Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
This shoaling at the southern tip of Anclote Key was enough to set a Navigation Alert in May of this year, see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=140538. Obviously, the shoaling has become much more severe since May. Take care!
FLORIDA – TAMPA BAY TO PORT RICHEY – ANCLOTE SOUTH ENTRANCE: Severe Shoaling
Shoal exists with a depth of 2ft at high tide in approximate position 28-09-12.60N/082-50-12.00W shoal runs NW to SE between DBN 5 (LLNR 26085) and LT 7 (LLNR 26100)and extending across the channel. The Lateral Daymarks have been removed from Daybeacon 5(LLNR 26085) and 6 (LLNR 26095) and replaced with Non-lateral White Daymarks “DANGER SHOAL”. TRUB, 5 has established in position 28-09-04.908N/082-50-20.881W and TRUB, 5A established in position 28-09-16.279N/082-50-10.078W. Chart 11411
Here is very good advice about the Gulf crossing called Big Bend from our friends on the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association’s Forum. For more on the Big Bend region from Claiborne himself, see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=105951
I hope for you all at Joe Wheeler right now that you are encouraged to NOT do the Big Bend in one overnight as most do. Go to Crystal River, Steinhatchie, etc places, especially if you draw 4′ or less even though we know of 5′ drafts that do it all the time. You will be glad you did. Of course it is dicey getting in and out somewhat, but you’ve already been tougher places to navigate on the loop for most at this juncture. Swim with the manatees at Crystal River at least.
John and Sue Winter
And from our friends, Chuck Baier and Susan Landry:
A good suggestion. We have been in and out of the rivers mentioned and enjoyed every one visited. Although the approach channels were indeed long, we never found getting into the rivers “dicey”. As a matter of fact, it was
much easier than many other places we have visited. The only caution is to watch depths after strong north and east winds have been blowing for a few days. We plan to return to the St. Marks, Steinhatchee, Withlacoochee and
Crystal River on our return trip south, which we plan to begin at the end of October.
Chuck and Susan
Here’s a really neat and useful video that will be of interest to ALL mariners contemplating a cruise of Western Florida’s Big Bend region. Our thanks to Skippers Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, owners of Beach House Publications, publishers of “The Great Book of Anchorages,” (http://www.tgboa.com) for providing this very visual aid. Wow, makes me want to visit Crystal River ASAP!
Please check out:
I have often said, but it’s worth repeating, that if you get six veteran cruisers together, and ask their opinion about the best way to cruise the waterwayless “Big Bend” region of Western Florida, moving north from Tarpon Springs and Anclote Key to Dog Island and the charming village of Carrabelle (or the other way around), you will get eight different opinions.
On the one hand, some argue for “cutting the corner” and heading directly from Dog Island straight for Anclote Key or Clearwater. There are a whole set of issues around this strategy such as what time of day (or night) do you depart, and the presence of crabpots and fish traps as one approaches Anclote Key.
The other strategy is to follow the Big Bend Coastline, keeping WELL offshore, to avoid the large shelf of shallows which jut out from this portion of the Florida coastline. This plan allows visits to the Big Bend rivers, which pierce the coastline at regular intervals, and are joined to the Gulf’s deeper waters by marked, dredged channels. Following some of these passages can be a real navigational challenge, and some of these stream’s entrance cuts carry only 4 to 4 1/2 feet of water. Others are somewhat deeper, but none are a proverbial walk in the park.
Below, you will find excerpts from a recent string of messages which have appeared on the “GL” (Great Loop) mailing list. As you will see, a full spectrum of opinions is on display here as well.
Although most “loopers” seem to bypass the Big Bend, we are interested in actually experiencing some of the old Florida areas that are apparently still very much alive and well, if water depth and weather permits.
Sanderling is currently in Carrabelle at the C-Quarters marina while we’re enjoying a few months at home. We want to resume our cruise homeward to Merritt Island once the winter winds subside and water levels return to near “normal,” temps warm up, and daylight is longer – probably March.
We have visited St. Marks, Steinhatchee, and Cedar Key by car on our way to and from Sanderling, and would like to visit all three on our way around the Big Bend to Tarpon Springs. Might also consider Crystal River.
At least one boater has visited both St. Marks and Steinhatchee in a DF 49 with a 5 foot draft (our DF 41 is 4 feet).
