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Old 21-09-2016, 18:10   #1
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Florida east coast anchorages

We've been in Beaufort SC at a great marina called Lady's Island for hurricane season. But we'lll be leaving in about a month or two for the Bahamas 🇧🇸. We plan to sail down to Florida a anchor or pick up a ball and wait for a weather window for the crossing. Can anyone tell me the current state of affairs with respect to anchorages since all the kerfuffel earlier this year about local ordinances restricting anchoring. Are there designated anchoring fields or mooring ball fields we can use? Any and all comments would be appreciated.
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Old 21-09-2016, 22:55   #2
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

Mooring fields in Fernandina Beach, St. Augustine, Vero Beach, Miami, Marathon, Key West and doubtless some I've forgotten.
Lots of places to anchor, very few restrictions. Check activecaptain.net, cruisersnet.net, Skipper Bobs Anchorage Guide, the Waterway guide, etc.

I usually anchor near Key Biscayne to wait for weather going to the Bahamas.
Never had to wait more than a week, your results may vary lol.
Have fun.
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Old 22-09-2016, 00:14   #3
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

Depends on how you plan to get to the Bahamas; and where in the Bahamas you plan to check in. Lots of folks would say the easiest trip is to anchor off Rodriguez Key (off Key Largo) and wait for your weather window and sail to Bimini. Since Rodriguez is South of Bimini the Gulf Stream will help you on what should be a passage of around 50NM; something most boats could do entirely in daylight. It is a few miles shorter to leave from Miami, but since you will probably be anchoring inside Biscayne Bay and then heading to open water Rodriguez has an advantage in that it is basically in open water. Since Miami is basically due West of Bimini you also need to navigate with the understand you need to correct for the Gulf Stream pushing you North. If you leave from points North of Miami West End is the most likely checkin spot. It is a longer trip which also probably entails good timing going through a cut that may have a serious tide. Not to mention that the trip can be up to twice as long at the one to Bimini. Some folks leave from Northeast Florida; and even Georgia by sailing East past the Gulf Stream and then heading South.

My advice is to head to the Keys and daysail to Bimini.
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Old 22-09-2016, 06:27   #4
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

'good replies above from FSMike and Tomfl. I do like to approach my landfall in the Bahamas from the south in order to take advantage of the Gulfstream. With this in mind, I'm not often waiting for a weather window. If I'm at Lake Worth Inlet (Palm Beach) and anchored for a couple days, the the weather is right I'll cross,- if not, I'll head down to Fort Lauderdale. I can spend a couple of days anchored in Lake Sylvia or up the New River at a (less costly than ICW) slip at a place like Cooly's Landing. If the weather is right, I'll cross; if not, then I move down to Miami and anchor b Virginia Key or Key Biscayne. If the weather is still not favorable, then I'll be tomfl's neighbor.

Most often I leave from Lauderdale at first light and arrive at Settlement Point (West End) from 3 to 5 pm.
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Old 22-09-2016, 07:47   #5
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

I typically aim for landfall at Bimini and in doing so I head south to Key Biscayne. You can anchor behind Key Biscayne in the prevailing winds and get pretty good protection from winds from the N through SSE. If the wind is from the NW the Dinner Key mooring field is pretty good. If the weather is good I will leave immediately from Cape Florida and aim at Gun Key. The stream pushes me far enough north that I arrive near the Bimini channel entrance. The stream, and since I'm a sailboat my speed, is variable enough that I am usually a couple of miles north or south of the entrance and correct my approach during the last 10 miles of the crossing. If the weather is not conducive to a crossing at that time I will head south and anchor near Pumpkin Key which is near the bay side of Angelfish Creek. The nice thing about Pumpkin is that you can anchor on the lee side of the Island no matter which way the wind is blowing. I have left from Rodriguez twice and while it's a nice anchorage in most weather it's open to the east and NE and can get a bit lumpy. It also adds about 3-4 hours to the crossing relative to Cape Florida or Angelfish Creek since it's further southwest by about 20 miles. My experience is that the Cape Florida and angelfish creek crossings take about the same amount of time under relatively benign conditions. I once was had 25 knots out of the SW(forecast was for 15, but weathermen lie a lot) and was doing 10 knots all the way across which made for short crossing but the waves at the Bimini channel entrance were pretty bad. Be prepared to anchor at Nixons Harbor if things are too rough at the North Bimini Entrance channel on a strong SW-W wind.
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Old 22-09-2016, 09:01   #6
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

Mainstreet, I'll stand with Captain Bill regarding the merits of anchoring at Pumpkin Key and heading out via Angelfish Creek, but my guess is that his draft and mine is at least a foot less than yours.

