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The Salty Southeast
Cruisers' Net
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Located 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 ofPink Shell Beach Resort and Marina Slips are now available!! On the brand new Dock 5. For information please call (727) 893-7329 or 800 782 8350239 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.Southwest Florida YachtsGulf Harbour Marina    
ICW Marker 73, 4.5 miles from Gulf of Mexico  
14490 Vista River Dr.,
Fort Myers, FL 33908
gulfharbourmarina@comcast.netBoca Grande Marina, Gasparilla Island, FloridaTwin Dolphin Marina, 1000 1st Ave. West, Bradenton, Florida 34205-7852, 941.747.8300  -  fax 941.745.2831, e-mail:
Riviera Dunes Marina Just off Tampa Bay Owned and Operated by BoatersRegatta Pointe MarinaPunta Gorda, Florida - a GREAT cruising destinationThe 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. Fisherman's Village Marina and Resort, Punta Gorda, FLThe 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, FlSt. Andrew's Marina

Archive For: WEST FL – All Cruising News

  • A Quick Look at Crows Nest Marina (Venice, FL, near St. M. 58.5)

    Crows Nest Marina lies just off the Western Florida ICW, on the eastern reaches of the Venice Pass channel. This facility is also home to one of the best restaurants in all of Florida.

    We stayed at Crow’s Nest and as your Cruising Guide said it proved to be rolly in the strong wind we had for 2 days. We “fendered up” and it was OK.

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

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

  • A Good Visit to Naples City Pier

    The Naples City Pier is now one of only two facilities near downtown Naples that offer anything in the way of transient dockage. There’s lots of places to shop and eat within easy walking distance of the city pier.

    Went to Naples and spent 2 nights there at the Naples City Dock. Nothing to complain about. The staff was very nice and the price with Boat/US was 1.50/ft. The Gordon river did not present any challenges as depths were atleast 7′ the whole way.

    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 Pier

  • Reminder: the Florida Manatee is a Protected Marine Mammal

    If this is your first visit to Florida waters, please be aware that these docile, slow moving creatures – unlike their acrobatic cousins, the dolphins – cannot avoid your vessel, even at idle speed. Keeping a sharp lookout for manatee is really the only way to prevent hitting them.

    The Captain of the Port advises all mariners operating in Florida’s waters that the Florida Manatee is a protected marine mammal under State and Federal Law. These protected species are known to inhabit the Lower St Johns River between the months of March and December. The Captain of the Port Jacksonville advises that all vessel crews be aware of the existence of the Florida Manatee during river transits. Vessel crews post adequate lookouts for these protected mammals when maneuvering near berths and in shallow areas. Should an incident occur, notify Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), Law Enforcement Division at 888-404-3922.

  • Good Times at Fort Myers Yacht Basin (Okeechobee Waterway – Caloosahatchee River)

    Located 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 ofFort Myers City Yacht Basin is, quite simply, one of the best city owned and run marinas in the Southeaster USA. It’s a great place to begin or end your trip on the Okeechobee Waterway, not to mention your exploration of the Western Florida coastline. And, lest we forget, these good folks are a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!!

    I’ve been in marinas from the Great Lakes to Venezuela including 3 years at Ft. Myers Yacht Basin. In short, it’s Comfortable, Clean, and Convenient and well staffed with Mgr. Leif and his experienced, extremely helpful crew.
    Downtown Ft. Myers has gone through a total renewal and is a fun place to be. This marina just may be one of the shining diamonds of this wonderful city.
    Jim, M/V Blue Tang
    cruising the Bahamas

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Fort Myers Yacht Basin

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Fort Myers Yacht Basin

  • Marker 8 Restaurant – Marco Island (Goodland)

    Marker 8 Restaurant is located at Calusa Island Marina near the southern, “Goodland” region of Marco Island. This is a good marina, but do beware of some MLW 4 1/2 foot depths on the adjacent portion of the Coon Key to Naples “waterway” channel.

    Marker 8 Restaurant in Goodland is a great little spot. David, the owner, is very sailboat friendly if you have shallow enough draft. They are good folks and the food is always a good take.

