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The Salty Southeast
Cruisers' Net
Cruisers Helping Cruisers

Archive For: West FL – 3 – Marco Island to Naples

  • Shoaling in Doctors Pass, Naples, Florida

    Doctors Pass - Click for Chartview

    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.

    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

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

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To A “Navigation Alert” Position at Doctors Pass

  • Navigating From Marco Island/Goodland and Coon Key Pass to Everglades City (Southwestern Florida Coastline)

     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!
    One September

    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.
    Swing Set

    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.
    Michael Rizzo

    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.
    Nick Chavasse

    Don’t forget about the 55′ bridge from Marco to Goodland.

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Goodland and Coon Key Pass

  • Praise for Calusa Island Marina (Marco Island, Western Florida Coastline)

     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

    Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For

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

  • Marco Island, FL Amends Waterway Ordinance and Removes Anchoring Restrictions

    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.
    Dave Dumas
    Lee Oldershaw
    Herman Diebler
    Karl Henning
    for S.A.M.I.

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Marco Island

  • Information on Naples Bay and Gordon Pass, Southwestern Florida Coastline

    Gordon Pass - Click for Chartview

    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

    Click Here To View the Eastern Western Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Naples City Pier

    Click Here To View the Eastern Western Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Naples Yacht Club

    Click Here To View the Eastern Western Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Naples Sailing and Yacht Club

    Click Here To View the Eastern Western Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Naples Boat Club

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Naples Waterfront

  • Dinghy Dockage Rules on Smokehouse Bay Anchorage (Marco Island)

    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.
    Kris Greenough

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Smokehouse Bay Anchorage

  • Marco Island to Naples Waterway Reprise

    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 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.
    Capt. Sterling

    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.

  • Little Marco Island Anchorage (north of Marco Island – Western Florida)

    I agree with Captain Linda completely. As long as you can keep off the bottom while entering this anchorage from the unofficial Marco Island to Naples waterway, this is one of the best places to drop the hook in southwestern Florida. Follow the link below to the anchor down spot’s listing in our Western Florida Anchorage Directory for more information.

    During the week, you can have your own private Gulf side beach in this little piece of paradise. This is a very quiet anchorage in the evening. Some shoaling of the long channel coming in but our 6 foot draft s/v made it eventually on a rising mid tide.

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Little Marco Island Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Little Marco Island Anchorage

  • Markers Still Off Station in Capri Pass (just north of Marco Island, and south of Naples, Florida)

    We had two earlier reports here on the Cruisers’ Net that marker #11, on the Capri Pass channel was off station, and issued an SSECN Navigation Alert for these waters (see Captain George’s report below confirms that this marker is still not where it should be as of 1/16/02!

    As of 1/16/2012 this marker is still off station and is very near marker #2 as entering from seaward. In the daytime it is not that confusing, but coming in at night, tired from a long passage and unfamiliar with Capri Pass could cause some confusion.
    s/v John Galt

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To A “Navigation Alert” Position at the Position of Marker #11 at Capri Pass

  • Markers Off Station on Capri Pass (north of Marco Island)

    We have just had another recent posting here on the Cruisers’ Net about marker #11 in Capri Pass being off station, extracted from the Local Notice to Mariners (see Captain Bob’s report below confirms this abberation! An SSECN Navigational Alert has already been declared for these waters. Follow the Chart View link below for more details.

    Last week, December 30, my wife and I entered the Capri Pass into Marco Island and found next to the red marker #2, a green can bouy with #11 markings. The green can bouy was about 10 meters to the left of the #2 red marker while the #1 green marker was probably at least 70-90 meters to the left of the red marker #2.
    When we left on January 1, the green can bouy had moved down near the #4 red marker. I hailed the Coast Guard on VHF channel 22A and was referred to a land line which I think was the Marco Island Fire Department–not really sure. I reported the situation but, having left the area, I have no idea if anything was done about this.
    This marking can be very confusing to any vessel entering or leaving Capri Pass–especially if one is not familiar with the markings.
    Bob Peterson,
    Isles Yacht Club Fleet Captain

    As of 1/16/2012 this marker is still off station and is very near marker #2 as entering from seaward. In the daytime it is not that confusing, but coming in at night, tired from a long passage and unfamiliar with Capri Pass could cause some confusion.
    s/v John Galt

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To A “Navigation Alert” Position at the Position of Marker #11 at Capri Pass

  • Marco Island to the Florida Keys

    There is a wealth of good cruising tips in Captain Lloyd’s note below. His description of the “inside” passage navigational challenges, behind Marco Island, is spot on, as is his description of Little Shark River’s shoreline.
    I might also add that as of a few months ago, the entrance channel into Flamingo was still quite shallow!

