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Cruisers Helping Cruisers
 Slips are now available!! On the brand new Dock 5. For information please call (727) 893-7329 or 800 782 8350Gulf Harbour Marina    
ICW Marker 73, 4.5 miles from Gulf of Mexico  
14490 Vista River Dr.,
Fort Myers, FL 33908
239-437-0881
gulfharbourmarina@comcast.net239 461-0775 Legacy Harbour Marina entrance is located on the Okeechobee Waterway East of Marker #49 on the Caloosahatchee River. The Marina is situated two blocks from historic downtown Fort Myers and three blocks from the historic Edison-Ford Winter Estates. The Marina's 131-Slips range in size from 40 feet to 80 feet and can accommodate Transient Boats of 100 feet plus. The large Fairways make our slips easily accessible. Our slips are surrounded by one of the largest 'floating breakwaters' on the Gulf of Mexico. The floating docks are state-of-the-art. Legacy Harbour Marina is a full-featured facility with all the modern conveniences of home including pump-out station, heated pool, fitness center, full electric metered at the slip, cable TV, laundry, air-conditioned showers and wireless Internet connections available. The Boaters' Lounge is available for relaxing after a cruise or for private parties. The view from the lounge is spectacular! Our grounds are beautifully manicured and provide great strolling along the river with benches, Chickee Hut, and excellent access to all of historic Fort Myers. Please take a few moments to browse our website and see for yourself what our  beautiful boating facility can offer you the next time you are cruising in Southwest Florida.Boca Grande Marina, Gasparilla Island, FloridaTwin Dolphin Marina, 1000 1st Ave. West, Bradenton, Florida 34205-7852, 941.747.8300  -  fax 941.745.2831, e-mail: harbormaster@twindolphinmarina.comLocated at Mile Marker 135 on the Okeechobee Waterway, 15 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, Fort Myers Yacht Basin is a well designed and protected marina. It is owned and operated by the City ofSouthwest Florida YachtsPink Shell Beach Resort and Marina
Regatta Pointe MarinaThe Port St. Joe Marina is at the heart of Florida's Forgotten Coast, on the eastern shore of pristine St. Joseph Bay on Florida's northern Gulf Coast. Located between Panama City and Apalachicola, FlThe Town of Fort Myers Beach proudly operates and maintains the Matanzas Harbor Municipal Mooring Field. The field boasts 70 mooring balls available for public rental year-round, and accommodates vessels up to 48 feet in length. The mooring field is located east of the Sky Bridge between San Carlos and Estero Islands in Matanzas Pass. For recreational cruisers, the Fort Myers Beach Mooring Field is a wonderful destination. Coming ashore at the Town’s dinghy dock puts boaters in walking distance to beaches, restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and public transportation. Mooring ball rental fees are $13/day or $260/month. All renters MUST register with Matanzas Inn upon arrival. The dinghy dock is available for public use to tie up dinghies 10’ or less (no overnight tie-ups). The dock is located beneath the Sky Bridge between Matanzas Inn Restaurant and the public fishing pier. Punta Gorda, Florida - a GREAT cruising destinationRiviera Dunes Marina Just off Tampa Bay Owned and Operated by BoatersFisherman's Village Marina and Resort, Punta Gorda, FLSt. Andrew's Marina

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

  • Smokehouse Bay Anchorage – Marco Island

    This is the second posting we’ve had about anchoring on Smokehouse Bay since the first of May (2010). We WILL get this anchorage on the Net’s “Western Florida Anchorage Directory” this week!

    We live in Naples and Marco Island’s Esplanade Marina in Smokehouse Bay is one of our favorite day trips. We simply follow the marked channel into Collier Bay and then Smokehouse Bay. Currents can be strong as you turn from the Marco River into the channel, you need to be alert, but I’ve never had a problem. There is plenty of shallow water in Collier Bay, but you have to get out of the channel to find it. We went at a fairly high tide today and I did not note a single depth indication less than 9′. You may find some shallow water in Smokehouse Bay, but I haven’t. And I frequently see boats anchored there.
    Jeff
    M/V Toto

  • Smokehouse Bay Anchorage – Marco Island

    Here’s a posting about an anchorage that I KNOW needs to be added to the Net’s “Western Florida Anchorage Directory.” My good friend, Captain Herman Diebler, who lives on Marco, has already (quite rightly) been on my case about this.
    The reason I’ve never before listed Smokehouse Bay as an overnight haven, is that having tried to sound this channel some years ago, I ran into 4-foot depths. Those of you who have anchored here, PLEASE share what depths you found, and pass along any tips about how to find the best soundings.

    We visited Smokehouse Bay in April. When entering after the Pass, you do need to hug the condo side of the channel and then follow the markers. Plenty of water and good holding. The marina is boater/dinghy friendly, which is a nice change from Marco River Marina and Factory Bay. I would recommend you do a courtesy checking with the dockmaster at Esplanade. They prefer the dinghies to be docked at certain spots. Smokehouse Bay is only about 10 minutes further in than Factory Bay and is well worth it.
    S/V Two If By Sea

  • Little Marco Island Anchorage (north of Capri Pass and Marco Island)

    The Little Marco Island Anchorage is accessed from the unofficial waterway stretching from Capri Pass and Marco Island, north to Naples. This one of the best anchor down havens in this region. Give it your most serious consideration!