    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

  • Name Confusion at the “Circus Bridge” (Statute Mile 55)

    This is probably the third of fourth posting we’ve had here on the Cruisers’ Net concerning name confusion at this bridge which crosses the Western Florida ICW, near Venice, Florida. The “Federal Register,” which is supposed to be the determining document, lists this span as the “South Venice Bridge,” which we have seen it named elsewhere at the “Tamiami Trail Bridge.” But, according to other cruisers’ reports, Captain Schmitty is quite right in his note below when he says the bridge tenders here will only respond to a call for the “Circus Bridge.”

    12/14/10 this bridge responds to hailing “Circus Bridge”
    We got no response at all from repeated hails on South Venice or Tamiami Trail.
    Captain Schmitty

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Bridge Directory Listing For the South Venice/Tamiami Trail/Circus Bridge

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the South Venice/Tamiami Trail/Circus Bridge

  • Good Times at Crows Nest Marina (on Venice Pass, near St. M. 58.5)

    While I would personally only give the marina part of the Crows Nest operation an “average” rating, there is simply no argument that the adjacent restaurant is one of the FINEST in all of Florida. This culinary attraction is more than enough reason to coil your lines at this facility.
    To access Crows Net, leave the Western Florida ICW, at its intersection with Venice Pass. Cruise to the west, and Crows Nest will soon come abeam on the southern shores.

    We just stayed at Crows nest for 2 nights, Fabulous place, great staff, absolutely on e of the best Restaurants in Florida.
    If you’re a wine lover, then a star will be shining on you when you open up the wine list. Hundreds of incredible offerings from many parts of the world. we were lucky enough to be there when they had 40% off on Wines.
    I will go back to this place again and again !!!!!
    Capt Schmitty

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

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

  • Smokehouse Bay Anchorage (Marco Island, Western Florida Coastline)

    Smokehouse Bay (in the heart of Marco Island) is the newest addition to the Net’s “Western Florida Anchorage Directory.” This is a superb place to drop the hook, with good protection, and several surrounding restaurants where you can easily dinghy ashore.
    The marked entrance channel to Smokehouse Bay breaks off from the Marco Island to Naples waterway/Capri Pass channel, between markers #14 and #12. Depths on this entrance cut are the only real drawback to this anchorage. We’ve sounded as little as 4 1/2 feet in spots at MLW. Need more – wait for a higher tide to enter and exit.

    Have to agree with the postings on Smokehouse Bay. We use this as our primary anchoring spot when at Marco Island. Restaurants at the Esplanade are great, along with being easy walking distances to supermarkets, West Marine and a load of restaurants. One nice thing is that you can dinghy under the bridge and then bear to the left and use the dinghy dock located at the Winn-Dixie to do your shopping. Easier than shopping by car !!!!
    Jerry Richardson

    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 The Smokehouse Bay Anchorage

  • Trouble May Be Brewing in the Boca Grande – Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage (Western Florida ICW, Statute Mile 28.5)

    OK, the little note below heralds some real, POTENTIAL trouble!
    Let’s first acknowledge that a collection of semi-permanently anchored vessels in Boca Grande Bayou are a REAL problem, not only for island residents, but also for legitimate cruisers who find much of the space in this wonderfully sheltered anchorage occupied by these, as I call them, “live aboard hulks.” For several years, I’ve been encouraging the local authorities in Boca Grande to solve this problem by enforcing existing MSD regulations and marina salvage laws.
    Now, it sounds from the short note below as if something Draconian MAY be in the works, which will prohibit anchorage by all vessels in the basin anchorage. And, if I may be allowed an editorial comment here, the local lawyers can say they are “finished with the paperword,” but I can tell you unquestionably from my own involvement with the Florida anchoring rights struggle, if Boca Grande attempts to prohibit all anchorage in Boca Grande Bayou, or even put a time limit on such anchorage, they will be in clear violation of Florida state law!
    Stay tuned, we are trying to get more clarification in this situation.

    Subject: Boca Grande Bayou
    Cruising News:
    I just received this from a friend of mine.
    Frank and Chuck,

    We just spent several nice days at the Boca Bayou. But Saturday afternoon we were in the dinghy when the sheriff’s deputy came motoring in. He called to us and asked if we were from the sailboats. When we said yes, he responded that they were coming to give trespassing tickets “soon”. We had to ask for more info. He said that the lawyers had finally finished with all the paperwork and were now ready to issue tickets as all the land belongs to the Gasparilla Inn. He said the marine patrol and the FWC would be out to give the tickets. We asked what he meant by “soon” and he said, “not today”.

