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
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.
The anchorage discussed below lies just off the Western Florida ICW’s trek through Lemon Bay, north of Gasparilla Island and south of Venice. We have always found this to be a pretty good overnight haven, except during full gales.
We anchored a little further south than where the marker is located on the chart. We found 6 feet at low tide and good holding. No wakes as this is a “no wake” zone on the ICW. A great spot to anchor if you want to visit Don Pedro State Park which is easy to get to by dinghy.
The anchor down spot referred to below by Captains Rick and Donna is listed in our Western Florida Anchorage Directory as the “Englewood Beach Anchorage. They are quite right in describing this spot as a “good anchorage.” In fact, it’s one of the best sheltered along this section of the Western Florida ICW, and there is a restaurant withing dinghy distance as well!
There are no anchoring restrictions in lemon bay, except in the ICW. There is a good anchorage on the Lemon Bay side of Englewood Beach. To reach it, one bears right [southwest] after passing through [south of] the Tom Adams Bridge, leaving the ICW to your port. Stay in the middle of the channel, and head toward the moored and anchored boats off the mangrove island on your port side. Just past the moored boats there is a secure and safe anchorage. We live in North Port, and cruise Lemon Bay regularly.
Rick & Donna
Reprinted from the MTOA List Serve, with permission of the authors
Find out more about the MTOA at: http://www.mtoa.net/
Good info, but there is nowhere to go ashore except the restaurant. So you can’t tie up there and go to the beach. Dockage is available at Chadwick Cove Marina adjacent to the restaurant (The White Elephant).
This is a good anchorage, but since we have a heavy Gulfstar 39 sailboat with a 5′ draft, we want to point out a shoaling area along the western (toward the Gulf) side of the ICW that you have to clear before getting into the deeper water of the anchorage. We have bumped over this bar a couple times, but during higher tides we’ve had no problem. We tend to favor the bridge side of the sandbar before heading into the anchorage and have had fewer problems with access in our sailboat. There is a strong tidal current so set a good anchor with some scope and chain.
And, here’s some good navigational advice on how to gain entry to this anchorage with the best depths possible.
Beware shoaling south of T. Adams Bridge along the west edge of the ICW. To avoid this shoal [when entering the Englewood Beach anchorage] that has formed further north than shown on the charts, turn toward the moored boats immediately after clearing the bridge (if southbound) and head directly toward the moored boats/mangrove. Note the additional shoaling north of the mooring field.
Any boats carrying over 4 to 4 1/2 foot draft should avoid transitioning from the ICW at low tide – unless you have local knowledge. The best way to proceed from the bridge is to go directly toward and into the mooring field (idle speed, of course) from the bridge. Favor the south side after clearing the shoaling that parallels and is immediately adjacent to the ICW. Additional shoaling north of the mooring field extends from a point just west of the bridge almost to the docks on the western shore. If going to the White Elephant or to Chadwick Cove Marina, remain close to the docks on the western shore. Cutting the corner can put you hard aground.
Having said that, the anchorage is protected quite nicely in virtually all weather conditions.
Below, I’ve copied a question and answer, taken from the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) mail list, in regards to no-wake zones that will slow an inside passage between Sarasota and Fort Myers. All who cruise the western shores of the Sunshine State will thank Captain Pickelmann for such a ready and useful answer!
On the Gulf ICW between Sarasota and Fort Myers, what percent of the roughly 75 NM is speed restricted? I am charting a transit and it seems that I recall a significant portion of the stretch particularly from Sarasota to Punta Gorda is a slow zone.
I’ve never actually measured it but there is a stretch of five miles or so between Sarasota and Venice that is a Minimum Wake Zone. Further on, there is another stretch of about five miles between the bottom of Lemon Bay and the Gasparilla Island bridge that is No Wake. There are other minor No Wake areas but they are pretty small. Really not a big deal.
A little less than 1/2 of the distance is wake restricted. A better choice would be to go outside until Boca Grand then go inside. The winds are easterly most of the time so the Gulf is flat.
Be aware of the signs, many of them state a minimum wake outside of the ICW channel and 25 mph in the channel. Since very few trawlers go 25 you are able to continue at your normal cruising speed because you also will not be outside of the channel as this area is very shallow, only fishing boats and wave runners can navigate there. Also some of the bridges have changed names so if you have older charts they may not be correct. Enjoy your trip!
Caution required if deciding to go outside at Big Sarasota Pass, can be tricky if windy..
Cruisers making their way through the charming community of Venice, Florida have probably, for the last several years, noticed a series of docks and slips overlooking the northeastern shores of the Western Florida ICW, just northwest of the Hatchett Creek Bridge, and southeast of marker #4. Then, within the past two weeks, we received the two messages below, so we undertook some fairly extensive research concerning this facility and discovered it has been in a semi-open state for some time now; new docks have been constructed, but apparent permitting problems have prevented them from opening; the marina is accepting overnight transients at other, fixed piers which are currently open. The person I talked with said they “hoped” the necessary permits would be ready within the next several month.
Hey, a note that the Fisherman’s Wharf Marina at marker 4 (right before the Hatchett Creek bridge heading south bound) is open. Good rates for overnite and not as much current as the inlet marina [Crows Nest Marina].
Dockage in Venice is always a bit tight. We are now sitting at a nice new floating dock at the Marker 4 Grill. These docks have been here for about five years involved in a an obscure and complicated discussion of which I am not a party. Available dockage here is either at the Venice Yacht Club -appropriate reciprocal membership required- which is full up right now or at the Crow’s Nest which is a miserable place to put in except at slack tide. Marker 4 does not advertise but can be contacted by phone at 941-484-0344. Great location. Just across the bridge from downtown.
Royal Palm Marina lines the eastern banks of the Western Florida ICW’s run through Lemon Bay, south of Venice. Sounds like some good eats here!
Haven’t docked here yet, but the restaurant – Zeke’s – has excellent food. Very casual.
The new dockmaster is friendly.