Boca Grande – Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage lies on the charted basin, north of the primary Boca Grand entrance channel, which itself lies west, northwest of the West Florida ICW’s unlighted daybeacon #2.
June 7 2014
Basically the anchorage is a wide spot in a very active waterway, with fishing boats coming and going constantly (there was a tarpon tournament that weekend). Necessary to “Med moor” with a stern anchor near the adjacent mangroves to stay out of the water way. Had a NW wind which was helpful, a SW or South wind would tend to push you into the water way. Whenever there are Mangroves there are bugs so be prepared.
Sanibel Island Marina is located near the island’s southern tip (Point Ybel), and within walking distance of the lighthouse.
Sanibel Marina is like no other. It is family-owned and there is a lot of attention to detail, including great signage and beautiful flowers. This marina should be a definite stop in your SW Florida cruising adventures. Tom, the Harbor Master, doesn’t know a stranger, and he has a great team.
Gramma Dot’s is simply one of the best restaurants in the area. And, the food is consistently terrific. Take note, Gramma Dot’s is VERY BUSY (open for lunch and dinner) and reservations are not accepted. You must be seated by 8:00 for dinner or you will be heading elsewhere.
If you have a stand up paddle board or kayak, allow time to paddle around the canals and/or out into the bay. Billy’s Bike Rentals will deliver rental bikes upon request. The Ship’s Store has basics. A 1/2 mile walk to the east on Periwinkle will take you to Gepetto’s Beach Foodies for gourmet provisions and amzing pastries as well as to The Lighthouse Cafe for a great breakfast.
Sanibel Marina is special!
Skipper Colgan describes a channel from the Waterway to South Seas Resort and Redfish Pass which departs the Waterway southwestward and is marked by a series of non-waterway buoys 24, 23, 22, etc into South Seas Resort.
I recently found a channel from GICW to South Seas Resort on Captiva Island with reworked channel markers starting south of ICW “39″ in descending order, then making a dogleg to right and eventually leading to Redfish Pass. South Seas entrance is to port prior to Redfish. Redfish Pass is now a straight heading out of 270 with proper buoyage. The 1,4,5 aids on charts have been relocated to mark current channel. South Seas Resort has a handout printed showing both.
One of the most important personal marina visits on my Western Florida speaking/research tour of 2/9/14 to 2/16/14, was to call at Boca Grande Marina, A SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, on lovely Gasparilla Island. I knew this facility has just dredged, and sported entirely new docks. And so, it was with more than a little pleasant anticipation that I drove my “land yacht” across the causeway and down the length of the island, on my way to Boca Grande Marina.
The reality I discovered upon seeing the new iteration of this fine facility was NOT disappointing. The new, modern, composite decked docks represent a huge improvement over the old, tired, wooden decked piers. And, tied up in the marina’s wet slips, I discovered a whole host of friends from Isles Yacht Club, where I had just spoken the previous evening. Everyone agreed that Boca Grande Marina was now a facility “worth visiting again.”
I also had lunch at the on-site Eagle Grill, located on the second floor of the building overlooking the harbor. My grouper sandwich was yummy, and the view was all that might be asked. The interior furnishings were what could only be described as “sumptuous.” All in all, a GREAT spot for a memorable lunch or dinner.
Downstairs, cruisers will discover an open air dining choice, known as Miller’s Dockside, recalling the original name of this marina, back in the “bad old days,” thankfully, now long in the past. I did not get the chance to sample the cuisine downstairs, but if it’s anything like the upstairs bill of fare, you will want to make the acquaintance of this dining attraction as well.
As usual, I’ve wandered a bit from my subject, which is to describe Boca Grande Marina’s entrance channel, and the good effects on this passage brought about by the recent dredging. Prior to the dredging project, the problem with accessing Boca Grande Marina was that, for years, a long, long shoal had been building farther and farther to the west from Boca Grande Bayou’s southside entrance point, south of marker #7.
