Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 09-29-2009
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 rather bizarre, ever growing, string of messages began with the first note posted below from Skipper Joe Apicella about being charged an “overwater tax” while docking overnight at Crows Nest Marina in Venice, Florida (on the Western Florida coastline). Upon reading this note, we chose to research this issue before publishing.
A phone call to the management at Crows Nest Marina confirmed, what Crows Nest describes as, a state (not city or county) tax which they add to all transient bills and have done so since 1998. A second telephone call revealed the interesting fact that the Senior Planner for the City of Venice, who works with the marinas, knew nothing of the tax and had not heard of it.
UPDATE as of 3/12/14 – After calling the attention of the cruising community to this matter in our 3/11/14 SSECN “Alert,” we have received a ton of input, most notably from Skipper Joe Apicella, the author of the first note below, and a VERY SIGNIFICANT article from Skipper Bob Austin who has exhaustively researched this issue, and has provided, what we think, is a definitive overview of just what is happening here. Please be SURE to read all this extensive verbiage, including comments from fellow cruisers set below Skipper Austin’s note.
Wow, talking about stirring up a proverbial “hornet’s nest!”
Update, as of 3/14/14 – we have just received an additional note from Skipper Joe Apicella, placed below (below the important explanation from Skipper Bob Austin and my own remarks in response). As you will see, the owner of Crows Nest Marina has responded to the concerns of the cruising community expressed here and in other nautical forums
I just spent 4 nights in the Crow’s Nest Marina in Venice and was charged $20.64 for what is billed as “overwater tax,” in addition to the sales tax! Is this legit? Has anyone ever been asked to pay this? If it is a legit tax is it usually included in the slip fee? I feel like I have been ripped off. BTW, I have never stayed at a more poorly run marina. See my recent post on Active Captain.
See y’all at FBM,
Well, unsurprisingly, the posting above has created a wealth of comment and input here on the SSECN. First, here is a follow-up note from the author of the above article, Skipper Joe Apicella:
I emailed the Marina owner regarding this additional charge, among other things. It was not billed as a tax, the bill just said “overwater charge.” My first thought was that I used too much water, but that didn’t make any sense. The people at the dock said it was a tax because the marina didn’t own the bottom (under the water). The owner replied that there is a 6% state tax on all underwater structures. He said he fought it, but apparently lost and now chooses to show it so customers cannot blame him for the price increase. My question is, does he collect this for the state like a sales tax which must be sent in monthly, or is it a tax on the bottom for which he is billing customers to recoup costs. I liken this to a hotel adding an additional charge to recoup their property taxes. Apparently he can do this and get away with it as he is the only marina in Venice. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to stay there. With SSECN connections, perhaps we could get more information from a local senator. All help would be appreciated.
I just want to clear up a misunderstanding. The fee I was charged, $20.64 was for a 4 day stay, not 1 day as was thought by Ted.
Then, we received this very helpful input from Skipper Robert Austin:
I have not heard of an “overwater tax” either–and have stayed in many marinas in Florida. I wonder if this is just a way for this marina to recoup some of their costs. If slips are rented out, there is a per square foot charge to the marina for each year, for the footprint of the slip (boat). If the marina is a cut back into land, this tax is not due to the state of Florida–but if it is on Florida’s navigable waters, it is charged to each marina, for the use of that land under the water of the slip. A private water front land owner can be charged this tax if he (she), rents out slips at their private dock. I found out about this when our yacht club was discussing fees for the marina–and the issue of cut back into land vs the slips over the florida navigable water lands–where this was collected.
Here is the documentation of this fee at 15 cents a sq foot per year: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/files/SSL_lease_fee.pdf . This is called the State‐owned submerged land lease fee. “For instance, if a single‐family dock is located outside an aquatic preserve and has less than 10 square feet of lease area for every foot of riparian shoreline, lease fees are not required. Larger single‐ family docks are subject to lease fees and, pursuant to Chapter 18‐20, F.A.C., docks located within an aquatic preserve are subject to stricter standards.”
