Originally Posted by sailinman
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
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
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.