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 donâ€™t look at the old Millerâ€™s Marina as the â€œbad old daysâ€. 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 â€œTâ€ 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!