Commercial marinas require authorization which may include approval by the Board of Trustees at a regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting, depending on the size of the lease area. These types of facilities can be private or public with the public facilities being eligible for a 30 percent discount on the lease fees if they have at least 90 percent of the slips available to the general public. In addition, marinas that receive the Clean Marina designation from DEP can earn another 10 percent discount. These discounts encourage and reward marinas that provide public access to the waters of the state.
The standard lease term is five years but is increased to ten years for marinas that are at least 90 percent open to the public. Extended term leases of up to 25 years may be obtained if certain rule conditions are met and an additional fee is paid for the extended term. All leases require a non‐ refundable processing fee and a lease may be modified and/or assigned to another party if the lessee is complying with statutes and rules and has no outstanding lease fees.
Lease fees are paid annually and are calculated using two components – a base fee and the amount of revenue generated. The base fee is computed by multiplying the amount of leased square footage by a base fee rate. The current base fee rate is approximately 15¢ per square foot of lease area and is adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index. There is a minimum base fee of approximately $460 which is also adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index. This translates into an annual minimum lease fee for leases of approximately 3,000 square feet or less. For all new leases, there is a one‐time initial surcharge of 25 percent of the base fee due when the lease is executed.
The second component used to determine lease fees is whether any revenue is generated from the use of the state‐owned submerged land. Lessees must complete the Annual Wetslip Revenue Report declaring any income generated within the lease area. Examples of this would be any money earned from a lessee renting slips to other individuals, any money associated with the value of a slip that someone receives when selling the exclusive use of the slip along with a condominium unit, and rental or sales income an individual condominium owner receives when selling their rights to use a slip to a neighbor or other party. If there is revenue generated from the leased area and 6 percent of this revenue is greater than the base fee (15¢ per square foot of lease area), then the lease fee owed to the Board of Trustees would be 6 percent of the income generated.
I have run into this in Calif–where we were charged directly by the state for the foot print of our boat over the land under the water, when we were paying fees to the City of Long Beach Municipal Marina (for many years)–this tax was beyond the fee the city collected. On the other hand, I owned a water front home in Huntington Harbor (CA) where I actually owned the land under the water half way across the canal (mistake when the subdivision was plotted, and there were two house–mine and the one across from me, where the land was deeded to the adjacent upland owner).
My personal opinion, is that “Crow’s Nest Marina” is ripping off the boaters–and padding their income. Hopefully someone will look into this. If you look up all of the comments on mooring field taxes–they include 6 to 7% Florida, plus county tax (counties can add more to the state sales tax in Florida)–not a single one of these has a “over water tax”. One way to bring this out in the open would be to ask the Florida Tax department–or this trust (see above) to do an audit on Crows Nest Marina!
Regards–and again thanks for all you do for the boating community!
Bob Austin, Pensacola (currently in Marathon) FL.
So, as you can see from Skipper Austin’s rather definitive note, what we are talking about here is a leasehold fee levied by the state of Florida for the bottom land over which a marina’s docks are located. And, remember, the state of Florida claims ownership of all bottom land out to several miles offshore.
In an indirect way, I can verify this. Some twelve years ago, my home state of North Carolina had a dangerous flirtation with the idea of a similar bottom land leasehold fee. As originally written, had this regulation/fee gone into effect, it is unlikely any dock would ever had been built again in NC waters. Fortunately, a coalition of the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net, Boat/US and many, many NC marina owners came together and largely defeated this measure.
As all this discussion and debate were going forward about an NC bottom land lease fee, Florida was cited time and time and again as a state that ALREADY charged its marinas a fee for the use of bottom-land over which their docks were located.
Clearly, based on the wealth of input both above and below, the vast majority of Sunshine State marinas are simply absorbing this fee as a cost of doing business in Florida.