    Love the anchorage! Always stop here.
    Quiet, except for weekends. In a no wake zone if you go all the way down. Good holding , excellent protection, nice views. Beaches.
    Captain Sterling

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

  • Glowing Report on Naples Mooring Field (hard by Naples City Pier)

    After several, earlier negative reports on the Naples Mooring Field, it’s certainly nice to hear about a very positive experience here.

    Subject: mooring field, Naples, FL
    Cruising News: We have just returned from a 4 day stay in the mooring field of Naples, FL. We drive a 37′ Sea Ray EC. The city of Naples has 12 new mooring balls divided into two different fields adjacent to the city dock. There are 6 near the main dock and 6 near the Naples Yacht Club. The dockmaster told us he tries to fill the closer field first because it’s closer to everything. We were told we had to supply our own pennant/line for the mooring ball before we could attach our boat to it. The city also provides a nice dinghy dock for transient use. They were dredging the entrance to Gordon Pass on our visit there, but getting in was no problem at all. We did not get hassled the whole time we were there, as others have complained about. Our time there was very enjoyable.
    Bob Shaw

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To The Approxomate Location of the Naples Mooring Fields

  • Johnson Bay Anchorage (off inside passage from Marco Island to Naples)

    The anchorage Captain Stone refers to in his note below, we term the “Johnson Bay Anchorage” in the Net’s “Western Florida Anchorage Directory.” Whatever you call it, this is indeed a good spot to drop the hook, IF you don’t plan on going ashore at Marco Island.

    If you decide to stop in the Marco Island area I’ll share info on an anchorage there that I picked up from another T & T contributor a couple of years ago.
    Take a look at a spot a short distance north of Marco Island along the channel between Naples and Marco Island, NW of R 14 (25 59.972N, 081 44.564W). It’s not very impressive on the chart, but is beautifully protected by mangroves and shallows, has great holding, and there is plenty of room for two or three boats. IMHO it’s far superior to the commonly recommended spot in Factory Bay, with its sloppy mud poor holding. The downside is that there no easy dinghy access to shore or facilities. Also, there is some wave action from passing boats in the channel, but that all stops at dark, since those channel markers are not lighted. Was even able to get fair wifi from some source there.
    Dan Stone
    St. Pete

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

  • Port Royal Southern Offshoot Anchorage (off Gordon Pass Inlet)

    The overnight haven that I term the “Port Royal Southern Offshoot Anchorage” is accessed from the channel which eventually leads north to Naples, just north of this passage’s intersection with the Gordon Pass marked passage.
    Note Captain Thomason’s quite correct warning below about a shoal which must be bypassed when entering this anchorage. This is yet another passage where a working GPS chartplotter aboard would be ever so useful!

    Have anchored here twice, most recently on March 20. The mud is no worse than many other places (or maybe we North Carolinians are more used to mud!) It is a very quiet anchorage surrounded by nice homes. The only drawback is there is no way to go ashore closeby that we know of.
    I meant to add that Sea Tow was dealing with a sailboat that was on the charted shoal on the north side entering the canal. Be sure to stay close to the green 21 side going in for good depths.
    Jean Thomason (DOVEKIE)

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Port Royal Southern Offshotte Anchorage

  • Naples Mooring Field

    They’re very serious about no overboard discharge in Naples!!!

    We are spending 4 nights in the mooring field at Naples adjacent to Naples Town Dock. Pull up to the Naples Town Dock and they will pump your holding tank: they wanted to put a seal on my black water over board. I then explained to the attendant that we on the Canadian Great Lakes banned the discharge of sewage from pleasure craft back in the late 50′s or early 60′s: and that all my overboard systems had been disconected decades ago. Great price $10.00 per night, a short dingy ride from shopping and restaurants. Max stay is 4 days in response to the live aboard problem Fl has. This type of ordance is some what akin to trying to fixing your watch with a sledge hammer.

  • Marco River Marina (south of Naples, on Marco to Naples Waterway)

    Marco River Marina resides on the inner shores of Factory Bay, which indents the eastern shores of Marco Island. There is also good shopping and dining within walking distance of this facility!

    Spent 2 nights at Marco Island Marina due to weather.
    Very friendly staff all around. New floating docks were installed only a while ago. Get 10c off / gallon of fuel when you stay at the marina. Plenty of Restaurants within walking distance.
    Sabine and Reinhold Probst
    Cabana
    Mainship Trawler 40

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Marco River Marina

  • Marco Island to Marathon and Key West, Then North to Miami

    Below is a very informative and interesting string of messages copied from the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) list about cruising from Marco Island in southwestern Florida, to either Marathon or Key West, then north to Miami or possibly even the Okeechobee Waterway. There’s tons of useful cruising tips here, over a wide ranging swath of waters.