    You can take the inside route behind Marco Island with a 4′ draft but avoid low tide. 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 have not been to Flamingo since it was rebuilt after the hurricane. The approach was shallow at that time. I recommend a direct route from Little Shark River to Seven Mile Bridge and stop at Marathon.
    Alan Lloyd

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Calusa Island Marina

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Little Shark River Outer Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Little Shark River Outer Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Little Shark River Southern Fork Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Little Shark River Southern Fork Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Little Shark River Upper Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Little Shark River Upper Anchorage

  • Happy Words About Smokehouse Bay Anchorage (Marco Island, Florida – south of Naples, FL)

    To successfully enter the excellent anchorage on Marco Island’s Smokehouse Bay, you must make your approach via a well marked, but exacting channel which cuts off from the southern approach to Capri Pass Inlet and runs through the easterly reaches of Collier Bay. Some low water depths on this approach run as thin as 4 1/2 feet (in one spot), but if you can get past these shallows, your reward will be one of the most sheltered anchor down spots in southwestern Florida, with good shoreside access! Follow the links below to learn more!

    Whole heartily endorse the anchorage in Smokehouse Bay on Marco (this is where the Esplanada is. Dinghy under the bridge and Winn-Dixie has a dingy dock you can use. There is also a great Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays – we always plan to hit there on our way through.
    Marty & Jerry Richardson

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

    Click on Chartlet Below to Open a Chart View Window,
    Centered on the Location of This Anchorage:

  • Anchoring East of Coconut Island A No-Go (Capri Pass, just north of Marco Island)

    I can pretty much answer Captain Trometer’s questions below. Anchorage east of so-called Coconut Island just inside Capri Pass is no longer a real possibility for cruising size craft.
    Some years ago, the state of Florida, in what a friend of mine calls its “infant wisdom” cut down all the Australian Pines which held this island’s sands in place. Consequently, the isle has pretty much eroded into the surrounding waters. The last time I saw Coconut Island, it was nothing more than a small sand bar.

    Subject*: Coconut Island, Marco Island, FL
    Cruising News*: Has anyone recently anchored on the East side of Coconut Island? What are the depths going in and at anchor?
    August Trometer

    March 31, 2011 Just went past the former anchorage in Capri Pass. Forget about it…too much wind, wave, and no cover from what the Gulf may have in mind for your evening on the hook. Factory Bay anchorage worked well in a 20 + knot blow.
    Captain Ron Rice

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Coconut Island

  • Smokehouse Bay Anchorage (Marco Island)

    Smokehouse Bay is the newest addition to our Western Florida Anchorage Directory. This body of water is all but landlocked amidst the northern reaches of Marco Island, and, consequently, the bay is very well sheltered.
    We queried our “man on the scene” in Marco Island, Captain Herman Diebler, about depths on the Smokehouse Bay approach channel. having heard that the waters could be a bit thin along this passage at MLW. Herman replied

    I read your listing of Smokehouse Bay. And I was happy to see it. This is the best anchorage on the west coast of Florida. The chart you have bears no resemblance to reality. I don’t know if there is a more recent one, I am going to have to look around, if you are interested. There are all new markers which were put in when the marina was built. The channel is very well marked. Coming in from the Marco River it typically 8+ feet. The only shallow spot is by the first turn to starboard which is 5+ or so feet at dead low tide. The water is the deepest hugging the pilings and seawall. After that spot there is 8+ feet by following the markers into Smokehouse Bay. Smokehouse Bay is deep 10+ feet. There is only one shallow spot which is behind the first green marker on the way into the bay. Even with that there is deep water between the marker and the seawall. The problem is just that relatively small spot of about 4+ feet. The bottom is mud, so make sure your anchor is caught.

