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Old 27-09-2020, 21:26   #1
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Sailing in Tampa Bay?

Looking to move from Southern California to Florida... most like Tampa Bay area.

Looking at the Navionics charts, it seems the waters are really shallow over there.

I have a Beneteau 49 which has a draft of just over 7 feet.

I would appreciate any advice or additional information from local sailors in that area as everyone I know there has a power boat.

Thanks!
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Old 27-09-2020, 21:55   #2
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

Tampa Bay proper is mostly 10'-20' deep, coastwise, the Gulf of Mexico is mostly 20'-30' deep.

Your real issue would be navigating any of the passes and the GICW. For example, my hometown of Apollo Beach, the main channel, can be as low as 5' at low tide.
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Old 27-09-2020, 22:00   #3
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

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Your real issue would be navigating any of the passes and the GICW. For example, my hometown of Apollo Beach, the main channel, can be as low as 5' at low tide.
We are actually looking at Apollo Beach area! :-)

Sounds like I would not be able to keep my boat in the local marinas then, huh?

Any other places "nearby" where I might be able to keep my boat and safely navigate to deeper waters?
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Old 27-09-2020, 22:01   #4
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

I was in the Tampa bay, st Petersburg, Clearwater area last year with my Catalina 22. I am 5ft deep with the keel down and I hit alot where the charts said I should be fine.

There is alot of sailing in this area so it can be done. I expect you have to learn the area.

Thx-Ace
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Old 27-09-2020, 22:06   #5
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

For the Tampa Bay area, with that draft, the St Petersburg Muni marina or maybe the Harborage , also is St Pete, would be best.

I know for sure that Apollo Beach and even the Ruskin area, you would be limited to going in and out at high tide only.
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Old 27-09-2020, 22:30   #6
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

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For the Tampa Bay area, with that draft, the St Petersburg Muni marina or maybe the Harborage , also is St Pete, would be best.
Thanks! Will check out those places when I go there in a few weeks.

What are some fun places to cruise to and anchor for a few days in that area?

I'm really going to miss the Channel Islands here in Southern California!
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Old 27-09-2020, 23:01   #7
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

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What are some fun places to cruise to and anchor for a few days in that area?
There are so many places to go here, you can spend years and not see them all.

Upper Tampa Bay:
tie up to the city docks and get a beer at the Sail Plaza
or anchor at Beer Can Island AKA Pine Key

Lower Tampa Bay:

Egmont Key or Passage Key

GICW north:

Gulfport, Madeira Beach, Clearwater, Caladesi

GICW south:

Longboat Pass, Sarasota, Venice, Cayo Costa, Fort Myers Beach, Naples, Marco, the Everglades and the Keys.......
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Old 28-09-2020, 01:58   #8
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

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Originally Posted by Davy J View Post
For the Tampa Bay area, with that draft, the St Petersburg Muni marina or maybe the Harborage , also is St Pete, would be best.

I know for sure that Apollo Beach and even the Ruskin area, you would be limited to going in and out at high tide only.
Are there open slips in St Pete Marina? My sense is there's a waiting list.

7 foot draft will be a constant nemesis for the OP. I sailed to the Bahamas with a friend with 7 foot draft. Definitely influenced routes and entrances with lengthy diversions.

To the OP. Cruising in Florida is different. The Channel Islands are indeed great, but they're the only game in town in SoCal. Florida has more options, though few rival the natural majesty of the Channel Islands. My favorite here is Ft Jefferson DRY Tortugas Natl Park. It's a 200 nms sail from Tampa Bay. No mountains, but a similar sense of seclusion. There are also supposed to be some nice nature preserves up around Apalachicola, though I think water is pretty skinny there.

Aside from deep draft, biggest nuisance will be mosquitos. Manageable in most places. But with some bad luck, can be a problem

Welcome to Florida. Enjoy the raise you'll get from no state income tax. I enjoyed close to 10% bump when I moved from San Francisco 15 years ago.

Peter
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Old 28-09-2020, 03:38   #9
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

SV Simple,

Wife and I have been living and sailing the bay for years and its a great place. The Muni list was long last we checked, but Harborage is usually available. You will find bottom growth to be a surprise around here- its very fast and furious. The cruising is great, FL Keys, Dry Tortugas, lots of bays and entrances along the way to day cruise. You will probably find the waves to have short periods and steep for your taste- after we cruised the Pacific side of Panama and Costa Rica, we had a tough time dealing with the Gulf again waves again..
The shallow and murky waters in this area will certainly get your kedging skills up to par in a hurry, but rarely is it anything to worry about as the bottom is almost always pretty soft.

Charlotte Harbor is a bit farther south, but another great spot to look into.

If you are looking for a more familiar style of cruising you may consider the east coast of FL. But the racing/sailing scene is not as good in my opinion.
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Old 28-09-2020, 05:29   #10
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

Sell your boat in California and buy one more suitable to the west cost of Florida. The beauty of sailing here is gunkholing into endless shallow bays and inlets and cruising the Keys. Five feet of draft is generally considered the absolute max. Seven feet? You'll know all of the Towboat U.S. guys by name. You won't have many places to go.
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Old 28-09-2020, 05:38   #11
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

A friend of mine grew up sailing in Southern California, he moved to the Florida Keys a few years ago. The "skinny water" really frustrated him. The shallower the draft on your boat, the easier the transition will be. Welcome to the Sunshine State!
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Old 28-09-2020, 05:39   #12
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

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Sell your boat in California and buy one more suitable to the west cost of Florida. The beauty of sailing here is gunkholing into endless shallow bays and inlets and cruising the Keys. Five feet of draft is generally considered the absolute max. Seven feet? You'll know all of the Towboat U.S. guys by name. You won't have many places to go.
While I would agree that this idea would certainly open up a lot of little adventures for you- I dont know that I agree its necessary. Our draft has always been 5'5" and the boat I have raced on as a Sub has a 7' draft. It takes extra care, but as long as you dont mind avoiding the ICW (you mast may disqualify you already) you can cruise the coast easy enough.
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Old 28-09-2020, 06:01   #13
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanachie View Post
Sell your boat in California and buy one more suitable to the west cost of Florida. The beauty of sailing here is gunkholing into endless shallow bays and inlets and cruising the Keys. Five feet of draft is generally considered the absolute max. Seven feet? You'll know all of the Towboat U.S. guys by name. You won't have many places to go.
I'll just add that, if you bring your boat here, then decide to sell later, it will most likely be difficult finding a buyer.
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Old 28-09-2020, 08:33   #14
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

Just for giggles maybe have a conversation with Marskeel? 7' and Florida or Bahamas usually doesn't go well together. Can be done but...
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Old 28-09-2020, 08:40   #15
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Re: Sailing in Tampa Bay?

Having lived and sailed on & off in Tampa Bay area for nearly 30 years and having watched West coast sailors adjust to skinny water I would strongly suggest you sell ( or store)your boat before moving to Florida. Going in & out of areas with 6-12 " under the keel takes time to adapt especially for west coasters who frequently are not used to reading depth by color, birds, crabs pots etc since so often you go off soundings shortly after leaving the dock. Charter a few times in Tampa Bay area, Keys &/or Bahamas then decide what boat you want. Living in the area can sometimes get great deals due to death of a spouse with survivor just wanting the boat gone.
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