    I am interested in information related to leaving Marco Island and rounding the bottom of Florida, possible crossing over to the Hawk Channel at Seven Mile bridge. Anyone with experience, ideas, help? Thanks.
    Craig McAllaster
    “Cavalier” Island Packet SP Cruiser

    We did just that about 2 years ago. It seems like yesterday but unfortunately that is a long time ago in cruising days. Our boat draws 4.5 feet and I would love to leave again tomorrow and do it in the same boat.
    We made our way from Marco to Little Shark River, anchored there and left for 7 mile bridge. The water is skinny but you will get used to 9-10 feet and you will make it. Picking good weather is important. Many crab traps but just work your way through them. Go slow in places where dodging them is difficult and faster in open areas. Uneventful in crossing under 7 mile bridge. We had no tidal problems but I have heard of significant tidal flow so you probably should check the tidal flow times before leaving.
    We did Hawk Channel to and from Key West. Plenty of water, of course, but we experienced extraordinarily rough water. When the wind direction is from off shore the long fetch can make things uncomfortable. Hawk Channel provides easy access to the Key West area but in my opinion, it is not worth it if the water is rough. Hawk channel is not close enough to land to say you saw any local color of the keys.
    Now, if I had it to do again, I would take the bay side to key west. I have never been that way so do not have any direct experience but have heard many good things. Also have traveled by car to many places on the bay side and easily see why others rave about the “local color”.
    Wayne Prichard

    Craig,
    You didn’t say what your draft is and that can be a factor in this part of the world. Also, you didn’t say how long you plan to be gone or when you want to leave.
    Morning Star only draws 3-1/2 ft and we regularly leave Marco via Coon Key Pass. That makes a stop at Everglades City a short hop. Or you can continue on to Little Shark River for an overnight. The run from Little Shark to Marathon is not long and we have never found it to be particularly shallow. There are a few “banks” to avoid but they are well marked and if you are paying attention there won’t be a problem.
    From Marathon, you can pass under the Seven-Mile Bridge at Moser Channel or you can go east up the ICW on the Florida Bay side or you can head west to Key West via Big Spanish Channel.
    If you are contemplating Florida Bay, know that a strong northerly will blow a lot of water out of the Bay.
    Finally, if your goal is to do the “South Florida Loop”, a trip we highly recommend, I would do the Okeechobee leg first and head south from Stuart. That way when you leave Miami and head down the Keys the prevailing wind will be at your back.
    Regards,
    Randy Pickelmann
    MORNING STAR

    We traveled directly from Naples to Key West on the Gulf. It was 122nm dock to dock and an easy run, although we did travel at a faster speed than usual. We left Naples at 7AM, navigated the crab pots and then never saw another pot nor another boat until we neared Key West! Took the Hawk Channel from Key West to Marathon.
    ONE OLIVER II

  • Marco Island to Naples Waterway

    The “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.
    The discussion below is copied from the AGLCA (American’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) mail list. As always, I HIGHLY recommend this organization for ANYONE doing or contemplating the Great Loop!

    Is this a viable alternative to going outside with a 4.5 foot draft boat? It looks like it might be a nice place to transit and anchor.
    Do it at high/rising tide?
    Thanks,
    Jim

    Jim:
    We took about 4’4″ through there a few years ago (2006) with no problems. It is shallow and narrow in spots, so your thought of doing it on a rising tide is a good one. It is a rather isolated but pretty route.
    Also, be aware they are dredging in Gordon Pass near Naples, but that shouldn’t be a problem for you.
    Bill

    A nice place to anchor is in the channel west of Little Marco Island beginning at daymark G”33″. We anchored there and found ourselves partially aground next morning. No problem, we just waited two hours for the incoming tide to float our boat. Evidently, we did not allow enough room to swing on the tide change. Why does the boat always swing on the short shore side when there is gobs of room on the other side?
    Alan Lloyd
    Author, Great Loop Navigation Notes
    (http://www.navigationnotes.com/)

    Jim,
    Yes, inside route is OK for your draft boat.
    Sanctuary draws 4’2″. In March, 2009, we left Punta Gorda via Charlotte Harbor to the G-ICW, south and went out into the Gulf at Redfish Pass (Captiva Island), and south on the Gulf to Gordon Pass.
    There is only one high tide on the gulf side of Florida, and the high tides are normally in the afternoon, so we entered Gordon Pass on a rising tide around 14h00. Or, you could come all the way from
    Charlotte Harbor south on Pine Island Sound and past Sanibel Island to Ft Myers Beach. From Ft. Myers Beach south to Gordon Pass, outside. When you come off the Gulf into and through Gordon Pass, after a mile or so, you’ll take a hard stbd southbound on the old ICW. That’s the worst part of the entire trip for shallow water, narrow channel and inconsiderate local go fast fishing boats. But, about 4 or 5 miles south is a terrific anchorage called Rookery Bay. It’s a wild mangrove swamp area, and beautiful. Mind the correctly charted shoal on the north east of the opening. There’s plenty of water to the south. Some fisherman wakes until dark, but fine thereafter. No place to walk a dog.
    From there, we proceeded south to Marco. Mind the charts very carefully at Marco. From Rookery Bay on the old ICW, you’ll need to go nearly all the way out the Marco inlet and make a 340 degree turn
    back to get to the old ICW channel south of Marco to Goodland. You can anchor or marina at Marco. There is plenty of room, and more than one area to anchor.
    When you leave Marco Southbound, there is a hiway bridge immediately south of Marco where the channel marker colors change sides. So… When you go under that bridge, southbound, you MUST take a 90 degree stbd turn and find R”26″, which lies against the shoreline in a line parallel to the bridge. It can be hard to spot, but you must go around that marker, leaving it to your port side. You will see
    smaller boats skip it, and head straight at the bridge. DO NOT FOLLOW THEM. It is too shallow for your boat! From R”26″, make another 90 degree turn, this time to port, and find G”25″. It’s a mile off, but
    find it. The channel from R”26″ to G”25″ is a bit narrow, but carries 6 – 8′ of water, so no problem. There is a collection of remains of pilings to stbd after you make the turn at R”26″; leave them to your
    stbd side and follow a rhumb line from R”26″ to G”25″. This all sounds complicated, but forewarned, it’s not bad. However, it can be confusing and unintuitive if you don’t know the marker colors change
    side there.
    The rest of that old ICW channel is fine, and well marked. Follow it through Goodland and through Coon Key Pass to Gullivan Bay. You can anchor or marina at Goodland. If you marina there, be sure to check on approach water depths. The area is shallow. The north portion of Gullivan Bay is also shallow: 5 ft or so at MLW, but no problem. As you proceed south past coon Key Light, you have entered the 10,000 Islands.
    Jim
    Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary
    Currently at Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda, FL