Has anyone cruised into those three areas (St. Marks, Steinhatchee, Cedar Key) or Crystal River in a boat with 4+ foot draft, and what was your experience with the water depths and anchorages/marinas?
Any thoughts or suggestions welcome!
Judy Young & Bob McLeran
When we were in Carrabelle my assessment was that the northerly winds that are favorable to leave will also blow or the water in those ports. I was trying hard to avoid the long overnight run and kept looking at all options very seriously.
I was warned by the guys at C Quarters that Steinhatchee entrance can get quite shallow even on a good day. They tried to talk me out of going there. Then add to it the effect of the North wind which will make it even lower. I saw it as a crap shoot and decided against putting myself in that potential situation.
I chose the overnight crossing and went straight to Clearwater instead of Tarpon Springs. It was a small additional time but there are far less crab pots approaching Clearwater.
Left the bay near Carrabelle at noon and arrived at the Wrights at 3rd next day.
We had a DeFever 44+5 with a 4′-7″ draft (5′ w/Admiral’s stuff). Cannot attest to the depths now, but we went into St. Marks in May of 2006 & had no problems. Also, no problems with Steinhatchee & Cedar Key in December of 2007. Best I remember we went into both places on a rising tide. Never did go into Crystal River, but had friends that have been in there with 4′-6″ draft & had no trouble.
Don’t believe I would make the trip today into any of those places until the wind blows the water back into the bays.
Leaving for the Big Bend in March is a good plan, better later in the month once the prevailing winds shift back to the southeast. That will return your channels to their charted depths. Ideally, you can leave one port and arrive in the next at high tide to reduce the margin of risk. Those tides are about 13 hours apart and if you hit the time just right, you can ride your departing high tide all down the coast. I have been through the Big Bend in a 4 foot draft sailboat and this strategy worked well. April would even work better for you.
I’ve been in and out of a few but not all of these places. I think that if you can plan your arrival or departures around the tides you will be OK with 4′ draft and a single screw. The problem is that north winds blow all the water out and if you are unlucky enough to combine that with spring lows your draft will most assuredly exceed your depth.
Crystal River is typical of many Big Bend rivers. It is about eight miles in (and back out) from the Gulf, which makes the day’s travel a couple hours longer than you might think.
We have cruised the Big Bend several times in Silver Boots drawing five feet with stops at Steinhatchie and Cedar Key.
We have found we need one foot above winter low tide to enter the Steinhatchie channel. There is one floating green channel marker and this is the low spot. We have stayed at the Sea Hag marina.
We have entered Cedar Key from both north and south and do not suggest the north west channel because of shoaling. At high tide we have scraped bottom. The south Main Ship channel has plenty of depth but becomes tricky as you approach the intersection with the north west channel. Study the charts carefully and understand the zig zag route you will follow. No marina and very little protection in this anchorage.
Jim & Pam Shipp
aboard Silver Boots
Steinhatchee, FL. is our hailing port , we sail in and out frequently. We have two sailboats there a 50 ft. Gulf Star Texas, and a Islander 36 that both draw six feet. As long as you keep it in the channel there is no problem navigating in and out here. We’ve also been in and out of Crystal River a few times with these vessels. You need a good peak high tide going in as there is a shallow sand bar to cross, or there was last time we went in?
To me, the draft of your boat is the biggest consideration. My boat draws 5 feet and I always cut across, usually from Carravelle to Clearwater, or vice versa. If you are not in a hurry, don’t just wait for the weather, wait for a night with a full or nearly full moon, and it will make the night passage a lot more fun. It’s an easy one nighter.
With less draft, there are several places that would be fun to stop and visit.
For boats planning to arrive Crystal River – We live in Crystal River and home port our 44′ Island Gypsy here. We draft 4.5 feet. With the low tides we are having now, we only move at near high tide and even then there are several areas in the river that we clear with only 2.5 feet under the keel. The river will lull you with stretches of 12-14 feet and suddenly 2 to 3 feet under your keel – go slow. The channel inbound from CR1 to Shell Island also has several areas with the same depths so from CR1 to Kings Bay needs to be done slowly. Things will improve with the arrival of spring tides but for now deeper draft boats should exercise caution and only transit at high tide.
