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Archive For: West FL – 6 – ICW, Miserable Mile to Gasparilla

  • Captiva Pass Anchorage (Statute Mile 18.5)

    The anchorage described below lies off the northern, inner flank of Captiva Pass, in the shadow of North Captiva Island. As Captain Rogner notes, this haven lacks good shelter for overnight anchorage.

    Perfect day anchorage when winds calm or out of the west. Strong current at times. Anchor, hit the beach, but be gone for somewhere else before evening.
    Bill Rogner

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For The Captiva Pass Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Captiva Pass Anchorage

  • Ding Darling Anchorage (Statute Mile 5.5)

    The Ding Darling Anchorage lies on a large cove which indents the shores of Sanibel Island, south of Western Florida ICW marker #14.

    My wife and I used this spot a lot, earlier this year. We watched a family of Manatees feeding for most of the day. The [semi-sunken] sailboat [which used to lie in these waters] has now been taken away.
    Pete Waldron

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For The Ding Darling Anchorage

  • Praise for Southwestern Florida Yacht (North Fort Myers – Caloosahatchee River)

    Southwest Florida YachtsI have known Barbara and Vic Hansen, the owners of Southwestern Florida Yachts, for years and years, and can honestly say I’ve never found a better run charter operation than theirs. And, all the MANY great cruising possibilities on Western Florida’s Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor, including Boca Grande, are within an easy day’s cruise of their base of operations. If you are thinking about chartering in Western Florida, click the sponsorship panel to the left of this message. Your search is ended. And, oh yes, Southwestern Florida Yachts is a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!!!

    We are definitely biased having our boat in charter at Southwest FloridaYachts in N. Ft. Myers..but. we used other charter company in this areabefore we made our choice and they are definitely a 1st class operation.
    Chas & Bev

  • Thoughts on the Changing Seasons in Southwestern Florida

    Barb Hansen, author of the article below, is co-owner of Southwestern Florida Yachts in North Fort Myers, Florida. These good people are a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, and, by the way, one of the best charter operations in all of Florida!!!!

    View from the Marina
    Florida’s Four Seasons
    By Barb Hansen
    October 2010

    The full moon in late September this year was as big and as beautiful as it can be and it was accompanied by the most delicious breeze from the north, a harbinger of well-deserved, cooler weather for those of us who live in Southwest Florida.
    Now for at least nine months more the climate will be exceptionally good, proving again the area deserves its “paradise” title.
    This is the time of the year when I have to remind myself not to phone friends up north and brag about our weather, especially not when they’re getting cold fronts and, with autumn’s shorter days, must turn on their car lights at 4:30 p.m.
    People say Florida doesn’t have seasons. That’s incorrect.
    The temperature differential may not be as dramatic in Fort Myers as it is in Fort Wayne, but signs of seasonal change are just as unmistakable if you are tuned in to the sights and sounds of the subtropics.
    Winter is wonderful, of course. I think of it as the season of roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets and wood storks feeding on mud flat at low tide. Natives get chilly sometimes but those who know how cold it gets in other climes are comfortable and so grateful they are not shoveling snow. Personally, I like a wind chill of 75 degrees and break out the winter jacket when the temperature drops into the 60’s.
    By late March, the cold fronts seem to lose their punch and the flora and fauna of spring emerge. April and May are a special time of the year when tired, tiny tanagers and warblers hitch rides and a rest on your boat railing before flitting off in search of a berry tree on Sanibel Island. Our eyes and noses delight in the flowering trees — fragrant yellow frangipani, fire-red poinciana, lavender-blue jacaranda.
    Summer arrives with the first thunderstorm and the “full moon in June” as the saying goes. Shy cereus cactus flowers make their one-night-only appearances in June. Summer mornings are clear and clouds build throughout the day. On the water, the tarpon are rolling and a fishing frenzy ensues in the waters of Southwest Florida.
    Summer is relaxing on the flybridge, in the shade of a Bimini, with a cool drink in hand, watching a pod of dolphins circle in on their fresh fish entrée. This is the “low” season. Okay. Whatever.
    I love it here in Southwest Florida, as you can tell. Still, I’ve come to the point of view that no one place is perfect unless you make it so. I like to read and when I’m wrapped up in a great novel I don’t care where I am so long as the chair is comfortable. In fact, if it were snowing outside and I was close to a crackling fire, that would be just dandy.
    But dyed in the wool boaters logically migrate toward Florida (and they will leave their woolens behind). Snow skiers probably want to be close to the Rockies, High Sierras, or the Cascades. Surfers prefer the Pacific. We have traveled to all of those places and beyond, but as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”
    So maybe no one place is perfect but, like those snowbirds on the yacht pulpit, we can fly to some other place and suit our changing weather whims.
    As a Floridian who spent her first 20 years in the Midwest, I can tell you that I feel the change of seasons in the Sunshine State just as much as I did back in Indiana. Whatever the season, Florida suits me just fine.

    Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters, and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Contact her at info@swfyachts.com, phone 1-800-262-7939 or visit http://www.swfyachts.com/

  • Two Visits to Cabbage Key Inn and Marina, Pine Island Sound, FL

    South of Charlotte Harbor, lying east of Pine Island Wildlife Refuge and west of the ICW in Pine Island Sound, Cabbage Key has much to offer the cruiser, especially if you are interested in the unusual history of the island and its Inn.

    We’ve stayed at Cabbage Key twice in the last six months. The first time was in January at the height of this winter’s cold snap. During that visit, we were transiting up to our new home port of St. Petersburg in our newly acquired Jefferson 46. When we pulled in about 1700, we were the only boat there. The dockmaster was very helpful, and the staff was wonderful. We ended up extending our overnight stay for three days to soak in the relaxing atmosphere. Each night, we were the only ones on the island, and had the entire staff catering to us. During the day, we put our kayak in the water and trekked over to Cayo Costa Island, and had the entire 6 mile stretch of sand to ourselves. This allowed us to escape the lunch crowd we had heard about, and enjoy the solitude.
    Recently, we visited Cabbage Key again, this time over the 4th of July weekend. On this trip, we were on our Catalina 36 sail boat that we were taking up to All American Storage in Port Charlotte to be put on the hard for hurricane season. Once again, we had a wonderful time, although during the day, the place was a madhouse with anywhere from 20 – 30 small boats in for lunch and drinks. Because of the number of overnight guests in larger boats, we were put on the middle dock closest to the dockmaster’s office/store. I was a little concerned with depth as we draw 6 ft, but had absolutely no problem pulling all the way in. The dockmaster had me leave my stern beyond the end of the dock by about 6 ft, but I was still showing 6 ft on the depth sounder (about 7.5 ft of depth). After about 1800 each night, the small boats left, and we had the restaurant almost to ourselves. As usual the food and service were great. The only issue we had on this visit was that we were hit hard on three occasions by small boats as their (probably inebriated) captains attempted to get underway. In the future, I would not want to be on the middle dock for just this reason.
    Overall, this is one of my favorite places on the western FL coast. It is easy to get in and out with approach and dockside depths of 7 – 10 ft, and it is easily transited even after dark. The kayaking is fantastic, the food is great, the staff friendly, and it is an easy shot out through Boca Grande Pass, into Charlotte Harbor, or down through Pine Island Sound.
    Captain Glenn Zeider

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Cabbage Key Inn and Marina

  • South Seas Island Resort Marina (Statute Mile 13.5)

    I have not visited with South Seas since it went through a long rebuilding process after the 2005 hurricane season. Captain Jim seems to have found this facility pretty much as I remember it before the storms.
    Do check out others cruisers’ comments by following the link below to this South Seas listing in our Western Florida Marina Directory. As you will see, the entrance channel here has changed.