    And, we have received the following comment from Captain Chuck Baier, editor of the “Waterway Guide.” Chuck is quite right in what he says, IF AND ONLY IF Gasparilla Inn actually owns or leases the bottom land in the “basin anchorage.”

    Claiborne, You comments about Gasparilla being in violation of Florida law, may or may not be correct. As a former marina manager in south Florida, I know that there are certain situations where an individual or commercial entity holds title to a part of the waterway including the bay bottom. This is identical to holding a deed for a piece of land. If Gasparilla Inn does indeed hold title to the bay bottom, they can restrict use of the area and someone anchoring can be charged with trespassing. There is a formal procedure in Florida for issuing a trespass citation. Perhaps the authorities are trying to sort out the actual title to the bay bottom, and perhaps it is a bluff to keep folks moving. I suppose time will tell.

    Captain Nicole’s remarks below mirror my own view almost exactly on the basin/Boca Grande Bayou anchorage. It would be a crime if cruising vessels were barred from anchoring on these waters, AND there is indeed a problem in this basin with derelicts and “live aboard hulks.” Once again, local authorities should use MSD regulations and marine salvage laws to solve this latter problem!

    As someone who anchored here twice north and south bound, this would be a sad anchorage to lose as it is so protected and in a really lovely town. I can tell you from experience there that I know of at least one boat where the owner moved back to California and pretty much abandoned his vessel anchored there. We know that just from the 3 days we spent there and based on the state of disrepair of some of the other vessels, I would guess that their owners are not returning anytime soon.

    And, more from Captain Chuck at Waterway Guide:

    Just more hijinks in Florida. I know that some homeowners in Boot Key Harbor found out their deeds included the bay bottom in front of their homes and began calling the Sheriff whenever someone anchored there. The Sheriff made the boater move but could not write a citation or do anything official unless they refused to move. The area must be posted with a no trespassing sign for the Sheriff to act or write a citation. A little hard to do on the water although not impossible. It may be that new owners of the Inn or someone searched the title and found they own the bay bottom. Or as I said, it may be a ruse to keep any other boats out long term. I managed Bonefish Marina in Marathon, and we owned the entire basin including the bay bottom. The slips are condo and when you buy one you get a deeded piece of property, even though it is under water. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. Florida is always a fun place.
    Chuck Baier,
    General Manager

    I’m not a lawyer. But, my admittedly limited understanding is that there are two types of submerged lands in Florida – Privately Owned, and State Owned. Originally, all was State Owned – but provisions were made to grant title to private entities at some point. However, my understanding is that any conveyance of submerged lands that are under navigable water to a private party includes provisions for public access and use for navigation and commerce. Anchoring is part of “navigation”. In other words, there should be language in the privately held title that states use of the overlying waters by the public can not be forbidden. Therefore, it would seem a private owner of submerged lands would not be able to preclude navigation – and navigation necessarily includes anchoring. Regardless, Florida sure is an interesting place to live! I hope someone gets lawyered-up and challenges this.
    Tom Scott, Punta Gorda FL.

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Boca Grande – Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Boca Grande – Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage

  • Bottom Paint Yard Recommendations in the Fort Myers Region (Western Florida)

    The messages below were copied from the ACLCA (American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) Mail List. They were all in response to a request for recommendations as to bottom painting yards in the Fort Myers region of Western Florida.

    Ft Myers Beach —Olsen’s Marine or Gulf Marine Ways.
    We’ve used Gulf Marine Ways twice– we were happy with the work. We’re hauling out after first of the year and will probably go with Olsens (they are under new management) because we want to do our own work and they will do the work or DIY.
    Steve and Gina Smith
    M/v Island Time
    Cape Coral, Fl

    I’ve used Olsen Marine in Fort Myers Beach. They are a bit pricey, but I thought they did a good job. I’ve heard good things about Owl Creek Marine, about 15 miles up the Calosahachee River, and that their rates are much better.
    Carl Schultz, Fort Myers, FL

    We use Black Hawk and love it. We get three years from it when applied by a good boat yard. Had it done in Brandeton’s Sneed Island Boat Yard. Paint is manufactured locally and costs more than $200 a gallon but you can save by purchasing it over the internet. Make sure the boat yard will apply paint they didn’t sell.
    Jack on Honga

    We would also recommend Gulf Marine. There is also Olson Marine, a smaller yard nearby, for smaller boats. For a harder bottom Paint on a Faster sport cruiser, try Petit Trinidad SR. We once tried an ablative paint on our sportfish and felt it affected our performance.