    The Old ICW from Naples to Rookery Channel Anchorage
    So far so good…..Shallow yes, Twins arrived in Naples about noon yesterday and took the old ICW to the channel between R46 and R48. We anchored up the channel to the east as far as you should go to the 8ft charted hole where the bay opens. The tide was still rising.
    I’ve estimated that the tides here run one to two hours after the tide tables for Marco and Naples which are about an hour different. At low tide this morning the slack occurred almost 2 hours after the stated Marco low at 7:34 of -1.0. We still had a good 9 feet under the swim platform. You could also tie off to the mangroves here but there is lots of room to swing. A pretty spot.
    Definately do this trip at high tide for Naples or Marco if you carry a trawler draft. The advice from Sanctuary (and others) is great! Thanks.
    I’ll cross my fingers again at high tide when we head for Goodland today.

    In 2006 (so info is that dated, but post Hurricane Charlie) we took a chartered 46′ Grand Banks from Marco to Naples using the inside route, a delightful trip on a rising tide. The junction with Gordon Pass is tricky, as noted by Jim. At that time an alternative anchorage to Rookery Bay, and one of our all time favorites, was inside Hurricane Pass. There is a very nice beach that we swam or took our inflatable kayak to that would be good for a dog if you cleaned up after it. One of those places where we could have spent a week . The Pass itself is not usable to get to the Gulf.
    George

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

  • Dredging Underway on Gordon Pass (near Naples, FL)

    Well, it’s about time. Over the past two years, we have had multiple reports about shoaling along the northern edges of this important inlet. Now, as soon as the dredging project, linked below, is complete, all this will hopefully be only a bad memory for a long time to come.

    Hello Claiborne,
    Saw this in paper yesterday FYI.

    http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/jan/14/gordon-pass-dredging-project-underway/

    Kevin J. Hopper

  • Marina and Anchorage Recommendations for Southwestern Florida

    Below is more superb marina and anchorage recommendations from Captains Tom and Sue (copied from the AGLCA mailing list), this time stetching south from the “Miserable Mile” to Little Shark River.

