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The Salty Southeast
Cruisers' Net
Cruisers Helping Cruisers
Twin Dolphin Marina, 1000 1st Ave. West, Bradenton, Florida 34205-7852, 941.747.8300  -  fax 941.745.2831, e-mail: harbormaster@twindolphinmarina.com 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.netBoca Grande Marina, Gasparilla Island, FloridaLocated 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 ofGulfport Marina includes dry boat storage, ship store, bathroom, public boat ramp, parking, fueling stations, lighted range markers and guest docking facility.Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina239 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.
The 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, FLRegatta Pointe MarinaSt. Andrew's MarinaRiviera Dunes Marina Just off Tampa Bay Owned and Operated by BoatersThe 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, FlPunta Gorda, Florida - a GREAT cruising destination

Archive For: WEST FL – All Cruising News

  • Smokehouse Bay Anchorage (Marco Island)

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Boca Grande Marina (Gasparilla Island, near Statute Mile 28.5)

    As you will see, Captain Sage’s review of Boca Grande Marina below is mostly positive, but the shoaling at the entrance to Boca Grande Bayou is for real, and a real concern for visiting and resident cruisers alike. If your vessel draws 3 1/2 feet or more, you should probably plan your entry and egress into and from Boca Grande Bayou for a time near high water. Oh yes, no-one can blame this facility for the below described lightning strike. That could have happened anywhere.

    BG Marina is indeed a neat little marina. I was welcomed there in my modest 33 foot sloop. There was a seaplane executing touch and go’s in the mouth of the marina basin so there is plenty of room in there, but the shoaling at the very entrance is critical at MLW; hug the wall close to the houses on shore and all should go well. There are clean showers and other facilities. BTW, we suffered a terrible lightning strike while docked at this marina…very expensive stay indeed!
    Oscar Sage

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

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

  • Cruiser Friendly Veternarian in Palmetto – Bradenton, Florida (Manatee River – Tampa Bay)

    Recommendations of this ilk should be considered “gold” by other cruisers. In fact, WHENEVER any of you have a good experience with any sort of service related business in a port of call, PLEASE SHARE this info by clicking the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below or the “Click Here to Submit Cruising News” link found just about our red, vertically stacked menus on the right side of all Cruisers’ Net pages (except Chart View pages).

    For cruisers in the Bradenton or Palmetto, FL area, with thier pets, we would like to highly recommend Dr. Jack E. Beal of Palmetto Animal Clinic, located on 220 7th Street West, Palmetto, FL 34221. Telephone number 941-722-2456 and his web site is: palmettoanimalclinic.com
    Dr. Beal was so considerate of not only our two long-haired dashounds who had extensive surgery, but also of us, especially being on a boat. His staff is outstanding also. We both would consider driving from our home which is over 700 miles north of Palmetto, just to have our pets cared for by him and his staff. We hope this is helpful to others with pets in this area who need veternarian care.
    Submitted by First Mate Sue

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

  • Routes from the Florida Keys to Marco Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • St. Petersburg Municipal Marina – Nearby Attractions and Dining (Tampa Bay)

     Slips are now available!! On the brand new Dock 5. For information please call (727) 893-7329 or 800 782 8350I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. St. Petersburg Municipal Marina (A SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR) is one of the best managed city owned facilities that this writer has ever reviewed. Check out the message below for nearby points of interest!

    Downtown St. Petersburg also has excellent dining along Central Avenue. Also to be seen is the new Dali Museum and if you like art glass the Chihuly museum. Many folks take the trolley around the downtown area to sightsee and it passes the Pier which has shops, an aquarium and a restaurant on the roof overlooking Tampa Bay.
    Paul Schlechter

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina

  • Clearwater Municipal Marina Nearby Attraction (near St. M. 136)

    Sounds like a good place to check out if you are docked at the Clearwater Municipal Marina!

    In Clearwater Beach near the municipal marina is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium with Winter the tailless dolphin, also many restaurants and tour boats in this area.
    Paul Schlechter

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

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

  • Anchorage Regulations for Boca Grand Bayou May Still Be Brewing (Gasparilla Island, near St. M. 28.5)

    We posted an earlier article here on the Cruisers’ Net, linked below, which seemed to indicate that anchorage regulations might be in the offing for the popular “Basin Anchorage” near the charming village of Boca Grande, on Gasparilla Island. At the time, I editorialized that any such regulations would be contrary to Florida State Law UNLESS it could be shown the bottom land in the “basin” was privately owned. Based on the note below from Lieutenant Jim Brown, it looks as if someone may be trying to establish private ownership claims.

