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Old 24-10-2020, 18:09   #1
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Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

Howdy folks,

I am about to be cruising from panama city, FL, up to Baltimore Md.

My draft is about 6.5' to 7' or so conservatively.

I'm looking at hopping in to the ICW around Clearwater via Clearwater pass, stopping to provision etc... and then heading back out to the gulf via Johns Pass on my way to the dry tortugas, HOWEVER, i am getting mixed information regarding the depths through clearwater pass to the ICW.

Note H on https://charts.noaa.gov/PDFs/11411.pdf
Clearly states the controlling depth past before Sand Key bridge

"was 9.5 feet for a width of 150 feet from the gulf to the fixed highway bridge, thence 3 feet for a width of 100 feet to a junction with the ICW"

Does the channel really drop from 9.5' deep to 3' deep?!

Similar question for Johns Pass.

My cousin who lives in the area and is familiar with the ICW says the chart is wrong....

So looking for a third opinion with hopefully some better explanation.

thanks!
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Old 24-10-2020, 22:53   #2
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

I have been through that area several times and don't remember depths that shallow. Still with that draft, you will need to stay vigilant.

I think the biggest concern would not necessarily be Clearwater Pass, but the area south of there, on the GICW, which is called "the narrows", which is basically between Indian Rocks Beach and Redington Shores.
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Old 25-10-2020, 01:01   #3
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

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Originally Posted by Davy J View Post
I have been through that area several times and don't remember depths that shallow. Still with that draft, you will need to stay vigilant.

I think the biggest concern would not necessarily be Clearwater Pass, but the area south of there, on the GICW, which is called "the narrows", which is basically between Indian Rocks Beach and Redington Shores.
Thanks Davy.

Do you have any data for the nominal depth of the GICW channel from Clearwater pass through the narrows to Johns pass?

Thats really what i'm looking for.

I know theres a USCG station right there, i might try calling them monday.
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Old 25-10-2020, 06:23   #4
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

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Originally Posted by MarsRover View Post
Thanks Davy.

Do you have any data for the nominal depth of the GICW channel from Clearwater pass through the narrows to Johns pass?

Thats really what i'm looking for.

I know theres a USCG station right there, i might try calling them monday.
Sorry I don't have specific numbers. Because, while I keep an eye on the depth sounder, I only draw three feet. So unless things get real skinny, I don't have to worry too much.

The only other thing I can say is, if you do go thru John's Pass, pay attention to the tide and current. Because John's Pass is the only real inlet between Clearwater and Pass-A Grille, the current there can be intense.
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Old 25-10-2020, 07:14   #5
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

Skip Johns Pass - sand bars constantly moving and wicked swift currents can trap you quickly.
Hail Tow Boat or charter fish guys for local info if you decide to use Pass a Grille, or wait outside til afternoon and follow one in
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Old 25-10-2020, 08:40   #6
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

Charts are generally antiquated info. Look on Waterwayguideexplorer.com and see the comments form others.
Your draft? 6.5 or 7'? that is a huge number difference in this area and you should know it to a closer inch.
Look at the chart contours- the natural depth is 7 feet vs the cut channel of the ICW which may have shoaling.
Just be sure of the wakes of other vessels- that close may drop on bottom.
Sea Tow is a generally a great local source in most ports.
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Old 25-10-2020, 08:43   #7
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

I hope you're planning on going outside as you head up the east coast to the Chesapeake. Many of the ICW sections, particularly thru Georgia and the Carolinas will make a 7' draft VERY challenging. JMHO
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Old 25-10-2020, 09:03   #8
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

About 4 years ago I was coming down channel there by Clearwater bridge. I heard about some shoaling, called USCG and was told to stay mid channel, I'd have no problems. My schooner drew 7'. Well mid channel by the dogleg T by the bridge, I ran hard aground. No vessel available to help me. Sat there for three hours waiting for water. Sitting there for three hours had time to think. If I had been 30 - 50 foot to either side of where I was, I would have had plenty of water. (Dove on it) Being exactly mid channel was where prop wash from passing boats hilled the sand as they were turning while to side of the channel. With 60 + years on the water, I'm 74, I new that I should not have been mid channel where there's a T in the channel with pretty tight turn's, but I listened to the swab. The dumb ass that I was, did not even think about it. But when your 65', 50 tons and draw 7', you have to be thinking about it all the time. Truly, the hand full of times I have had a problem out on the water, I listened to someone else instead of relying on my own thoughts. You did not describe your boat, but if you draw 7' its a respectable size. Personally I would not do it, go back out Clearwater and come back in John's Pass. But be aware, there is a ripping current down there. With your draft, and something happen you will not be able to make a 180 turn and stay in the channel. Narrow channel from Clearwater to John's Pass, Your call though Skipper. Take care, happy sailing to all.
Capt. Vince Rakstis, Ret.MS St.Petersburg, Fl.
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Old 25-10-2020, 09:52   #9
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

make sure you have sea tow or any other good towing service .
That will save you thousands and a lot of heart ache.
Also consider going to key west

Good luck just watch crab pots
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Old 25-10-2020, 10:20   #10
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

Different tack on your post but I am curious when you plan on leaving PC. A friend of mine and I are planning on buddy boating to Clearwater on 11/9, weather permitting. 35í and 45í sailboats with 5í and 6í drafts.
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Old 25-10-2020, 15:20   #11
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

I live in Clearwater and Iíve made that trip several times. The lowest water I can remember is 8.3 ft, but itís normally 10 ft.

You might plan tides to help provide more cushion.

Coming from sea there is a shallow spot after the causeway as the channel jogs to meet the ICW. Pay attention.

Iíve never traversed the St Johnís pass so I canít comment, but further south is Pass a Grille and Iíve done that multiple times. It has good water.
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Old 25-10-2020, 16:32   #12
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtooh View Post
Coming from sea there is a shallow spot after the causeway as the channel jogs to meet the ICW.

yep. I have seen boats stranded there more than once .. they waited for the high tide
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Old 09-11-2020, 15:37   #13
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Re: Cruising - Clearwater FL ICW questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarsRover View Post
Howdy folks,

I am about to be cruising from panama city, FL, up to Baltimore Md.

My draft is about 6.5' to 7' or so conservatively.

I'm looking at hopping in to the ICW around Clearwater via Clearwater pass, stopping to provision etc... and then heading back out to the gulf via Johns Pass on my way to the dry tortugas, HOWEVER, i am getting mixed information regarding the depths through clearwater pass to the ICW.

Note H on https://charts.noaa.gov/PDFs/11411.pdf
Clearly states the controlling depth past before Sand Key bridge

"was 9.5 feet for a width of 150 feet from the gulf to the fixed highway bridge, thence 3 feet for a width of 100 feet to a junction with the ICW"

Does the channel really drop from 9.5' deep to 3' deep?!

Similar question for Johns Pass.

My cousin who lives in the area and is familiar with the ICW says the chart is wrong....

So looking for a third opinion with hopefully some better explanation.

thanks!
Just go back out at Clearwater Pass at mid tide or greater-skip Johns Pass
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