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
Marco Island Marina will be found along the Marco – Naples waterway’s southerly banks, immediately west of the high-rise, fixed Marco Island bridge (itself west of marker #26).
Great marina, terrific staff!!! Very quiet! 3/4 mile walk to publix and restaurants.
Smokehouse Bay lies in the heart of northern Marco Island. This fortunate body of water plays host to Esplanade Marina and a good anchorage. Its entrance channel leaves the unofficial Marco Island to Naples waterway west of marker #14. Our directory for this anchorage lists 4’6″ft as a minimum depth, so a 5’7″ draft seems questionable. Skipper Oldershaw’s comments are in response to earlier questions about navigating Smokehouse Bay, http://cruisersnet.net/?p=137310.
Smokehouse Bay has a fairly narrow 3′ mlw bar running north south in the center of the north half of the bay. Depths outside this bar around the edges of the bay are typically 12′ in soft, smelly mud. There’s plenty of room to anchor away from the bar in the eastern half of the bay away from the entry channel that heads south to the marina. The shallowest spot is in entrance route in the eastern corner of Collier Bay at 25 57.955N, 81 43.900W. Keep away from the marker R2 and hug the seawalls as you make the turn to starboard but watch for outbound vessels that don’t know why you’re doing that. A 6′ draft can be carried to the bay.
The bar in Smokehouse Bay can be faintly seen in the aerial view of the Collier County Property Appraisers GIS web site at http://www.collierappraiser.com/webmap/Map.aspx?ccpaver=1.9.2&msize=L when you zoom in. The cloudy water on the west side of the bay is not shallow.
Smokehouse Bay lies in the heart of northern Marco Island. This fortunate body of water plays host to Esplanade Marina and a good anchorage. Its entrance channel leaves the unofficial Marco Island to Naples waterway west of marker #14. Our directory for this anchorage lists 4’6″ft as a minimum depth, so a 5’7″ draft seems questionable. If you have anchored here with a similar or greater draft, let us hear from you.
Dear Cruisers, I’ve been reading your posts re: Smokehouse Bay in Marco Is.. Unfortunately, nobody has mentioned (or I haven’t noticed) the boat types involved. Our vessel is a 43′ Beneteau with a 5’7″ draft; would any of you be able to confirm to me the suitability of Smokehouse for our vessel? We appreciate your time and wish all fair winds.
Ken & Alta (SV Alta Gracia)
Naples City Dock and City Moorings are located west, northwest of marker #34. As Skipper Harakal testifies below, this underwater obstacle in the Naples entrance channel can still take its toll. SSECN has had a Navigation Alert posted for this hazard since 2011. See http://cruisersnet.net/?p=105417
I hit this same rock back in January in my 54 Hatteras – low water and bent up my props a bit. I understand it might be marked now.
Captains Dave and Nan Fuller offer good advice and recommendations of routes and stops on the sail from Marco Island to Marathon, as originally posted on the AGLCA Forum, www.greatloop.org.
We made this leg of our Loop in August 2013, and it was the roughest open water we have yet encountered, probably because we were on a deadline to get > to the Keys. Our Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs leg was glassy smooth as we were patient and waited nearly 3 weeks for a suitable weather window. I mostly used NOAA and Weather Underground for my weather forecasts from Ft. Myers to the Keys but did not make a go-no go decision based on weather as it was predicted to remain the same for several days and it was within my personal tolerance of seas 2-3 feet. We had wind from the northeast and east during the three day trip from Ft. Myers to Islamorada. Day one, we traveled from Ft. Myers to Marco where we met a close friend and his wife for dinner and then the next day we left Marco for the Little Shark River anchorage in the Everglades. Everyone told us to beware of bugs, but there was
sufficient wind blowing day and night so they were almost zero problem in August. I was even able to grill out after dusk and only had a few horseflies to deal with. We highly recommend Little Shark River as an anchorage as it is well protected in every direction except southwest and if you go a little deeper up river, it offers protection in every wind direction. The trade-off will be the amount of bugs to deal with. After spending one night at anchor, we continued around the Cape and to the Keys. We have friends in Islamorada, so we did not go to Marathon by boat. We spent a few days in Islamorada and rented a car to go to Key West and be tourists.
