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Old 11-06-2021, 07:30   #1
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St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

I'm considering purchasing my first sailboat. It is a Beneteau 411 located in St. Petersburg FL. We are considering keeping the boat in St. Petersburg and using it between November and May and storing it on the hard between June and October. Our goal is to build our sailing skills in the this area in preparation for some longer passages, once we are ready. We'd travel to the boat periodically from the Midwest to use it.

QUESTIONS:
- What should I know about slippage / marinas / storage?
- What is it like to sail / cruise in this region?
- Not living near the boat, is there anything I should consider?

I appreciate any wisdom this community could share. I'm just starting to venture on the path of a cruising life.
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Old 11-06-2021, 08:27   #2
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

You won't find much in the way of on-the-hard boat storage in Tampa Bay or, indeed, in much of Florida. Boatyards gave way to condos long ago. Waterfront property is too valuable.


Also, do your homework and find a marina before you buy. Many are filled up with long waiting lists. If the boat is at St. Pete Municipal and you have a chance to keep the slip, grab it.


Understand, too, that western Florida and the Keys have shallow water. Ideally, you want about 4.5 feet of draft. Anything over five and you will find yourself very limited in where you can go.


Another issue is mast height. Anything over about 63 feet vastly limits your ability to use the ICW. (In Miami, it's 55 feet because of a low bridge.) The ICW is a wonderful alternative in bad weather and provides access to many great anchorages.



Good luck with your plans.
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Old 11-06-2021, 08:29   #3
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

Get an insurance broker before you make a leap. Insurance in Florida has its issues; not unsolvable, but it can take some work and a broker is often the fastest way to the best solution. Using Nov-May and storing Jun-Oct may simplify things a lot, though.

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Old 11-06-2021, 09:49   #4
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

With that boat draft and water depth won't be a real issue. As noted previously, insurance and where to keep it are much bigger. If you are working through a buyer's broker they can probably help guide some of this. It is a great area to sail - within Tampa Bay you can do quite a bit in terms of pure sailing to learn.
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Old 12-06-2021, 04:22   #5
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

I am not so pessimistic as some about St. Pete. Great town. Up and coming. Good vibe. Municipal Marina had transient openings and 4-5 month stints last winter when I was there. It is a no frills heavy live aboard marina and we loved it. Ppl very friendly. Plenty of places to haul out reasonably it you travel a day or two sail and by the end of the season that will be easy. I hauled at Safe Cove Inc Port Charlotte, 60 mi away. Excellent Hurricane hole. Great place good ppl. Insurance always obtainable if you look. Start with your local agent and get his recommendations. If he is any good he will put you in touch with a specialist in the area. I had a 105 year old 80 wooden schooner insured.. Anything is possible it you look. This is a great life. DO NOT let ppl be negative and discourage you. GO FOR IT

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Old 12-06-2021, 04:31   #6
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

In 12 years I have had no problem getting a storage/work yard in Port Charlotte or Indian Town. when cruising I used marinas and anchored out. West Coast of Florida is good for what you wish to do.
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Old 12-06-2021, 04:53   #7
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

All of the above, but really look into your marina plan and be aware of where you can tie off and where you are going to store the boat. I know I was humbled when I paid $1000+ to tie off for two weeks at St. Pete Municipal and I know others with your size boat paying $1000 a month for a slip as well (an hour south of St. Pete too). But none of us got into this life to save money!

I bought in St. Pete and hauled out in Port Charolette where there are a few do it yourself yards. You will most likely want to 'go through' your boat after you purchase it and a diy yard is the place to be for that.
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Old 12-06-2021, 05:31   #8
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

Quote:
Originally Posted by madaniels022 View Post
- What should I know about slippage / marinas / storage?
- What is it like to sail / cruise in this region?
- Not living near the boat, is there anything I should consider
1) West slips are in high demand right now. If you give up your slip for the summer and get hauled out, you might not find a slip the next fall.

As far as getting hauled for the summer in the Tampa region, Snead Island Boat Works, probably is your best bet. Although they have a quirky hurricane policy.

2) Sailing in this area is some of the best in the state, we have the GICW, from Tarpon Springs to Marco, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound, Fort Myers Beach, Naples, Marco and the Everglades.

3) Can't help much here since most of my time time my boat was docked in my back yard. But you might want someone who can check on the boat about once week and maybe wash off the bird poo..... we have pelicans, osprey and cormorants.
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Old 12-06-2021, 06:14   #9
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

Capt. Kent:


St. Pete is a great town. I live here.


St. Pete Municipal has a six-month to two-year waiting list for a permanent slip. (The two years is for larger boats.) Gulfport also has a long waiting list, last I heard.


Other marinas generally have much higher prices and/or exposure to hurricanes and winter storms, although you can hunt for a gem here and there.



You are tempting fate with transient slips. There are no guarantees that one will be there when you want it, that it will cost what you want to pay or that you can stay for as long as you like.



Port Charlotte is about 90 miles or so from St. Pete. Yes, you can store on the hard there or on the Okeechobee Waterway another 50 miles or so on, but that's not near St. Pete.



Boatyards around Tampa Bay often have waiting lists of weeks or months just for a quick bottom job. They aren't interested in long-term storage.



That said, the west coast of Florida and the Keys are wonderful places to sail with plenty of beautiful anchorages and scenic vistas that rival anywhere in the U.S.


But showing up here without careful planning is a mistake. That's because there are thousands of boats from along the Eastern Seaboard that migrate here every fall and winter.
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Old 12-06-2021, 07:22   #10
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

Great advise!
I'm a Tampa (Ozona) area sailor and insurance broker and this advice is spot on.
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QUOTE=Shanachie;3424303]You won't find much in the way of on-the-hard boat storage in Tampa Bay or, indeed, in much of Florida. Boatyards gave way to condos long ago. Waterfront property is too valuable.