While, due to permitting restrictions, the marina was not allowed to entirely remove this shoal, the dredging did drive it back to the east. That represents a considerably improvement, but Dockmaster Garrett Lown still suggests cruisers observe the following procedure:
After passing marker #7 to its northern side, proceed on to the west for a boat length or so, and only then turn to the south, heavily favoring the westerly shores. This procedure will cause your vessel to pass west of the shoal, and hard by the private homes and docks which flank the bayou’s western shoreline.
I also observed two green, spar type, floating buoys outlining the western and northwestern edge of the entrance shoal. DO NOT APPROACH THESE SPAR BUOYS CLOSELY. They are founded in the edge of the shallow water.
The marina staff also suggests that you give them a call on VHF channel 16 prior to running the entrance channel, and they will be glad to update you on any recent changes to the above procedure.
So, now you know how to safely visit one of the most improved marinas on the Western Florida coastline, and some of the reasons to choose a visit to this facility. There are LOTS more attractions in the nearby village of Boca Grande, all within walking distance, but that’s another story for another day!
a month or so ago i took a dingy ride into this marina, had to push a boat off the bar coming into #7, watch you stern coming in. I have heard the the dockage price is a little steep other then that it looked nice from the water.
nick chavasse sv war depart
Your praise of Boca Grande Marina was well placed. We love it. However, Millers Dockside Grill is great. However, I don’t look at the old Miller’s Marina as the “bad old days”. It was just different. We loved it, too. It was a happening place with fishing boats coming and going. I have saved one of the “T” shirts from the 25th anniversary tarpon tournament for a souvenir.
Don on Moonstruck
Captain Don, my reference to the “bad old days,” was not meant to cast light on the old, informal marina as a whole, but rather at what I considered to be very indifferent management in those days. Again, those times are now only a distant memory. The present dockmasters couldn’t be better!
Punta Blanco inner anchorage will be found on the charted bubble of deep water virtually surrounded by Punta Blanco.
If you are looking for a secluded anchorage to hide out from a strong wind, this is the spot! Getting in with a chartplotter isn’t nearly as daunting as it used to be without one- just watch the depth sounder. There is a small sand “beach” where you can land with the dinghy. We didn’t, but a local boat pulled right up on the sand and the folks went exploring. A long dinghy ride from the state park though.
We can attest from a dinghy visit and speaking with those anchored there, that is a nice spot, with a few caveats. If a large boat gets there first and takes up the middle of the deep water, it is tough for another larger boat to fit.
Second, as the description states, it is VERY easy to wind up aground, as we did. It is not always possible to read the water depth visually.
Those who have read my earlier SSECN comments concerning Western Florida’s Pine Island Sound, or the portion of my “Cruising Guide to Western Florida” describing Gasparilla Island, already know that the village of Boca Gande is one of our very favorite places on earth.
This is Florida at its very best. There are no fast food restaurants, no strip shopping centers and no high rise condos. Instead, visitors to Boca Grande will discover a quaint village atmosphere replete with GREAT places to dine (particularly the Gasparilla Inn), good provisioning and plenty to see and do. It’s the sort of place where you can quickly fill the memory card on your digital camera, and have to haul out that backup card you’ve never used before.
Until now, cruisers have had some difficulty taking advantage of Boca Grande’s many charms due to a building shoal jutting out from the entrance channel’s northeasterly point, as you swing south to visit Boca Grande’s primary pleasurecraft facility, known, appropriately enough, as “Boca Grande Marina” (formerly Millers Marina).
New owners took over here several years ago, and improved the on-site facilities, adding a new restaurant and downstairs bar. Everything was accomplished in an absolutely first-class fashion.
Almost from the first day that the marina changed ownership, the management has been seeking the necessary permits to dredge the entrance channel, and remove the aforementioned shoal. This process has seeming taken forever, BUT WE ARE VERY PLEASED TO REPORT THAT ALL PERMITS ARE NOW IN PLACE, AND DREDGING HAS BEGUN!
The far sighted owners have also taken the opportunity to completely rebuild their docks while the dredging is going forward. Now, that’s the sort of improvements we LOVE to hear about at the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net!