    I e-mailed Captain Herman back, and asked if the “small spot of 4+ foot water” was part of the entrance channel, and, if so, where it would be encountered. As you will see, this one shallow spot is NOT part of the entry cut, and is easily avoided!

    The area in question is not in a channel but rather a small area in the west end of the anchorage and can be easily avoided.

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Smokehouse Bay

  • Routes from the Florida Keys to Marco Island

    There has been an interesting, ongoing discussion on the AGLA (American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) about the best route to cruise from the Florida Keys to the southwestern Florida mainland coastline, Marco Island in particular. Anyone who plans of making this passage will want to check out the string of messages below with a proverbial fine toothed comb.

    We are sitting in the Keys for a month before getting ready to head north to Marco Island and points north.
    I know there are several routes that are mapped but I was hoping that those who have done this trip could help with suggestions on the most recommended route from Key West to Marco Island.
    Thanks in advance
    Cheri and Gerald Wallace

    Cheri and Gerald:
    There are as many ways to make the trip from Key West to Marco as there are folks who have done it. I’ll give you a straightforward way we did it.
    Your route will depend on how much time you have and how much water you draw, but we had moderate time and drew about 4 ft. 4 in. Also, watch for good weather. There is a lot of open water on your trip.
    Leave Key West and move into the Hawk Channel, then eastward to Marathon. Spend some fun time in Marathon and watch the weather. When the wind is light from the south, head under the Seven Mile Bridge cut and take up a northly course to put you just off Little Shark River. It can be a bit shallow south of Little Shark and you will have to stay off perhaps 6-8 miles to avoid frequent furtive glances at the depthfinder. Spend the night at anchor a peaceful, primitive environment. If you have time, dinghy up the river a ways, taking a handheld GPS with you. Lots of fun.
    Next day, head for any of a dozen good anchorages off Everglades City, or go in to Everglades City for some “old Florida.” Visit the Rod and Gun Club. Next day, go in to Marco. Depending on your draft, you can go inland at Gullivan Bay, but be careful getting around Coon Key and into the Big Marco River. It is easier to go outside if weather permits to Capri Pass leading to Marco.
    By the way, watch carefully for crab pots all throughout the route — particularly the Florida Bay area.
    Hope this helps. It is a very nice trip if your weather holds.
    Bill Donovan

    Cheri and Gerald,
    I agree with Bill Donovan. We love the Sportsman’s Club in Everglade City. I would add to what Bill posted with the following: if you draw 5′ or less, you can go inside at Coon Key Pass and north through Goodland to Marco. It’s pretty, and not too bad in the afternoon hours. If you do stay at Everglades City or Indian Key, you’ll hit Coon Key Pass in the afternoon, on a rising tide. You must be careful to stay in the marked channel, particularly in Goodland, but you’ll make it with no trouble.
    Yes, Gullivan Bay is shallow, generally charted at 5′, but the charting is accurate, and in the afternoons on a rising tide, you’ll have good water. The gulf route around the Romano Shoals will take you way offshore, so if you need cover for high seas or weather, the inside route is doable.
    In Goodland, stop at Stan’s for an adult beverage and a fun afternoon. Very “old” Florida. If you stay at a marina in Goodland, get local
    knowledge on approaches. As you approach the high rise bridge in Marco from the south, there are two things you need to watch. One is that there is a Red Marker immediately south (east) of that bridge that you MUST clear, but at an approach distance of a mile or so, lies with the shoreline behind it and is very hard to pick out. Approaching from the south, it will be to the left of the bridge. Find it and honor it, or you will get to meet the local Tow Boat operator. DO NOT head straight for the bridge channel.
    The other thing is that the marker colors change sides at that same bridge. Approaching from the south (east), it’s kinda obvious, because the water gets wider and less confined on the Marco side, but if approaching from the north (west), it can be very confusing, and it’s again easy to miss that Red marker, or take it on the wrong side.
    Finally, the inside route north of Marco is also shallow. There is a great anchorage at Rookery Bay; it does have a correctly charted shoal on the north. The stretch from Rookery Bay north to Naples is very shallow, and should be done at or near high tide (afternoon) for a 5′ draft boat.
    On the West Coast of Florida, there is generally only one high tide per day, and it’s always in the afternoon. Exceptions are spring tides, when there is one tide that is much higher and one tide that is much lower than the other.