If I take this route again, I will stay further offshore going around the Cape. We basically followed the boundaries of Everglades National Park and went over so much shallow water that I finally shut off my depth alarm. We never hit bottom, but this is an area where shallow water is the rule and the charted depth pretty much matched what we experienced. Interestingly, the closer we came to shore, the bumpier it became and the further off shore, the smoother. This was with a 25 MPH east wind. We had constant 2 foot seas with occasional 3 and 4 footers. I think that the bottom profile is such that because of a slow slope, it gives the wave energy extra lift making for steeper waves and the deeper water makes them more of a roller profile. Normally, when you are behind a reef, you experience smoother water than on the windward side, but that was not the case here. Waves were on
our port forward quarter resulting in nearly constant spraying and were more bothersome than uncomfortable. However, our dinghy came loose and was thrashing about on the davits and we just had to let it swing as it was not safe to go on our swim platform to secure it. It did some damage to the
davit mounts and bracing that required repairs, but the dinghy sustained zero damage.
I am not an expert on weather in this area, but my understanding is that typically the winds are out of the northeast (bad weather) or east (prevailing) or even southeast (best possible for this leg). I understand it is rare to have winds out of the west quadrants unless associated with a storm. We spoke to one skipper in Marco who had come from Key West the previous day and said they got beat up by 6 footers in the same wind conditions, but they took a much deeper water track than hugging the coast as we did. There is only one area you will need to watch with a well-marked channel marking the opening between two reefs. You make an S turn and it is very easy – no problems. As you approach the Keys, crab pots are EVERYWHERE and can only be described as a mine field, even in the middle of the marked channel. Keep a sharp lookout, go slow, and forget your depth alarm – it will be useless.
If you follow Tom’s weather musings for the Big Bend crossing, he posts a disclaimer that his advice is dispensed based on a specific boat with its characteristics and his tolerance for risk which clearly falls on the conservative side. I share his risk philosophy of being conservative as this is supposed to be fun boating – not a race or a delivery captain mission. Each skipper is responsible for their own decisions after gathering all available data. You should make your decision based on your personal risk tolerance, your boat’s ability to handle different sea conditions, your level of competence and training, and your personal tolerance for what conditions you are willing to accept. Keep in mind that this leg is open water and is a LONG way from help if something goes wrong. VHF radio coverage is spotty in places, and cell phones simply won’t work as you go around the Everglades. I personally carry an EPIRB just in case the VHF or cell phone won’t summon help. You should be prepared to be self-sufficient for this leg or travel with a buddy boat.
If you can be patient and are not on a specific timeline, you can pick a suitable weather window and have a non-memorable open water trip to the Keys.
Dave & Nan Ellen Fuller
Captains Lloyd and McKane offer good advice and recommendations of routes and stops on the sail from Marco Island to Marathon, as originally posted on the AGLCA Forum, www.greatloop.org.
From Sanibel Island I usually head for Naples, then you can take an inside route behind Marco Island. Charted depth is 4′ but depth increases by 3′ at high tide. Pay attention after Bear Point bridge as daymark colors switch sides. A red daymark appears to be out of position but it is not! Definitely stop at Goodland, an old-time fishing village that is a marked contrast to the rest of Marco Island. Calusa Island Marina is within walking distance of restaurants.
Some boaters recommend Everglades City but I usually go directly from Goodland to Little Shark River in Everglades National Park. This area of the park consists of mangrove Islands and hardwood hammocks, not acres of sawgrass that one usually associates with the Everglades. There is a very protected anchorage about 1.5 miles up river.
I recommend a direct route from Little Shark River to Seven Mile Bridge and stop at Marathon.
For weather we used the National Weather Service’s graphical forecast tool for Florida (http://graphical.weather.gov/sectors/florida.php#tabs). It shows wind, wave, precip forecasts in an easy format.
As for going to Marathon, we overnighted at Middle Cape near Cape Sable which allowed us to get an early start. You get good protection and comfort when the wind is coming in from the E or NE. Some other loopers stayed at Snake River and left from there. In either case, stay inside the park’s waters as long as possible to stay away from the crab pot markers.
For the passage, it is pretty much a straight run from market MG off Cape Sable to John Sawyer Bank (about 20 NM). Actually it’s not really a straight run. Florida Bay is covered/littered/blanketed with crab pot markers and requires a lot of weaving left and right. Take extra care navigating this area. I spoke with 2 other loopers in the past month who
got their props fouled. We are staying at the Boathouse Marina and love it. It’s across from Vaca Cut, about 4 miles from Publix, etc. Have a safe voyage.