In a telephone conversation yesterday (7/16/13) with Garrett Lown, Boca Grande Marina’s Operations Manager, the SSECN was informed that the marina and on-site restaurant would close while the dredging and dock rebuilding were in progress. The restaurant will probably reopen around the middle of October (2013), with a grand reopening of the marina scheduled near Thanksgiving, 2013.
The truly “on-the-ball” marina management plans to post regular project progress reports and photos on their web site at http://www.bocagrandemarina.net/Boca_Grande_Marina.html. Interested cruisers should monitor this site for the latest info!
We know that we speak for the entire cruising community when we say how much we all look forward to the new, improved and deeper version of Boca Grande Marina this coming fall and winter. This will be a superb addition to the Western Florida cruising scene, and one which many of us will make use of on a very regular basis.
The article and photo below are reprinted from DredgingToday.com (http://www.dredgingtoday.com), a new resource which we highly recommend to one and all who are interested in what’s happening with dredging projects around the nation. This publication’s scope is international, so you have to pull through the weeds a bit to pluck out the USA dredging news, but the format makes that an easy exercise, and the effort will be more than justified!
The SSECN will keep you apprised of Boca Grande Marina’s dock building and dredging project as progress goes forward. Makes your plans now to visit this newly minted facility this fall and winter. See you there!!!
USA: Boca Grande Marina Dredging Kicks Off
Posted on Jul 15th, 2013
Boca Grande Marina, Eagle Grille and Miller’s Dockside, will be closed for renovations beginning today, and it will be reopened in the fall of 2013.
Construction plans include:
- New docks – the new layout will eliminate the “stern to” docks and allow us to accommodate larger vessels (up to 150 feet),
- Dredging of the entrance channel – allowing for an approximate 7 foot depth at low tide.
The Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Environmental Protection and Lee County have all signed on to the project, which will see a channel dredged from 5 feet deep at mean low water to 7 feet 6 inches.
“Now boats won’t be stuck in the Harbor waiting for high tide to get out,” said Jerry Taylor, the marina’s general manager. “It will benefit the whole community.”
While I have sounded Matlatcha Pass several times over the years, particularly the shallow, hard to follow, southern portion of this passage, I must admit, however, to never spending too much time on Pine Island.
This is not the first time I’ve heard of some dockage, and good eats ashore, but shallow depths on the Pine Island Sound side of the island have almost made me hesitant about taking a cruising size craft into the smaller streams which indent the isle’s westerly banks.
Sounds like the effort might be worthwhile though. Of course, you can always anchor just south of the high-rise bridge. There used to be a potentially SHOCKING Issue here for sailcraft, but the powerlines were supposedly raised quite a few years ago, THOUGH THE NOAA CHART STILL LISTS THE VERTICAL CLEARANCE AS 56 FEET.
Has anyone visited Pine Island Sound and/or Matlatcha Pass recently? Do you know if the powerlines at the bridge have indeed been raised? Can you recommend good places to anchor, dock and/or dine on Pine Island?
Your fellow Western Florida cruisers can wait to hear from you!
Matlatcha is a quirky little town at the entrance to Pine island. There is a couple marinas there, and also at each end of Pine island. Pronounced ( matt-la-shay) This is a can’t miss area. There are several quirky art galleries and restaurants in the area. Have lunch or dinner at Bert’s bar and grille. (we like manatees,taste like chicken). Also, at the southern end of Pine island, is St. James City it is nice with several small marinas and restaurants. A little further north is Punta Gorda. There is a waterfront area with dockage and restaurants called Fisherman’s village. this is a nice stop for a walk and some browsing.