Doug & Virginia Hall M/V Lotus
WE have sailed the St. Marks/Shell Point area for years. St. Marks is not problem, the channel is dredged for large fuel barges and has plenty of water. Shields Marina is a very nice facility and anchoring well up the St. Marks river is a wonderful wilderness experience. There is plenty of water up the river to the large powerlines that cross just south of US 98 bridge. The St. Mark’s wildlife refuge borders the east side of the river and the flloodplain on the west has a few docks and houses, but you cannot see most of the houses. When anchor overnight you are usually alone are with light traffic and you really think you are in a jungle. This is truly an undiscovered part of the big bend. Try the Riverside restaurant which has music most weekends and a transient dock.
MSV Banana Wind
I’ve said it many times, but it’s worth repeating. If you get six cruisers together and ask their opinions on the best way to cross Western Florida’s waterwayless “Big Bend” region, you’ll get eight different opinions. Some argue vehemently for cutting the corner and heading straight from Dog Island (Carrabelle, FL) or Panama City, straight to Anclote Key or Clearwater, FL. Others are equally convinced the best way to make this passage is to follow the Big Bend shoreline, keeping well offshore to avoid the huge shelf of shallows running west into the Gulf of Mexico from this portion of the Florida coastline. Then, there is the issue of the best time of day (or night) to depart. Throw in a mix of these various alternatives, and you have an endless variety of opinions.
Here is a string which just appeared on the AGLCA forum.
Can someone tell me if it is possible to leave from Dog Island in the dark early morning hours to cross over to the west coast of Florida. I have been through there three times and don’t remember if there are crab pots in that area. My boat can do 12-13 mph without burning excessive fuel, but that isn’t quite enough time to cross in daylight at this time of year. We did a daylight crossing from Crystal River in 2012 when we came north, but I would prefer going farther down the Florida West coast.
We have crossed from behind Dog Island three times, last time three years ago. I have left at 2 am and at 4am, go thorough East Pass to the lighted buoy and direct to Anclote Key. I have never noticed crab pots at Dog Island, however, at the East end of the journey, they are thick. I run about 12-14 MPH for the first 6 hours and then adjust my speed to match getting into Tarpon Springs before 4pm. We usually anchor at the power plant. We are headed that way this year on our way to the Bahamas and intend to use the same strategy. We operate a 48′ Tolly and it is good to see another Tolly out here.
Robert and Patty Mitchell with Maggi the wonder dog
Now here’s a good deal, just for being a SSECN reader! This $.10 per gallon discount, offered with no minimum purchase when staying overnight, is typically reserved for fuel purchases over a 1000 gallons.
The Panama City Municipal Marina is lies immediately adjacent to the Northern Gulf ICW, one block from Downtown Panama City. And, of course, they are A SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!
We offer $.10 off per gallon for any transient [overnight dockage required] that mentions seeing this on Cruisersnet.
We continue to hear only good things about this marina. See http://cruisersnet.net/?p=46813 MS Dockside Marina is located at 292 Graham Drive in Carrabelle which is at the eastern end of the Northern Gulf Waterway. The phone is 850-697-3337. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: The MS stands for Marine Systems.
Although we are not currently cruising (we are home in Carrabelle FL) we really wanted to applaud the staff of the MS Dockside Marina here at home. We chose this town in a great part because of this marina, and we continue to be amazed at their expertise and kindness. If anyone needs any kind of mechanical help just before or after the crossing between the northern gulf and the west coast of FL, these are the guys to see. They are skilled, professional, and will do what it takes to correct your problem. We are so grateful to have them right here in our own town.
Hope you are doing okay. We think of you often.
Tim and Lisa Keith-Lucas
MV Santa Catalina de Guale
If this SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR facility racks up many more laudatory comments, we may have to open a separate page. Really, from all reports, you can’t do better than coil your lines at Port St. Joe Marina.
This facility is accessed from the Northern Gulf ICW by way of the Gulf County Canal, which cuts south off the Waterway between Apalachicola and Panama City. The side trip is well worthy your time!!!
My wife and I just spent four days at Port St Joe marina waiting for the weather to improve enough to make the overnight crossing. Lisa and her team are the friendliest folks you will ever meet. Their facilities are excellent and everything you need is within walking distance or a short ride on one of their complimentary bicycles. Port St Joe will always be a stop whenever we are in the area.
I agree. This is a great marina. The only caution is to be ready for the sharp turn coming in. We stayed here a couple of nights and loved it.
