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Old 02-05-2021, 12:47   #1
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New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

Hi,
Hoping for some advice.
Planning to sail from New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) in June. My boat is 37’, with a 5.5’ draft and 53’ bridge clearance. Sailing solo or short handed. Looking for possible routes that ideally have 10 hours or less sailing/day. Any ideas for routes/anchorages/marinas appreciated! Other advice most welcome.

Many thanks!
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Old 02-05-2021, 13:44   #2
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

Hmmm... When you say Miramar, are you talking about inside Choctawhatchee Bay? At 53' air draft, you won't be able to get under the bridges at Fort Walton or Destin, meaning you will have to go outside from Pensacola to Panama City, then double back inside on the ICW. Also, the storms last year damaged a lot of marinas on the Gulf coast, and I'm not really sure of their current status.

Typical route from NOLA would be: Leisurely start, spend the night at Oak Harbor in Slidell. The Highway 11 bridge is undergoing lengthy repairs, and one side of the span will be up, the other down. The Norfolk Southern railroad bridge next to it has gone to remote control - listen for a closing announcement when a train is coming on channel 16 or 13.

Next day, Gulfport if staying at a marina or anchor off Ship Island. Be prepared for aggravation at the CSX Rigolets railroad bridge. Then anchor off Dauphin Island. We have had decidedly mixed experiences anchoring off the barrier islands, but at Dauphin at least you don't have much choice.

From there a long day to either Lulu's or The Wharf (expensive), or anchor in Wolf Bay. I think Barbers and Pirates Cove are gone, not sure about Bear Point. Watch the weather crossing Mobile Bay! Note that it is possible to go straight across from the Dauphin Island Bridge to ICW marker 147, bypassing the dogleg.

From there, probably anchor at the east end of Big Lagoon, just before Pensacola Inlet. Next day, outside to Destin and anchor inside Destin Harbor. Best to watch local traffic going into the inlet, the channel markers appear to be only a suggestion. Watch your depth finder, and go to within 50 yards of the bridge before turning into the harbor. I'm not aware of any places to tie up inside the harbor.

If you really are going into Choctawhatchee Bay, then outside to Panama City next, where there might be a marina to the left as you enter the inlet, or a pretty nice anchorage to the right. I don't think the Panama City marinas are up yet. From there, the ICW back into Choctawhatchee Bay, something we've never done.

You should be able to get fuel at Oak Harbor, Gulfport, Lulu's or The Wharf, Destin, and maybe Panama City. Groceries and supplies are another matter entirely, might involve a cab ride.
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Old 04-05-2021, 18:33   #3
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

Thanks for this. Incredibly helpful!
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Old 04-05-2021, 19:20   #4
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

You're very welcome. One little thing I forgot to mention, if you've never gone that way, the buoys on the east side of the Dauphin Island bridge are pretty confusing. Make sure you have them properly identified, because it gets shallow outside of the channels.
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Old 05-05-2021, 04:01   #5
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

Fuel is available in Panama city. St andrews marina is open but there is no dockage. I generally do pensacola to panama city as an overnight. you can come into st andrews bay at night with no problems it is a great straightforward inlet. you will be landlocked by bridges is chocktawhatchee bay with that airdraft
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Old 18-05-2021, 08:21   #6
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

2 follow up questions:
- Looks like getting to Miramar itself isn’t possible bc of my mast height (53’). I have to get to Miramar for work. Is there a good marina nearby where I can tie up and get a taxi/Uber
- As outlined this is a 6-7 day journey from New Orleans. If I wanted to push it on one or more days to take advantage of good weather, ideas for shortening route? I’m single handed, so want to avoid overnights and undue fatigue.
Thanks again for the hugely helpful guidance.
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Old 18-05-2021, 08:38   #7
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

There's a marina in Sandestin at Baytowne Warf.


I don't know if they have weekly slips, and it's pretty shallow there, so you have to be careful with draft, but it would be ideal for commuting to Miramar Beach.


Keep us posted with how this works out.
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Old 18-05-2021, 08:56   #8
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

Thanks. Isnt there a problem with me getting to Sandestin the Ft. Walton Beach Bridge clearance? It’s reported to be 50’ and I have a 53’ mast.
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Old 18-05-2021, 08:58   #9
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

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Thanks. Isnt there a problem with me getting to Sandestin the Ft. Walton Beach Bridge clearance? It’s reported to be 50’ and I have a 53’ mast.

The only way to get there is to go to Panama City first, and double back through the Canal.

You're right, it's a long ways to go. I suppose you could also commute from Destin Harbor, outside the bridge.
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Old 18-05-2021, 09:21   #10
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

Check on Destin pass before you commit to that. Its questionable at best. If i were you I would do a overnighter from mobile or pensacola to panama city and get it over with. for me going in to overnite costs more time than it is worth staying awake 24 hours is no big ordeal
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Old 18-05-2021, 10:46   #11
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

Thanks Lars. So overnight from Mobile to Panama City (outside), then inside from Panama City to Baytowne Warf in Sandestin?
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Old 18-05-2021, 11:03   #12
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

yes. you should be able to do pc to miramar the next day inside
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Old 18-05-2021, 11:05   #13
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

Thanks!
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Old 18-05-2021, 13:41   #14
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

If you are just really, really in a hurry then do this: Leave NOLA at first light and go straight to Gulfport, arriving around sunset if not delayed by weather, drawbridges, etc. Probably want to get fuel before going to your slip and crashing. It's not really out of your way to go into Gulfport.
Next day, get up and leave at first light again and go all the way to LuLu's. You will arrive after dark, very tired. Again, consider getting fuel before crashing.
Now you're looking at a 24 hour, give or take depending on weather, passage to Panama City. At night, in the Gulf. This is not to be taken lightly. If you can get somebody to go with you, this is the leg for it. The boat must be utterly dependable, and you must have confidence in yourself and the weather forecast. Your only real bailout points are back into Pensacola Inlet, or Destin. If single handing, then you will arrive at Panama City exhausted, and will need all day and that night to recover before continuing on to Sandestin. If you have help, and can switch up watches and get some sleep, then conceivably you could fuel up in Panama City on arrival and go on to Sandestin the same day.
Plan B, taking an extra day, would be: Gulfport, anchor towards eastern end of Dauphin Island, anchor at eastern end of Big Lagoon, thereby saving several hours on the trip to Panama City.
Note, this is a lot different than what you asked in the OP, less than 10 hours/day. Also, count on running the motor pretty much the whole way. You can raise the sails, too, if the wind is fair, but you'll need the motor to get from point A to point B by dark (or a little after dark). The real problem is that feasible stop-off places are fairly well separated on the northern Gulf Coast, so if you skip one because you're hurrying, it's a long way to the next one.
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Old 18-05-2021, 14:01   #15
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Re: New Orleans to Miramar FL (NW Gulf coast) -

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Originally Posted by letsgetsailing3 View Post
The only way to get there is to go to Panama City first, and double back through the Canal.
That is the sad truth. I've made that run before.

Quote:
You're right, it's a long ways to go. I suppose you could also commute from Destin Harbor, outside the bridge.
That's what I would do. Unless you planned to be there a really long time. Destin pass isn't bad in good weather and good sunlight (where you can read the depths).

Under no circumstances would I go through Destin Pass to the inner harbor at night, and it wouldn't take much bad weather to make me pass it up in the daytime either.

This probably sounds stupid, but don't mistake Perdido Key pass for Destin pass. I've seen that done a couple of times. There is no where to go after you go through Perdido pass if you can't go under the bridge (and you can't).
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