My $0.02, for what it is worth.
Going up the bayside with a 4 foot draft
is possible all the way to Biscayne Bay (and Canada
, for that matter). As you zoom in on those charts
, you will see narrow channels that are well marked with dayboards that connect together the navigable areas.
This will be a matter of preference, and I have done both, but I much prefer taking the ocean route
. The Bayside has a lot of shallow water
and you will be paying close attention to navigation
at frequent intervals. The water is less choppy under most wind
conditions, but there are a lot of times that it is tough to sail in the narrow constraints of the navigable water in the Bay. Kinda felt to me like a big, shallow lake. There are tons of places to drop a hook and the whole environment
is protected from ocean chop. When in a hurry and intending to use motor
, it is my preferred route
I have slept on the hook at Cowpens, and my only advice
on that in summer is that bugs abound, so drop hundreds of yards away from mangroves, particularly down wind
. No-see-ums are not fun.
Something else to note, is that you have two more points along the way that you can change your mind. There is a bascule bridge at Snake Creek that affords easy transit to/from Bay/Ocean and has a marina that affords an opportunity to tie up, restaurants and a $5.00 UBER ride to a Winn Dixie. The channel there, and adjacent bay provides some really nice anchorages
that give protection in any winds.
From there north to Pennekamp you will have to stay outside. (in order to get to the park) Assume that you are headed there to dive/snorkel? If so, many of the reefs
and patch reefs
along the Hawk Channel have balls installed to tie up to and the smaller ones are skipped by the big dive boats with 100 or more divers sometimes.
No need to go all the way to Pennekamp, the reefs are all good. One real nice one for snorkeling is at Alligator Reef. It is about 6 nm from the bridge at Snake Creek and you can go out and back in an easy day. Water is only about 5' deep on the reef and a whole lot of sealife comes to spend the hot part of the day in the shadow of the lighthouse.