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Old 21-11-2009, 16:05   #16
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Andy & Maraó

If I recall, youíre moored at the Cortez marina and I suspect the only reason youíve motored down to Sarasota Bay is to avoid having to go through the Cortez or Anna Maria Island Bridges. For what itís worth, the south Tampa Bay area between the mouth of the Manatee River, the Skyway Bridge and Egmont Key is a much nicer sailing venue than Sarasota Bay with much more room and things to see/places to go. There is no reason to be apprehensive about the bridges. The bridge tenders know what they are doing and are generally very accommodating so long as you donít ask for openings where bridges are limited to schedules as are the Cortez .and Anna Maria Island Bridges. We sailed a Cal 2-29 for 20+ years, the last 10 right here in the Bradenton area, and transited those bridges many times.. Simply approach the bridges slowly and call the Bridge Tender on Ch# 9 and tell them youíre looking for the next opening. They tell you when. If thereís a lot of traffic, which there can be at times, let the bridge tender know youíll wait for the traffic to clear before going ahead and then simply loiter, idling in circles about 75 yards away from the bridge, biased to one side or another of the channel to allow traffic to pass. We listen for transmissions from other yachts and occasionally will speak with them to coordinate our movements. Most people are very accommodating.

Except in very windy conditions, when youíre not likely to be out and about anyway, hard sheeting your main .will improve your stability. The Cal is light and will bounce around a bit in a chop and can be difficult to steer unless youíve got the main up and hard sheeted and you keep some way on the yacht to ensure you can maintain steerage. At bridges, and in proximity to any hazard, steerageway is imperative. From Cortez to Anna Maria Island Bridge is 3 miles and the bridge openings are 30 minutes apart so, once youíve cleared one or the other, maintain 5 knots or so to make the next opening. In either case the Bridge tender on the subsequent bridge will know youíre coming.

The Long Boat Key Bridge is another animal and can be a pip. Itís narrow and the currents can be fast on either an ebb of a flood. We will not go through that bridge except at high water slack or on a flood (so long as the windís not easterly with any speed). On an ebb, one can get pretty good ďstandingĒ waves on the Gulf side, particularly if thereís any west in the wind. And, the Gulf Side channel has migrated south and is not where it appears on the current charts. (Once oneís a bit past marker #2, one needs to head off at about 210ļ (M) to avoid the shoals that are extending south into the channel.) This situation has been reported to the CG and the Florida State Authorities, and supposedly they were going to remark the channel, but I donít know whether thatís been done or not. Frankly, however, unless youíre headed to Venice or points south, thereís no reason to go through Long Boat, and, particularly not if your objective is Sarasota as both New Pass and Big Pass are foul and not a place for a newbie so thereís no reasonable way into Sarasota from the Gulf. If you want sea time, head north and sail up to an around Egmont. You can anchor out on the Bay side just south of the Pilotís pier so long as the windís westerly or head back down to the Manatee River and anchor in the cove just east of DeSoto Point or, better, across the channel on the north side of the River. Itís a great stop.



FWIWÖ
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Old 22-11-2009, 06:16   #17
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Andy & Maraó

If I recall, youíre moored at the Cortez marina and I suspect the only reason youíve motored down to Sarasota Bay is to avoid having to go through the Cortez or Anna Maria Island Bridges. For what itís worth ...
FWIWÖ
Excellent detail - it's worth gold!
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Old 22-11-2009, 06:27   #18
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I'd Avoid Sarasota Bay Too....

Great advice IMHO to head north into Tampa Bay as you gain experience. LOTS more sea room and less to worry about. The Cortez and Anna Maria bridges are timed about 1/2 hour apart as I recall - opening times I mean.

Egmont Key is a great place to visit - the east side is where to be. Heavy shoaling to the west so watch the charts. South channel was plenty deep my last time through.

I vote North into Tampa Bay. Enjoy!
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Old 22-11-2009, 06:46   #19
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G