    Very nice professional, high-end marina. Lots of amenities – easy access to Gulf side beach, 3 pools – one with slides, multiple restaurants, trolleys, golf coarse, etc. It was crowded but definitely resort like. A little tight for my full keel “she don’t like to back up’ sailboat – but well worth the adventure.
    Jim

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For South Seas Island Resort Marina

  • Sanibel Island Marina

    Sounds like Captain Dale had a good experience at Sanibel Island Marina. This facility is found just a short hop south of the Sanibel Island Bridge.

    Spent three nights here in June. Coming from Stuart on the East Coast we wanted to stay close to one of the beaches. It is not easy to hoof it anywhere. Our slip mates broke out their dinghy and explored a great deal including the beach. All beach accesses require a 2 dollar per hour fee. They are dog friendly however.
    Gramma Dots restaurant at the marina was great but busy. We were part of the attraction as many patrons stopped to talk to us and snap photos.
    Each morning we were given a newspaper and warm blueberry muffins. The staff and esp dock master were some of the best. If you are looking for a quiet layover this is the place.
    Dale

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Sanibel Island Marina

  • Useppa Island, Western Shore Anchorage (Statute Mile 21.5)

    The neat little anchorage described below by Captain Ron lies almost directly opposite the marked channel leading to Cabbage Key. Here you will discover a truly funky inn and restaurant, that is like no other!

    Anchor outside the channel in 8-10 feet over sand and gravel. We anchored here one night in 30 knots steady and 50 knot gusts and held tightly on a 12/1 scope. After the blow, things settled down and the next afternoon we went to Cabbage Key by dingy for a “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” A real old time Keys bar if you need some socialization.
    Ron

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Useppa Island, Western Shore Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Cabbage Key Inn Marina

  • Gasparilla Marina (Statute Mile 34)

    In spite of its name, Gasparilla Marina is not located on Gasparilla Island, but rather it is to be found along the northeastern banks of the AICW, just south of the Gasparilla Island Causeway/Bridge. This is a large facility which offers a wealth of services, and there is now an on-site restaurant, plus the Fishery Restaurant is withing walking distance. We have not yet sample the bill of fare at the on-site eaterly, but Fisheries is WONDERFUL!!!

    We spent several days at Gasparilla Marina in May 2010. Jeff, Carol and Jennifer were wonderful hosts. They were very helpful. Jeff offered the use of his car if we needed to grocery shop. A Publix is about 2 miles away. Evening dinghy rides to the nearby islands is a sheltered trip. My wife struck it rich in her search for shells on the north end of Gasparilla Island. Now I have a boat full of sand dollars, etc, etc. Restrooms are large and clean. Wi-Fi, excellent. Lounge with TV. Nice sheltered area with tables for evening socializing if other transients are around. Huge service business associated with the marina if you need repairs. Good food (bar food) and music at the on site Watersides Restaurant. The Fishery Restaurant is a short walk. It is also excellent.
    Rick Parish

    Let me reiterate our recommendation of Gasparilla and the on site restaurant.
    Admiral Deb and I give Gasparilla Marina our highest recommendation! We called via cell phone 2 days prior to arriving and talked to the Manager, Jeff. Jeff is ‘a prince among men’! We talked with him for several minutes about details of the marina and the surrounding points of interest. Jeff offered us the use of his car (a brand new Crown Vic) to go shopping when we got there. We’d never met him before! On arrival the staff was always very helpful, interested in our welfare and the welfare of our vessel. Their restaurant The Waterside Grill had indoor and outdoor seating, lots of large wide screen TVs and the staff was friendly and efficient. We stayed 7 days, 2/20/10 – 2/26/10, and ate 2 meals each day. The food there was far superior to the food at the local well known restaurant half a mile away. The showers were private room sized and clean. Wi-fi was fast with no connectivity problems while we were there. Easy in and out, wide fairways right on the gulf ICW.
    Lou Spagna,
    s/v Wu-Hsin

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Gasparilla Marina

  • Boca Grande Marina (Statute Mile 28.5)

    Boca Grande is a good marina, though there is a shoaling problem at the mouth of the bayou that leads to this facility, First timers should follow the link below to Boca Grande Marina’s listing in our “Western Florida Marina Directory” and call the dockmaster for entry instructions.
    What really makes Boca Grande Marina so great, is that it’s within walking distance of the village of Boca Grande, one of the great cruising gems of the Southeastern USA coastline. Don’t miss dinner at the Gasparilla Inn, and you can reprovision at Hudsons Grocery. There is sooo much more to see and do in this charming community! Don’t miss it!!!!!