There is a new drawbridge just being finished alongside the old one, and you will currently find work barges and cranes in the vicinity. Work is supposedly being finished by mid-summer. Drawbridge is working, but you might experience delays until all work is cleared. There are NO LONGER any power lines in the vicinity of the bridge – they’ve been buried! Best anchorage is just south of the bridge. Once anchored, you’ll find Bert’s Bar (highly recommended!) just to the east of the bridge, on the south side, with docks available. Across the street is Andy’s Island Seafood fish store. Follow the shoreline to the west of the bridge around to Matlacha Park, where dinghy dockage is possible. From the Park, you can walk to the west to Barnhill’s Seafood Restaurant, with its attendant seafood store, or continue further west for some eclectic shopping, ice cream parlor, and the Sandy Hook Restaurant at the very west end of Matlacha (accessible by dinghy, if you look at the chart). Another good restaurant lies about 1/2 mile to the east, on the north side of the road – Miceli’s, offering good food at good prices, with nightly music. This restaurant is also accessible by water, if you look at the chart and take the first opening north of the bridge, on the east side, and follow along the shore.
Access to Matlacha is best from the north, with deeper water and a well-marked channel. From the south, powerlines with a 47ft (sorta) clearance and a very twisty channel, along with less water (maybe 4′ with a rising tide), make it a mostly powerboat experience.
Capt Mike Smith
S/V Blue Skye
The message below authored by Captain Farst, was part of a discussion about dinghy access on southern Sanibel Island, begun on the AGLCA group. As you will see, Captain Farst and his crew found little in way of dinghy landings in this region.
We just were there and dinghy access is a problem in that area. We were at Tween Waters and were trying to get access south near the hardware/grocery store. The Ding Darling administration said that they didn’t have anywhere, the Chamber thought the Rental Outfit would allow you to pay to tie up but they said “no”– twice.
You can go down to Sanibel Marina or up to Tween Waters but we could not find anywhere close to tie up in the middle of Sanibel. Please let us know if you have had better luck.
C. K. Farst
The anchorage reviewed below by Captain Jones lies just off the southern tip of Sanibel Island, and south of Sanibel Island Marina, within sight of the Point Ybel lighthouse. Several years ago, we removed this potential anchor down spot from out “Western Florida Marina Directory.” Several local captains informed us that the holding ground was poor, and several vessels had drug anchor into the nearby Sanibel Island Causeway and Bridge.
Obviously, Captain Jones has not had this problem on these waters, but just be aware that others have!
For many years I have anchored overnight on a ‘sailboat’ as well as ‘power’ just off Sanibel Isl south of the causeway bridge on the [south] tip of Sanibel. You will find 13 to 20 feet of water, and it is very protected from the traditional SE or SW winds. I would not recommend it with winds out of the N or NE. The area to anchor is approximately half way between the entrance to ‘Grandma Dots’ and the lighthouse on the east point of the Island. On weekends you will experience some wave action during the day from boats of all sizes transiting the area.
Regards, Tom Jones m/v Marbles
Sanibel Island Marina is located near the island’s southern tip (Point Ybel), and within walking distance of the lighthouse.
The marina staff is very friendly and helpful. Beware the channel going in which has a sand bar on the southwest side. There is plenty of water inside though the canal are tight for a sailboat. The rest rooms and showers are shared with the resteraunt so they are very crowed most of the day. Gamma Dot’s is pretty good though there are lots of eats on the island. I, personally, liked Trader’s Cafe. Bikes are extremely useful and available. The laundry is $2.00 for wash and dry(great) though the machine is next to Gramma’s. Overall, a pleasant stay.
The lighted daybeacon marker #2 that Capt. Savage describes below is west of the Waterway and on the east side of Chadwick Bayou. Marker #38 is at 26 32.94N/82 10.015W and Marker #2 is at 26 32.027N/82 10.788W.
Access from ICW is NOT marked. Take a heading of 215deg from ICW Daymarker #38 and eventually you will see Private Daymarker #2, from there the channel is well marked.
The marked channel to the west, slightly north of ICW#38 is the new marked channel to South Seas Marina.
This entrance to Roosevelt Channel is getting narrower and narrower – please be sure, especially if you’re on a larger vessel, to check for oncoming traffic as you pass through the outer reef (second set of markers, westbound) – it is almost down to one-way traffic, and the markers seem to be closer each month! Some in our boating community appear to have little regard for courtesy (or safety, for that matter) and a bit of situational awareness as you enter may save you a grounding.
