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The Salty Southeast
Cruisers' Net
Cruisers Helping Cruisers
Pink Shell Beach Resort and MarinaSouthwest Florida YachtsGulf Harbour Marina    
ICW Marker 73, 4.5 miles from Gulf of Mexico  
14490 Vista River Dr.,
Fort Myers, FL 33908
239-437-0881 Slips are now available!! On the brand new Dock 5. For information please call (727) 893-7329 or 800 782 8350Located 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 ofTwin Dolphin Marina, 1000 1st Ave. West, Bradenton, Florida 34205-7852, 941.747.8300  -  fax 941.745.2831, e-mail: harbormaster@twindolphinmarina.com239 461-0775 Legacy Harbour Marina entrance is located on the Okeechobee Waterway East of Marker #49 on the Caloosahatchee River. The Marina is situated two blocks from historic downtown Fort Myers and three blocks from the historic Edison-Ford Winter Estates. The Marina's 131-Slips range in size from 40 feet to 80 feet and can accommodate Transient Boats of 100 feet plus. The large Fairways make our slips easily accessible. Our slips are surrounded by one of the largest 'floating breakwaters' on the Gulf of Mexico. The floating docks are state-of-the-art. Legacy Harbour Marina is a full-featured facility with all the modern conveniences of home including pump-out station, heated pool, fitness center, full electric metered at the slip, cable TV, laundry, air-conditioned showers and wireless Internet connections available. The Boaters' Lounge is available for relaxing after a cruise or for private parties. The view from the lounge is spectacular! Our grounds are beautifully manicured and provide great strolling along the river with benches, Chickee Hut, and excellent access to all of historic Fort Myers. Please take a few moments to browse our website and see for yourself what our  beautiful boating facility can offer you the next time you are cruising in Southwest Florida.Boca Grande Marina, Gasparilla Island, Florida
St. Andrew's MarinaRiviera Dunes Marina Just off Tampa Bay Owned and Operated by BoatersThe 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. Regatta Pointe MarinaFisherman's Village Marina and Resort, Punta Gorda, FLPunta Gorda, Florida - a GREAT cruising destinationThe 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, Fl

Archive For: WEST FL – All Cruising News

  • 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

  • Useppa Island, Western Shore Anchorage (Statute Mile 21.5)

    The anchorage described by Captain Rogner below lies just off the western shores of Useppa Island, and sits opposite the entrance to Cabbage Key, across the Western Florida ICW. If the weather chooses to cooperate, it’s a great place to spend an evening, and you can always dinghy into Cabbage Key for dinner!

    Great anchorage as long as wind is out of the north and/or east. In fact, much nicer to anchor here than to sit in a rolly slip at Cabbage Key if any decent wind is coming from north and/or east. With west winds call for a slip.
    Bill Rogner

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Useppa Island, Western Shore Anchorage

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Useppa Island, Western Shore Anchorage

  • Boca Grande – Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage (Statute Mile 28.5)

    The small basin just behind Gasparilla Island’s DELIGHTFUL village of Boca Grande, is one of the most secure overnight havens along this section of the Western Florida coastline. However room is much reduced by some semi-permanent vessels “anchored” here, that seldom, if ever, move.

    Great anchorage with big winds. Can be hot in light winds. Only issue is the derelict boats that litter the anchorage and swallow up a lot of the room. Pink Elephant Restaurant and Pub is a 50 yard dinghy ride away.
    Bill Rogner

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

  • Roosevelt Channel Anchorage (Statute Mile 13)

    This haven lies well off the Western Florida ICW’s run through Pine Island Sound, and near to the eastern shores of Captiva Island. Tween Waters Marina is nearby, but dinghy landing is now allowed.

    Spent 2 nights here when a strong front came through. I drew 4 feet. Very secure, but be careful. When the winds swung around from SE to NE we moved from 5.5 feet of water to 4 feet and ended up on the bottom for a while. Also, for some reason Tween Waters is not too friendly with transients at anchor (they are great if you get a slip). The slips, however, are fully exposed to E winds and it can be rough when they get near 20.
    Bill Rogner

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For The Roosevelt Channel Anchorage

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

  • Pelican Bay – Park Service Docks Anchorage (Statute Mile 25)

    Pelican Bay offers several enticing anchorages, of which the “Park Service Docks Anchorage” is but one. Follow the various links below to check out others. Note Captain Rogner’s quite correct warning about entrance depths at low water. The least we’ve seen here is 4 1/2 feet, but I’m sure 4-foot depths are possible.

    I’ve anchored here several times. Only issue is with strong winds out of the N to NE. It can get quite choppy inside. Otherwise, it’s tranquil and near perfect. When entering you’ll need to almost drive onto the beach to stay off the ground. I’ve hit in a boat drawing 4 feet, but was able to easily back off.
    Bill Rogner

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

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Pelican Bay – Park Service Docks Anchorage

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Pelican Bay – Punta Blanca Island Anchorage

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

  • Captiva Pass Anchorage (Statute Mile 18.5)

    The anchorage described below lies off the northern, inner flank of Captiva Pass, in the shadow of North Captiva Island. As Captain Rogner notes, this haven lacks good shelter for overnight anchorage.

    Perfect day anchorage when winds calm or out of the west. Strong current at times. Anchor, hit the beach, but be gone for somewhere else before evening.
    Bill Rogner

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For The Captiva Pass Anchorage

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

  • Marina Operations/Marina Jacks (Statute Mile 73)

    Marina Jacks has been much in the news of late, as its management and ownership have been square in the middle of the ongoing debate concerning the proposed Sarasota Mooring Field.