    There are two areas in Ft Myers Beach that do bottom painting that I am aware of.
    1. Snook Bight Marina – 239-765-4371; Enter from the north under the Manatanzas Pass Bridge. Contact gen mgr Larry Sincoskie. They did a terrific job on our 38′ a few years ago and I last saw them doing a SeaRay 42. They use a 50,000 lb fork lift for haul out, and rack store up to 45′ vessels inside.
    We have used Trinidad SR for years in salt water and it has been excellent.
    2. Gulf Marine @ 239-463-1666. w/ 150 ton travel lift. They do work on large and small cruisers, both power and sail; but I have no personal experience with them.
    m/v Marbles

    Bob & Annies Boatyard in St James City – at the south end of Pine Island – does a very good job, and can haul by crane or (gasp!) marine railway
    Captain Mike Smith

  • New Matlacha Bridge Schedule (Western Florida, near Pine Island Sound)

    Matlache Channel runs between the western Florida mainland and Pine Island, just north of the “Miserable Mile,” the Caloosahatchee River and Fort Myers. The southern half of this passage is winding and shallow, but quite a few cruisers do enter the far deeper northern and cruise as far south as the Matlacha Bridge, with a few anchoring just south of this span.
    While the note below is a bit cryptic in regards to the politics of what is going on here, it looks like the county is now managing this span, and has come to some sort of compromise opening schedule, balancing landside and waterborne interests.
    ALL cruisers who plan to navigate even a portion of the Matlacha channel need to carefully record the opening times outlined below.

    Cruising News:
    Here is what we plan to do for the bridge opening hours. We will start this Dec. 1, 2010. Basically we will man the bridge during USCG hours and then on demand, on the hour only, in between (11 AM, noon, 1 PM and 2 PM), except we will cover the extended hours on the weekend and the day before and after, as follows:
    Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
    8 AM to 10 AM – bridge will open on demand
    10 AM to 3 PM – bridge will open, only on the hour, on demand
    3 PM to 7 PM – bridge will open on demand
    Friday, Saturday & Monday
    8 AM to 7 PM – bridge will open on demand (as it was pre-construction)
    7 AM to 7 PM – bridge will open on demand (as it was pre-construction)
    Also, if there is some special event, with multiple vessels, and the bridge needs to open at some time other than on the hour (this is for Tuesday thru Thursday, 10 AM to 3 PM only) we just need to be provided 24 hour notice, which can be done by calling 239-533-8573. This number will be forwarded to one of us at all times, and we will cover whatever the special arrangements need to be.
    Hopefully this will pacify everyone’s needs. I realize that everyone may not be totally satisfied, but I hope we are close. Just as an FYI, providing this service will cost the County approximately $50,000 over the original bid price. So everybody has had to comprise somewhat.
    Frank Cushing

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

  • Great Restaurant Find In Southwest Florida

    Red Square Denotes Approximate Positon of Blue Heron Restaurant Docks

    The series of messages below concern a waterside restaurant, located just north of Marco Island, and northeast of Capri Pass. Take a gander at chart 11430, and notice the wide swath of water with the notation, “Isles of Capri,” east, northeast of marker #3 on the Cari Pass channel (or consult the chartlet above).
    I’ve known for a couple of years that there were several waterfront restaurant with their own dockage located on this side – “Isles of Capri” channel, but I must admit to never having explored this passage during my many research trips to these waters. Fortunately, that oversight has now been corrected, courtesy of the two cruisers below.
    Sounds like the “Blue Heron” is really worth checking out, and with Captains Peter and Peggy’s specific navigational info in the second note below, all those piloting vessels drawing 5 1/2 feet or less, can check it out!

