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 destroyed light #1 marks the entrance to the narrow, multi-marker channel into Keaton Beach.
FLORIDA – GULF OF MEXICO – CRYSTAL RIVER TO HORSESHOE POINT: Hazard to Navigation.
Keaton Beach Light 1 (LLNR 1675) is destroyed. The remains of the pile pose a hazard to navigation. Wreckage has been marked with a TRLB, Fl Q G, 4M and set 3 yards channelward in position 29-48-49.984N/083-37-43.672W. Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting the area. Chart 11408 LNM 38/16
This is one of several lights and daybeacons destroyed by Hermine in the Cedar Keys Channel. Light 30 is on the southeast side of the channel.
FLORIDA – CRYSTAL RIVER TO HORSESHOE POINT – CEDAR KEYS MAIN CHANNEL: Hazard to Navigation.
Cedar Keys Main Channel Light 30 (LLNR 29850) is destroyed. The steel pile poses a hazard to navigation. Mariners are advised to transit the area with extreme caution. Chart 11408
Light 20 marks the southeast side of the entrance into the multi-marked Cross Florida Greenway in the Big Bend Region of the West Florida Gulf coast.
FLORIDA – CRYSTAL RIVER TO HORSESHOE POINT – CROSS FLORIDA GREENWAY: Hazard to Navigation
Cross Florida Greenway Light 20 (LLNR 29205) is destroyed. The remains of the steel pile are a hazard to navigation. Wreckage has been marked with a TRLB, Fl Q R, 4M and set 5 yards channelward in position 28-56-44.293N/082-52-37.724W. Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting the area.
Chart 11408 LNM 37/16
If you are planning a crossing in October, let Sandra and SSECN hear from you!
I’m crossing Gulf Big Bend early in October, leaving out at East Pass, Carrabelle. Anyone going I could ride your wake, first timer here. Probably do 10 knots.
This destroyed daybeacon is on the south side of a narrow multi-marker channel leading to two Crystal River anchorages and two marinas further upstream.
FLORIDA – ANCLOTE KEYS TO CRYSTAL RIVER – CRYSTAL RIVER: Hazard to Navigation.
Crystal River Entrance Daybeacon 10 (LLNR 28830) is destroyed. The remains of the steel pile are partially submerged and is a hazard to navigation. Wreckage has been marked with a TRLB, Fl Q R, 4M. Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting the area. Chart 11408, 11409 LNM 36/16
Possibly destroyed by Hermine, this Northern Gulf channel light lies east of two Cedar Keys anchorages and guards charted submerged ruins.
FLORIDA – CRYSTAL RIVER TO HORSESHOE POINT – CEDAR KEYS SOUTH BAR CHANNEL: Hazard to Navigation
Cedar Keys South Bar Channel Light 2 (LLNR 29895) is destroyed. The remains of the steel poses a hazard to navigation. Wreckage has been marked with a TRLB, Fl Q R, 4M. Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting the area.
This destroyed daybeacon is on the north side of the channel leading to two anchorages near Cedar Keys.
FLORIDA – CRYSTAL RIVER TO HORSESHOE POINT – CEDAR KEYS MAIN CHANNEL: Hazard to Navigation
Cedar Keys Main Channel Daybeacon 31 (LLNR 29855) the steel pile is missing and poses a hazard to navigation. A TRLB, with Fl Q G, 4M characteristics is set on scene. Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting the area. Chart 11408 LNM 30/16
Crystal River Daybeacon 12 is on the south side of the narrow channel west of the intersection with Salt River and near Twin Rivers Marina.
FLORIDA – ANCLOTE KEYS TO CRYSTAL RIVER – CRYSTAL: Private Aid/Hazard to Navigation
Private aid Crystal River Daybeacon 12 (LLNR 28913.2) has been reported destroyed and is a hazard to navigation. Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting the area. Chart 11409 LNM 30/16
Skipper Spinucci is asking for recommendations of marinas between Clearwater and Port St. Joe. Let us hear from you.
Some help please.