Update, as of 3/14/14 – we have just received this note below from Skipper Joe Apicella, whose related experience began this discussion. As you will see, the owner of Crows Nest Marina has responded to the concerns of the cruising community expressed here and in other nautical forums:
I want to inform you that Mr. Harner, owner of Crow’s Nest Marina has personally responded to my issue regarding the “overwater” charges and the cable problem. He assured me he chose to show the “overwater” charge separate from his rates as a means of protest and of letting boaters know where the money was going. This was not disclosed to me when I made the reservation and was the reason for the confusion. He has refunded the $20.64 plus an appropriate amount for the cable issue. He will also include this surcharge in his rates to avoid further confusion. I would appreciate it if you would publish this so that we may avoid any further harm to his good reputation.
All the best,
And, LOTS more input from the cruising community below!
A big thank you to Bob Austin for providing these details. This confirms what we thought to be the marina trying to pass on there own operating costs to the boaters in the guise of a “tax” by the State. I too would think that this practice is bordering on illegal, since they represent it as a state tax, if at the very least deceptive. Since they admit doing this since 1998, it just means they have been getting away with it and have not yet been caught. Perhaps that might change since the spotlight is now on them. Thanks for bringing all this to our attention Claiborne.
I think what is involved here is a Florida “submerged land lease fee.” We have a community marina here in Fort Myers with the approach channel over state waters. The marina itself is on private land. We are in the process of renewing our lease with the state for that portion of the submerged land under our access channel. There is a fee involved with this. Sounds like the Crow’s Nest Marina is trying to recoup their lease fee from slip renters and transient boaters.
Crows Nest specifically lobbied against the former overnight dockage at nearby Higel Park Dock.
Now that I hear they are the only Marina in town, that makes more sense.….but whatever happened to promised the Venice Mooring Field?
Bob Austin is absolutely and thoroughly right. You may recall we discussed this back in September, 2012. Bob provided the link on the Florida DEP site to the lease fee structure. Here is a link to the actual lease template that the DEP uses with marinas: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/files/ssl_lease_template.pdf. “SSL” here stands for “State Sovereign Lands.” When we discussed this, it was in the context of liveaboard rules. Paragraph 29 of the standard lease agreement contains the DEP’s definition of “liveaboard vessel.” Paragraph 1 contains the language that controls whether or not the marina can offer liveaboard tenancy as a service.
The marina operator’s lease requirement is based on DEC rule-making, which it is empowered to do under the Governor’s Authority (through cabinet offices) of the Florida State Constitution and under related Florida Statute. Those rules, once adopted, have the same force and effect as if they were statute adopted by the legislature itself.
Anyway, it is common practice for all marinas on the east and gulf coasts to charge separately for 30A and 50A electricity. That has the effect of padding their per foot transient rates. It’s clear from the foregoing discussion that the Crow’s Nest is additionally padding their per foot transient rate to directly recover their lease fee. That is a scam I have never seen anywhere else in Florida. I suspect if this wasn’t a scam, other marinas would also do it. Hey! Maybe that’s coming… Hmmm… Oh, joy! Something to look forward to…
I am on board of Factory Bay Marina Marco Island. We are charged 25K or 6% of total revenue, whichever is greater, by Florida for land use .This is paid by slip owners. Also we have to charge 6% of any commercial revenue generated by slipowners.
Florida is rife with taxes. This sounds like the marina is just trying to pass along part of their taxes to thetransient renters.
I own a condo-slip for which I get a yearly “Property Tax” bill. Although I own no real property, (e.g. the underwater land,) the state doesn’t care and the country participates in collecting the tax, as if I owned the property. Hence, the state gets the best of both; they own the land but can still tax and limit my use of it.
The over-regulations never end in this country!
You may have encountered a local municipal tax or a local county tourist tax that applies to transient dockage. Those things are local and are legal. Of course you may have been ripped off because a Florida business can charge fees for products and services, but it can only collect “taxes” for a legitimate taxing authority such as a port authority, city, county, and the state of Florida. I would challenge the business operator to point to the state statute or local ordinance that permits the collection of the tax above the Florida state/county sales tax.