    This was the third night on our trip from Ft. Lauderdale to the Gulf Coast and this was BY FAR our favorite. The marina is a wonderful little place and the staff are the best I’ve ever encountered. They went out of they’re way to help and had wonderful attitudes. There are two restraunts on site, we dined up stairs and had a wonderful meal. The town is a neat place, we rented a golf cart to explore a little and found several neat looking restraunts and a well stocked local grocery store. We didn’t have much time so we didn’t get to see a whole lot but this place is one I certainly want to return to.
    Cahoots

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Boca Grande Marina

  • Redfish Pass (between Captiva and North Captiva Islands (near St. M. 13.5)

    Redfish Pass is an inlet that cuts out towards the briny blue between Captiva and North Captiva Islands. I’ve been sounding this pass for 18 years. Sometimes it’s been shallower, sometime deeper, sometimes the marks have been more numerous, other times less. Looks like this channel is now passable, at least according to Captain Power, but always watch out for future shoaling. Note that Captain Power’s message below contains superb, very useful navigational info!

    Subject: Redfish Pass
    Cruising News: This Pass is easily navigable. If coming off the ICW, enter the South Seas Plantation channel off of ICW #38 and pick up their # 24, but NOTE that these marks are for the Pass, so keep red to port. This channel was a minimum of 6 feet or more. Proceed past the resort and follow the markers. Depths range from 7 to about 30 feet right at the Pass. The outer marks in the Gulf, going out are floating marks. Number 1, the outermost mark was at 26 degrees 33.187′ N, 82 degrees 12.699′ W.
    David S Power

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Redfish Pass

  • Good Words for Gasparilla Marina (Statute Mile 34)

    The entrance to Gasparilla Marina cuts east off the Western Florida ICW, immediately south of the Gasparilla Island bridge and causeway. This facility features a well sheltered harbor, and, judging from Captain Spagna’s message below, offers superior services.
    Also, besides their own on-site dining spot (described below) the Fisheries Restaurant is within easy walking distance. I can tell you from personal experience that the food here is superb!

    Admiral Deb and I give Gasparilla Marina our highest recommendation! We called via cell phone 2 days prior to arriving and talked to the Manager, Jeff. Jeff is ‘a prince among men’! We talked with him for several minutes about details of the marina and the surrounding points of interest. Jeff offered us the use of his car (a brand new Crown Vic) to go shopping when we got there. We’d never met him before! On arrival the staff was always very helpful, interested in our welfare and the welfare of our vessel. Their restaurant The Waterside Grill had indoor and outdoor seating, lots of large wide screen TVs and the staff was friendly and efficient. We stayed 7 days, 2/20/10 – 2/26/10, and ate 2 meals each day. The food there was far superior to the food at the local well known restaurant half a mile away. The showers were private room sized and clean. Wi-fi was fast with no connectivity problems while we were there. Easy in and out, wide fairways right on the gulf ICW.
    Lou Spagna, s/v Wu-Hsin

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Gasparilla Marina

  • Okeechobee Waterway and Western Florida Cruising

    Wow, there’s all sorts of great cruising info in Captain RB’s message below, concerning both the Okeechobee Waterway, and cruising the Western Florida coastline from Fort Myers south to Boca Grande!