    Cruising News:
    This has been circulated by the Punta Gorda boater’s Alliance.

    The waters of Boca Grande are far clearer than is the issue of Jurisdiction and Anchoring in the Boca Grand Bayou. The issue of Boca Grand Bayou pivots on whether or not they are “Waters of the State”. Waters of the State are all navigable waters which existed at the time of statehood. They include the area from the mean high mark seaward. The problem with the Boca Grand Bayou, are the maps of this era, which are at best poor and show very little detail. Further compounding this problem is the fact that dredging took place in 1926 and possibly earlier, at least in the area of the 5th Street docks. Waters of the state do not include any private lands made navigable by artificial means such as dredging. The Florida DEP has some submerged land leases in the northern end of the Bayou and claim ownership there, but cannot confirm ownership as state land for areas of the southern end. The ownership of the water in the southern end is unclear (fifth street dock excluded) and may very well be owned by private interests. If it is privately owned then that party could regulate who used it. If it is owned by the state then state/county boating laws would apply.
    There are no county ordinances regulating anchoring at this location, but F.S.S. 327.44 relates to anchoring when it interferes with navigation. With this being said, the jurisdiction for enforcement would fall upon the Lee County Sheriff’s Officer, Law Enforcement Officers of the FWC and the United States Coast Guard. I have found a web site that gives a good look at the whole picture of anchoring. http://nsgl.gso.uri.edu/flsgp/flsgpt99001.pdf I hope this helps you out. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at 239-850-9076. Should you uncover any further information on this matter please let me know.
    Sincerely,
    Lieutenant Jim Brown
    Lee County Sheriff’s Office
    Marine Unit

    Frank Cushing

    Click Here To View An Earlier Posting About Possible Anchorage Regulations on Boca Grande Bayou

    Click Here To View A Second, Earlier Posting About Possible Anchorage Regulations on Boca Grande Bayou

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Boca Grand Bayou “Basin Anchorage”

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Boca Grande Bayou Basin Anchroage

  • A Mixed Review of the Fort Myers Beach Mooring Field

    The 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. Fort Myers Beach is a valued SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, and all of us here at the Cruisers’ Net recommend a visit to this beachside community. We have chosen to present Captain Nicole’s note below in spite of these feelings, as her remarks seem well thought-through, and given in the spirit of constructive criticism. You will also note that Nicole’s problems are not with the community of Fort Myers Beach or really the mooring field itself, but rather the management of the field by nearby Mantanzas Inn.