That’s a new one on me. Definitely worthy of a conversation with the dockmaster. But Venice has a long history of anti-boating and anti-boater behavior. Like Marco. We skip ‘em…
That said, Marine Max on the canal just south of Venice often has the best fuel prices in the region, so if you need fuel, be sure to check while you’re in that area.
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary,
Venice does indeed have a fairly new “Structures Over Water” regulation.
What I could not find was whether there was an associated tax to be passed on to consumers or if the “tax” on the Crow’s Nest bill was their wording to recoup the cost of complying with the regulation. A phone call to Crow’s Nest should clear this up.
We stayed there two years ago, our net cost came to $1.98 ft. Power was OK, wifi was not. We didn’t try to get into the restaurant. Lots of places in town. Had a lot of fun mixing with locals on the island in the middle of the inlet.
Claiborne, has anyone other than Crows Nest Marina verified this “tax”? I have been boating in every inch of Florida waters for over 20 years and have never heard of or been charged this tax. I just ain’t buyin it. At best it’s a state tax to the marina, but doubtful that it should apply to boaters. Just because they have been charging it since 1998, doesn’t mean this is a legitimate charge. Me thinks further investigation is in order.
So this place claims to have been charging a non existant state tax since 1998? Sounds like time for the atty gen to clean their clocks. $20 per day per boat should add up to millions in phony fees.
We have stayed at the Crow’s Nest a number of times, and we usually need to pay the fee. I believe it applies only for boats on the western part of the long face dock. I was told some years ago that the fee was required by “someone” because the docked boats extend into an official federal channel. I have no idea if this is pure BS or not.
Other than the morning wakes from fishing boats leaving at 5 am we have no complaints. Power, WiFi, water, showers, etc. are OK. Not the Ritz, but not really worth complaining about.
We have stayed in Venice several times,but not in several years, and always really liked it the marina then was well run and there was even a free dock in town. Sorry to hear things have deteriorated.
I wonder if this is happening on the East Coast. Maybe this is just a “Left Coast” thing to raise more tax or discourage cruisers clogging up the anchorages. I have stayed at the City Marina in St Augustine and didnt see a over the water tax unless it was included in the rate. Webster.s ” Money charged for the right to anchor, as in a port.”
We stay at the Marathon Marina in Marathon, Fla. Keys…
They charge a “Submerged Land Lease Fee” in addition to the Sales Tax. Sounds like the same “tax” you have been talking about ! !
Efforts to save popular Snake Island in Venice Inlet have been underway since November and should be nearing completion. The island is reported to be a Native American archaeological site. The cost to taxpayers will be $400K, but most local boaters say the cost is justified. Snake Island lies in the northwest corner of the intersection of Venice Inlet and Western Florida Waterway at statute mile 58.5. For more on this story from WTSP News, go to: http://22.214.171.124/news/local/article/346693/8/Effort-to-save-shrinking-Snake-Island-set-to-begin
And also this article from the Herald Tribune: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20140112/ARTICLE/140119905/-1/RSS05?p=1&tc=pg&tc=ar#gsc.tab=0
Captain DeGroot relates an example of exceptional professionalism in boat maintenance. Star Boat Shop does not have a website, but their address is 1480 NE Fiveash Rd, Arcadia, FL 34266, 863-494-5777. Arcadia is almost in the center of the state at the intersection of State Rd 70 and US 17.
I have been sailing over 40 years, worked with many boat yards in the Great Lakes and Florida. And, as a yacht broker also worked with many independent contractors hired to do projects on mine and my client’s boats. After 20 years of ownership of a 1985 Irwin 43′, My wife and I decided we really wanted to freshen her up and repainting the mast and boom came up high on the list. I carefully researched many possible individuals and companies to do the task, and in Southwest Florida, one name kept being mentioned, “the Russians!”
