heading 180??

next question.. If I find a crew to help me, shoul I expect them to act/behave as if they are delivery crew, and basically relinquish my role as 'captain' and let them choose course and decisions? or will they typically know that it is my boat and teh decisions are mine, and any discussion and decisions more or less a courtesy???

also, should I get photo-copies of ID's? should I formalize the agreement with a written descriptions??? should I search their belongings to make sure they arent carrying drugs???

there is a reason I have chosen single handing.... and the idea of having folk onboard who think they are running it is not going to be 'ideal'
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