    Review of Fort Myers Beach Mooring Field (mixed review).
    Fort Myers Beach is kind of an interesting mooring field situation as the field is not administered by the city but is run by a local place, The Matanzas Inn. Outwardly the field is nice (very strong current, the ball did a number on our hull when the current was opposed to the wind), though be careful, the #s on the balls are largely not legible… if you get your ball number wrong the Lee County Sheriff will pay you a visit to find out why you have not paid and he was not super friendly about it until we got it all straightened out. Also, if you end up in the 2nd field it’s a LONG ride in to the dinghy dock.
    The good: Showers are adequate, temperature controlled for hot and cold, clean and hot. Laundry room is clean with a small book exchange. ($1.75 wash/ $1.75 dry). Pump-out guy is SUPER friendly and helpful but only available M-F afternoons if it’s not raining. They have a floating dinghy dock that is less than a ¼ mile to the beach. FMB is VERY dog friendly and most of the beach allows dogs. Mooring field is also within a no wake zone that is largely abided by.
    The bad: it’s more about the Matanzas Inn… The act and treat cruisers with a kind of nuisanced indifference.
    - Don’t bother calling them on VHF upon arrival, they do not respond (or haven’t the three times we have visited now). You will likely get NO VHF response for mooring assignment.
    -They don’t keep a list in the office at Matanzas Inn for pump out, you must call when the pump out guy is there and actually speak to him which is kind of a crap shoot or you have to catch him out in the field.
    -No trash cans available anywhere near dinghy dock. No signage at all as to where the dumpster is located either. Ask another cruiser, as you will never find it on your own and it’s a bit of hike to get to it and there are no dock carts.
    -dinghy dock is CROWDED. With the current, be very careful how you tie up your dinghy. It is a floating dock but with the current and wakes from the channel we saw one dinghy mashed up under the dock deflated, fortunately another cruiser tied off their engine so it was not submerged but I can assure you they were not happy when they returned to find their dinghy like that.
    It just really feels like the Matanzas Inn does not want to run the field and treats cruisers kind of accordingly. The put up kind of obnoxious signs in the bathroom about “your mother does not work here, clean up!” to the signs in the office talking about the great guest welcome BBQ that they then write on with sharpie saying “hotel guests only”… I get it, we are not staying at the hotel and we wouldn’t have tried to attend the BBQ but the signage is kind of obnoxious. They also have about a million signs say “no pets allowed anywhere on the property”. Considering that the dinghy dock is on the property, I chose to ignore this and no one bothered me about it which is good.
    They just seem to go out of their way to not make things any easier or more friendly for the cruisers they are tasked to serve. Salty Sam’s Marina used to run the field apparently and I would think they are better equipped to do so now than an Inn. (Salty Sam’s by the way is very friendly, has ice and pump out. They are located on the starboard side heading towards the bridge from the 2nd mooring field next to the pirate ship.)
    All and all Fort Myers Beach is a very nice town to visit, it just kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you feel as though you are almost not welcomed to some extent. I would definitely recommend staying in FMB, there are a lot of great cruisers there and it’s a neat town, I just think it would benefit the town to have someone who actually wants to run the mooring field run it.
    Nicole

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Fort Myers Beach Mooring Field

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Fort Myers Beach Mooring Field

  • Don’t Anchor Overnight in Tarpon Bay (Sanibel Island, near Statute Mile 5.5)

    Tarpon Bay lies off the northeastern shores of Sanibel Island, north of Dixie Beach. I’ve never recommended anchoring here, or even that cruising size craft should attempt to explore these waters, dues to the iffy depths and less than stellar channel markings. Now, below, we hear from Captain John that it’s actually illegal to spend the night here, and you could receive a ticket.
    Fortunately, there are plenty of other places nearby to drop the hook. Follow the link below for full info on the “Ding Darling Anchorage”

    We received a $75 ticket (in Nov 2009) for trespassing when we anchored OVERNIGHT inside Tarpon Bay in the Ding Darling Nat’l Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. Tarpon Bay’s waters are closed to all boats from sunset to sunrise we were informed. This is NOT posted, but we paid the ticket. No desire to get in a tussle with the Feds. And [the] Officer couldn’t have been nicer about it. He really didn’t want to write us the ticket.
    Apparently the refuge “owns” (long-term leases from the State of FL) the Refuge which includes the bottom of the Bay within the Refuge which is all the enclosed water inside the sandbar at the inner mouth. The Refuge Boundary extends beyond the Bay mouth and I believe includes “Horseshoe Bay” anchorage area. But Jim was very clear that the Refuge didn’t claim to “own” the bottom of any waters outside of Tarpon Bay itself. NO TICKETS WOULD BE WRITTEN TO ANYONE OUTSIDE TARPON BAY. Jim told us that we could anchor just beyond the sand spit “point” in front of the houses and the Refuge would have no problem. Apparently a rental company of “Party Boats” had been suggesting the Bay as a weekend late night party spot to patrons. Neighbors complained. Tickets were issued and the company was warned but I guess it was a real problem for some time. Well a neighbor saw us enter the Bay (on a Fri. evening) and called the Refuge Director.
    So the word should be spread just to be aware not to enter Tarpon Bay after dark. Apparently one fisherman has a permit to do so. Everyone else is technically trespassing, they maintain…
    We should have passed this info along at the time. Better late than never?
    John McLaughlin

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Ding Darling Anchorage and Tarpon Bay

  • Calusa Island Marina (Goodland – Marco Island)

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bimini Basin Anchorage (Cape Coral, off the Caloosahatchee River)

    We have anchored any number of times in Bimini Basin, and you could hardly find a more sheltered spot to spend an evening. Also, as Captain Nicole describes below, the nearby dinghy docking at a public park is welcome indeed.
    On the other hand, while we have never had trouble getting our anchor to hold here, local cruisers have warned that the basin’s holding ground is not up to really heavy weather. Apparently, at least of portion of the basin bottom is silty. At all other times though, give this spot a try!