This just in from our good friends at TowBoat/US. Looks like the Tampa Bay franchise of this very popular service is really up to snuff!
Notice this franchise has satellite operations on the Western Florida coastline, from Tampa Bay north through the Big Bend region!
CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla., January 29, 2013 — An on-the-water towboat company that helps Gulf Coast boaters get home safely was singled out for its professionalism at the BoatUS Towing Services Annual Conference recently held in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Tower of the Year honors went to TowBoatUS Tampa Bay, which is owned and operated by Capt. Larry Tieman and Capt. Clayton Tieman. The company has eight locations along the Gulf Coast from Tampa Bay to Cedar Key, including St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Hudson, Homosassa River, Crystal River and Yankeetown.
The company also received two additional awards – the BoatUS Membership Achievement Award for selling the most BoatUS memberships in the entire fleet, and was honored with the BoatUS Dispatchers Choice Award, given by the dispatching staff at the BoatUS 24-hour call centers for providing members with fast response and utmost professionalism during the dispatch process.
“We have grown our business to become the largest BoatUS towing service provider in the United States and we are very proud of our accomplishments,” said Capt. Larry Tieman. “With fourteen boats and sixteen captains, we handle over 2,500 requests a year for on-the-water assistance. If you’re broken down or run out of gas near shore, we’re very proud that we can get a bright red towboat with a professional captain to your location in usually an hour or less,” he added.
“The Tieman’s operation is the standard bearer that many in our towing fleet look up to, showing others how to run a successful on-the-water towing business in one of the busiest regions of the country,” said BoatUS Vice President and Director of Towing Services Adam Wheeler. “And they do it professionally, with the great care that our members deserve, and always with a positive attitude.”
BoatUS Towing Services offers an “unlimited” towing plan for Florida boaters for just $149 a year, which includes BoatUS membership. Without a towing plan, the national average out-of-pocket cost for a tow is about $600. For membership and towing information visit http://www.BoatUS.com/towing or call 800-888-4869.
I have lost count of the number of times I’ve said this, but it bears repeating. If you get a dozen veteran cruisers together, you will get at least twenty different opinions about how best to cross Western Florida’s waterwayless “Big Bend” region. For those who have never cruised these waters, the Western Florida’s ICW’s northern terminus is at Anclote Key, while the Northern Gulf ICW does not begin its east to west trek until one reaches Dog Island and the charming village of Carrabelle.
In between is better than a hundred miles of coastline, with a LARGE shelf of shallow water jutting for miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. These shallows are pierced at fairly regular intervals by man-made channels, leading to the Big Bend rivers such as the Crystal, the Withlacoochee, the Suwanee and the Steinhatchee. Some of these entrance passages are fairly reliable, while others are not.
So, rather than follow the Big Bend coastline, staying several miles offshore, some mariners choose to cut the corner, and head (northbound) directly for Dog Island or Panama City.
Whichever route you choose, there ARE challanges. Some day I must relate the story of the most disastrous yacht deliver in which I ever participated, all of which took place in the Big Bend region. But that’s another story for another day.
For now, let’s all give a good listen to the excellent advice offered by veteran cruiser Captain Bob Duthie below. His words are well worth your time!
I enjoyed reading this post as it sounded similar to our experience crossing the gulf. The unforecasted winds in the gulf on our trip blew up at night unlike what we were used to everywhere else where the winds tend to die down at night. On our crossing the night winds came from the north-east. There are a few things that might make a more comfortable crossing compared to the course that Muddy Waters took. We did the crossing in a 36 Grand Banks with no stabilizers. We had 4 adults aboard and changed the watch after dark every hour. The autopilot did all the steering and we planned a straight line course without any deviations.
1. Leave from Carrabelle and go staight to Tarpon Springs which is 168 miles vs 180 miles for Appalcahcola to Clearwater. This means less time on the gulf.
2. Stay 50 miles from shore in deep water to avoid all the crab pots that are found 20 miles from shore. Don’t follow the Big Bend.
3. With north-east or north-west winds you will be rolling uncomfortably. Since you are 50 miles out, you can turn to the east so the winds are now on the bow/stern or one quarter. This reduces or eliminates the rolling.
Slow down from 8 mph to 5 mph since you don’t want to get too close to shore at night and the slower speed makes it easier to take the waves. The up and down motion is much easier for people and all the stuff inside than rolling. The autopilot also can maintain a straight course.