The “Russians” are actually the team from the Star Boat Shop, now of Arcadia Florida. Their owner is Arthur Anasov, now an American citizen who immigrated from the old Soviet Union. For the past many years they had been doing spectacular jobs, repainting hulls of vessels from a quansut building located in the Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage yard at Placida FL.
When I contacted Arthur in the fall of 2011, I found him very pleasant and super knowledgeable about boats and boat painting, and racing, as he is a world class small boat racer, sailing in regattas around the world.
After inspection of my mast and boom, and discussing a time frame, he quoted a very fair, reasonable price, and we scheduled the work.
When completed in a few weeks, it looked like a brand new mast and boom. I had asked Arthur how long I could expect it to hold off the old corrosion, and he said three to five years. I felt that would be the best we could do with how corroded is was before the effort.
Move forward one year to fall of 2012. Corrosion had begun already, in a few limited spots on the lower part of the mast and the seam of two sections of the boom. I called Arthur. In a few days, he came to the boat and looked and simply said, this should not be. Something was not done correctly and he would clean it up. We mutually decided to wait a year and evaluate it again before any clean-up work was done.
Now in September of 2013 I again called Arthur, who was racing somewhere in the Baltic, but I got a message back from him, he would be in contact as soon as he returned stateside. Sure enough. He come over to the boat, a time table was set and work would be commencing.
I figured a few hours would clean it up, and I would be happy with any effort. When Arthur and his crew arrived, they went to work. Five man days later, he announced he was satisfied, if I was. I was not just satisfied, I was impressed.
I asked Arthur, how much do I owe you. He said, “NOTHING!” “And if it does it again in the next few years I’ll be back”.Speak of professional integrity! He and his crew did a beautiful job, as promised.
If you have any need for hull, or mast painting or other major projects I suggest you consider Arthur Anasov of the Star Boat Shop. Give him a call at 941-204-0607, or email me and I will be proud to provide his contact information.
Capt John D. DeGroot SV Independence
While Captain Sharrett’s caution lacks a specific location for the sandbar where he grounded, we have had previous reports of shoaling in Lemon Bay south of Tom Adams Bridge. If you look very closely, you can see the “7″ in Captain Sharrett’s attached photo. The admonition is to proceed with caution in the area immediately south of the bridge and when entering the Englewood Beach Anchorage southwest of the bridge..
I’d like to notify SSEC members of water depth SW of Tom Adams Bridge on the GICW.
Based on Dozier’s 2013 Waterway Guide, we anchored without problems mid-afternoon 12/17 approx 350 yds WSW of area that shows 7′ deep on the attached image. Our depth at anchorage was not less than 6.5′ thru the next Tide cycle.
We weighed anchor at 0845 12/18, approx 10 minutes after low tide. At 0850 on a heading of 025T , to come into the ICW, we ran aground on a mud bar in 3.5′ of water.
With another hour of incoming tide, the wake of a passing boat, and our main 75% out, we plowed out.
Note, I do NOT fault the WWGuide. It’s been spot-on with everything, & track out was nearly on top of track in. Just a heads up for all.
Best regards & Merry Christmas.
Patrick & Jolene Sharrett
Aboard Suite Jolene
I frequent this area in a 44-foot power boat. If you look at the chart you can clearly see the “mud bar” that separates his anchor area from the ICW. To avoid that mud bar you must continue in a northeast direction, closer to the south side of the bridge before cutting over to the ICW. Plus you must be aware of the extreme swings of the Spring Tides, as December 17th created a VERY low tide that morning:
“The tide heights were 1.6 ft, -0.3 ft, 1.0 ft and 0.7 ft. We can compare these levels with the maximum high tide recorded in the tide tables for Englewood (Lemon Bay) which is of 2.0 ft and a minimum height of -0.7 ft.”
That stretch of ICW thru the Lemon Bay area is narrow and while digging the channel, they piled spoil along the edges of the dredged channel. Great care, especially in windy conditions, must be taken to stay in the narrow channel. You must “read the water” in that area, similar to navigating the Florida Keys.