    Cruising News*: Just wanted to let everyone know that there is a great anchorage in Cape Coral that beats the moorings/anchorage in the city of Fort Myers hands down. Protected, nice dinghy dock at a park, grocery store, hardware store, west marine, and bus transfer station less than a mile’s walk away. GREAT spot to re-provision and all around great anchorage.
    Nicole

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Bimini Basin Anchroage

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

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

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

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

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

  • Fort Myers Boat Storage Recommendations

    Below is copied an interesting discussion from the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) list about good places to store one’s boat in the Fort Myers region of the Western Florida coastline.

    I need to store my 35 ft trawler somewhere near the Ft. Myers area, while I fly up north for knee surgery. Probably 4 to 6 months.
    Anyone have suggestions for a reasonable, no frills, dry storage yard in the area.
    Glades

    All American Boat Storage and Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage are next door to one another up a freshwater canal off Charlotte Harbor north of Ft. Myers. Both are first class and reasonable.
    RC
    Punta Gorda

    I concur with Charlotte Harbor Storage. Last time I was there it was a well run, clean operation. They do allow owners to work on their own boats if necessary.
    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Indian+Rocks+Beach,+Florida+33785&l l=26.87688,-82.234919&spn=0.004172,0.006877&t=h&z=17
    or Tiny URL
    http://tinyurl.com/5wewmal
    Joel Wilkins
    m/s Miss Magoo

    Glades Boat Storage, Moore Haven, FL
    863-983-3040
    Patrick and Margie

    You might want to call Owl Creek Boatworks in Alva, FL. It is just north of FT. Myers on the Caloosahatcee. He has covered fresh water storage and said no damage during Charlie.
    RB

  • Another Disturbing Report of Cruisers “Hasseled” in Boca Grande Basin Anchorage

    This is the second report, albeit a second hand one, about cruisers possibly being hassled when trying to anchor on the basin in Boca Grande Bayou, just behind the Pink Elephant restaurant. Follow the link below to check out an earlier article.
    In mid-January, I had the good fortune to address the Boca Grande Yacht Club at Gasparilla Inn. A good time was had by all, particularly yours truly. I raised the topic of anchorage restrictions in Boca Grand Bayou, and no-one there seemed to know anything about it. One must wonder who is really causing trouble for boaters in Boca Grande??????

    Boaters have reported being hassled when anchoring in Boca Grande Bayou. Anyone know which authority has jurisdiction in these waters?
    Jo Mogle

    Click Here To View An Earlier SSECN Posting About Cruisers’ Anchoring on Boca Grande Bayou

    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

  • Mysterious No-Wake Zone on Caloosahatchee River West of Fort Myers

    I remember the no-wake zone described below by Captain. I could find no satisfactory explanation for its presence either.

    There is a no wake zone about one mile south of the Cape Coral Bridge. It is in the middle of the river and I can see on reason for it. As you say, it is heavily patrolled.
    Do you know why and who determines the no wake zones?
    Thanks
    William Wallis

    I am not entirely sure but I believe that is part of the “miserable mile” and I think that it is a manatee area. I am not sure why else it would be no wake, though being sailors who get waked frequently we kind of like it
    BE CAREFUL there if you have a faster boat, on a busy day we have seen as many as 5 FWC, police, and/or other enforcement boats in this area.
    Nicole

    Sounds like the zone from marker 72 to 76, which is not in the miserable mile. It’s at the entrance to Gulf Harbour Marina. It is a manatee zone by name, but why it’s really there I have no idea. It is patrolled much of the time.
    David Bernstein

  • Description of Fort Myers Beach Mooring Field

    The 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. Glad to see the most positive review below of SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, Fort Myers Beach!