Bob & Loretta McKane
Smokehouse Bay is a very popular southwestern Florida anchorage that sits in the heart of northern Marco Island. Access is gained by way of a marked channel which breaks off from the main Marco Island to Naples unofficial waterway channel, just east of Capri Pass, and runs southwest and then southeast across Collier Bay.
Smokehouse Bay also hosts Esplanade Marina on its southeastern shores. Transient dockage is available at Esplanade Marina.
Back on 4/20/12, we reported, by way of a message received from Captain Noel, that Esplanade Marina would no longer allow dinghy dockage at their piers, unless those who came ashore were strictly there to patronize the shops and restaurants of the Esplande (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=86219). As part of this same posting, we appended a lengthy message from Esplanade Marina dockmaster, Captain Kris Greenough, explaining his facility’s policy, and stating that this prohibition was not a new thing.
Then, early in 2013, we received a message from SAMI (Sailing Association of Marco Island) member, and a good friend of this writer and the SSECN, Captain Lee Oldershaw, to the effect that the restrictions on dinghy dockage at Esplanade Marina had been lifted. Then, a short time later, a second note arrived informing us that this situation was not yet resolved.
On 9/20/13, we received an e-mail from Dockmaster Greenough, stating that Captain Oldershaw’s postings on our site were now dated and inaccurate. This led us to investigate the situation, and we agree that the two earlier postings concerning dinghy dockage at Esplanade Marina are now dated, and, for this reason only, we have removed them from the SSECN.
There is far more to this story, however. According to multiple sources on Marco Island, this controversy began when another SAMI member, Captain Herman Diebler, discovered that in the original permit granted for the building of the Esplanade complex, a provision was included that required the marina associated with this property to provide dinghy dockage for anyone wishing to come ashore to Marco Island.
SAMI brought this matter to the city government of Marco Island’s attention, and communication was made with the parent company that owns the Esplanade complex. We are told that they originally agreed to lift the “Esplanade only” restriction for dinghy dockage, and that was the source of the first message we received and posted from Captain Oldershaw.
Then, we are again told, the Esplanade condo owners association and marina association stepped into the picture, and objected to a dinghy dockage policy that would accommodate all cruisers who wished to come ashore. And so, “the signs stayed up” and dinghy dockage remained available only for those patrons of the Esplanade.
Far more recently, a meeting took place between the Marco Island city government, and the attorney representing the Esplanade condo and marina associations. We are told that the results of this meeting were far from conclusive, and that the situation regarding open dinghy dockage at Esplanade Marina remains “fluid,” and the “waters have been muddied.”
The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net will continue to follow this situation and bring you news of developments as they occur. For the moment, though, cruisers anchoring on Smokehouse Bay should not expect to find dinghy dockage at Esplanade Marina, unless their shoreside activities are confined to the Esplanade Complex!
Even with the dredging done in March of this year, we have a Navigation Alert (http://cruisersnet.net/?p=92652) posted for Wiggins Pass, one of the most shoal prone inlets on the Western Florida coastline which cuts the coast between Gordon Pass and Fort Myers Beach. This channel is often dredged, but by the time the dredge disappears over the horizon, the sand is silting back in once again. However, dredging is always welcomed in this busy pass. And to be safe, we strongly recommend calling Pelican Isle Yacht Club at 239-566-1606 for up-to-date depth information BEFORE attempting entry.
FLORIDA-FORT MYERS TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR AND WIGGINS PASS: Hydraulic Dredging.
Orion Marine Construction Inc. will commence hydraulic dredging operations on or about May 24 2013. Operations will occur in Wiggins Pass, Naples. Orion Marine Construction will be performing preliminary construction in Wiggins Pass using a barge for equipment and other vessels. All Barges/Dredges/Tugs/Crew Boats will operate and monitor on working Channel 78 and VHF Channel 16. Hydraulic operations areas and explanations are listed below;
Dredge JERI–B will be dredging in New Pass, Beach operations on Big Hickory Island and Orion Marine Group personnel will be performing crew transfers at Weeks fish Camping in Estero Bay. While dredging, the vessels will be displaying lights and dayboards as required, and may temporally impede the flow of traffic through the channel.