We were just in that anchorage on 12-26/12-28 2013. When passing south under the Tom Adams bridge continue south about 400′ to N 26 55.974 W 082 21.117 (by the big sign) and then make your turn in towards the anchorage.
You will see the boats anchored along the small island to your port side, head in and pass close behind these boats on the channel side. Follow the channel around to the left as there is an unmarked shoal in the center of the small bay.
We draw 4′ 6″ and had plenty of depth at MLW.
This is a ‘No Wake’ zone, and a nice anchorage. It’s a bit crowded though. Short dinghy ride to a couple of restaurants and bars, or over to Stump Pass. If you anchor where you have a good view of the shoal in the middle of the small bay, that’s pretty entertaining as well.
Shoal prone Stump Pass Inlet indents the western shores of the Western Florida ICW and Lemon Bay, well south of Venice, Florida, near Statute Mile 39.5. In spite of periodic dredging, this seaward cut seems to begin filling in by the time the dredge disappears over the horizon.
Below, Captain Archie Faulkner gives us a good look at the current navigational conditions on the Stump Pass channel, at least as of December, 2013. While this is very useful info, BE WARNED THAT CONDITIONS COULD BE VERY DIFFERENT BY THE TIME OF YOUR ARRIVAL, so PLEASE do NOT use this advice as your soul means of deciding whether to make use of this inlet, or in navigating the channel.
Personally, unless I am researching in a small craft, we NEVER use Stump Pass. Venice Pass, to the north, is a FAR more reliable passage! It’s your decision though, and your responsibility!
Stump Pass is shoaling on the north side. Unmarked red and green buoys mark the deepest cut. Daymarks 1 and 2 have only about 4 ft depth between markers. The natural cut runs SW from the outer nun buoy to the GOM and carries about 8 ft.
Some deep draft boats (5′ or so) have been negotiating Stump Pass. However the skipper should obtain local knowledge before even considering passage.
Cape Haze Marina Bay flanks the eastern shores of the ICW/Lemon Bay, south of unlighted daybeacon #9.
Stayed at Cape Haze Marina overnight on May 27, 2013. Friendly staff, very helpful Showers are comfortable and clean, but close at 5:00 pm. This is a well protected marina that is well worth the price.
Palm Island Marina is located near the southern foot of Lemon Bay, northwest of unlighted daybeacon #7.
Excellent overnight stop! Very clean facility and modern, clean bath house. great pool and Leverock’s restaurant is wonderful. Capt Tim Lynch (general mgr) and his crew are fantastic!
Diversified Yacht Services is at a new location on the waterfront at 751 Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Myers Beach, Fl. Their phone is 239-765-8700.
Diversified Yacht Services, Fort Myers on the Beach, FL:
Our starboard engine just quit and we could not figure it out. We got the referral from TowBoat US and couldn’t be happier: They were helpful in getting us into a slip, then Taz assigned an outstanding mechanic to take a look at our problem before he went home. He fixed it quickly and we were allowed to spend the night. We are a 36 Grand Banks, but they treated us like a 150 footer with deep pockets. We have never met a friendlier staff.
Bob and Margaret Kaine
Crows Nest Marina lies southeast of Venice Pass’s marker #5, just a stone’s throw from the inlet’s intersection with the Western Florida ICW. While we have always found the marina acceptable,the real attraction here is the on-site restaurant. It’s superb!!!!!
We stayed for two days. Try to get as far from the inlet as possible because of wakes. Otherwise, clean bathrooms and laundry. Courtsey bikes are there. $2 per foot with Boat US.
South of Venice Inlet, Fishermens Wharf-Marker 4 Marina lines the northeastern shores of the Western Florida ICW, just northwest of the Hatchett Creek Bridge, and southeast of marker #4. This facility has been in a semi-finished state for years now, and we are not surprised to hear about its uncertain future in the message below.