Captain Mike Smith
Here’s a very brief word from a long-time SSECN contributor about Sanibel Island Marina. This facility is located near the island’s southern tip (Point Ybel), and within walking distance of the lighthouse. I would also add to Captain Alan’s notes, don’t miss a meal at Gramma Dot’s Restaurant, on the marina grounds!
Sanibel Island Marina is next. Walk to the lighthouse beach and collect shells. Try a cuban sandwich at East End deli.
Author, Great Loop Navigation Notes
If you have not visited Cabbage Key at least once, you have missed one of the most unique cruising opportunities offered by the Western Florida coastline. The marina is just average, but the food, particularly in the evenings, is good, and you just have to see the “unique” dining room wallpaper for yourself!
Continue the ICW to ‘Green 61′ where you find the channel to Cabbage Key restaurant. Stop for lunch or stay overnight. If overnight plan to arrive after the busy lunch period. Take a clean dollar bill to add your name to the wall.
Author, Great Loop Navigation Notes
Not only is Pelican Bay one of the best series of anchorages on the western coastline of the Sunshine State, but it is also one of the most discussed. Back on 11/12/12 (we published a whole series of messages about this overnight haven, and its adjacent Florida State Park – see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=102473).
But, as I’ve often said, there’s no such thing as too much information when you are on the water, so there are two more observations concerning this anchorage copied from the AGLCA forum.
Alan is absolutely correct about Pelican Bay; it’s one of the premier anchorages you will find anywhere. However, “local knowledge” is important getting in there. Neither the approach to the bay, nor its entrance channel, are marked. So, ass/u/ming you are southbound on the G-ICW, turn west at a point south of G “75,” and about 200′ north of R “74.” Note that just off the shoreline, there is a Florida Speed Sign visible. Head toward that sign. Just before you reach the sign, turn SW and follow the line of the beach on Cayo Costa Island there, holding your course parallel to the beach and holding the shore close by to stbd at 50′ – 75′. Yes, a boat length or slightly more off the beach line. That “channel” carries 9′ of water, but it shoals very rapidly to the south, to 3′ or less. Many, many unwary boats go aground there. When you have passed by the beach, you will
see the Cayo Costa State Park docks at your 11 o’clock, at a distance of about 1/2 to 3/4 miles. Aim at those docks, and set a rhumb line to them until you are past the shallowest water. There are slips there, with no services, but cruising boats generally can’t use them. Only the very outermost slips carry sufficient water depth. The dock tee heads are reserved for tour boats, of which there are several that ply those waters. Plan to anchor. The bottom is sand, and the holding is excellent.
The gulf coast of Florida has diurnal tides; that is, one high and one low per day. Water depths are lowest in the morning and moderate to high in the mid-to-late afternoon. The tidal range at Pelican Bay is only about 2′. The rhumb line from the beach to the State Park docks will get down to 5-1/2′ at MLLW. By the time you get to the docks, you’ll see 6-1/2′ or more. There is a deep pool correctly charted on the current charts that carries 9′, which is the deepest water in the bay. Some older charts that are still widely circulated do not show that 9′ pool correctly. If you do not see that deep pool, you do not have the current charts of the basin. The basin is actually a “pass” between Cayo Costa Island to the west and Punta Blanco Island to the east. To the south from Pelican Bay, the water appears visually to be open; but, it is shoal, and not navigable by cruising draft boats. The only access back to the G-ICW from Pelican Bay is the one to the north of Punta Blanco Island, described above.
Armed with this “local knowledge,” you will find Pelican Bay to be a delightful, well protected anchorage with a lot to see and do.
Hope this is useful.
There are two really good anchorages near Boca Grande entrance to Charlotte Harbor. The second is Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa. This is one of our favorites. Many people avoid it because of the shoal at the entrance. Just hug the beach – stay 25-50 feet off the beach and you will be in 6-9 feet of water. We draw 4.5 feet and anchor here a lot. The beach and park at Cayo Costa are great and again the park is only accessible by boat.
