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Old 21-06-2020, 13:15   #1
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Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

I'm 33, single, and like to sail...but I live in Wisconsin on Lake Michigan and we have a pretty short period of time to sail in warm weather. Most of my other hobbies also require warm weather like hiking, kayaking, biking, etc.

I can work remotely from anywhere with an internet connection, so I'm thinking of relocating to somewhere in Florida either full time or only part of the year (ex. might keep my apartment here and split my months between WI and FL). I would be living in a normal apartment, not on a boat.

** For now I'm restricting my search to just FL even though I know Cali would also be a good choice. **

SO anyways, this brings me to my questions:

1. What parts of Florida have good opportunities for sailing and cruising? If there's an active waterfront area with walking, jogging, biking, green scenery, vibrant community, beaches, etc then that would also be a plus!

The gulf coast looks nice, but I've read that the cruising can be limited since you're just restricted to going up and down the coast. I'm not sure if I'd do much more than that anyways, but still something to take into consideration. Which leads me to...

2. Is the Atlantic coast going to be much different if I'm only looking at shorter cruises from a few days to maybe a week at a time?

3. What does the sailing season look like? Is it year round? Does hurricane season = no sailing, or just increased caution?

Opportunities to sail in challenging conditions (while still being able to have calm and relaxing sailing) would potentially be a plus, because I'd like to gain experience that I can use for longer and more challenging cruising in the future.

Any suggestion or advice is appreciated. Since I'm young-ish and single I would want to avoid areas that are mostly retired folk (nothing against you all, but I need to have a dating life!).

Thanks
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Old 21-06-2020, 13:21   #2
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

Area around Panama City would be good, largely because of a younger crowd, and unless you have a few weeks off, your not really going very far anyway. It’s cheaper, but more Redneck.
Fort Lauderdale would work, but may be more than you can afford, don’t know your budget of course, just a guess.
Tampa bay is good also.
Hurricanes if your living shore are more of a nuisance to evacuate than anything, secure the boat the best you can, and leave. They rarely sneak up on you, but it has happened, Michael that destroyed Panama City grew so fast it was the same as sneaking up.
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Old 21-06-2020, 13:27   #3
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

I would say the Tampa/St. Pete area is your best bet. You can do a lot of sailing in the bay or go offshore for longer adventures. Plenty of places to hang out in st Pete and Tampa plus some awesome beaches.

On the east coast you are limited to offshore.
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Old 21-06-2020, 14:02   #4
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

Ft. Myers/Sanibel Island area has easy Gulf sailing, overnight from the Keys, easy to get to Sarasota and Clearwater. People sail year 'round, easy to hide way up the Caloosahatchee if hurricane's coming; good safe boat storage at Glade's.
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Old 21-06-2020, 14:14   #5
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q...mageBasicHover

We sailed directly from Coconut Grove to Japan...just 30 countries in between!
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Old 22-06-2020, 08:50   #6
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

We live on the east coast in Vero Beach. Our marina is a hurricane hole and 12 miles from Ft Pierce Inlet. It's 85 miles to the Bahamas, West End. If we go out of Lake Worth it's 58 miles. There is no better cruising area than the Bahamas. Sailing up or down either coast is limited.
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Old 22-06-2020, 08:52   #7
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

Interstate 95 - Maine to Miami. Definite East Coast vibe to Atlantic side of Florida.
Interstate 75 - Michigan to Naples. Definite Midwest vibe to Gulf side of Florida.
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Old 22-06-2020, 09:15   #8
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

I live part time in New Smyrna Beach on the east coast. If you enjoy challenging seas and trips to the Caribbean, the east coast is nice. You have to go north a while from Miami to find reasonable prices. Merritt Island at Cape Canaveral has some nice marinas and access to the Atlantic through a lock. The west coast is very nice for calmer waters and trips down to the keys. Donít forget no state income tax!
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Old 22-06-2020, 09:23   #9
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