    The other way is to go from Key West direct to Marco. It is not much farther from KW to Marco than Marathon to Marco, about 90NM I believe, including all the twists & turns of both routes. We have done this with no problem during daylight hours (running 9 to 10 knots) with average wave height of about 3 ft. No problems.
    Watch the charts carefully and follow the channels. Go North around the Navy base and then follow channels and deeper water into the Gulf. Once into deeper water you can set your autopilot for the channel at Marco, again following the charts carefully.
    If you have not been to Marathon and want to take longer to enjoy the trip, do that, taking the Hawk Channel on the South side of the Keys. Stop to anchor at Newfound Harbor halfway between Key West and Marathon (at Little Torch Key), where you can dinghy under the highway bridge to the dinghy dock at Parrotdise Grill for their excellent lobster reuben sandwich. Yum! After staying in Marathon, follow Moser Channel under the “hump” in the Keys bridge there and follow the channel and clear water to Marco.

    The options already posted are good ones. We have done the direct route winter and spring as well as the Marathon route, and the choice can depend on your circumstances and vessel. If you are short on time and you have a couple of good days for sailing (or flat seas for motoring), suggest the direct route Key West to Marco. Monitor the WX for several days as part of your planning.
    Shark River is indeed a terrific anchorage, but beginning usually in mid April be prepared for bugs. Suggest not using the Rod & Gun Club for an overnight. You would be better served continuing on around the island just off the Rod & Gun and motor a short distance to the fairly new Everglade Isle Motorcoach Park. They have terrific floating docks, power, water, great club house, and a friendly and helpful staff. I have seen a 46 footer tied there, but most of their slips are for smaller vessels. Great river restaurant nearby and golf carts may be available for your use.
    Regards, Tom & Sue
    m/v Marbles

    By the postings I have read, there seems to be a sort of the “lets get past this”. Years ago for 3 years I spent the winter going from Ft Meyer down to the Keys, up to Miami and then back to Ft Meyer. My favorite part was from Key West to New Found Harbor to Marathon, then to Shark River, then to Indian Key and then either around Romano Light to Naples or to Coon Key to Marco and then to Naples.
    Spectacular anchorages and good safe boating.
    For 99% of us, we will never be back to the Everglades again and to speed by it is a mistake.
    A potential danger is going straight across from Key West to Marco, especially in the winter. Northers come in very fast and often unannounced. 15 years ago there was a major unannounced all night squall that hit the Keys and Gulf side. The Coast Guard was asking all mariners to help: fishing boats were swamping. The coast Guard could not keep up with calls. I had 4 friends who had left Key West that morning in glorious sun and they got caught in it, boat damaged and almost lost one of them and they never went out in that boat again. Used it for a winter condo for 1 year and then sold it. They later told me how they had wished that they do what I do.
    I do day hops and always have the ability to run for cover. I also try to be near anchorage or tie up, especially if I have never been there by 2 to 3 PM in the winter. That is what I am proposing.
    After leaving the 7 mile bridge (Marathon) and heading towards East Cape you are in crab trap heaven. However when you are within 1 mile of the Everglades, crab trapping is illegal and the water is deep enough that you can run the coast out of crab traps.
    Shark River is a very special place. You are in a jungle: thousands of birds and thru the night the sounds of the jungle. Go up the river a 1/4 mile and it is a hurricane hole. Wind cannot get to you and in the winter no bugs,
    Up the coast to Indian Key to either anchor for the night in protected water or up to Everglade city.
    Then to Marco by either going to Coon key or around Romano Shoals (R16) and then to Marco.
    If you leave Marco out to the Gulf, years ago very uncertain markings and a strong southerly rip current across the bar. i was not aware of rip current and I did it at night and it cost $2000. in repairs
    This is what it is about, as opposed to a fast open water run and then a landing in the dark where you have never been.
    L. Sloan