    We just recently had the opportunity to find a real jewel on the SW coast of Florida. Just north of Marco Island on the Isle of Capri, The Blue Heron restaurant has been around for over 35 years and just recently added 4 new docks which you can stay at free for the night when dining with them. There is electric available on the docks and they just ask that you leave a contribution to help offset the cost of the electricity. Alex Alexander is working to make sure that fine dining is available in this area. The meal we had was outstanding. Call ahead (239-394-6248) for availability and to make your dinner reservations with her. She will also help you with directions on how to navigate to the docks. Both she and her husband, John, are avid boaters and enjoy sharing experiences with their visitors.
    Commander Jerry

    After reading the mouth watering account above, I asked Commander Jerry for specific location data, and received the following reply:

    Claiborne -
    The Lat/Lon’s are as follows -
    N 25 59 15
    W 81 43 52
    When we went through we had a minimum of 6.5-7 feet. They have the capability of handling a 70′ boat in the largest well and the other three go on down from there.

    The above exchange of notes took place on the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) mail list, and Captains Pete and Peggy chimed in and offered to check on the passage to the Blue Heron in great detail. Their report below lays bare all the details needed for cruisers to take advantage of this nautical gastronomical find!

    Hi Claiborne…
    The Lat Long of the Blue Heron is 25 59.145 and 081 43 528
    Concur with Meal evaluation
    At low tide(which was still 1.5 the depths ranged from 6.5 to 7.6 to 7.7 to 7.9 to the dock
    To get to the Blue Heron:
    Enter Marco Pass; ICW to Naples passing between 1A and 2 to head toward the Isle of Capri North side
    Pass by green 3
    Pass by Red 2 on starbd side to enter secondary channel
    Pass close to green 3 on port avoiding shoal area on the starbd side east of #3
    Pass red 4 to starbd
    Pass green 5 to port
    Turn at red 6
    Head for green 9 (5-6′ in channel)
    Continue heading 090 beyond Pelican Bend Restaurant
    Turn to 060 passing marina and old abandoned Backwater Nicks docks
    Turn to 105 to Restaurant and Docks (Snow white roof on Building)
    Dock next to large occupied slip will accommodate a 40-45′ boat with depths of 5.5 to 6′
    Then adjacent docks probably best for 30′-35′ boats.
    Docks are wooden piling slips (not floating)
    Pete and Peggy

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the “Isle of Capri” channel

  • Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage Recommended (Charlotte Harbor)

    Cruisers bound for this facility will need to break off from the Western Florida ICW near the northern tip of Pine Island Sound, and cruise into broad Charlotte Harbor, lying to the northeast. Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage’s long entrance canal cuts the western shores of lower (southern) Charlotte Harbor.

    I tried a general search for this and got little results so if someone knows where this info already exsists please let me know.
    I will need to find a place within 100 miles from Fort Myers, Fl. to pull a 38 ft Bayliner around Feb / March /. Reasonable price of course is a concern as well as being able to work on my own boat if needed. Will probably store for 7-8 mo.
    Thanks, Jeff

    A number of folks praise Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage in Placida, FL ( I have never used them, but they get good reviews in general.
    On the charts, they are here: N 26 52.619 W082 14.095
    Give them a call.
    Bill Donovan

    We have used Glades Boat Storage for the last four summers. It is located on the Okeechobee Waterway about 40 miles east of Ft. Myers. Because one must pass through two locks, your boat is safe from storm surge during a hurricane. Also, your engine gets a good freshwater rinse on the trip up the river. This “old Florida” boatyard is probably the most price friendly storage yard in the state. Contact them at 863-983-3040.
    Jack Pavesich

    We hauled our 35 foot sailboat here [Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage] this past summer and they are a great, inexpensive place to haul your boat (warning though hot and extremely buggy in the summer, even worse than just being in FL!!).
    This boat yard is first class though. Competent and friendly staff (Shirley and Smitty are great!), dog friendly, they have showers, laundry, and a nice clubhouse-esque location that is screened in with tables, a tv, microwaves, a huge sink, a refrigerator, free ice, and they also have free, good wifi. The yard is really secure, locked at night, and two of the employees live on the premises.
    Grocery store and home depot are about a 4 mile trek but you can usually find a ride if you need to get something large and there is a west marine and super wal-mart a little further away.
    All and all I would HIGHLY recommend. We were on the hard, living aboard for 6 weeks and total bill with tax was $1200.
    One final note, they don’t make you buy supplies from them and they do not add an extra percentage charge for any outside labor you need.