You can still use Angelfish, but maybe not at the lower side of the tide range. I think that it gets down to about 4.5 feet (average) at the red marker on the inside and not much deeper on the ocean side. You won't find any problems except at the beginning and the end of Angelfish Creek.
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Old 22-09-2016, 09:28   #7
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

In Ft. Lauderdale you can get a mooring just south of the Las Olas bridge. I just checked and you can still anchor in lake Sylvia so nothing seems to have changed.

I prefer waiting for a window in Biscayne Bay. Lots of different spots to anchor and easy to fuel up at Crandon Park. We usually wait at South Beach and move to Biscayne Bay (Nixons or Hurricane Harbor) the day before we cross.
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Old 22-09-2016, 10:03   #8
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

Anchor where ever you want.Just make sure someone stays up all night fishing.There is no law in florida that says you cant fish all night at anchor.
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Old 22-09-2016, 10:40   #9
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

If you are on the way south to Ft. Pierce inlet, Vero Beach City Marina is a great stop. It is well-protected with shower and laundry facilities, easy to shops and dining. There are moorings, and you may be required to share a mooring. I am pretty sure anchoring is not permitted, but it is a great stop anyway.

A lot of boats anchor inside the Ft. Pierce inlet, as well, but nowhere near as protected nor are there facilities like at Vero Beach.

Have a good trip!

Marshall
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Old 22-09-2016, 11:00   #10
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

Captain Bill has the plan Only thing I did differently was depart at night. I frequently saw sunrise nearing Bimini and arrived with plenty of sun light to see the entrances Bimini has easy immigration and customs. steer 90 degrees don't fight the stream
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Old 22-09-2016, 12:31   #11
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

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Originally Posted by SearenitySail View Post
If you are on the way south to Ft. Pierce inlet, Vero Beach City Marina is a great stop. It is well-protected with shower and laundry facilities, easy to shops and dining. There are moorings, and you may be required to share a mooring. I am pretty sure anchoring is not permitted, but it is a great stop anyway.

A lot of boats anchor inside the Ft. Pierce inlet, as well, but nowhere near as protected nor are there facilities like at Vero Beach.

Have a good trip!

Marshall
Thanks for the information but one thing has me baffled, how do you share a mooring?
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Old 22-09-2016, 13:20   #12
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

Raft up. Seems to be the acceptable way of sharing a mooring (where allowed).
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Old 22-09-2016, 18:12   #13
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

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Originally Posted by Striker37 View Post
Anchor where ever you want.Just make sure someone stays up all night fishing.There is no law in florida that says you cant fish all night at anchor.
May need florida fishing license?
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Old 22-09-2016, 18:57   #14
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

Based on a displacement vessel doing 5-8 kts.
Planning a crossing from Florida to Bahamas need to do some reverse planning.
First, where do you want to enter the Bahamas.
This will then help you decide on where to launch from, generally want to leave Florida south of your point of entry into Bahamian Waters so you can take advantage of the Gulf Steam vice fighting it. Here are a few options.
Northern Option, entering Abacos from the North. Leave Fort Pierce/or North and sail due east until past the GS and then turn south and enter the Abacos from the North.
Northern Option to Memory Rock. Leave from West Palm or Fort Lauderdale, enter at Memory Rock at first light, head to Great Sale, anchor overnight, next day to Green Turtle, anchor, check in.
Southern Options. Multiple tracks. Depart Miami, govt cut, or S end of Key Biscayne (preferred) . Arrive onto Banks at first light. Can check into Bimini, or enter banks and head to
-Great Harbour along N route
-X banks S route to Chub/Frasiers Hog/Morgans Bluff and check in,
-X banks S route and head to Nassau and check in.
If you check into Bimini, then can depart there and head on S route direct to West Bay on New Providence for rest, or if weather and crew OK push on to Exumas.
-Other good variations on South route is to depart from Marathon or Rodriquez Key and ride the GS all the way north.
We always do a night xing timing our entrance into the banks or Bimini for first light. That way not rushing and have time to play tides if adverse without worrying about pending darkness.
Some good staging spots are:
-\anchorage west palm, south of Peanut, north of Flagler Bridge
-Moorings at Fort Lauderdale Los Olas marina, or anchor in Lake Sylvia
-Key Biscayne or Mooring at Coconut Grove
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Old 23-09-2016, 05:25   #15
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Re: Florida east coast anchorages

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Thanks for the information but one thing has me baffled, how do you share a mooring?
The mooring field at Vero Beach is the only one I know of that typically has people sharing moorings.

Those sharing usually raft with fenders and lines, but each vessel is required to have their own independent bow lines attached to the mooring ball.
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