The dredge “JERI-B” will work on Channel 78 and monitor VHF Channel 16. The “JERI-B” will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A submerged pipeline will be utilized from the dredge to the overboard dredge material discharge area. The path of the pipeline will be properly marked IAW USCG 33 CFR 88.15. Buoys with “Caution Submerged Pipeline” will mark the submerged line. For further information contact the Project Manager Mr. Jared Rackley 904-868-9498, Mr. David Folsom Safety Officer (904) 210-2175 and/or the Project Engineer Mr. Patrick Link 813-508-1631.
Mariners are urged to use extreme caution in the area, transit at their slowest speed to minimize wake, and proceed with caution after passing arrangements have been made. Chart 11427
Smokehouse Bay lies in the heart of northern Marco Island. This fortunate body of water plays host to Esplanade Marina and a good anchorage. Its entrance channel leaves the unofficial Marco Island to Naples waterway west of marker #14.
This is one of the best small town harbors in Florida. When entering Smokehouse Bay from the north, keep on the west side of the bay. There is a narrow, north-south 3′ MLW mud shoal in the center of the north half of the bay. The shoal can be circumnavigated on the edges of the bay. Depths are mostly 9-12′ in slimy mud; be prepared to hose down when retrieving your ground tackle. Allow your anchor to set a while before setting as the mud is soft and deep. There is a 1 hour dinghy dock at the Winn Dixie, and you are within walking distance of anything you desire; West Marine, hardware store, rental car, many restaurants, propane, etc. On island taxis are $10 for up to four people. We’ve lived here 34 years and if we didn’t live here, this would be our premier cruising destination now that anchoring is unrestricted.
Rose Marco River Marina overlooks the southwestern shores of Marco Island’s Factory Bay, which sits south-southwest of the Marco – Naples waterway’s unlighted daybeacon #15. Marco Island is on the Gulf coast south of Naples.
We spent three nights at RMRM recently. Nice floating docks, great fuel and dock prices and a helpful staff. It is a short walk to a hardware store, convenience store and restaurant. A taxi company offers complementary RT transport to selected local restaurants – a nice service.
Albert Howes, Chaparral Signature 270 – JAH Love
Naples City Moorings are located south of the Naples City Pier and west, northwest of marker #34.
One requirement of using the Naples City moorings is that you get a pump-out first at the City Dock–no exceptions, even though we had been pumped out the previous day at Fort Myers Beach. We understand that this is a city requirement.
Naples Boat Club is a deluxe facility run by down to earth, friendly and efficient people. Stayed there for a week. Close to most things in Naples including City Dock and Tin City. Wharf restaurant has very good food and is reasonably priced. Our GB 42 was about the smallest boat in the place but we were treated like we were a hundred footer. Heated, waterfall pool and great showers. Free washer and dryer.
The Club is run by the same nice people who own American Marine and Fuel at the same location – Donn and Judy Shulte. This is a cracker jack operation. Very clean. Easy in and out. Discount on fuel if you stay in the Club.
Russ & Marcia Barron
Cruisers’ Net has had a Navigation Alert posted since January of this year for Doctors Pass. This pass leads to shallow bays that do not connect to Naples Bay. Used mostly by smaller boats, Doctors Pass experiences regular shoaling, as earlier reports have shown, and has to be dredged every few years. Gordon Pass, further south, is the primary inlet serving the Naples, Florida region.
FLORIDA-LOSTMANS RIVER TO WIGGINS PASS-DOCTORS PASS: Shoaling
The Coast Guard has received a report of severe shoaling in two locations in Doctors Pass. The first shoal is located in approximate position 26 – 10’ – 24”N, 081 – 48’ – 48”W on the south side of the channel near Private Aid Doctors Pass Daybeacon 4 (LLNR 17730). The shoal extends approximately 20 feet into the channel. Depths of less than 3 feet have been reported during low tide. The second shoal is located in approximate position 26 – 10’ – 36”N, 081 – 48’ – 42”W on the east side of the channel near Private Aid Doctors Pass Daybeacon 14 (LLNR 17765). This shoal extends approximately 4 feet into the channel with reported depths of less than 2 feet during low tide. A temporary “Danger Shoal” buoy has been established in each location of the reported shoaling. Mariners are reminded that these temporary buoys are not charted and the positions may not be reliable due to changing conditions. Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting Doctors Pass. Chart 11430
As southwestern Florida cruising veterans will tell you, there is an UNOFFICIAL waterway which runs behind Marco Island, and eventually, all the way north to Gordon Pass and Naples. The “unofficial” part means that this passage is NOT part of the Western Florida ICW and is therefore not maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The shallowest spot on this unofficial Waterway lies near its southern terminus, hard by the southern tip of Marco Island, which is occupied by the fast developing (but still interesting) village of Goodland. Here, you can easily encounter 4 1/2 foot soundings right in the middle of the channel at low water.