We were happy to dock and dine, and pay the 2.00/ft overnight rate. Interesting place, lightly used and even more lightly maintained – serious guano farm, electricity and water not run to the slips, pumpout not working. OTOH it was peaceful and quiet, short walk to town where a jazz band played on a Tuesday afternoon.
There may be changes afoot. We overheard the restaurant manager talking on the phone about an auction of the restaurant. There is also the probability of hard financial times for the marina, which would explain its disheveled state. I hope they can work things out. I’m sure the restaurant will be recapitalized. The outlook for the marina is less certain.
We were there the night the restaurant closed, about 2 weeks ago, the whole site went into receivership for approx 2 weeks and then the new owners supposedly take over.
This apparently will not release the permit for the Marina to be completed, the word was that the County overruled the City and said the City should not have issued the permit and will not approve the Marina without massive changes,,so I heard..time will tell…
The anchorage Captains Jim and Patrice are referring to below, lies east of the Western Florida ICW, north of marker #25. Don’t confuse this anchor down spot with the “Englewood Beach Anchorage” while is located west of the ICW’s track.
Note that this posting was copied from the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA) forum, an organization that the SSECN continues to enthusiastically recommend!
We are traveling the Great Loop Via “Ariverderci” Anchored out at Englewood, FL for the last two evenings. A great place to anchor and dingy into town. We anchored out for 2 nights. All went well.
Jim & Patrice Rossman
Royal Palm Marina lines the eastern banks of the Western Florida ICW’s run through Lemon Bay, south of Venice.
These people accommodated us when the public boat launch was closed. We were in a pinch and they stepped up and for absolutely nothing they allowed us to pull our boat out. Oh yeah… and offered to help! Anything we needed they were ready to supply. Awesome!
Tim, Dave, Pam, Karen
Royal Palm Marina lines the eastern banks of the Western Florida ICW’s run through Lemon Bay, south of Venice.
My husband and I went there with my parents. Food was not too good. Some was cold, sandwich had a strange taste.
Lots of flies buzzing around, it was somewhat unappetizing. Bathrooms were very dirty. I wouldn’t recommend it.
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
Retired FWC “Water Cop,” Tim Erickson, passed away recently, and I’m sure he will be missed by family and friends. Many cruisers had another name for this “Venice Water Cop,” but with his passing, perhaps we will not recall that moniker now.
For many years Officer Erickson was known for his tenacious, “letter of the law” enforcement of Florida statutes which require state registration of vessels, even though they may be Federally documented.
Several years ago, the SSECN was involved in an e-mail writing campaign to the Venice City Council, protesting Officer Erickson’s treatment of visiting cruisers. Turns out he was a state employee, and this protest went for naught.
Erickson retired several years ago, and Venice waters have been free of his presence for some time now. And so, with Office Erickson’s passing, it is a sad end to an entirely sad affair.
For the past several days, there has been a LIVELY discussion concerning Officer Erickson on the AGLCA forum. Many of those messages are copied below!
Many Loopers through the years have stayed or planned to stay at the “free” city park dock in Venice, FL. That became a problem when a vigorous and tenacious Florida Fish and Wildlife officer began issuing tickets for alleged various wrongdoings by boaters passing through. The officer was Tim Erickson. Tim Erickson passed away on July 22, 2012 (http://tinyurl.com/8vl56gq).
Tim Erickson was certainly controversial if not infamous. He used to hang out every afternoon at the Crows Nest dock and the Venice free dock checking every boat for a Florida sticker, which is usually required after 90 days in the state. Probably earned the sate many dollars in registration fees, fines and sales tax dollars. But he caused many cruisers to bypass the best town on the gulf coast.
I wrote about Venice and its beauty in this blog when we first moved there in 2007, and the subsequent firestorm that ensued in both this and the T&T blogs made front page in the Sarasota Herald and Venice papers. The Venice town council was barraged with complaints from cruisers.