    Subject: Fl trip
    Cruising News: I just got back from a spring break cruise with the family and thought I would share my observations. We left Stuart at 10AM and arrived at Ft Myers at 8PM. We stayed at the Ft Myers Yacht Basin which was an easy and pleasant walk to the happening Downtown seen. Had a very good meal at Delicious things. Left the next morning for Boca Grande and had a beautiful ride and found the Miserable Mile not so miserable. Stayed at Boca Grande Marina and while it was expensive it was nice and clean. I draw 5 feet and am very concerned with running aground and I did not have any issues with the channel. I went 50 feet past Green 7 and made my turn to Boca Grande Marina. You can see the shoal which helps. We then enjoyed Boca Grande for 2 days. Rode bikes and dinghied to the north end of the island where Uncle Henry’s Marina is. The water is beautiful there but it is a ways from the village and might be a challenge for the first timer bringing in a deep draft boat. We left Boca for Tween Waters on Captiva and stopped at Cabbage Key for lunch. Plenty of water for a 5 foot draft. They do not allow dogs on the island which is an issue for us. We ate lunch and walked the trails (without the dogs) and it is a really beautiful/natural island. Then we went to Tween Waters. There was a shallow spot by Red 4 but you can see the shoal on each side of the channel and at least can have the boat at idle speed. I believe we carried 6 feet through that spot. Tween waters is a long walk from the shops and restaurants but if you have a dinghy you can dinghy towards Sanibel on this mangrove lined creek and end up at a beautiful pass/inlet. Also I called Bailey\’s Grocery and Hardware(on Sanibel) to see if they would pick us up at Tween Waters and let us shop and bring us back and to my surprise they were happy to do so with no charge for the ride although I tipped the driver. Very good fresh seafood and bakery. On the way back to Stuart we stopped in Clewiston at Roland Martin’s marina and ate at the Clewiston Inn (they picked us up and the food was delicious and surprisingly reasonable.) Martins Marina was very friendly maybe a tad run down. Overall the Okeechobee had plenty of water. The worst section is between the Stuart bascule bridge and Riverwatch Marina. We fueled up at Harborage Marina and pumped out and the staff is very friendly and didn’t mind if we hung out to wait for the tide to come up for my white knuckle journey up the Manatee Pocket to A&J Boatworks for some work. I recommend A&J they did a fair amount of work on my boat and did it on time and on budget. Hope this info helps others as others info on this website has helped me.
    RB

  • Gasparilla Island/Boca Grande Bayou Anchorage (near St. M. 28.5)

    We just love dropping the hook in the Gasparilla Island/Boca Grande Basin anchorage. It’s a easy dinghy trip ashore to the county docks, and all the DELIGHTS (and there are MANY) of Boca Grand are only a two block walk away.
    There are caveats to consider, however, First, there is a growing tongue of shoals on the outer entrance channel to be concerned with (though that is more a problem for those cruisers visiting otherwise wonderful Boca Grande Marina), and a number of resident craft take up quite a bit of the available space in the basin anchorage.
    However, if you can get through the entrance cut, and can find space to drop the hook, it doesn’t get much better than this!

    One of the nicest anchroages in SW Florida, or maybe anywhere, is Boca Grande. You enter from the bayside off of Charlotte Harbor. Then turn right into a sort of bayou. The water is thin at the turn but opens out to a nice anchorage. Drop your anchor in the middle and then back down and tie your stern to the mangroves.
    There is a public dinghy dock opposite the mangroves. An easy 1/2 mile walk takes you to the cutsy town of Boca Grande with a few restaurants, a tiny grocery and a decent HW store.
    David

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Boca Grande/Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage

  • Visiting Cayo Costa (near St. M. 25)

    Cayo Costa is one of the most delightful barrier islands on the Western Florida coastline. And, not the least of reasons for that is this isle is a Florida State Park, and completely protected from development. What a delight is is to anchor in Pelican Bay, dinghy in to the park dock, and them walk across the isle to the beach. It doesn’t get any better than this folks!