  • Florida Keys to Western Florida Coastline (Cape Sable) Via the “Yacht Channel”

    There are at least three routes that cruisers might choose to sojourn from the Florida Keys to the western mainland coast of the Sunshine State, or the other way around. Two depart from Marathon and the Moser Channel, and then join as they meander their way north. The easternmost passage is known as the Florida Bay Yacht Channel. It is the best marked of the three and also features some protection from eastern, northeastern and southeastern winds, by way of the shallow water and banks in Florida Bay. However, it is also the shallowest of the three passages.

    We did the Florida Bay Yacht Channel in 2007 on the advice Of Sterling Kennedy, a Looper who has now been around twice and also is a resident of Key Largo and proprietor of a marine touring/guide service that covers the Florida Bay and other areas in the Keys. Point of all this is ,he is very knowledgable of the area waterways.
    He advised that we run along inside the National Park boundary till we got to the Yacht Channel to avoid all the crab traps(they can be place inside the park boundary-we did and it worked) then cut over the short distance–about 400yds or so as I recall–to pass thru theYacht Channel. We did the passage around Dec 1. The night before we anchored inside the mouth of Little Shark River and with a nice stiff North Eastern breeze it was a great anchorage–beautiful lots of wild life, no misquitos–highly recommend with breeze existing. Stirling advised that the “depth finder would drive us crazy due to sand being kicked up by the props”. When we passed thru there had been a strong Northeastern wind that had blown a lot of water out of the bay so it was quite a bit shallower than normal. We draw about 36 inches and never bumped but had Stirling not warned us about the depth finder going off and that large yachts routinely run this passage we would have been a lot more concerned. This route offers a lot more weather protection than the Seven Mile Bridge or Key West passages and is substantially shorter if your objective is only to make the passage from the west to east coast and/or upper keys via the tip of Florida.