    Hi there,
    We’ve been reading the discussion, and are looking for some advice. We are heading South from Marco Island to the Everglades, and would like to take the inside route, but are wary of what sounds like quite shallow waters. We draw 4′6″ and are looking for some local knowledge of the area.
    Much appreciated,
    Mark and Marlene

  • Calusa Island Marina (Goodland – Marco Island)

    Calusa Island Marina is found on the shores of southern Marco Island, within the borders of the old fishing village of Goodland. There’s lots of good places to eat within walking distance, including my personal favorite, “Little Bar.” Entering this facility can be a little tricky for first-timers, and the shallowest portion of the unofficial Marco Island to Naples waterway lies nearby with MLW depths of as little as 4 1/2 feet.

    Calusa Island Marina update as of Feb. 1st, 2011. From Claiborne Young’s outstanding 2008 Cruising Guide to West Florida (7th ed.), he implied that Calusa would be cruiser friendly in our hour of need. They are. VERY. Our story follows the important facts: Calusa has now made available a dinghy dock fee for we who prefer the hook at night. The fee includes shoreside access, showers and laundry. Transient “dockers” are still very welcome too. Andrew Barksdale whose card says “President” and “Managing Partner”, absolutely ROCKS. I now think of him as “can do – Andrew”. That spirit runs thru what we saw of the operation. “Just ask first and we’ll make it work,” is what he told me referring to out-of-the-box arrangements. The protected anchorage in Blue Hill Creek has good depths for a half mile beyond him, Andrew said. Calusa has Block Ice! Gas prices competitive with Marco. Their water tasted very good on the day we filled up (after ASKING FIRST). Groceries, Ace Hardware with LP refill station (see our story below) and West Marine are about 3 and a half miles. We have our own bike which makes that easy for us in flat S. FLorida. Andrew has plans to have loaner bicycles available to dinghy dock users in March and I strongly encouraged that ASAP. A loaner car is hopefully in the works for next season. Goodland’s restaurants are a big draw as is prominently mentioned in the Guide (as well as above). We too have been told that Marker 8 Restaurant is good. The lunch special at Little Bar is still good at ~$6.95 we hear.
    Our story: 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning at Tiger Key about 12 miles South and East of Goodland/Calusa Island Marina. A defective back-up propane 20 lb bottle (seal completely missing!!! on Blue Rhino exchange LP bottle – we’ll check that in future before accepting an exchange) won’t connect at all, which means our fridge and its contents will soon be room temp… Claiborne’s superlative guide steers me toward Calusa as my first call (on the cell). Andrew answers. He tells me that I can get my empty tank REFILLED at the Ace in S. Marco on a Sunday. ” I just filled mine there, so I know they have it.” he tells me. “Can you be here before noon?” he asks. We do. And he drives me in his car to Ace for a very reasonable charge. And the refill was less $ than the (defective) exchange had been at Winn Dixie in N. Marco (see Side note at end). The fridge stays cold. The food is saved. And we find a truly welcoming facility for cruisers like us who genuinely prefer lying on an anchor at night to docking. Showers, laundry, block ice and a friendly welcome. Perfect.
    John McLaughlin

    We really enjoyed our stay. Even though we were towed in and had a gps track to follow, we ran aground, so be careful
    Bill Dixon

    We called Tow Boat US for EXCELLENT blow by blow tips for this “inside” route thru Marco Island. We draw 4′ & still had a few “white knuckle” moments passing thru at mid-tide. Well worth it tho.”
    Linda Gimbel Hughes

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

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

  • Underwater Rock Reported West of Naples, FL Waterfront (Gordon River) Channel, 2/9/11

    Wow, here’s some input that EVERY single cruiser who plans on visiting Naples in the foreseeable future needs to note! The “underwater rock” in question lies off the western flank of the marked Gordon River/Naples Waterfront channel, north of the Naples City Pier and near marker #38.