    BTW, there is a fee for daytrippers to Cayo Costa, San Pedro and probably others that I have not been to yet (finally got a small boat here. and the winter has been too cold for the crew, so have not been
    around much). An honor box asks for $2 per person, which is double what it was last year.
    What gems. At Cayo Costa there may only be a few dozen folks in 2500 acres with miles of unbuilt beach. San Pedro similar, only room for 10 boats and the slips are always full, but that still means only a
    few dozen visitors.
    Bob

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Pelican Bay Outer Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Pelican Bay Park Service Docks Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Pelican Bay – Punta Blanca Island Anchorage

  • Ding Darling Anchorage (Statute Mile 5.5)

    The “Ding Darling Anchorage” lies on the waters of a large cove which cuts into the shores of Sanibel Island. Protection from foul weather is fair here, but don’t drop the hook if fresh windes from the northern, northeast or northwest are in the forecast.

    This is a popular anchorage. We have stayed here three times, most recently 3/21/2010. It gave us good protection from SE to SW winds but when the wind shifted to NW it got a little bumpy. On a good day, it is fun to take the dink through the opening in the mangroves into Tarpon Bay to see the birds. An abandoned sailboat is lying on its side near the shore on the eastern side of the anchorage.
    Jean Thomason (DOVEKIE)

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Ding Darling Anchorage

  • Anchored off Boca Grande/Gasparilla Island (near Statute Mile 28.5)

    It’s no secret among any who have taken even a cursory glance at my “Cruising Guide to Western Florida” that Boca Grand, on Gasparilla Island, is one of our favorite ports of call, anywhere, anytime! We were just there a few weeks ago, and I plan to gin up a report myself soon.
    We’ve never tried anchoring in the sound, off the golf course before. I guess if the weather is calm enough, it might work, but I wouldn’t want to be caught in the waters RL and Karen describe below if the wind were to get its dander up in any way, shape or form.

    We are a 45’ s/v, draft 5 1/2′ so we decided to stay outside the bayou and anchored just west of the ICW between r2 & g3, off the coast of the golf course. Stayed 2 nights, visited the town and tied our dinghy at the public docks off the bayou. At least 8 boats anchored inside with their sterns tied to the mangroves. Only 2 boats had people aboard. Fun day in town sightseeing by bicycles. Hudson’s store is a gem…be sure to stop by. Lunch at South Beach, snacks at Loose Caboose.
    Capt. RL& Karen

  • Boca Grande Marina (Gasparilla Island, near Statute Mile 28.5)

    My first-rate, first-mate and yours truly just had the good fortune to spend a week at Boca Grande during the first of January, 2010. It was WONDERFUL. We stopped by Boca Grande Marina, and were suitably impressed. The only real problem with this facility remains the entrance channel, which is being squeezed by a building shoal. A talk with the Boca Grande Marina dockmaster on 1/19/10 revealed that the dredging of their entrance passage is still being held up by the permitting process, but they hope to dredge by later summer of 2010.

    A great Marina. The staff was very friendly. We wanted to stay an extra few day, but they had a boat club arriving & moved us to the owners private dock. The restruant & bar is good. we stayed 5 days and enjoyed the town.
    Larry Hemmerich

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Boca Grande Marina

  • Gasparilla Island – Basin Anchorage (near Statute Mile 28.5)

    The string below is copied from the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) mail list. Once again, this list is a WONDERFUL adjunct to the Cruisers’ Net. If you have a trawler type vessel, we suggest joining this happy throng without delay.
    Anyway, the subject of the messages below is the so-called, “Basin Anchorage” adjacent to Gasparilla Island, and the village of Boca Grand (where, incidentally, my first-rate, first-mate and I spent all of the last week). This is a very popular haven, with superb shelter and reasonably easy dinghy dockage. Swinging room is at a bit of a premium, and many tie their stern of to the mangroves. This is, strictly speaking, illegal, but many do it anyway.
    There are also some “derelict” vessels in the anchorage, but you will also find any number of fellow cruisers as well.
    If you do anchor here, don’t fail to go ashore and check out the village of Boca Grande. It’s one of the last, little pices of real, old Florida left! If you are feeling affluent, have dinner at the Gasparilla Inn. The cuisine is some of the best anywhere, anytime, but it’s NOT inexpensive. Another good choice is Temptations Restaurant.
    However you get there, Boca Grande is well worth a visit. Tell them we sent you!