Only advice is learn - not to be early. Alternative is to go outside where there is never a wait. Monitor CH 13 and keep tabs with the bridge tender. .
Remember different states monitor different channels. Although many bridges say they monitor 16 and another channel they seldom monitor 16. It is advisable to mark your charts where state lines are with the channel the state monitors. In Florida you will hear many boats hailing bridges on 16 and getting no answer but, if I remember right, they monitor 09 (it's marked on my charts ). Also, it's nice to thank the bridge tender once you're through the bridge. The best bridge tenders on the AICW are at Daytona Beach. The ladies there really know their stuff. The old guy at Titusville is very nice too. The worst ones used to be at Surf City Bridge and Socastee Bridge. They put a high-rise in at Socastee (SC) but the locals complained so much they resurrected the old bridge so now, even though the high rise is there, you still have to wait for a bridge opening. Ah, bridges, you gotta love them!!
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Old 22-11-2009, 08:00   #20
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We bought our boat (30 ft) and after a sea trial and a few hour shake down moved it 60 miles, had to end by going though snake creek channel and under a draw bridge in the dark. First time for us. Snake creek has some strong tidal currents, Im glad I had read about them before I got to the bridge they would have swept me under or into long before the bridge was up. The bridge was not monitering channel 16, I called on 16 5 times in 5 minutes and got no response, untill a kind soul informed me to try channel 9. I had to hold position against the current for a few minutes, just cut the wheel and spun circles. After that the bridge went up ( takes about 3 minutes from the arms dropping ). and we went under. In my opinion the bridge crossing was no big deal compared to the rest of the trip. I did do the bridge a few more times during the day in traffic while we had a slip there. I was always the last one through and the bridge operator even one time came on the radio and asked me to hurry up, but I never had a problem going under.
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Old 22-11-2009, 08:28   #21
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Oop's!! I just realized I had a typo in my earlier comment:

Quote:
From Cortez to Anna Maria Island Bridge is 3 miles and the bridge openings are 30 minutes apart so, once youíve cleared one or the other, maintain 5 knots or so to make the next opening.
Obviously, you want to try to run at 6 knots to make the opening for the next bridge (in 30 minutes). It will be pushing the Cal a bit but it's doable, or at least it was in our Cal (with a Yanmar 2GM20F).

FWIW...
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Old 22-11-2009, 10:15   #22
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Wow! You guys are amazing - thank you all so much for your responses, it was more than I could have hoped for!

So this is what I've got on my list:

1. Go SLOW! (Not a problem - we motor down to Sarasota so slowly it takes us upwards of two hours to get there. We figure the slower the better!)

2. Don't arrive early. (Not likely. See point #1 )

3. Maintain VHF communications with the tender and everyone around you.

4. If there's a wait, leave and come back or motor in circles. Barring that, point the bow into the current and hold position with the engine.

5. Watch out for wake producers.

6. Be the last in line if possible.

7. If it's an on-demand opening, hail the tender when you're within sight and describe your vessel and location. Wait for response and request opening.

8. Let the tender know when you've cleared through and thank everyone you ought to thank!

I know a checklist may seem silly to all you experienced sailors, but they've really been helpful with our docking procedures so I figure I'll stick with 'em.

We've really been wanting to go up to Tampa Bay instead of Sarasota but svHyLyte nailed it as far as the bridges were concerned. (Sarasota Bay doesn't seem HALF big enough for me!)

svHyLyte and markpj23: In all the madness since arriving in Florida we'd COMPLETELY forgotten that you two were down here and had offered to meet up with us!! We would love to get together (assuming we can GET where we need to go). Can we still PM you?

Thanks again to everyone!
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Old 22-11-2009, 10:32   #23
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And remember, if there's two way traffic, the boats going with the current have the right of way. In a narrow bridge they generally go first.
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Old 22-11-2009, 19:01   #24
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The Long Boat Key Bridge is another animal and can be a pip. Itís narrow and the currents can be fast on either an ebb of a flood. We will not go through that bridge except at high water slack or on a flood (so long as the windís not easterly with any speed). On an ebb, one can get pretty good ďstandingĒ waves on the Gulf side, particularly if thereís any west in the wind. And, the Gulf Side channel has migrated south and is not where it appears on the current charts. (Once oneís a bit past marker #2, one needs to head off at about 210ļ (M) to avoid the shoals that are extending south into the channel.) This situation has been reported to the CG and the Florida State Authorities, and supposedly they were going to remark the channel, but I donít know whether thatís been done or not. Frankly, however, unless youíre headed to Venice or points south, thereís no reason to go through Long Boat, and, particularly not if your objective is Sarasota as both New Pass and Big Pass are foul and not a place for a newbie so thereís no reasonable way into Sarasota from the Gulf. If you want sea time, head north and sail up to an around Egmont. You can anchor out on the Bay side just south of the Pilotís pier so long as the windís westerly or head back down to the Manatee River and anchor in the cove just east of DeSoto Point or, better, across the channel on the north side of the River. Itís a great stop.



FWIWÖ
We noticed those things a couple of weeks ago when we went in for the night and out the next day. !!!

As always your local knowledge is great.

PS to Andy and Mara.

It will be OK.
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Old 23-11-2009, 11:38   #25
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...svHyLyte and markpj23: In all the madness since arriving in Florida we'd COMPLETELY forgotten that you two were down here and had offered to meet up with us!! We would love to get together (assuming we can GET where we need to go). Can we still PM you? ...
Absolutely - but be quick as we're heading for the keys right after Thanksgiving. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it..... boat gremlins be damned....
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