    I had a look at my charts that are downloaded from the NOAA site, plus my paper charts (Maptech) and did not see any recommended sailing line. The only line I could see was the COLREGS demarcation line which is a dotted magenta line, and does end up at East Cape, but is certainly not a sailing line. Is there any chance that you have mistaken this COLREGS line for a sailing line? If so, it is important to understand that this is in no way a recommended sailing line, and only demarcates the “Inland” versus offshore rules, and has nothing to do with channel guidance.
    Ken Bloomfield
    Some of you may have seen parts of this report in other places yesterday evening or this morning. This is the “final” version, including an addendum and editorial change posted elsewhere….
    There are three routes from Florida’s West Coast to the Keys and on towards the East Coast:
    1. West Coast departure location direct to Key West, then east,
    2. West Coast departure location direct to Marathon via Channel 7, then east, and finally
    3. West Coast southeast across Florida Bay to Islamorada via the “Yacht Channel.”
    This report focuses on choice no. 3. If time is of the essence, this option involves the shortest distance and travel time. It sounds difficult, but it’s not, and I think this will give you the planning information you’ll need/want. Deep draft boats – greater than 5 ft – may choose to forgo this option.
    Sanctuary and crew traveled from Key Largo to the Little Shark River on 11/30/2010. Our direction of travel was westward, toward the West Coast. Our distance traveled was 82.5 StM and our transit time was 9.86 hrs. at 8.35 avg. mph. Sanctuary draws 4′-3″. We departed Gilbert’s (Jewfish Creek, StM 1135) at 07h00 and arrived at G”1″ at ICW StM 1173 (the Yacht Channel) at 11h00. Determining “Low Tide” time is slightly imprecise, because Florida Bay is large and not all tides occur at the same time, but the approximate average time of low tide on 11/30 on Florida Bay was 11h00, so I ***hope*** our experience was worst-case. Florida Bay tides are in the range of 6″ – 9″, so do not help much.
    Overall, westbound, we found that depths in the area between StM1149 and StM1162, and the cuts in that section (Cross Bank, Ramshorn Cut, Peterson Key Bank) were more marginal than depths in the Yacht Channel itself. Watch in particular the turn from south to west at StM 1149.5. We got very slightly – and I mean ***very*** slightly – off the line there and found 4-1/2 ft of water. In that whole stretch, we saw mid-channel depths as low as 5-1/2 ft. And, for at least 10 miles, we left a pronounced, obvious “sand trail” from our prop wash.
    At StM 1170, westbound, the ICW divides. The main ICW route proceeds west inside Florida Bay, and the other goes SW to the Hawk Channel via Channel Five. Starting at that divide, the Florida Bay route is completely encrusted in crab traps. We departed the magenta line, diverted to the north, and ran along and inside the the Everglades National Park boundary in 7 – 8 ft of water. Crab pots are not allowed within the park.
    We stayed inside the Park boundary at StM 1173, and made the turn NW into the charted “Yacht Channel.” Minimum depths there were 6 ft, but mostly in ‘humps’ that could have been sea grass. We saw no sand trail from our prop wash. Northwest-bound from the main ICW channel at StM 1173, The first set of lateral nav. markers on the Yacht Channel are at Arsenic Bank, at the pair G”1″ and R”2.” That cut through the Arsenic Bank is oriented approximately east/west. Approaching the cut from the “recommended sailing line” requires a “slalom-like” approach. Both northbound and southbound on the “recommended sailing line,” markers G”1″ and R”2″ can create a deceptive impression; follow ICW marker rules here, and keep red to the inland side of the channel and green markers to the seaward side of the channel. If approaching them in a NW direction from inside the park boundary, they appear visually correct (Green left, Red right), but if approaching them from the Yacht Channel’s “recommend sailing line,” they appear backwards; the unwary could easily try to go between them the wrong way. There’s no doubt that that unfortunate soul would run hard aground.
    At Sprigger Bank, 3 miles NW of Arsenic Bank, is G”5.” The shoal in that area ***APPEARS TO ME*** to have grown very substantially east of the marker and east of the charted sailing line – perhaps 1/2 mile in the SE quadrant off the G”5″ marker. We had a bright sunny day with the sun behind us (to the S and SW), and we could see fingers of the shoal way further east than charted. I stayed east of that marker by 1/2 mile, and saw 7 – 8 ft of water. Similar story at R”6,” Spooner Bank; give it lots of seaway ***to the west.***
    IMPORTANT NOTE: it appears that some chartplotters contain proprietary electronic charts that are missing the recommended sailing line for the Yacht Channel. That discrepancy between the paper and electronic charts is just another reason to ***always*** run with both electronic and paper charts at the helm.
    Sanctuary’s Garmin chartplotter ***does not*** show a recommended sailing line” for the Yacht Channel. However, our paper charts of the area (NOAA 11451, corrected to April 18, 1998, Maptech, Region 8, “Florida West Coast and the Keys,” Eleventh Edition), show the Yacht Channel as a dotted magenta line that runs from G”1″ at A-ICW StM 1173 NW to R”4″, the “East Cape Light.” From R”4″, it then diverges N and ends in what appears to be an anchorage at East Cape on the Florida Peninsula. I have verified that the ***raster*** chart I have for use with Offshore Navigator and Coastal Explorer (11451_14, “MIAMI TO MARATHON AND FLORIDA BAY PAGE G RIGHT SIDE”) and the ***vector*** chart I have for use with Coastal Explorer ( both ***do*** correctly show the recommended sailing line.
    The Yacht Channel “recommended sailing line” is shown on the “official” NOAA 11451, and S-57 versions, in the same manner as “alternative ICW routes” are shown in other geographical areas of the A-ICW. In the areas of the cut through Arsenic Bank, and at Sprigger Bank, Schooner Bank and Oxfoot Bank, the recommended sailing line runs through or near and through the shoal areas. Sanctuary ignored the sailing line, and diverted widely around the areas of Sprigger Bank, Schooner Bank and Oxfoot Bank to clear the shoals with plenty of seaway. That is the approach which I am recommending to others, and particularly those with drafts of 4′ or more.
    Finally, there are several extensive fields of crab pots along the Yacht Channel, and some areas without pots as well. We found that they run in 1/2 mile wide strips along the Park boundary. There are no pots inside the park (except occasional rogues) and mostly no pots a mile of so off the park boundary, but in that narrow strip, there are thousands. Yes, you can pick your way through them, but it’s very tiring.
    Sanctuary and crew hope this is helpful.
    Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary
    Currently at Everglades City, FL

    Watching our plotter and depths, we usually run inside the park boundary marker, there are usually less pots.
    Although it’s illegal to trap in the Everglades National Park , on several occasions ( I even posted a fisherman on my web page) I have witnesed traps being pulled and set in the park.
    See you on the waterways!
    Capt. Sterling

    We last transited that area on a low tide in 2007. We realized just how shallow it was when the autopilot had a hard time steering. Switched over to hand steering and still had a hard time steering. Slowed down a bit and things got markedly better. The pressure wave under the hull was reflecting back and pushing the hull around. Our boat doesn’t like to run aground and really tries hard to stay out of trouble! Like you, we left a sand trail in our wake.
    Randy Pickelmann

    We came down through Hawk Chanel into Marathon and that way is also almost blocked with traps. What a pita steering through that area. It extends all the way into the boot key channel.