    5. If you come east across the ‘miserable mile’ and turn to stbd (south) rather than north to the waterway, you have very close by the very protected Port Sanibel Marina (239-472-8443). Turn to port at marker G 11 and enter the Punta Rassa channel. Near the marina (easy walk) is the Lighthouse restaurant.
    6. Ft Myers Beach — southbound on the ‘inside’ before the fixed bridge (vert clear 65′) is Moss Marine (239-765-6677) to stbd (fixed docks), with a casino boat that operates out of their facility. USCG station just across the channel. After passing under the bridge you have a terrific mooring field, priced in the $12 to $13 a day range. No longer any anchoring in this area, with the balls controlled by the city of Ft Myers Beach but operated by Mantanzas Inn. Call 239-463-9258 when you enter (no reservations) and from our experience they do not monitor any VHF channel. They have a good dinghy dock near the Mantanza Inn restaurant under the west side of the bridge. There are 5 restaurants you can dinghy to from this location. On the east side of the mooring field and south just beyond the shrimp boat fleet is Salty Sams Marina (239-463-7333) with floating docks, fuel and the regular amenities. The terrific Parrot Key restaurant is located here also.
    7. Heading south on the Gulf after Ft Myers Beach is Big Carlos Pass, and a good anchorage with a lunch stop you can dinghy to. As of October ’09 you could enter easily with up to a 4′ draft. Some large sport fish boats & trawlers come thur here from just north on the GIWW, so water depth is typically sufficient for many boats. Bridge (vert clr 23′) opens on request. The outside green marker actually is located south of the channel entrance approx 6/10 ‘s of a mile offshore, and you need to be very careful to locate the channel markers when entering. Anchor east of the bridge on the south side of Coon Key. Dinghy for lunch to “Flippers” on the south shore near R2 between the two mid rise bldings.
    8. Fish Tale Marina(239-463-3600) – Enter thru Big Carlos Pass and turn north(to port) on the GIWW. Turn to port at the frst channel to the left near G 59, and steer at idle speed down the channel to FishTale. Call ahead. Great bar/restaurant on the premises.
    9. Wiggins Pass – County run fuel dock (diesel & gas) on the north side of the 3 high rise condos after entering the channel. 10 cents a gal discount if Boat US member, and is normally the lowest fuel prices on the Florida west coast. Channel is well marked and dredged last year to 7′ – 9′, but need to follow a zig zag pattern among the markers when entering. Call Pelican Isle Yacht Club Harbormaster on VHF 16 before entering for local updated knowledge.
    10. Naples – Gordon Pass entrance. You have City Dock Marina, plus the mooring balls just south of the docks as of October were installed and being used. There is also Naples Yacht Club and Naples Boat Club down toward the city, but usually in the Winter months do not take reciprocals. Good anchorages in the various bays among the homes in Port Royal (to port) after entering Gordon Pass.
    11. Marco Island – good protected anchorage—-when entering the main channel to Marco from the Gulf, head east to marker R 12 and turn into Collier Bay. Entrance always looks tight, and current can be running fast depending on tide, but depth is good. I have seen 65 motor yachts enter here. Follow marked channel (stay in channel!) around to Smokehouse Bay and anchor to the north of the Esplanade Marina (239) 394-6333; which also has very good transient dockage within walking distance to shopping, restaurant(s) and a large Publix’s grocery store across the street. The marina as of 6 months ago still allows boat anchoring to bring dinghys for docking.
    12. Marco Island Yacht & Sailing Club (239-642-2531) east on the river near the bridge on the sbd side takes transients—nice facility w/pool.
    If you have Skipper Bob “Crusing the Gulf Coast”, there is mention of other anchorages in the area.
    13. On south you can enter Indian Key Pass heading in to Everglade City. Without going all the way into the city there is a very good anchorage that will hold a number of boats in Russell Pass near marker 7…turn to port.
    14. If you do not want to jump down to Marathon or Key West from here, stop at Little Shark River for a night, and anchor in the area of marker R 4.
    Regards,
    Tom & Sue
    m/v Marbles

  • Marina at Factory Bay (Marco Island, south of Naples)

    The Marina at Factory Bay (http://www.themarinaatfactorybay.com/) is a new facility for me, and it is not yet listed in our “Western Florida Marina Directory.” We have determined it is perched on the western shores of Factory Bay. This body of water is found just off the channel running behind Marco, near the island’s northwestern section.
    Has anyone else stayed at The Marina at Factory Bay. If so, PLEASE tell us about your experience. The easiest way is to click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, or e-mail me directly at CruisingWriter@CruisersNet.net.

    We spent 4 nights at The Marina at Factory Bay and were very pleased. The facilities are first rate, the harbor masters anxious to please and restaurants, dry cleaner, marina store and bike shop an easy walk. The large condo provided great protection from the 25kn gale out of the NW. Grocery a 15 minute walk but can dinghy to a Publix (I think it’s a Publix) near the Esplanade (it has a dock out back.) The marina offers a 25% discount to Boat US members off their usual 2.50 per foot. Fuel up before going to Marco-diesel about 80 cents a gal more than Naples and gas is about $4 gal!
    Peter Chapin
    Moon Beam

  • Marco Island to Marathon Discussion (Western Florida to the Florida Keys)

    Below is a GREAT discussion copied from the GL (“Great Loop”) mail list about cruising the waters from Marco Island on the Western Florida coastline, south of Marthon in the Florida Keys. There were so many contributors to this string that it was not practical to seek individual permissions, so I’ve just used first names.

    Looking for a crossing buddy & or advice for the best route to Marathon. Lots of skinny water, a long passage at 9 kn & navigating shoals at the end in fading light leave me a bit nervous. Any advice or company appreciated.
    Peter

    We prefer to duck in at Little Shark River and anchor for the night. It is a wild, desolate and beautiful place. Take a run up the river a ways to sightsee. Leave early in the morning when the seas are down a bit. The trip from there to Marathon is only about 35 miles, if my memory is correct. Its an easy morning run and you will have lunch in Marathon.
    Regards,
    Randy

    If you have the time, instead of going from Marco to Marathon in one long run, stop at Everglades City along the way, and if you like anchoring out, too, try the Little Shark River. (No place at Little Shark for animals, if you have a dog aboard, but otherwise a beautiful, remote area.)
    From Marco, you have two choices. You can go inside down through Goodland, or outside around the Cape Romano, I think the name is, shoals. Inside, there’s only one trick, and that’s immediately south of Marco. There’s a bridge there, where if I recall correctly, the marker colors reverse sides. As you come under that bridge, you have to turn hard to stbd to catch a red marker that’s difficult to pick out on the south shoreline. Don’t miss it. Little fishing boats skip it and go straight across that bay to the green, but you can’t. That red is correctly charted, but confusing on the water. Thatchannel is shallow, but it carries 7′, so you should be OK. You come out of the inside passage in the 10,000 Islands region inside (east) of the Cape Romano shoals, and can run across the bay there in 6 ft or water until it deepens to the 10 ft range. The channel up to Everglades City is deep, and the river currents can be swift at peak ebb and flood. The dock there is old, but adequate. Dining ambiance is fun. Old Florida. Make your run from EC to Marathon (or Little Shark) the next day.
    As you run south, say just inside the Everglades National Wildlife Sanctuary and you’ll be clear of crab pots. Outside the park boundary, there are lots of them. That run carries 6′ or slightly more water all the way.
    At Marathon, sea conditions may change when you go under the Seven Mile Bridge into Hawk Channel. We made the trip in rather calm conditions in Florida Bay, but found 4 ft rollers in the Hawk Channel. Use the charts and run in shallower water north of the channel for a smoother ride.
    Hope this is useful.
    Jim