Also, a bit farther to the north, where the channel passes under the (northern) Marco Island Bridge, there is an UNBELIEVABLE “L” turn in the channel, just southeast of the span. You MUST pass marker #26 to its eastern and southern sides, or your vessel’s keel WILL find the bottom!!!!!
The southernmost point of this “unofficial Waterway” is known as Coon Key Pass. Cruising craft must traverse the “shallow spot” near Goodland, and then cruise through Coon Key Pass, if they are southbound to Everglades City, Little Shark River or the Florida Keys via this “unofficial waterway route.” Of course, you can avoid all of this by staying offshore, being sure to stay well clear the vast Cape Romano Shoals, and then continuing south.
The messages below pertain to cruising south from Marco Island/Goodland, via Coon Key Pass.
What is the water depth? It looks very shallow. We are heading to Marco on Wednesday and could go to Goodland on our way to Everglades City…IF there is water!
We’ve been thru Marco to Goodland several times in our boat which drafts 4 ft and haven’t had a problem. The most challenging spots were just after leaving the Marco Bridge (toward Goodland) and when exiting from Goodland back to the Gulf at Coon Key. Pay attention to the tides and charts and it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s our preferred route to avoid Cape Romano Shoals.
Steve and Gina Smith
M/V Island Time
We draw 42″. Go at high tide, or close to it. It’s a soft bottom.
The moon is full, now. Even though the tidal amplitude isn’t much we discovered that inches count!. After poking around south of Cape Romano we decided that the charts were not accurate enough to go into some of the places that warn of 4 feet or less at MLW. Consequently, we headed directly to Marathon because we were in the area at full moon tide and the tide cycle was wrong for us to make a daylight entry into some of the places south of Goodland. We went into Goodland in a friend’s outboard runabout below half tide. At one point the channel was narrow and too shallow to get Sequel in and out, safely. We opted for the Little Marco River and Capri Pass and, at that, there is an uncharted bar on the right of the pass entering the Little Marco where an island blew away in the last hurricane.
Joe aboard M/V Sequel
Two great anchorages on the way to Marathon are Russel Pass outside of Everglades City and Little Shark River. We found them to be one of the nicest anchorages to be at for an overnight stop.
Have made the run from marco to everglades city outside many times, in both bad and good weather. if you trust your gps and the depth sounder you can pick your way through the shoals with no problem, once you have done it its a piece a cake. I draw 5.5 feet.
Don’t forget about the 55′ bridge from Marco to Goodland.
Calusa Island Marina is our FAVORITE facility on Marco Island. And, not the least reason for this good feeling is that Little Bar Restaurant (239-394-5663) and Stan’s Idle Hour (239-394-3041) are within easy walking distance. The food at Little Bar is superb, and a VERY good time is usually had by all at Stans, particularly on the weekend.
You will also find the management at Calusa Island Marina very responsive to the needs to cruisers. Give them a try!!!
Just want to put in a good word for the folks at Calusa Island Marina, Goodland, FL. It is sunny and warm among the mangrove islands just at the edge of the 10,000 Islands. Cheryl, Andrew, Larry and dockmaster, Don, are
friendly, welcoming and very helpful. So if you are still on your way south (or coming north) a stop here is well worth it.
Judith and Paul
We’ve been by Calusa many times; we love the area! But, it is shallow, and particularly in the mornings with the prevailing diurnal tides of the SW Coast. From the Coon Key Channel, what’s your “local knowledge” advice on
getting onto the marina? And also, did you “partake” at Stan’s?
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary
It is a really neat run up the back door to there from Marco. Marina is neat. Shallow water is true, but with our 4′ draft, we made it just fine. It is a nice, short run from there to Everglades City, but take the east side of the last island when you leave and not the channel. Locals will tell you how.