  • A Good Experience at York Island Anchorage (Statute Mile 5)

    The is the second posting we’ve had in as many weeks about anchoring on the waters south of York Island. This has never been one of my personal favorites in the way of an overnight anchorage, but, hey, looks like I’m in the minority.

    We spent three nights anchored off York Island, close to St. James City 11/23/10. Winds from NE and NW but didn’t seem too rolly to me. Tried Chino first but quite rough, open, and didn’t care for the ugly view of the power lines. Liked York Island anchorage. Many manatee and porpoise around. Easy trip to restaurants–and Waterfront Restaurant close and allowed dogs outside. Everyone friendly. Anchorage has space for many boats and whole area is deep if you don’t get too close to shore. We took dinghy across to Tarpon Bay and fish were everywhere.

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of The York Island Anchorage

  • York Island Anchorage (Statute Mile 5)

    The York Island Anchorage lies north, northwest of Western Florida ICW marker #14. These waters are wide open to southern, southeastern and southwestern winds.

    Anchored there on 11/12/10. Wind 10-15 out of NE. A bit rolly. Need N winds for it to be a calm spot. You can dinghy into St. James City which has a couple of restaurants on the canals. Not much to see, though.
    Bill Rogner

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

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

  • Chino Island Anchorage (Statute Mile 188)

    Western Florida’s Pine Island Sound region, through with the Western Florida ICW runs south to north (of the other way around), is replete with many WONDERFUL places to drop the hook. One of the best is found on the waters adjacent to Chino Island, if and only if the winds are blowing from the north, east or northeast. Don’t anchor here if fresh western or southwesterly breezes are in the offing.

    Spent the night there on 11/12/10. Only boat there. WOW. Great anchorage. We had wind 10-15 out of NE and it was flat calm. You can go to within 100 yards of shore ans still have 7′. It’s quite a distance from ICW so boat wakes are minimal. Lots of birds feeding along shoreline. I’d say that with winds from N to NE it can’t get better than here.
    Bill Rogner

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of The Chino Island Anchorage

  • Advice to Fellow Snowbirds re MSD Laws in Florida

    Ron’s advice warns and reminds us of the tangled web that Florida weaves in dealing with marine sanitation devices.

    Perhaps it would be a good idea if Southbound sailors advised their fellow sailors of the laws concerning securing head discharge valves. They should be advised to at least employ nylon wire ties to fix the valves in the position serving the holding tank. You could also advise them that some jurisdictions prefer that the owner use locks to secure these valves where feasible or the owner could modify the handles to possibly accept a lock. Removal of the valve’s handle is also an option under the law. You might share the war stories about areas of strict enforcement and the behavior looked for by law enforcement authorities. Certainly, I would share the idea that one should get one’s act together prior to reach the Florida border. I would assume that all authorities will act courteously until they prove otherwise. Everybody needs to know that all these authorities (rightly or wrongly) have the legal authority to board any vessel with or without the owner’s permission. Personally, I’d offer them a coffee or other beverage.
    Captain Ron Rogers

    I have been sailing from Charlotte Harbor and Miami to Key West and back and forth for the past ten years and my vessel has never been approached by any law enforcement agency for any reason. That’s just my experience.
    Captain Jules Robinson

    We travelled from St Augustine to Daytona Beach and were boarded between the drawbridges before Daytona Municipal Marina. There were 3 officers. One went below with me, 1 stayed in the cockpit with my husband, and 1 remained on their vessel. We were asked how many heads, if they were secured, and our destination. We had both heads tied with plastic zip ties. The officers were polite and quick. The next day we saw them again further south checking vessels travelling south. I would advise everyone to have their heads secured at all times in Florida and you should have no problems.
    Jane Bugg

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