4. I estimated the highest wave at 8 ft when the bow platform was buried once into a wave with green water coming over and along the decks.
5. At 5:00AM the sun came up and the wind died down. At about 10 miles off Cedar Key we changed course and headed for Tarpon Springs. The strings of crab pots were now easy to see.
6. Overall it took us 24 hours vs a planned 18 hours and we went 25 miles further due to the change in course.
OK, folks, everyone has to take a look at this series of messages just copied from the AGLCA forum. All I can add is that this reminds me very much of the lyrics of one of my favorite 1960′s songs:
“It’s a strange, strong world we live in, Master Jack!”
Memsahib was stopped by Homeland Security for a routine document check about 10 miles south of Tarpon Springs. The Coasties didn’t even come aboard — we just handed them our papers and that was it. But it was a nice day and they hung around talking about the boat and the trip. etc.
One of my comments was that I couldn’t understand the economics of the stone crab business because on our Gulf crossing we started seeing pots 32-35 miles out of Tarpon in 50 feet of water. How could anyone afford to fish those traps? The boss security guy became very, very interested and asked if they were rows or singles (singles and pairs), whether there was evidence of any otherpot lines in the area (no), whether we saw any suspicious boats (no — just that night’s Looper Flotilla). Seems that planes are dropping drugs way out and marking them with crab pot floats so nobody thinks anything about it.
Thanks to a rendezvous with Catmandu to dodge pots, we were exactly on the rhumb line to Buoy R4, so I was able to give them a pretty accurate description of where the pots were, but I didn’t have my tracking feature turned on, so couldn’t give them a GPS fix.
I would strongly suggest that if any future crossers see single spots way out in deep water, that they plug in a waypoint and phone it in when you land. Also, that’s another good reason to reach Crabland well after dawn,
since running into a black Cigarette boat full of drug fishermen wouldn’t be any more fun than snagging a pot line.
For what’s it worth, when we came across last week, the crab pots appeared to be in straight lines, typical of normal fishing style. When we saw a single, we sometimes had to really look for its mates but normally saw them. Also, we observed typical lobster boats working those traps. That said, everyone should stay alert to suspecious activity. Cruisers are the best eyes and ears for Homeland Security and they know it.
Tom’s right, what appear to be isolated pots could well be in lines so far apart that they are hard to spot. Still, I felt badly that I couldn’t give them a good fix, and hope any ohters spotting really dodgy ones will do so.
C-Quarters Marina is located on the Carrabelle River in Carrabelle, Florida. This full service marina features 67 boat slips. The marina has a complete ship store for your cruising and fishing needs. www.c-quartersmarina.com
Carrabelle is a must stop for preparing to cross the Gulf and two marinas are always highlighted. We have always stayed at the Moorings which is a wonderful, up scale marina and very popular. This trip we tried C-Quarters and found that they too are a wonderful stop. They continued the Carrabelle tradition of caring about their customers and insisted that we give them a safe arrival call when we arrived at our destination. We couldn’t ask for anyone more helpful. Stay safe,
The praise just keeps pouring into the SSECN concerning this wonderful facility. It is accessed via the Gulf County Canal, which departs the Northern Gulf ICW between Apalachicola and Panama City, and runs south to St. Joseph Bay. Port St. Joe Marina lies hard by the town of, what else, Port St. Joe. And, these good people are a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!
Our stay at Port St Joe Marina was ideal. Everyone was so helpful. This is certainly a good stop for getting ready for your crossing. Please see previous tome on that subject.
This wonderful facility is accessed by the Gulf County Canal, which departs the Northern Gulf ICW between Apalachicola and Panama City, and runs south to St. Joseph Bay. Port St. Joe Marina lies hard by the town of, what else, Port St. Joe. And, these good people are a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!
We have been in Port St Joe Marina for 2 days now and have been told 3 times that the water is too shallow for our 5 feet draft. Folks, that is just not so. We have seen water only down to 8 feet at the transient dock and that is at low tide with a north wind blowing. The marina has even deeper spots available. Give them a try, even Mikie likes it (am I showing my age to remember that?). Stay safe,
There have been MANY other postings here on the SSECN about a shallow water bar at the entrance to the Suwanee River, from the Gulf’s waters. Never before, however, have we heard of someone with a draft of 15.5 inches having problems. Looks like Tranqilo found deeper water with a bit of work.