    My wife and I visited FMB last march 3/10. We had cruised there 22 years ago and we GLAD to see town moorings, and less derelicts , although it seems they still had a couple of leftovers? We enjoyed the town and the beach and many of the local restaurants and stores. The Harbormaster “bubba” runs the pump out boat and was a great help and a great source for information. However the LARGE HARD encrusted mooring balls did a number on my new alwgrip hull paint job!$#!$#!!?. If you are not able to pull the entire ball out of the water, BEWARE.!!
    Stephen Arkwright

    We had no problems with the mooring rubbing on our boat fortunately. The showers are pretty low rent – like an old motel room. You step into a bathtub to shower. The shrimp are great across the way at Tico. Fresh & very reasonably priced. Bonita Bill’s is the only saving grace in this very honky tonk beach town. It’s a veru dog-friendly bar/restaurant. But watch out for the resident cat, Splash. He roams at will. Fort Myers Beach is a fine stop over if you’re going north on the west coast of Florida or heading south to the keys. Small grocery store about a 2 mole walk on the beach.
    Linda Hughes

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For The Fort Myers Beach Mooring Field

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

  • Good Times in Naples, Fl Mooring Field

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

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

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

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

  • One Cruiser’s Opinion of Riviera Marina (Charlotte Harbor, south of Punta Gorda)

    Every cruiser is certainly entitled to their opinion, here on the Cruisers’ Net and elsewhere. However, for my money the facility in question here is a dump. We welcome others point of view. Please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below if you would like to share your impressions of this marina.

    This is one of the last truly Florida cruisers marinas. True, not a show place, but it doesn’t try to rob you blind or pretend to be what it isn’t. It is one of the few places that you can truly work on your boat and the owner and other boaters will truly help you. This is commercial fisherman and shrimper marina. So if you don’t like some commercial activity or cats, you might want to pass on this marina.
    It is truly improving and recovering from the hurricane. Almost all of the boats dumped there be locals and the county have been removed totally at the expense of the owner. The only place I know left to do a major refit on a boat if you have questions, I have been customer several times.
    Robert Burney

    Riviera Marina is 5 minutes from our house, but we prefer another place to work on our boat, even though it takes us most of the day to get there. I would call Riviera Marina a dump IMHO.
    Mary Dixon

    To elaborate on my perception/experience with Riviera Marina, a few months ago we wanted to have our mast pulled to do some work on it. We thought it would be nice to have it done somewhere close to home. Riviera Marina is a 5-minute drive by car and about an hour trip by boat. We went to the marina and watched a boat mast being pulled. It was a real fiasco. After I scraped the cat poop off my shoes we left and said “no way, we’ll go somewhere else like we’ve done in the past.”
    Mary Dixon

    1 fact about marinas that will never change is the presence of rats or cats. If you don’t like cats you will be told you are not welcome-they live there, you don’t. I personally would prefer a cat next to me when cramped in a small engine room that suddenly becoming aware of a rat crawling over. I have yet to see a rat that wasn’t fleeing the riviera marina-notice Mary left quickly and good riddance. The owner works with a local vet to keep all cats vaccinated and license-out of his own pocket-customers frequently donate food and with an automatic waterer they are taken care of better than most solitary housecats-he names them all and knows ALL of them By name. Riviera Marina is a family. “I like cats and I don’t like people who don’t”
    R.E. Ffolkes(Roger Moore)

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

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

  • New Turkey Key Anchorage (north of Cape Sable and south of Ten Thousand Islands)

    We agree wholeheartedly with Captain Nicole. The New Turkey Key Anchorage is for shallow draft vessels only, and protection is not the best. On the other hand, this is pretty much the only possible overnight haven between Little Shark River and the Ten Thousand Islands.

    Good Anchorage but mind how far you swing if you don’t go all the way in. We anchored here on a calm night a swung a little to close to shore and found ourselves aground at low tide (we draw 3′9″). It wasn’t a big deal, we took the dogs for a run in the mud flats on the other side of New Turkey and floated right off an hour later but anyone with a draft of more than 4 might want to skip this anchorage.
    Nicole

    New Turkey is one of my favorite spots on the “outside passage” through Everglades National Park – but then again I draw a whopping 20 inches with engines up. It is worth noting that dogs are not allowed on shore anywhere in the ENP
    Jonathan Gorham

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For The New Turkey Key Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of The New Turkey Key Anchorage

  • Calusa Island Marina (southern Marco Island at Goodland)

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

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

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

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

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