    I’ve done Marco to Marathon (and vice versa) several times in my 4.5 draft vessel. The only spots to be concerned about are on the Marathon end where you have to make a few zigs and zags to by pass some shoals. They are well marked on the chart. Plot a course through there then line up on Seven Mile bridge and you will have it made.
    RC

    I agree with everythin Jim says about Everglades City. I’ve done the “back door” from Goodland and out Coon Key Pass to avoid the long trip around Cape Romano Shoals, but I’d be VERY cautious with 5 ft. draft. Also, unless they have changed, the Rod and Gun Club in Everglades City doesn’t take plastic.
    Bring cash for your dockage.
    Regards,
    Randy

    Because of very strong easterly winds in March 2009, we enjoyed several relaxing days at the Rod and Gun Club in Everglades City and then an additional night at anchor in nearby Russell Pass because a pre-arranged boating club visit ran us off the quay wall at the R&G Club. We were offered a short section of the quay at is southern end just beyond a slight jog in it, but upon sounding it with my lead line, I discovered I had about an hour to vacate it before I was aground – off to Russell Pass where we were in the company of 11 other vessels.
    An easy day to the Little Shark River headed into the seas saw us well up into the river beyond the last nav marker because several sailboats were occupying the more generally used open area inside the mouth of the river. The wind funneling down the river and the severely reversing currents made that a bad decision for us, and the second night was spent much more comfortably at anchor off the coast a mile south of the river’s mouth. The wind was howling right out of the east making the area close in flat calm.
    My chart plotter shows the route I took to be 60 NM to Boot Key Harbor at Marathon from the Little Shark. I stayed just inside the National Park Markers until the jagged coral bottom began to look too close to my 4.5 foot deep keel. Even after going south of the markers (before Oxfoot Bank), I was clearing it by less than a foot. This all may well have had to do with that strong wind blowing the water out of the bay.
    Rich

    Another option if the weather turns on you and you don’t want to push on is behind New Turkey Key ( 25038’52.36″N x 81016’47.50″W) Protected from anything but wind out of the south. Easy to get in and out. There’s a nice beach you can go ashore. There were tent campers there when we passed thru.
    What’s the status of Flamingo? We spent a week there Feb 2008. They were still recovering from storm damage, but it is one of the highlights of the loop for us. We finally left when we started running low on food.
    Mike & Tammy

    My route plan shows 37.5 NM from the mouth of the Little Shark River to North West Cape on Cape Sable, to the N side of the span at the Seven Mile Bridge. You will need to add extra mileage if you don’t go direct from NW Cape to Marathon. If you take the “Yacht Channel route, which is what I suspect Rich did, you wind up almost 20 miles east of Marathon at about Long Key. This is a good strategy if the wind is strong out of the east because you can hug the shore at Cape Sable and then you get somewhat of a lee from the shallow waters of Florida Bay as you run down past First National Bank, Oxfoot Bank and Schooner Bank.
    Randy is exactly right. Lots of wind that day, and I was looking for the most water I could find for my 4.5 foot draft.
    Rich

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

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

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

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For The Rod and Gun Club

  • Johnson Bay Anchorage (on Marco Island to Naples waterway)

    Johnson Bay Anchorage is found on the unofficial Marco Island to Naples waterway, just north of Capri Pass and Marco Island. It is a pretty good anchor down spot, and can be accessed both by Capri Pass (as described below) or by cruising north behind Marco on the waterway.

    We anchored here over the Thanksgiving weekend. We draw 5′8″ and had no issues. We entered Capri Pass at low tide (0.9′ above MLW) and our lowest reading was 8′. We did favor the south side of the channel as shoaling to the north was pretty evident and we were concerned that it may be shoaling into the channel. The shoaling did help break the seas. Entering into the channel we still favored the starboard side until after turning north, at which point we favored the port side. You will feel the wake of passing boats, but for us it didn’t seem to be much of a problem. A front blew through so we had fairly strong north winds and Umbrella Island afforded a reasonable lee. Holding was very good, but the mud is sticky. We anchored pretty much right over the anchor in the chartlet provided by the Cruising Guide to Western Florida (we carry it and the Cruising Guide to the Florida Keys aboard) . It was pretty nice sitting in a peaceful and pretty anchorage, with fresh backed cookies and coffee and our diesel fireplace going.
    s/v John Galt
    Tayana 37

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

  • Port Royal Southern Offshoot Anchorage (located off the Marco Island to Naples waterway, just north of Gordon Pass)

    The Port Royal Southern Offshoot Anchorage can be accessed directly from the channel stretching between Gordon Pass and the downtown Naples waterfront. And, watch out for the muddy holding ground described by Captain Charlie below.