John & Sue Winter
Marco Island is a large community south of the city of Naples on the West Coast of Florida.
After many, many years of struggle, the city of Marco Island, as you will read below, has finally given up the attempt to regulate anchorage by cruising vessels, contrary to Florida state law. Some of you may remember that back in 2007, I journeyed to Naples, entirely at my own expense, to be an “expert” (boy, did I have them fooled) witness in the trial of Capt. Dave Dumas. This brave individual undertook a “civil disobedience” by anchoring his vessel, contrary to the local statutes, with the express goal of being taken to court by the city of Marco Island. Eventually, he was found innocent, as the local regulations were clearly at variance with Florida state law.
All this hub-bub has now been superseded by the far more cruiser friendly, but still NOT perfect, 2009 state of Florida anchoring law. Even so, it’s really good to remember those who fought so long and hard for Florida anchoring rights.
The cruising community owes a HUGE debt of gratitude to the Sailing Association of Marco Island (SAMI), their leaders, and, particularly Captain Dave Dumas. MANY THANKS TO YOU BRAVE WARRIORS!!!
Subject: Marco Island, FL Amends Waterway Ordinance and Removes Anchoring Restrictions
Tonight at 6:15 pm at the Sept. 17th meeting of the City of Marco Island council meeting, the anchoring restrictions enacted in May 2006 were repealed by an amendment to their Waterways ordinance. This is the end of an over six year battle. In Jan. of 2007, Capt. Dave Dumas on his Krogen 42 “Kinship” was cited by the Marco Police for violating the anchoring ordinance. In Oct. of 2007, Att. Donald Day and his law firm in Naples, Fl defended Dumas pro-Bono and won a Collier County Court ruling when Judge Rob Crown declared the anchoring provisions of the ordinance unconstitutional after an eight hour hearing on a motion to dismiss the citation. The City finally dropped an appeal to the ruling
in 2009 and after three more years of prodding the City Council tonight voted unanimously to remove the invalid sections from their code of ordinances.
The support of Att. Day, the Sailing Association of Marco Is. (S.A.M.I.) and over 25 other organizations and individuals was invaluable in this rare success over “City Hall”. The rights of freedom of navigation will continue to need defending, but this success is sweet. Thanks to all who contributed.
Gordon Pass is the primary inlet serving the Naples, Florida region. This cut has to be dredged every so often, but, as will read below, depths do not seem to be a problem here at the moment.
According to our experience, Captains Bruce and Susan are correct about depths not being a problem inside Naples Bay, leading to the primary Naples waterfront, and its two FCYC Yacht Clubs, the Naples City Pier and the Naples Boat Club.
We would also second the notion expressed below about the two more northerly inlets, Doctors Pass and Wiggins Pass being very much subject to shoaling!
I noted several references to shallow water in Naples. There are no shallow water issues involved with Naples Bay accessed through Gordon Pass. Naples Bay is where the marinas, yacht clubs, restaurants, shopping, tour boats and large pleasure craft are located. You will not see less than ten feet of water in the channel, even at low tide.
There are two other Naples passes located further north, Doctors Pass and Wiggins Pass. These passes lead to shallow bays that do not connect to Naples Bay. The passes experience shoaling and are dredged every few years. They are used by mostly smaller boats than used on the Loop.
Bruce and Susan Armstrong
Apparently, Esplanade Marina on Marco Island’s Smokehouse Bay will no longer allow dinghy dockage unless you spend all your time ashore at the marina and its surrounding shopping complex. It’s a good thing there is another source of dinghy dockage nearby at the local Winn Dixie (see below).
We verified this report by calling Esplanade Marina on 4/23/12, and were told their “dinghy slip space is for patrons of the Esplanade.” So, looks like Captain Noel’s info is accurate!
April 19, 2012 — We are anchored in Smokehouse Bay and just notified the harbormaster of our intention to come ashore to do some shopping and sightseeing around the island. We were informed that new rules have been adopted that anyone coming into the Esplanade docks will be required to remain on Esplanade property. I was informed that a dinghy found at he dock earlier was going to be “locked up”. The harbormaster was very polite and informative. I’m sure the rules are not his to decide – only enforce. We will be proceeding to the dock behind the Winn-Dixie where we expect our presence and money will be more welcome.