I sail out of Panama City area and love it except for two things: first, it isn't really a sailing community and second, there are few available slips due to Hurricane Michael marina destruction. But the bay sailing is good and the Gulf sailing is spectacular when conditions are right. And as A64 points out, we usually have decent advance warning of storms.
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Old 22-06-2020, 09:29   #10
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidla View Post
I'm 33, single, and like to sail...but I live in Wisconsin on Lake Michigan and we have a pretty short period of time to sail in warm weather. Most of my other hobbies also require warm weather like hiking, kayaking, biking, etc.
On a brief visit, we really enjoyed the Ft Myers area - did some kayaking, and I was kicking myself for not bringing a windsurfer. Other Ontario friends had the same impression and visited that area a few times. If I had the means, I would want to spend the winter in that general area, sail up and down the Gulf coast, bike and kayak too, and with at least one extended cruise around the Keys. But we're ooooold.

I also adore summer around the Great Lakes too... it's gorgeous now, so in your shoes I would try to have a place in both areas.
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Old 22-06-2020, 09:35   #11
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

St petersburg florida has a strong sailing presence, has a reasonable cost of living, is pleasant when I visit ny brother, and has alot of Midwestern people settled there.

Check out the st petersburg area.

Thx-Ace
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Old 22-06-2020, 09:42   #12
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

Are you 100% sold on Florida? I've lived in Florida a few years (Jacksonville and Key West) and really it's not my top pick. If I was working remotely again I'd head to Mexico. You could live like a king (on US wages) in La Paz and sail to the little local islands every weekend.
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Old 22-06-2020, 09:43   #13
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

You donít actually say whether you own a boat or want to buy one?
The answer to that might make a difference where you could sail, or keep a boat.
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Old 22-06-2020, 09:51   #14
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

Florida may be a bigger state than you think. There are places like Miami with a very high cost of living and places in the panhandle that cost a lot less. In general the East cost has barrier islands with very narrow cuts that can be a real mess during the wrong tide/wind conditions. It is quite built up and the ICW is very busy and not the best place to sail. Southeast Florida does have easy access to the Bahamas but you need to be careful about weather windows.

The West Coast also has barrier islands but a lot less issues with getting in and out of cuts and is a lot less built up so it is easy to find anchorages with no issues with dirt dwellers.

The panhandle has barrier islands as well and the lowest cost of living. There are also stretches with no ICW and you have to go outside. Much less built up and probably the best beaches in Florida.

The Keys are a country unto itself. Google conch republic. Cost of living is very high and it is more crowded than you may think, especially in season. Sailing is great and once you get West of Key West (Mule Keys, Marquesas, Dry Tortugas) it has what I consider the best sailing/cruising in Florida.
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Old 22-06-2020, 10:08   #15
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Re: Best parts of Florida for living (on land) and sailing/cruising hobby?

Quote:
The gulf coast looks nice, but I've read that the cruising can be limited since you're just restricted to going up and down the coast. I'm not sure if I'd do much more than that anyways, but still something to take into consideration. Which leads me to..
Let me get to this point first. On the East coast of Florida, unless you are sailing to the Bahamas, that is all you can do, go up and down the coast..... And, if you don't want to go offshore, the AICW is pretty much just a 150' wide ditch.........

The west coast of Florida has way more bays and estuaries, plenty of places to anchor overnight and gunkhole. If you need to, or want to, stay in GICW, there are also better sailing grounds on the inside. Starting with Clearwater Sound, then next to Boca Ciega Bay then to Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound and then the San Carlos Bay area.

The east coast does have one other benefit. Because of the Gulf Stream, the water over there is is clearer and the diving is better. Not to say that diving in the Gulf isn't possible, the visibility is just worse.

The other thing is this......... The two coasts have very different residents.

The west coast is primarily made up of mid-west transplants from Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota.

The East coast is primarily made up of transplants from New York, New Jersey and the northeast.

Totally different demographics.
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