Marty & Jerry Richardson
Pelican Bay is right in my backyard, and I have been there a number of times. The descriptions above are reasonable, although the details change often.
However, the discussion about tides is not correct. The tides in this part of the world cycle from diurnal to semidiurnal twice each month. The diurnal tides are near full moon and new moon, while the semidiurnal tides are near the first and third quarters. There is also an important annual component. The lowest tides tend to be mid-day in the winter and mid-night in the summer.
There are no simple rules that can be conveniently remembered. Even thought the average tidal range is only a couple of feet, tide tables are essential if depth is important to you.
The nun has now been replaced with a post R74. We were just there 1/20/13.
Like Captains Mary and Jerry, we just love anchoring in Pelican Bay,and then dinghying ashore to unspoiled Cayo Costa. Thanks to its being a Florida state park, this barrier island remains almost entirely in its natural state. Hiking across to the ocean side, particularly at sunset, is one of the greatest experiences the western coastline of the Sunshine State has to offer.
Unfortunately, the rub is that there is an entrance bar, which, at low tide, carries only about 4 1/2 feet of water. Some local cruisers have told me they have found a deeper route, which will hold 5 feet at MLW.
And, in this regard, there is a GREAT You-Tube video giving SOLID ADVICE about entering Pelican Bay, available at:
You might also want to check out a string of earlier messages here on the Cruisers’ Net concerning how best to enter this series of anchorages:
Anyway, check out the message below to read one more glowing opinion about the wonderful qualities of anchoring on Pelican Bay!
Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa is the best anchorage on the west side of Florida – hands down. We have been in there on a holiday weekend when there were 70 boats and everyone was on a single anchor with plenty of swing room. Easy dinghy ride to Cabbage Key for a ‘cheeseburger in paradise’.
Marty & Jerry Richardson
We are there now and can see why the west coast is Jim’s favorite. We anchored last night at the best anchorage on the West Coast. Even [cruisers] adverse to anchoring out should give Cayo Costa a try. There is more than ample room to swing on one hook. There were 18 boats anchored last night enjoying a full moon and a romantic sunrise. Cayo Costa Island is a state park. We dinghied to the dock and walked 3/4 mile across the desert island to the gulf side beach. (There is a regular tram service and bikes for rent, but we preferred to walk ). We had the whole beach to ourselves! Access Fee is $2.00pp. Don’t pass this anchorage! Oh, by the way, there is also a floating dock where you may tie up overnight for $20.
Author, Great Loop Navigation Notes
Eyeball method into PBay is a line from R74 to the entrance sign leaving sign to Starboard; then along the sand spit. Start aiming for the park dock once you are about halfway down the spit.
Or if you must-plug these into your GPS to route yourself into PBay.
A: 26 41.940N 82 14.208W
B: 26 41.745N 82 14.525W
C: 26 41.600N 82 14,600W
D: 26 41.100N 82 14.600W
E: 26 40.900N 82.14.400W
F: 26 40.950N 82 14.200W
G: 26 41.100N 82 14.250
There is small power boat access out the south with local knowledge (uses part of the Punta Blanca channel) – Watch the ferry. Above will get you in (for 5′ or less) on all but an extreme winter low. There are a couple of bars so don’t freak if you think you’re in but start losing depth again. If you are coming from the south you can turn onto the A-B leg close to B. Start cheating about G71 and aim for a point to the right of B. If the depths get scary jog right until you are comfortable. Turn onto the track when you get to it. Once inside the chart is petty good at identifying the deeper areas. Standard rules apply- if there are a lot of boats in the anchorage and no one is anchored in what looks like a choice spot there is probably a shallow reason. You want to be surprisingly close to the beach from B to C. There is a nice hole around ‘E’ and we usually anchor there in about 8-9′. E-F can be a problematic stretch so exercise care. You may stir more mud than you want.
We’ve anchored here on 4 occasions and each time we enter and exit from the north Pelican Pass inlet. We stay as close to the north beach as possible as this is where the deepest water is at the entrance channel. Once inside Cayo Costa you’ll find two pools with 8 to 9 foot depths with the balance being between 5 to 6 feet or so. There are some shallow areas but it is all manageable.