I’m planning a trip from Venice, Fl to Orange Beach, Al in June 2016. I have a 315 BW, Conquest with a fuel range of a couple hundred miles depending on the sea’s. I am planning over nighters in Tampa and Clearwater. I need a stop halfway from Clearwater and Port St Joe. The marina must include transient dockage, Restaurants and nearby motels. Needless to say gas also. Any ideas?
I’m trying to keep day trips under 125 miles.
This call for a fleet formation of Gulf crossing vessels is from our good friends at AGLCA.
We are moving to Panama City today To sort of get in position for our crossing. Since it has been awhile since the weather window opened many of us have taken Eddy’s advice and been slow floating Since getting off of the rivers. Loopers are strung out from Carrabelle back to Mobile. It looks like that when a opportunity finally arrives there will be a whole armada of us moving. It would be nice to know how many, who we are and planned crossing speed.
Probably not too early to get a roll call of vessels who are staged intending to cross at the next window since we are at many different ports right now. Our plans a capability:
Panama City until the window is a day or so away. Then Apalachacola or Carrabelle (if there will even be room). If no room we are capable of going direct from Panama City.
Boat speed 7 MPH to 25 MPH. Prefer 10 – 20.
Charlie and Kay Woodard
This story of Seamanship at its best was posted by Kim Russo on AGLCA’s Forum.
A Hero in our Midst
I’d like to give some recognition to a Looper who went above and beyond and rescued a diver that was lost at sea yesterday.
Tom Duggan of “Island Time” was navigating the Crooked Island Pass near Mexico Beach, Florida, heading home from a yacht club raft-up, when a Coast Guard Mayday Call came over the radio advising of a lost diver at sea approx. 5-miles outside the St. Andrews Bay Pass. Tom immediately decided to take the long way home and steered further offshore in hopes of helping in the search for the diver. Upon reaching the search site,Tom slowed down and he, his wife Karen, and their guests starting watching the water. Right after a Coast Guard boat made a sweep a ½ mile in front of them, Tom spotted the drifting diver off the starboard side. He sounded his horn to let the diver know he was spotted, got on the radio to advise the Coast Guard vessel and slowed down to bring the diver aboard. The Coast Guard boat roared over and took the diver aboard as Island Time idled alongside. Thanks to Tom’s hunch and a lot of good luck, the diver’s life was very possibly saved to spend the rest of Fathers’ Day with his family.
Well done, Tom & the crew of Island Time!
America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association
Cedar Keys is one of a limited number of ports of call along Western Florida’s waterwayless Big Bend region, the Western Florida coastline between Anclote Key and Dog Island. The reported shoaling is in the main entrance channel to the east of Seahorse Key.
FLORIDA – CRYSTAL RIVER TO HORSESHOE POINT – CEDAR KEYS MAIN CHANNEL: Hazard to Navigation
The U.S. Coast Guard received a report of shoaling between Cedar Keys Main Channel Daybeacon 19 (LLNR 29805) 29-06-42.737N/083-02-42.411W and Cedar Keys Main Channel Light 21 (LLNR 2981) 29-06-50.837N/083-02-25.131W with depths as low as 3 ft at low tide. Mariners are advised to exercise caution while transiting the area.
Chart 11408 LNM: 23/15
Claiborne’s Comments: 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.
I will be traveling this route in a modified trihull pontoon in june. ( modified hull frame with welded steel frame to keep it solid ) what would be a good route with this boat. hopscotch ? pattern any map refrences would be great. also : hey there Rich Gano I had some emails with you. I was planning a steam boat trip on the great loop. But opted for this instead…..at least for now.
This report by good friends, Captains Baier and Landry, comes to us from the AGLCA Forum. 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. A third choice of marinas, but with only 4ft depth, is Gulfstream Marina located on the Steinhatchee’s southerly banks just upstream from Sea Hag Marina.
We’ve been in and out of the Steinhatchee and you should not have any problem as long as you pay attention and stay inside the channel markers. There are two marinas, Sea Hag which is before the bridge and River Haven which will require being able to clear the 25 foot bridge to access. We’re heading there as soon as the weather opens up. We’re currently in Carrabelle.
Chuck Baier and Susan Landry
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.