It’s their private property. I see nothing wrong with this. Especially with a great dock at Winn Dixie.
And, well considered input directly from the folks at Esplanade Marina:
While the above reports are true, I think that it is important to clarify that this rule actually has always been in effect and is contained in the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions that were filed 04/02/2003 with Collier County, FL. In this document we have USE RESTRICTIONS that outline how and what of our marina will be used for the general boating public. This outlines that in fact the general boating public has access to the Esplanade to conduct business at the Esplanade. (Para phrasing of course with consideration to time and space with no change to the intent),. In addition it goes on to say that the Esplanade Marina Board of Directors has the full responsibility of enacting and enforcing rules regarding dockage and the entire marina facility property.
With all of that stated; in the past, the Marina Board, my staff and I attempted to be very generous with our enforcement of the rules when it came to cruisers moored in Smokehouse Bay. However after having our generosity taken advantage of more and more over the last 24 months by cruisers who have trespassed on to locked private gated docks to dump trash and fill water, cruisers who came in to walk pets and did not pick up after the pets, documented and proven cases of cruisers who have been pumping waste straight overboard into the water, and more and more cruisers who would leave dinghy’s tied to our docks for 5,6,7 and 8 hours a day without contacting the Dockmaster we decided that we needed to take a more defined level of enforcement regarding how our docks are being used.
So with all of that said here is our current policy that follows our Use Restrictions, and Marina Guidelines generally related to dinghies and Boaters moored in the bay so there is no question:
All vessels entering into the Esplanade Marina must abide by all Coast Guard Regulations or will not be allowed to dock.
The Esplanade Marina technically does not provide any dingy dockage however will allow those with dinghies to dock only on the single floating slip to the left of the mole located between B and C dock. If a powerboat is in this spot than unfortunately we will have no dingy dockage at that time regardless of what other space exists at that time. All guest dockage is limited to 2 hours.
All Guest dockage is for the use of the Esplanade Businesses only. You may not dock your dingy and leave the Esplanade Property; if you do so your dingy may be locked to the dock and or towed at the owner’s expense.
All Boats needing dockage must contact the Dockmaster either on VHF ch.16 or by phone number provided on the whalers of all docks.
The Esplanade will not accept any Trash from any boat and will not fill water containers.
The Esplanade Marina will provide Pump Out services to any boat based on Dockmaster availability. You must schedule your pump out in advance.
It is and always has been the intent of the Esplanade Marina Board of Directors, its Staff and Slip Owners to be good neighbors and great Stewards of the Sea’s that we all share. It is however our responsibility to those individuals and businesses invested in the Esplanade Property to make sure that we are taking each one of them into consideration when it comes to how we manage the Marina Property. We hope that all Boaters can understand and appreciate the knowledge that we welcome you to our property with the understanding that while you are here you are our guests and must follow a simple set of rules that we have set forth.
We look forward to seeing you on the water and on the docks.
The two notes below were actually submitted to the Cruisers’ Net in late March of 2012, in response to an earlier article about the Marco Island (Coon Key Pass) to Naples “waterway,” which appeared in January, 2012 (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=25439). However, as there is good data here for Western Florida cruisers, we have put up a fresh posting here to increase visibility.
This “waterway” that runs from Coon Key Pass, behind Marco Island, and eventually north to Gordon Pass and Naples, is NOT a part of the official (maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers) Western Florida ICW. HOWEVER, for vessels that draw 4 feet or less, this passage is an intriguing alternative to cruising between Marco and Naples.
There some real navigational quirks, and the depth limitation outlined above is based on one 4 1/2 foot spot, found near Goodland (southern Marco Island). Perhaps the trickiest section is an easy to miss marker, just south of the Goodland Bridge. If you miss that ATON, you’ll be giving Sea Tow some business every time.
We have run this inside route many times, but only once on a high tide, and that was really easy.
At below mid tide, skinny.
Also, don’t forget the markers change at the Marco Bridge, and the chanel takes a strange jog.
I headed out in early on this route from Marco to Naples. I draw 4′ on my Hatteras and it was getting too skinny for me so I retraced my steps and went outside. The gulf was calm and we had a lovely cruise south. Turns out a large Searay which ran by me going full out found the bottom and ripped out his running gear. It likely a lovely passage, but very shallow.