    I noticed this anchorage on Active Captain where they talked about tieing stern to the mangroves…a number of sailboats in the satellite view were obvious so it seems the draft at anchorage is not an issue.
    Well, today I was in the area by rubber tires and noted that there is obvious room there and apparently good draft to get in based on nearby marinas and the boats in the same area. Looks like half the boats have been there too long!
    Does anybody have experience with this bayou and what depths are expected in the anchorage (near the mangroves)?
    Thanks,
    Jim

    Jim:
    I anchored there about a year ago. The only problem with draft is getting in. Once you make the turn to starboard from the entrance channel there is a place where it can be as low as 5′ at low tide. Once past this spot it opens up and the draft is about 8′. Drop your bow anchor in the middle and then back towards the mangroves and tie your stern.
    Yes there are a few derilicts and long term live aboards. Boca Grande is a cute little high end town, but access is free to cruisers. There is a public dinghy dock at the north end and the walk to town is about a half mile.
    David

    Jim,
    I wish I had a dollar for every night I’ve spent there. I don’t know what kind of boat you are driving but I used to take my 5′ draft sailboat in there
    without incident. The bigger concern is the approach. As you enter Boca Grande’s entrance channel, you will have to either follow the marked channel to port and continue to the marinas or take the stbd. branch and go to the basin in question. As you go to the right, following the seawall that borders the golf course, the water shoals. Depending on your draft, you might need to do this at mid-tide or better. Once you get past this shallow area there is good water the rest of the way and you will almost always see a big boat or two in there. Keep your ears open for Mark’s floatplane. He keeps his Maule pulled up on shore in there and it is always a surprise to cross paths with him!
    Just a few words about the dock. These are referred to as the “Guide Docks” since they are used by the fishing guides to pick up and drop off clients. Actually I think that half of them are owned by The Pink Elephant for the use of their lunch or dinner patrons. Don’t obstruct the slips. If you take your dinghy in there just slip around to the end and no one will complain. Watch the oysters on the roots of the mangroves.
    Regards,
    Randy Pickelmann
    MORNING STAR
    lying in Clearwater, FL

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For The Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage

  • Draft in Pelican Bay? (AICW/Pine Island Sound, Statute Mile 25)

    Pelican Bay is a very popular anchorage on the Western Florida coastline. The bay indents the back (eastern) side of undeveloped Cayo Costa Island. This body of land sits just south of Boca Grande Pass, and can be accessed directly from the Western Florida ICW’s passage through Pine Island Sound.
    Usually, the only trick to successfully anchoring in Pelican Bay is the MLW entrance depths you will encounter. I have personally sounded as little as 4 1/2 feet here at low tide, while some others have claimed to find no more than 4 feet. In fact, you must know where to enter in order to maintain these soundings. Some of the answers to Captain Jim’s questions below deal with this very subject.
    In spite of these difficulties, a fair weather weekend will find many fellow cruisers swinging happily on the hook in Pelican Bay! See you there!

    Can a 4.5 foot draft get into Pelican Bay? (Cayo Costa near Useppa/Cabbage Key)
    I tried yesterday but didn’t find depth to be comfortable.  was stirring when we backed out….and I’m still learning to deal with the skinny Florida waters!
    Jim

    Jim,
    I used to take my 5′ draft sailboat in there all the time. Put your right foot on the beach. The deep water is that close. Before you get to the end of the beach, about 3/4 of the way in, turn left and head toward the rangers’dock. If you have a chart plotter, it will show you the shallow spots to avoid. There is a 9′ deep hole past the ranger’s dock.
    Regards,
    Randy Pickelmann
    MTOA #3694
    MORNING STAR

    I have been in there several times with my 4.5 foot draft. When you head in from the ICW marker which is now 74 (I think) stay to the extreme right when you approach the entrance. If it seems that you are too far right you probably are in the right place…almost on the bank. Once in look at your chart for the deepest water. In the season you can expect to see several dozen boats of all sizes and drafts anchored. It is a very popular spot. The only tricky part is the entrance.
    RC
    NT 42
    Punta Gorda