    Great protection but very ugly mud on the bottom. As the tide changes you will circle the anchor and dredge up some real smelly stuff. A good anchor wash down is a must.
    Charlie Singmaster

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Port Royal Southern Offshoot Anchorage

  • Calusa Island Marina and Marker 8 Restaurant (Marco Island)

    Just hours away from the Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas and Sanibel! Captain Bill gives us a quick look at Calusa Island Marina (A SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR) and nearby Marker 8 Restaurant. Calusa Island is located on the southeastern tip of Marco Island, in the old village of Goodland (which is rapidly developing). Can’t wati to give Marker 8 a try for myself. Don’t know how I missed it before!

    Subject: Calusa Island Marina
    Cruising News: For your future info. as of 7/16/09, this marina does not have cable tv hookup and still has not broken ground for the swimming pool, chiki bar or snack shack.  Also, all area resturants excluding Marker 8 are closed during the summer months until Oct., which was fine with us because the food at Marker 8 was outstanding.  Why haven’t you mentioned this place?  It has boat slips, inside and outside dining and a lot of local “color”.
    Bill Chamberlain


    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Calusa Island Marina

  • Inside Route from Marco Island to Naples

    The following thread was copied from the MTOA List-Serv. By the way MTOA is an organziation that the Salty Southeast Crusiers’ Net highly recommends for trawler owners.
    Anyway, this discussion has been so extensive, it was impossible to acquire individual permissions, so I have ommitted names.
    The so-called “Inside Route” from Marco Island to Naples is an “unofficial” Waterway that begins at Coon Key Pass and Goodland, and runs north to the Gordon River and Naples. Most of this passage is deep enough for cruising craft, BUT the southerly extreme, near Goodland, can run as thin as 4 1/2 feet at MLW. At least that’s what I have observed over the years. Read on for more info!

    Hi All,
    I will be traveling from Punta Gorda to Marathon in June.
    Has anyone travelled the inside route from Marco Island to Coon Point.
    The trip looks interesting, but appears to be trickey. Rounding Cape Romano is more miles on the outside route. My boat draws 3’6″.

    The last time I made a trip up that way was about 3 years ago, but had no problem taking the inside route. I draw 4’8″, so I need at least 5′ of water. I have seen 58′ Hatteras take that route also..When you go under the bridge @ Marco, make a tight right turn to stay in channel. Going around Cape Romano can get really rough..You will have no problem drawing 3’6″..

    We have taken the inside from Gordon Pass at Naples to Coon Point in both of previous boats. 4′ draft and 5′ draft. I would recommend planning the trip to exit the Marco River at Coon Point at or near high tide.

    We have done the inside passage several times with trawlers that draw 4 feet. You will have no trouble as long as you realize that channel turns sharply to Starboard immediately after you clear the bridge at the east end of Marco. The bouy over to your right looks like it is for a different channel, it’s not.
    I don’t know what level of tide we were at (Gulf tides are confusing) at the Coon Key end on our last trip but we were watching the Depth Sounder very attentively while it read 4 t0 5 feet. It reads a 2′ less than actual.
    Good luck and enjoy the trip. The inside passage from Naples to Marco is also nice and should be done at half tide or higher. We did hit bottom there a few years ago.

    Speaking of the bridge where the sharp turns are required – I believe that’s where the “Red Right Returning” changes from returning from the Marco River to the Coon Key Inlet. Pay attention. It’s a fun passage but it’s really skinny outside the channel.

    Inside at Naples, went south to Rookery Bay. The channel south from Naples is very shallow in spots, narrow, and lots of very inconsiderate, childish fishermen who think you’re the problem. Try to time tides in that area to hit it near high. Very nice spot to anchor; remote and wild. Watch charted shoal to north. Room for 5 – 6 cruising boats in 6 – 11 ft of water. If it matters to you, THERE IS NO PLACE THERE TO TAKE PETS ASHORE.
    From Rookery Bay, went south, through Marco and Goodland. No water depth problems. Be careful headed south from Naples at Marco. The southbound channel turns west and goes almost all the way out to the gulf, then does a 170 degree turn back east to take you into the south side of Marco. Also, as already mentioned, be careful at the bridge south of Marco. Turn hard stbd immediately after passing the bridge southbound, to clear the red marker there. Then, the channel turns south, but is very poorly marked. There is a field of pilings there. Southbound, take them to stbd and you’ll be fine.

    Subject: Naples to Marco to Goodland
    Cruising News: We just made this run 3 weeks ago in a 44 Sea ray and while there were some “skinny spots” we always saw at least 5 feet at near high tide. The Marco Bridge, as noted, needs your attention. The bridge is the “divider” between the Marco inlet red, right returning and the Goodland inlet red right returning. On the Marco side of the bridge (north) red is to the starboard. Immediately under the bridge towards Goodland (south) red is now on your port. Very important! Headed south to Goodland from Marco you must immediatley turn hard to starboard as you go under the bridge and then put the red marker on your port side. Failure to do the “jog and marker-side switch” will put you aground.
    Joe Curley

    We have motored from North Naples Bay to Goodland on the inside route in our Catalina 30. Be careful and do it at high tide and you’ll be fine. It is a beautiful trip with an abundance of natural beauty.
    Bill Foster

  • Esplanade Marina, Smokhouse Bay, Marco Island

    Esplanade Marina is a new one on me. Ask a local about how to find the passage from Marco River to Smokehouse Bay. While well marked, trying to find this passage for the first time is challenging.