Shortly thereafter Tim made headlines again when he was the first to respond to a horrific crash on the gulf when a news helicopter clipped a race boat with fatalities. So all his press was not bad. About a year later he retired, removing the threat to cruisers wishing to stop at the Crows Nest dock, and also their restaurant, among the best in Florida. So, RIP Tim.
Unfortunately, the Venice Council stopped overnight docking at the nearby free dock, one of the few (maybe the only) good free docks on the coast. They were anticipating a fee-based mooring field which has not yet been developed.
Venice is still a great destination either to visit or live, there is free anchorage near the dock and other docking options
I had long, sometimes rather heated, discussions with Tim about this issue. I was not the only person to have these discussion by any means. As I remember Tim was sort of a “pilot program” on the tax and the transient boater issue. We sure don’t need to get that monster started here again in the forum. I don’t know that he issued many actual citations for a violation of the tax law, as a state officer I don’t know that he could unless there was a Florida law violation. No question that he ruffled some feathers………
Tim was a very nice guy. As stated in his obit, he started a very popular children’s fishing program. I”ll certainly miss my friend.
Sharkey has it right.
I’m sure that it was not Tim’s idea to “harass” cruisers visiting Venice, but simply following orders.
I would think sales tax collection was the driver. Tim could not know or care about sales tax on boats, just whether or not it was registered in Florida if the boat was in the state 90 days. You generally need out-of-state fuel or marina receipts newer than 90 days to avoid citation.
When cruisers cited by Tim or other officers visit the tax office to buy a Florida boat registration, they must show on newer boats whether or not sales tax equivalent to Florida’s rate was paid. You can’t get a Florida registration unless the sales tax question is resolved first. Most states with sales tax have a similar program. We see game wardens regularly walking the docks in Racine, taking note of boats with no WI registration stickers. If they are still there a few months later the same process ensues.
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
Saw the signs for “Dock and Dine” at the Marker 4 marina. Tried to contact on vhf with no answer. Called the restaurant and they said “sure, come on in, just pick a slip”. Up to this point, everything is great. Great restaurant, grocery store near by, and good food and vibes at the restaurant. However, at sunset, here comes the so called dock master, who wants two dollars a foot for dockage, forget the “dock and dine” sign. Forget that you have no power or water or that you just go suckered into a “dock and dine” situation. I have just about crossed Venice off my list of stop over sites. it seems like just when you think everything is going OK, someone intervenes and give the town a bad reputation for cruisers.
I paid the dock master $1.50 a foot just to keep peace for a slip. I’m sure the cash never made it out of his pocket into the confers of the marina owners.
Bob & Pat Hutchison
Doesn’t dock and dine mean just what it said? You had free dockage while you dined. How do you expect to get a free night of dockage after that? You eat, you go back to your boat and you leave to drop your anchor back in a proper anchorage, not think dock and dine entities you to stay all night for free and then accuse the dock master of pocketing what was actually less than the required fee.
You can actually still drive a boat after eating and at night.
Higel Park is a city maintained park with a wooden dock and anchorage for stays up to 18 hours. And, as Capt. Sullivan points out, Fishermens Wharf-Marker 4 Marina lines the northeastern shores of the Western Florida ICW, just northwest of the Hatchett Creek Bridge, and southeast of marker #4.
Tried to anchor at Higel Park anchorage March 19, 2012, but found it too shallow even for our 3′ draft. Unable to find an anchorage, we docked at Marker 4 Marina which we can recommend. Well protected, good facilities, friendly people, and lower dockage rate than Crow’s Nest. Good restaurant, too. I read they were damaged by the hurricane but they are in business now. Marker 4 Marina is located at Marker 4 just NE of the Tamiami North bridge, just N of the “ditch” going S from Venice. Main business, like Crow’s Nest, is a restaurant [Marker 4 Oyster Bar and Restaurant]. But they have large new floating docks with plenty of space and welcomed us at $2/ft. I didn’t inquire about depth, as we docked at the end and only draw 3′, but there were several large boats there. In the absence of a good anchorage, they would be my first choice at Venice.