    As RC said, head east from the ICW around R74. There is a Florida-type speed zone sign at the north shore of the entrance, which is easily visible from the ICW. Use that sign as a guide. Head for it, and run to about 50 ft of it. Then turn slightly to port to parallel the north shoreline of the opening between Cayo Costa and Punta Blanco Island. Stay about 50 ft off the beach there. You will undoubtedly think you’re too close to the shore, but that line carries 8 ft or more into Pelican Bay. As you pass by the beach, visually locate (about 11:30 to your course) and aim toward the government docks at Cayo Costa. Note that the water depth will shallow to around 6 1/2 ft along that rhumb line, but you won’t have any trouble. When you get to the area of the docks, MAKE SURE TO USE the newest charts of the bay to navigate. There are older paper charts around that do not show the area correctly. The newer charts show a 9 ft pool in the area to the south and east of the docks in the ceter of Pelican Bay. If you have that chart, you cal also navigate a bit further south, and then turn northeast past a spit of land that comes off Punta Blanco Island to the east. On the east shore, the water is deep all the way up to the mangroves. Watch your depth sounder, and Tuck yourself up there in 10 ft of water for an excellent storm anchorage. If you need help in the area, contact the rangers at Cayo Costa. They can and do arrange for everything up to, and including, air evac.
    Peg and Jim Healy
    aboard Sanctuary
    Currently north for the Holidays

    It has been YEARS since I tried Pelican Bay. This was basck when my late husband and I were SAILORS witha 4′ draft. We were the last ones ‘in’ for a yacht club weekend and I guess that was a ‘good thing’ albeit embarassing! We ran aground even though we thought we were carefully following directions! At least the boats already anchored well inside were able to then tell us what to do.
    Following the right shore closely as described is good but rying to figure when to make that sharp turn to port and for how long…well, that’s another thing! Also, the whole cruise was a near disaster, we lost our dinghy, watched as she slowly drifted astern…luckily we roused our friends who ‘caught it’ for us. Then, when we started off to the coctail party, realized we were dragging anchor…then the whole RAFT of boats where the party was, made the same discovery! That entire bay is very shallow AND has a GRASS BOTTOM! Choose your anchor accordingly! We later spend an miserable stormy night anchor-watching.
    Other than that, it’s a neat place from which to explore. At the south end of Cayacosta is ‘Lover’s Lane’ a dinghy-sized passageway through the mangroves to the south end of the beach. It is fun and if you’re interested, it IS an unproclaimed ‘nude beach’. Enjoy! Very unpopulated!
    There are some options however. Try going to starboard as you enter Boca Grand’s southern access and go into the bayou there. You drop a for’d anchor then back into the mangroves and tie off the stern to the mangroves. Dinghy is a MUST for this and help is needed! With luck you can dinghy across to the dock and go ashore to a fabulous restaurant, Pink Elephant. Unfortunately the fishermen seem to have dibbs on that dock…
    To your stern, beyond the row of mangroves, is the golf course which is popular with the Bush family and the Duponts who occupy a large compound on the island.
    Another favorite option is anchoring out in the halfmoon bay just west of the private island just south of Pelican Bay and directly across from Cabbage Key. Brain freeze there, sorry, but you can’ t go on the island anyhow unless you have an ‘IN’. From that ancorage you can still explore all the places mentioned above. I don’t care for the restaurant at Cabbage KEy but
    most do. When I used to go there the harbor master was one nasty sob. Don’t know about now…I’ve been in THAT ancorage too in a storm, not nice so watch you weather! HAvea a great time, I sometimes miss being there! PS the marinas on Gasparilla IS aka Boca Grande are very expensive.
    Marge Griffith

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Pelican Bay Outer Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Pelican Bay – Park Service Docks Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Pelican Bay – Punta Blanca Island Anchorage Anchorage

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