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Beersmith 01-03-2010 17:47

Tampa Bay to Ft. Myers
I am transporting my boat from Inglis on the West coast of Florida to St. Augustine on the East using the Okeechobee Waterway. This past weekend I brought it down from Inglis to Gulfport, outside of St. Petersburg. The next leg will be from Gulfport to Ft. Myers. I have next Monday through Friday to get the leg done and could use advice on the trip down the ICW on where to anchor or dock, local knowledge of uncharted hazards, and how I should plan the route down there in general. I would like to anchor most nights but if there are cheap or free docks along the way I'll take that for a night or two I draw 5' and my mast top is 49' for your reference. I plan on getting it to Ft. Myers and keeping it in the area for about a week or two before I can get the help to do the Okeechobee Waterway leg. Advice on where to keep the boat in Ft. Myers would also be helpful.


Sea Yawl Later 01-03-2010 19:23

There is a huge mooring field in Ft Myers. We were there about a week ago. I think the cost of $13.00 a day or $260.00 a month. The Matanzas Inn manages the mooring field for the city. The Harbormaster # is 239-463-9258.We were only there one night but it was quite nice. The fee gives you dinghy dock privileges, trash disposal, free internet, shower and laundry facilities at the Matanzas Inn. We really didn't take advantage of any of the facilities because we were only there one night. We ate at Doc Ford's which was good but pricey.

Sea Yawl Later!!


rustypirate 01-03-2010 19:51

Personally I would take the gulf route rather than the ICW. There are plenty of drawbridges crossing the ICW and you will most likely need to wait for them. The depth outside the channel can be VERY shallow.

Depending on what time you make, I beleive you can anchor overnight in Sarasota south of the Yacht Club.

Another good stoping point is Venice or Englewood if you make better time.

Sea Yawl Later 01-03-2010 20:05

The Gulf is always our first choice but the weather has not been good enough to take the Gulf route. For the next few days it is going to be really nasty. That is why we are sitting in Marathon waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. We used Skipper Bob's Cruising the Gulf Coast and was able to time the bridges fairly well. We were impressed at how easy it was. Maybe we were just lucky but we really sailed through them fairly quickly. Anyway, for us because of the condition of the Gulf we really had no other choice. Good luck and have a great trip.

markpj23 02-03-2010 04:57

The Salty Southeast Cruisers Net website is the best source of information for anchorages along your intended route. Best of all it's free....

dixonwj 02-03-2010 08:08

Nice anchorage in the mouth of the Braden river at Desoto Point. Mooring field at Marina Jacks in Sarasota. No good or cheap stopover near Venice. Anchorages off both sides of ICW near Stump Pass. Excellent anchorage at Pelican Bay Just south of Boca Grande pass. Nother 25-30 miles gets you to Ft Myers. Municipal mooring field up the Caloosahatchee near downtown Ft M. Mooring field at Ft Myers Beach that somebody described previously

scallywag 02-03-2010 08:42

I took that trip about 7 years ago. My boat draws 4 and 1/2 feet. The first day, I ran aground trying to pull into a marina just north of the fishing pier at Bradenton. The approach was a "S". With a 6 inch tide range, I had to be pulled off. The second day , I ran aground in the middle of the channel in the ICW. We had to be pulled off by a power boater. From then on the trip was uneventful. We stayed at a nice marina north of Ft. Myers. We refueled in Ft. Myers and found a small marina on the cut to the lake. Check to make sure the water level is up on Lake Okochobee by calling the Army Corp of Engineers. Be sure your mast height allows to to pass through the bridge just before Indiantown Marian. It took us a good 12 hours to cross the lake and arrive at Indiantown Marina. Indiantown Marina, Indiantown, Florida, Martin County, St. Lucie Waterway, Lake Okeechobee, Hurricane Hideaway, Boating I have been told Indiantown no longer carries fuel. It was another of our refueling stops. The trip took me a total of 11 days. Most of the days were underway for 11 or 12 hours. The marinas are open from 8 or 9 A.M. until 5 P.M. The run from Daytona to St. Augustine was our shortest. It was 8 hours. Wish you a pleasant trip.


Dockhead 02-03-2010 16:33

If the weather's good, sail in the Gulf all the way down and duck inside just for the night. The ICW is quite tedious and shallow, particularly the last bit behind Sanibel Island locally known as the "miserable mile". I was there just a couple of weeks ago.

Try to get a copy of "Anchorages of Southwest Florida" before you go. The ICW is terrible, but there are a multitude of excellent anchorages between Tampa and Ft. Myers because there are very significant barrier islands all the way down (Boca Grande, Capitva, Sanibel and others).

But due to the very shallow, treacherous water, you really must have a pilot book and study it carefully. Be careful also about the passes between the Gulf and the protected water behind the barrier islands. Hurricane Charlie a few years back moved a lot of the channels, and many charts are not up to date. Redfish Pass is now in a completely different place.

There are many joys in those waters, however. Charlotte Harbor has a lot of interesting spots, and I love Pelican Bay, Safety Harbor, the Cheeseburger in Paradise on Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, Ding Darling at the southern tip of Sanibel. There are a few good marinas in those parts, all of them very expensive, but worth it for a break and a hot shower/laundry splurge -- South Seas, and Tween Waters.

Make sure you have an up to date pilot book and up to date charts, and study them very attentively. You will have to really do the pilotage right, in that shallow water there. Are you a Towboat U.S. member?

FloridaWriter 02-03-2010 17:24

Go outside. It's an easy overnight passage.

Beersmith 04-03-2010 18:43

Ok it looks like good weather to head outside on an overnighter Saturday night. We will leave Gulfport around 3:00 p.m. Can anyone recommend a route to get south of the bay? Should I go out and west of Egmont Key then southeast, or go south on the channel next to the Skyway, and exit the bay south of Egmont Key? The charts make the southside look a little narrow, would I have any problems with my 5' draft?

FloridaWriter 04-03-2010 21:09

I would head out the main channel, and turn southwest at the #1 sea buoy. Once you get a bit offshore, turn south. Stay offshore enough to avoid any traffic out of the Boca Grande channel. You can follow the depth lines all the way down the coast. Watch the depth around the bottom of Sanibel, as you make your turn east. The shoaling extends quite a bit south.

BTW the Downeaster 38 is a lovely boat!

Fair winds,

Beersmith 04-03-2010 21:18

Would I exit out of Pass-A-Grille inlet? From there it looks like I would need to cut West a good ways to avoid shoaling. Is it safe to cross the channel at the yellow "P" bouy? All of that spoil area and blotches of shallower water give me nerves. I figure from there turn towards #1?

FloridaWriter 05-03-2010 06:21

I would head west out Pass-A-Grille to a depth line of about 20 feet, then to a way point on the number 5 main channel buoy (around 27.35.916N, 82.55.560W) and once you pick up that waypoint turn south and then south east. You will be around the 45' depth line and follow that down till you get off Sanibel.

billangiep 05-03-2010 06:52

Ive done it both ways.......
If leaving from the pass-a-grille channel clear marker two, turn south to the swash channel off mullet key (I've never seen less than 7' ft. through there) cross the ship channel east of Egmont to marker "3 and then south west to green marker "1"
Alternatively you can cross the ship channel at markers 11 &12 with 18' plus soundings over the spoil area.

speciald@ocens. 05-03-2010 09:12

Heading up the East side of Florida willbe a problem this time of year. You will need to spend most of the trip inside as the North Easters will pass off the coast every three or four days so the Gulf Stream will be a nightmare.

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