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Old 23-08-2011, 15:52   #1
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Advice On Taking My 30' Boat from Chesapeake to Choctawhatchee

Long time reader - never a poster. (Hate to embarass myself in front of my betters.) Here goes...

Looking for some ‘local knowledge’ or guidance on a move of my boat from my current home in Alexandria, VA (where I have been cruising in the Chesapeake, Potomac, adjacent waters) to the home I just bought near Destin, FL (looking to cruise bays from Mobile to Panama City).
Boat is a 2003 Hunter 306 (Specs: 30’ LOD, 27’ LWL, 11’ Beam, 4’ Draft (actually 3’10”) Mast Height ~46’ (w/antenna), and Displ. 7,200#). Electronics/Navigation: VHF, plus handheld VHF; Garmin GPSMAP 440; Raymarine Wheel Autopilot ST4000; Raymarine Depth Sounder and Knot Meter, ST 40s. Backup navigation is NOAA Charts (hard copy for route), eCharts on laptop for route (Active Captain…do I need Sea Clear?), and the following pubs: ICW Chartbook (Norfolk to Miami) 5th Ed. Kettlewell; Dozier’s Waterway Guide Southern, 2011 (FL, Keys, and Gulf Coast); and Skipper Bob’s (Marinas along the ICW, Anchorages along the ICW, and Cruising the Gulf Coast). I’ve been doing a lot of reading.
The ICW portion along the Atlantic southbound seems no big deal…perhaps just lots of exercise on my 18 HP Yanmar and lotsa diesel fuel (though I generally only sip about ½ gal/hr under power). I may be solo for much (or most) of the trip, though I have a recently retired friend who may begin the trip with me (through somewhere in the Carolinas, perhaps if I am lucky and…if he can get an extended kitchen pass!), so with days getting shorter and anticipating departure late September 2011, the first 1,000 miles to the Port St. Lucie canal entrance seems pretty straightforward. And long. There are lots of links, and guides, and blog entries about it.
I figure in the future I may get to cruise the Keys, but delivery (this century) is my goal, so I figure the cross-Florida route through Okeechobee is most expeditious. (Mast height under 48’ takes away worry of the lift bridge at Port Macaya, and as of today – 23 Aug 2011 – COE reports Route 1 across Okeechobee is now OK for 4.5’ draft vessels.)
Up the Florida West Coast to Tarpon Springs seems also pretty straightforward, as does when you pick up the Gulf ICW by Carrabelle. I am concerned with the leg in the Gulf from Tarpon Springs to Carrabelle.
1. Seems pretty shallow near the coast. Do I need to have crew and plan on a straight trip between Tarpon Springs and Carrabelle…or…
2. Can I plan on hops up the Gulf coast – say, Tarpon Springs to Cedar Key, then Cedar Key to Steinhatchee(?), and there to the Apalachicola area? I don’t know if these stops (and the marinas there) have diesel fuel, and if I can expect get in with my 4’ draft?
3. If I am pretty expeditious down the Atlantic seaboard (30-35+ days or so), maybe three to cross Florida, and another three up to Tarpon Springs, that puts me in the exposed Gulf portion in early November. Can I expect the weather less than clement then?
So that’s the adventure I am contemplating. I am retired, and I have time. (Though I’ll miss my wife – she’s still working for a few more months!) And, though I’ve never under taken a trip of this length, I am confident in my ship and my ability to navigate, sail (and motor) it.

OR, guys, am I being really stupid? I think that land transport for the boat is about $2,900 VA to FL, and it’s about $988 to pull, de-rig and pack it on the VA side, and I assume it’s about the same to splash and re-rig it on the FL side. Is the $5K spent to move it over the roads the smarter route? Thanks for the time and any advice/comments. Sorry this is so long.