On Pelican Bay entrance. R 74 is now a nun, not a daymark.
We simply can’t praise our good friends, Barbara and Vic Hansen at Southwest Florida Yachts enough. Not only are these good people a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, but they also offer one of the best power and sail charter fleets in Florida, and all within easy cruising distance of the cruising rich waters of Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. What’s not to like?
We chartered numerous times with SW Florida Yacht Charters in Ft. Myers and they were superb. Boats were well maintained and the place is run very well. They are also having some great deals as they celebrate 25 years in
Marty and Jerry Richardson
For more information about Southwest Florida Yachts and Florida Sailing & Cruising School visit http://www.swfyachts.com, http://www.flsailandcruiseschool.com, http://www.swfyachtsales.com Mailing Address: 3444 Marinatown Lane, N.W., N. Fort Myers, FL 33903. Telephone: 800-262-7939 or 239-656-1339, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
South Seas Island Resort Marina is found at the western foot of the marked and charted channel running west between Western Florida ICW markers #38 and #39.
Just visited this marina this last Saturday (Sept 15) with our Tartan 33, and found the experience to be thoroughly enjoyable. The Dockmaster and his staff here are among the most pleasant and helpful I’ve encountered anywhere (unlike at not-to-be-named marina a mile or so to the south). The facilities are first rate, the showers excellent (just walk right in… they provide towels, soap and shampoo!), and the grounds are tropical and very well tended. In all, a great experience. For any of you folks traveling with a boat club, be sure to negotiate club rates (maybe not in full season?). Yes, it’s a bit pricey atmosphere, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this place to anyone. I don’t mind paying a bit more once in a while, especially if I think I’m getting my money’s worth. Easy access from the ICW, and Redfish Pass is right there for a good deep-water opening to the Gulf.
Capt. Mike Smith
Here’s an interesting discussion, which originally appeared on the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association Forum (an organization we continue to heartily endorse) about cruising the western coastline of the Sunshine State, between Sarasota and Captiva Island, with a 5-foot draft.
My experience having researched this coastline since 1992, which reflects the remarks below by Captains Gina and Chuck, is that 5-feet of draft will be fine for most marinas and many anchorages. There are some exceptions, and if your vessel has 6-feet of draft, it can start to get a bit tricky!
The message below from our good friend, Captain Chuck Baier, former General Manager for Waterway Guide, is particularly useful. Most (but not all) of the marinas he mentions as being too shallow are not even listed in the SSECN’s “Western Florida Marina Directory” as they are too small and shallow to really serve cruising size craft. Nevertheless, this is superb information!
My husband and I are chartering a 50′ Trawler for a week out of Sarasota. We are beginning to seriously look at various style trawlers available as we get closer to retiring and beginning a cruising lifestyle for awhile. My question is, as I am studying the waters in this area, Given the depths and tides, am wondering if we are going to have trouble getting in/out of marinas etc. with a draft of 5′ Any suggestions as to how best navigate this area and where to stay would be appreciated.
It shouldn’t be a problem. We made the trip from Cape Coral to Tarpon Springs and back last year. We draw 4 ft and our friends who traveled with us draws 5ft (a 53 ft Carver). Marinas were fine. South of Sarasota we stayed at Crows Nest (Venice) and Palm Island Marina. We did the whole trip inside via ICW (except for the section north of Tampa where the ICW ends) and didn’t have a problem. Between Sarasota and Captiva we did have to watch the tides through Lemon Bay as it can get skinny there.
Enjoy your trip. It’s a beautiful area. It’s been our cruising area for 15 years.
