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