Also, do your homework and find a marina before you buy. Many are filled up with long waiting lists. If the boat is at St. Pete Municipal and you have a chance to keep the slip, grab it.


Understand, too, that western Florida and the Keys have shallow water. Ideally, you want about 4.5 feet of draft. Anything over five and you will find yourself very limited in where you can go.


Another issue is mast height. Anything over about 63 feet vastly limits your ability to use the ICW. (In Miami, it's 55 feet because of a low bridge.) The ICW is a wonderful alternative in bad weather and provides access to many great anchorages.



Good luck with your plans.[/QUOTE]
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Old 12-06-2021, 07:45   #11
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

I might suggest reconsidering your entire plan and getting a smaller boat to start with. Maintenance, transaction costs, general usability are all much better. It’s easier to learn to sail a small boat and the mistakes are much much less expensive. Even if you give away free after the first year, you’re still ahead versus depreciation and expenses on a big boat. You can probably have one in Florida, keep it at a storage yard easily, and another in the Midwest. Then get the big boat when you’re ready to sail off.
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Old 12-06-2021, 08:33   #12
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

My opinion is in line with Sanibel Sailor. I got a small boat to begin with (27 ft, so relatively small though I cannot move it over land without road permits and a significant amount of hassle). My purchase cost was probably what it cost you to store your proposed vessel a week. I have already gotten value out of the boat to exceed the purchase cost. If I had to give it away to buy a larger boat, I would not cry at this time. It is a LOT easier to find a place to store such a vessel (or better yet, find one that you can haul at about 25 feet, and keep it at home!) than it would be to store a 40+ footer, especially in Hurricane Central. There are a LOT of wealthy people in the areas you are planning storage, and they can afford to pay a high market cost to simply park a luxury vessel, and to occupy (or simply hold onto empty) high cost condos and rent expensive hotel rooms to show off the view to potential guests. The areas not blanketed by these coastal barriers to dockage are so muddy, remote, and mosquito infested that you don't really want to anchor or dock there for any real time. Add to that the shallow nature of Florida's most remote anchorage options away from those costly locations, and the shallow draft of a smaller boat gets even more interesting. I think mine is something like 3 1/2 feet! I have heard of shallower, too.

As you get comfortable with using the smaller vessel, you can stash cash away that you would have been using on the larger one just to store it. You can buy the smaller one with the interest on that saved money! Then, after you are ready in skills, use the set aside cash to make the purchase and provision of the bigger boat, and keep the original purchase amount to use for your cruising kitty. Not the only option by any means, but I would imagine it is better than the one you were considering before hitting this very wise forum with this question.

Of course, opinions are like bellybuttons, and everyone is quite proud of their own, which they believe simply must be sexier than the ones shown by their neighbors and peers. My advice is worth precisely three times what you paid for it, I guarantee that.
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Old 12-06-2021, 08:46   #13
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanachie View Post
...............
............................
Another issue is mast height. Anything over about 63 feet vastly limits your ability to use the ICW. (In Miami, it's 55 feet because of a low bridge.) The ICW is a wonderful alternative in bad weather and provides access to many great anchorages. ......
I'll add a little to this just for accuracy. This lower fixed bridge in Miami is just north of the port inlet and it's the Julia Tuttle Bridge with a MHW clearance of 56'. There is a greater clearance available east or west of the center steel span by about 18". The distance from Governor's Cut (Miami inlet) to Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale inlet) is 22 miles in order to bypass this bridge. If you make plans with the tide, the Julia Tuttle Bridge can allow for well over 55'.
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Old 12-06-2021, 09:22   #14
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

A lot of boatyards are located down the Salt Creek (just to the south before the Harborage Marina) and they have boats on the hard. You'll want to call each.

Snead Island Boat Works is on the Manatee River and, as mentioned, they store boats on the hard. Right before this boatyard, you will definitely want to visit this area as a destination with Emerson Point Preserve (with a public dock) on the north side and De Soto National Memorial (National Park Service) to the south side of the river.

If you put your boat in a slip but you won't be living aboard, then I recommend a floating dock. The Harborage Marina has floating docks, but they're more expensive for it. I think St Pete Muni is very slowly putting in floating docks, but most are fixed still. The Vinoy Marina is one of the least expensive marinas, but they have fixed, concrete docks. And, with an east wind, boats can get badly damaged if not carefully tended because there's no breakwater (such as at St Pete Muni or the Harborage) and the waves play rough. Further down the Manatee River past Snead Island Boat Works is Twin Dolphins with floating docks and Regatta Point with fixed docks.
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Old 12-06-2021, 13:49   #15
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Re: St. Petersburg FL Ownership Guidance

Quote:
Originally Posted by madaniels022 View Post
I'm considering purchasing my first sailboat. It is a Beneteau 411 located in St. Petersburg FL. We are considering keeping the boat in St. Petersburg and using it between November and May and storing it on the hard between June and October. Our goal is to build our sailing skills in the this area in preparation for some longer passages, once we are ready. We'd travel to the boat periodically from the Midwest to use it.

QUESTIONS:
- What should I know about slippage / marinas / storage?
- What is it like to sail / cruise in this region?
- Not living near the boat, is there anything I should consider?

I appreciate any wisdom this community could share. I'm just starting to venture on the path of a cruising life.
I would suggest a lot more research unless your pockets are very deep.
Ft. Myers may be a better bet for a slip. The Okeechobee ditch to Indian Town for haulout and storage is right there.
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