M/v Island Time
Cape Coral, Fl
We traveled the entire west coast of Florida on several occasions with a 6 foot draft. There are some shallow areas but be sure and have
current charts and you won’t have any issues. Most marinas will be accessible to you. If you get to Sanibel, Adventures In Paradise Marina might be a problem. On Pine Island Sound, Four Winds Marina will be a no go and Jensen’s Twin Palm Resort will also be iffy. In Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda Marina and Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club are very shallow. In Lemon Bay, Stump Pass Marina is shallow and in Little Sarasota Bay, Turtle Beach Marina will be too shallow. In Sarasota, the problem marinas will be Sara Bay, Sarasota Cay Club and Cannon’s Marina. Some of these will be too small for you but might be considered for fuel stops. If in doubt, call ahead and ask. Other than that, pay attention to your charts and if the chart says it’s shallow it is. There will be plenty of available anchorages if you want to get away by yourselves.
Have a great trip.
Mary — We live in the city of Punta Gorda at the far northern end of Charlotte Harbor and sail our Ericson 38 sloop drawing 5’1″ throughout the waters you indicated. I would agree with the comments above with the added mention of northerly winds particularly in the winter months which result in lower than normally predicted tides. Come on up Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda for a visit to a really quaint, beautiful waterfront community.
We live in Punta Gorda and have a 35′ Compac, fully loaded we consider her a 5 foot draft. We have had no issues in this area along the coast line, nor have we had any with the ICW. There are areas that you have to watch the markers and aids to navigation in the ICW, but outside is “clear sailing” so they say. You should have no problems being you have major power, but like everyone mentioned above, follow your charts and if at all possible, get some local knowledge when going into a new marina or channel or canal. Relax and enjoy!
Lynda Leonard s/w Choctaw Brave
Careful attention to charts and the depth sounder will keep you out of trouble.
Most of the ICW is trouble free with 5’ if you stay in the channel. There are many places to go and some you cant but they are usually obvious. A week is not a very long time to explore the area. Sarasota is north of the middle of the SW Florida cruising area of Clearwater to Naples and the keys. You wont have time for the keys unless you want to do long days and short stops.
Going north, Marina Jack in Sarasota, St. Petersburg muni marina, and Clearwater beach are all easily accessible with the only trouble spot being near marker 40 near longboat pass. To the south Venice, Boca Grand, Cayo Costa anchorage (no marina), South Seas resort, ( entrance a little shallow) Ft Meyers, Ft Meyers beach and Naples are all different and interesting. Narrow or shallow entrances are common but should not be a problem with proper attention. Check for current information on this site as conditions do change from charted depths.
IMO for the best sample of area cruising go south, take your time and stay in the ICW. It is a shame to miss the St. Pete waterfront but you cant do everything in a week.
Fortunately, most of the shoreline of the Gulf from Louisiana to Florida is soft albeit shallow. Keep one eye on the charts and the other on the tide tables. Frustrating as it ma be, sometimes the different tide charts seem to not agree. Live with it.
I have sailed the Gulf along Florida’s West coast for the past 14 years and have ‘found’ most of the shoals. I could have avoided them with little bit of caution but was able to free myself with no injury or damage and sailed away with minimal delay and another sailing story.
I think the Gulf coast has some of the best anchorages of anywhere I have been. Very well protected, plentiful and shallow. I don’t like to anchor in more than 8-10′ of water- too much work to haul the anchor and to figure swinging area.
Always FOR SAILtoo
Captain Sara contacted me and asked if the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net would be interested in publishing a list of on-the-water, cruising craft accessible restaurants in SW Florida. I may have gotten a bad case of whip-lash from saying “YES!!!!” soooo quickly.
Anyway, check out Sara’s message below, and PLEASE send her info directly if you can.
Once their June cruise is complete, we will publish Sara’s dining directory here so it can be a lasting tool for the cruising community!!!
In advance of my bareboat charter out of St. Pete down to the Keys in June, I’m compiling a list of restaurants that offer tie-ups to boaters. I will be collecting lat/long, depth, dockage description, dining experience and any other relevant data for each restaurant. This information will then be made freely available to the boating community. If you have info to share that would make the resource more useful to all, please contact me via email at:
saraburns2000 AT yahoo DOT com
If all goes well, I believe I might have found another interesting and productive hobby! Thanks!
Facilitator, The Work of Byron Katie
Transforming Education in America