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Old 23-08-2011, 17:11   #2
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Re: Advice On Taking my 30' from Chesapeake to Choctawhatchee

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Old 23-08-2011, 17:25   #3
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Re: Advice On Taking my 30' from Chesapeake to Choctawhatchee

Sounds like a great trip. I dont know all the route, but a lot of it. It'll be fun.... and you'll be a veteran when you're done! I havent done the Okeechobee part.... If you have an Tablet or laptop, Active Captain is a great resource for anchorages, marinas, restaurants etc.
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Old 05-09-2011, 17:18   #4
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Re: Advice On Taking my 30' from Chesapeake to Choctawhatchee

Hi, we bought our stinkpot (Grand Banks 32' Trawler) in Destin, and moved her 3 years ago around and up to Rhode Island. Okeechobee was too low (3'10" draft) at that time (November) but it looks promising this year. We've run the ICW from RI to FL and back every Fall/Spring, and, below Norfolk is a piece of cake. Some shoaling, places with strong currents, broken bridges, etc, but basic skills, common sense and patience and it is all a good time. I use Coastal Explorer on a laptop, and let it drive the autopilot on the broader waters. We're planning to try the cross-Florida run this Fall, for a winter respite in the Sanibel area. Have you decided to make the run or ship her?
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Old 22-09-2011, 17:51   #5
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Re: Advice On Taking my 30' from Chesapeake to Choctawhatchee

Well, I guess I better answer myself and the kind few who took the time to read and comment. After telling everyone I was just going to 'go for it and take off' for the past 6-8 months...discretion pre-empted valor (so to speak). I was not so much concerned about the East Coast ICW portion - and I think I had a friend who may have gotten a 'kitchen pass' to accompany me ...well, probably into the Carolinas anyway - but thinking about a month of motoring and occasional sailing...the adventure of it all seemed somewhat eclipsed by the fuel, ice and food costs and occasional transient slip fees, engine hours on my little Yanmar, etc. As I just said, I wasn't so much worried about the southward journey or my experience level and skill to do it (solo, if need be)...nor the cross-Florida canal/lake leg, but the thought of having, after a month or so underway, having then to get up the West Coast of Florida - outside in the Gulf, with no ICW - in November!, and with a probably 6+ week total trip if nothing went wrong (no hurricanes, bad weather, and so on, I decided ground shipment was probably a reasonable course. Plans now are to go attend the Annapolis Boat Show, then take the boat a few days (3?) from home port to the dealer in Deltaville, and (after a week to allow a local canvas shop to replace aged canvas and corroded plastic zippers on the 8 year old bimini, dodger and connector), I will have Norton's pull, clean hull and pack up the rigging and mast and load it on a carrier for surface movement to Niceville, Florida. Hopefully a few days later (2?), I will have my local marina unload it, and a local rigger is arranged put it all together again. So that's the plan. I - in my advanced age - am not overly proud. Will let you know more if anything interesting happens...or if anything untoward occurs. :-) Dennis...and Free Bird.
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Old 22-09-2011, 18:06   #6
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Re: Advice On Taking my 30' from Chesapeake to Choctawhatchee

yea, I have some advice....Go... now
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Old 22-09-2011, 18:53   #7
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Re: Advice On Taking My 30' Boat from Chesapeake to Choctawhatchee

I went the opposite direction from Tampa Bay to Norfolk but sailed mostly outside. Made stops at Marathon, Fort Lauderdale, Charleston and Norfolk. Easy two week sail. Went inside at Beaufort and thoroughly enjoyed the Dismal Swamp but motoring day after day up the ICW would have gotten old in a big hurry. Unless you have some big love for staying in the narrow confines of a ditch being eaten by mosquitos, going outside and stopping at selected spots like Charleston and Savannah would make for a much faster, cheaper trip.

Might investigate taking the canal across Florida to save some time. Fighting the Gulf Stream from Miami to Marathon wouldn't be the fastest going west.
Peter O.
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Old 12-10-2011, 14:08   #8
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Re: Advice On Taking My 30' Boat from Chesapeake to Choctawhatchee

Hi dennphill,
Your mast is just short enough to never worry about the Destin Bridge, a 49'- annoyance. I'm 47'4" plus a VHF whip and it often clinks. I would recommend highly the boatyard in Freeport, FL as I think the other yards do poor work with higher fees. We keep our Hunter 31 in Niceville and cruise it around the local area as my job permits. The boat's name is Nadesico and I hope to see you in Destin or any of the other local fun places soon!

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