And, their note about “avoiding all shoals” may be a bit optimistic. I have never found more than 4 1/2 feet of water over the entrance bar a low tide.
Our draft is 15.5 inches. We had 1 problem with shoaling at low tide coming out of Suwannee River. We are able to pole back into deep water with a boat hook and a zodiac paddle. A route can be plotted that avoids all shoals. Try a mid tide for entry into any of the well-marked channels to these out of the way places.
The Suwanee River is arguably, along with the Withlacoochee River, the most beautiful of the Western Florida Big Bend rivers. The Suwanee offers many superb anchorages, and one basic marina.
HOWEVER, there is an entrance bar which carries a slim 4-feet, or even slightly less, at MLW. Once on the stream’s interior reaches, depths improve considerably, but you may have to work the tides to make good your entry and egress!
Like Captains Judith and Paul, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the seafood at Salty Creek Fish Company restaurant. Year in and year out, it’s been some of the very best I’ve ever had!
See you there!
The wild and beautiful Suwanee River was next on the list, bypassing Cedar Key about which we had not heard good things. We stopped at Miller’s Marina for fuel and a pumpout. This is a very basic place on a lovely pool approached from the river by a leafy narrow canal. A short walk to The Salt River Seafood Company Restaurant provided us with a delicious lunch. We understand they will let you stay the night at their dock for free if you eat there. 350 people call this village home with 750 vacation homes–small is an overstatement. Predicted stormy weather prevented our anchoring out up the Suwannee which we very much wish we had been able to do–you know, the song and all!
Judith and Paul
Personally, I prefer Pete’s Pier, farther upstream on Crystal River, to Twin Rivers Marina, but, hey, that’s just me, and it is certainly a far longer cruise from the Gulf to reach Pete’s. So, read up on both, and make your decision accordingly.
After a few hours of being hammered on the open Gulf, we slipped into the first marina on Crystal River, Twin Rivers Marina. They are 6 miles from town, but had a floating dock for us which we prefer, being so small. One
could stay in town at Pete’s Pier. TRW is a full service marina, and we need a wiper repair and a stove repair after our Gulf ride. Crystal River is home to the largest herd of manatees in Florida. Photographing manatees
is similar to dolphins–as soon as you focus, they are gone.
We are waiting here for a window to get down to Tarpon Springs and back on the ICW. We have met friendly people and had quiet, secure havens and would highly recommend Florida’s “Forgotten Coast” to complete your Loop experience.
Judith and Paul
Sea Hag Marina is the best facility for cruising size craft on the Big Bend’s Steinhatchee River. While, as is usual with Big Bend Rivers, the Steinhatchee entrance channel is a long, drawn-out affair, from the deeper Gulf waters, it is well marked and perhaps the deepest of the Big Bend river channels.
Next we went to Sea Hag marina in Steinhatchee. There is a post office, good grocery store and several restaurants. Fiddler’s Restaurant will come to the marina, pick you up and bring you back. Delicious seafood dinner. We took our zodiac up the river for a few hours as the weather was not condusive for anchoring out.
Judith and Paul
It’s a long trek down a well marked channel from the waters of the Northern Gulf to reach Shield’s Marina, but it’s worth it. We have always found this to be a superior marina.
I’m particularly intrigued by Captain Judith’s reference to the “new Shields Marina.” Perhaps there have been improvements here since I last visited. Anyone have more info about that?
Our first stop was St. Mark’s (20 miles south of Tallahassee), staying at the new Shield’s Marina (showers/laundry/well stocked chandlery/full service) and a couple of anchorages in the beautiful St. Mark’s River. We lunched at the Riverside (Paradise) Cafe, walked the park, museum/fort, and the railroad converted to bike path. The area/fort has been significant historically since the 1500′s (and 12,000 yrs before) under the control of 9 different cultures. The area provided the most important salt for the Confederate troups. They have a post office and a limited grocery store and are the heart of the Stone Crab industry with a festival in October. A man came to talk with us for awhile and loaned us his car to go to the St. Mark’s Wildlife Preserve and The Lighthouse. We saw many alligators sunning. We found out later, the owner will loan you his car for Walmart or the lighthouse/nature preserve tour.
Judith and Paul