    Subject: Marco Island
    Cruising News: I'm happy to report a very nice experience last weekend in Smokehouse Bay on Marco Island.  There was plenty of depth on the passage in from the Marco River, several sailboats were anchored in the bay and we had a wonderful stay at the Esplanade Marina.  There is a Winn Dixie across the street and restaurants everywhere.  There is even a public dock that is opened to dinghies.  A short cruise around the bay showed depths consistently around 14 feet.  The people working at the marina were wonderful and the facilities are first rate.  I recommend you drop the hook there as long as the State does not allow the draconian anchoring ordinance ordinance to be reinstated.  If they allow it, then visit the marina.
    Bill Foster

    And, here's an excellent report concerning the same facility, submitted by our regular Western Florida correspondent, Captain Gary Riss.

    ESPLANADE MARINA
    Captain Bill Foster has found Marco Island’s best kept secret.  Esplanade Marina is located in Smokehouse Bay which was the scene of the famous anchoring incident that started all the anchoring controversy for Marco Island.
    Smokehouse Bay usually has a number of boats at anchor.  The holding is generally good and it is protected from adverse winds.  The marina has public docks for access to the many shore side facilities.
    Esplanade Marina is a 72 slip facility of condo docks that many owners rent out on a transient or longer term basis.  The docks are floating concrete with water and power. The marina can accommodate boats up to 70’ or more. Dock master Larry and his assistant Bill will answer your call on VHF channel 16 or by phone.  Reservations are encouraged, especially during season.  There is a boater’s lounge with showers and laundry facilities.
    In addition to the nearby grocery, there are three restaurants on site with a wide variety of menu items and prices.  The first mates will find a number of shops to satisfy their need to shop.
    The channel off the Marco River is well marked.  As you approach from the Gulf side, take the first turn to starboard.  If the tide is running, you may need a little power to make the turn as the current can be strong.  Favor the docks on your port as there is plenty of water.  The remainder of the way to the Esplanade is a great ride among the mangroves and the many canal side residences.
    Now that the secret is out, plan a stop at the Esplanade on your next cruise on the Southwest Coast.
    Gary Riss
    M/V Far From Normal

  • Gordon Pass and Nearby Anchorages (near Naples)

    Gordon Pass is the only inlet that serves the Naples region (until you get all the way south to Marco Island). Thus, it is an important artery for cruising craft traffic, but for the last several years, this passage has been shoaling along its northern flank. After reading Captain Russell’s message below, it looks like that unhappy process is continuing.
    There are also a whole collection of good and well sheltered anchorages nearby. Captain Russel does a superb job of detailing these overnight havens!

    Gordon’s pass continues to shoal on the North side so favor the red. It’s about 7 feet( IF FAVORING THE RED!) at MLLW tides it’s no problem but, I perfer a deeper water passage (8 feet MLLW) it runs on a SW heading(if your out bound) just after you pass the breakwater simply head SW. This puts all markers to the WNW or seaward of your track line as you depart. I use that route about 10 times a week doing charters (6 foot draft)or with my own boat that draws 6’8″. I like that route and use it in all sea conditions as it gets me away from the big wake maker monster boats much faster which is safer for my passengers.But it also keeps you away from the ebb tide current much longer. This is nice if a seabreeze or a frontal passage has kicked the waves up as it\’s a much smoother passage.
    There is another trouble spot during low water. If you draw over 5 1/2 feet and the tide is very low consider hugging green # 13 if you don\’t, and make for red #12 (staying on the proper side for incomming traffic) you will find shoaling about 200 feet before arriving at red #12. Once you pass by 13 (going inbound) you will be fine to get back on the proper side of the channel.
    Now I add the disclaimer to be very careful to get past the end of the breakwater before turning and try this passage in settled weather until you are comfortable with it ect, ect….But in the effort to share info, give it a try sometime you’ll like it.
    You can still anchor in the nice coves out of the current and wakes amongst the big houses. This is a great spot to overnight saving the 3 mile run up river. The most popular cove is about 150 feet before arriving at green #13. Just turn North to enter this cove. But remember you have to hug the western shore for the deepest waters. If you stay TIGHT (like 20 feet of the dock pilings!)to the western shore you\’ll have 6.5 feet at MLLW. Many boats anchor in this cove which has a very soft bottom. But if you hug the this western shore and see another bay that opens up as you look due East you can turn to starboard and head up in there. Note that as you head across this first bay and away from the western shore you where hugging the depth will get shallow. This is a very soft bottom and we get through this part with our 6′.8″ draft at a zero tide. But we have the RPM’s up as we trudge on through this soft muck. As you reach the enterance to this next bay the depth will drop off to about 8 feet. This is the bay to raft up as you are in total idle speed protection. Either bay is a great anchorage area but all private, please don’t take your dog ashore even to an empty lot as I’ve seen a cruiser do! That behaviour makes it harder on us who fight and speak in city concil meetings etc for anchor rights.


    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Gordon Pass Anchorage

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