    A dockmate just returned with a bent prop from Naples in his Tiara drawing 4 feet. Heading south on the Gordon River in vicinity of Red 38. Tide below MLW. He was hugging Green side of channel when “wham” he hit the rock. His advise stay in center or favor red side of channel. Location of rock reported as N26 08.063 W81 47.442, just above Naples City Dock.
    Kevin Hopper

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To A “Navigation Alert” Position West of the Gordon River/Naples Waterfront Channel

  • Good Times in Naples, Fl Mooring Field

    The mooring field in Naples is fairly new and lies just off the Naples City Pier in Naples Bay.

    Had a great time in Naples! They have a limit to 4 nights for the mooring balls (something to do with the EPA owning the bay bottom, kind of a strange story if you ask me) but we got to spend 8 nights total on the Naples mooring balls. (Left for one night in between and got another 4 nights.)
    **CAUTION** The mooring balls DO NOT have a regular pennant on them. (It’s a rope loop that is about 5 inches long attached to the ball). You will not be able to pick it up with a boat hook and the dockmaster’s office for some reason does not inform you of this. When we are aboard when other boats have come in we have used our dinghy to help them.
    When we went back the second time one of us got in the dinghy when we were close and slowed way down so that we could “walk” with the dinghy forward, grab the line we had attached to the cleat, string it through the mooring pennant and then back aboard. Fairly simple if you know about it ahead of time.
    Naples is a great town to visit. There are a number of great restaurants within walking distance of the docks. (Bleu Provence is a stone’s throw away and has a great early dining special, $24.95 between 5-6pm for an appetizer, entree, and glass of wine. The food is first class, you won’t be disappointed.) Definitely can recommend Naples as a cruising destination, Enjoy!

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For The Naples City Pier

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Naples City Mooring Field

  • Calusa Island Marina (southern Marco Island at Goodland)

    Calusa Island Marina sits at the southern tip of Marco Island, in the old village of Goodland. This facility’s entrance channel departs the Coon Key to Naples unofficial waterway near marker #6. Watch out from some depths as thin as 4 1/2 feet at MLW in the “waterway” channel along this stretch.
    And, while I certainly second Captain Moran’s mention of Stan’s Idle Hour bar/restaurant below, where a good time is always had by one and all, also don’t dare miss Little Bar and Restaurant, less than a block away. The seafood here is awesome!

    We ended up staying at Calusa Island Yacht Club (just a marina) at Goodland, just south of Marco Is. for a month last year. Laid back and beautiful setting and Stan’s Idle Hour Bar ( is just up the street!! Anchorages are also available around the Goodland area if you decide to stay for a shorter time.
    Wish you warm breeze and calm seas.
    Joe Moran

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

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

  • Good Visit to Smokehouse Bay Anchorage (Marco Island, Florida)

    The marked channel to Smokehouse Bay anchorage cuts off the Capri Pass channel near the northern tip of Marco Island. While we have always found MLW depths here to be as thin as 4 1/2 feet, this passage does indeed lead to a super anchorage, offering great protection from foul weather, on Smokehouse Bay.
    Captain Nicole mentions nearby “Esplanade Marina” in her comments below. We are NOT yet familiar with this facility, and would like to learn more. Those who have previously visited this facility, please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.

    Chris, the dockmaster at Esplanade, is fantastic. Give him the courtesy of checking in with him (we walked over from the dinghy dock at Winn Dixie) and he will treat you like gold. Fantastic guy.
    It was mentioned to us that other cruising boats have “snuck” onto the dock early in the morning to take on water and leave their trash. The marina considers this trespassing, just a word to the wise. (besides if you ask the dockmaster he will probably let you do both of these things, just ask!)
    One warning: We were warned by a helpful person on the dock that if you anchor here for more than 4 consecutive nights the shoreside neighbors will call the Coast Guard and tell them you have been there for a long time and must be pumping out in the water. Apparently the CG will then send one of their small boats to visit you and I assume, do a safety and head check. Not a big deal (kind of a waste of the CGs time I think) but good to know in the event in happens to you.
    Esplanade will pump you out for free if you give them a call on VHF 16.

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Smokehouse Bay Anchorage

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