    It was a last minute decision to tie up at Marina Jack. We hailed the dockmaster on the way in and they were quick to assign a slip and were there to take our lines as we approached. First class operation. It is busy there with the restaurant and bar patrons adjacent to the transient dock. The live band plays into the evening (this was on a weekend).

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

  • Pinellas Bayway southern “E” span (Statute Mile 113)

    Just north of the Western Florida ICW’s passage across the entrance to Tampa Bay, the Waterway passes under two bridge, both confusingly enough, known as the Pinellas Bayway. The southern of the two is knows at the “E span,” with the northern bridge bearing the moniker of “C span.”
    Captain Dave is quite right that for sailcraft, or even slow moving trawlers, the restrictive opening schedules (follow link below for the schedules) can be “challenging.”

    This bridge answers to “Structure E” and opens every 30 minutes which makes it tough to get to Structure C in 10 minutes.

    And, here is a chance for the cruising community add input to this bridge situation. Carefully read Captain Michael Lieberum’s note below. In the past, Captain Lieberum has been extremely generous with his time and expertise over the years in helping us get all the bridge info on the Cruisers’ Net as accurate as possible. He also has MORE THAN A LITTLE TO DO WITH SETTING BRIDGE OPENING SCHEDULES! So, PLEASE respond to Captain Lieberum’s question, by clicking the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, or e-mail him directly at the address he provides.

    If it is a problem getting from one bridge to next bridge in 10 minutes would it be better to change the schedule of Structure “C” to a 30 minute schedule; which would allow 15 minutes between bridges? Please email your responses directly to me:
    Michael Lieberum,
    Seventh Coast Guard District Bridge Branch, Miami, FL

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Bridge Directory Listing For The Pinellas Bayway, E-span

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Bridge Directory Listing For The Pinellas Bayway, C-span

  • Charlotte Harbor Boatyard

    The rather obscure entrance to this facility cuts west off the western shores of Charlotte Harbor, north of Burnt Store Marina.

    We stored for 2 months at the Charlotte Harbour Boatyard and it was a very good facility with many people actually living and working on their boats while they were on the hard. If you are going to bottom paint you must have a tarp big enough to cover all the ground under your boat.
    They have a very comfortable boaters lounge with a kitchen and toilet block and there was a great sense of “community” when we were there in March 2007. One boater even had her sewing machine set upon a table in the lounge while we were there!
    It is a fenced gated yard but with so many people around security is not an issue. The owners actually live on the premises also.
    An interesting route approaching the boat yard too – you have to go through a lock which your operate yourself and you travel along a freshwater river for some distance!!
    We have no vested interest in this establishment – just sharing info as a very satisfied customer.
    Clare and Bill Walker

  • Venice – Higel Park Anchorage And Latest on Higel Park/Venice City Dock (Statute Mile 58.5)

    This little note from Captain Fred contains two gems of cruising info. First, he reports on the anchorage just east of the Venice Yacht Club, which we call the “Venice – Higel Park Anchorage,” AND the current situation at the Higel Park/City of Venice Public Docks. Those of you who have been following along on the Net’s “Western Florida Cruising News” section know there was a huge controversy here a few months ago when the city of Venice began disallowing overnight dockage at this city facility.
    Also, it’s worth noting that swinging room is TIGHT in the “Venice – Higel Park Anchorage.”

    Subject*: Venice Florida
    Last night we anchored in Venice on the west side of the Intracoastal in that little pocket just to the east of the Venice Yacht Club. It was a nice quiet evening. There were two boats at the public dock. About 18:00 a Towboat Us went by and I asked him what the situation was re: staying at the Higel Park docks overnight was. Answer was that the prohibition on overnight dockage did not seem to be enforced. Two days earlier I had called the City Of Venice and been informed that overnight at the anchorage on the west side by the YC or in Roberts Bay was OK but not at the dock at Higel Park.
    There you are with the latest.
    Fred Sorensen
    OA 43

    This is not a good anchorage primarily because it is right along the channel that leads to the Venice Yacht Club on one side and along a shoal on the other side. As Ron said, people anchor too close together due to the restricted swing room. Best choice for a stop in Venice is to spend a few bucks and stay at the Crows Nest or the Venice YC. Otherwise, just keep on going.

    <a href=”″><span style=”font-size: normal;”><strong>Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For The Venice – Higel Park Anchorage</strong></span></a>

  • Ding Darling Anchorage (Statute Mile 5.5)

    The Ding Darling Anchorage lies on a large cove which indents the shores of Sanibel Island, south of Western Florida ICW marker #14.

    My wife and I used this spot a lot, earlier this year. We watched a family of Manatees feeding for most of the day. The [semi-sunken] sailboat [which used to lie in these waters] has now been taken away.
    Pete Waldron

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

  • New Fueling System at Sea Hag Marina (Western Florida’s Big Bend Region, Steinhatchee River)

    Sea Hag is really the only marina on the Steinhatchee River that is really geared towards cruising craft 34 feet and larger.

    NEW FUELING SYSTEM – Sea Hag Marina now has fueling on the entire first T-Dock! THis allow for fueling at the channels edge where most of the large transients tie up.
    Danielle Norwood

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

  • Praise for Southwestern Florida Yacht (North Fort Myers – Caloosahatchee River)

    Southwest Florida YachtsI have known Barbara and Vic Hansen, the owners of Southwestern Florida Yachts, for years and years, and can honestly say I’ve never found a better run charter operation than theirs. And, all the MANY great cruising possibilities on Western Florida’s Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor, including Boca Grande, are within an easy day’s cruise of their base of operations. If you are thinking about chartering in Western Florida, click the sponsorship panel to the left of this message. Your search is ended. And, oh yes, Southwestern Florida Yachts is a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!!!

    We are definitely biased having our boat in charter at Southwest FloridaYachts in N. Ft. Myers..but. we used other charter company in this areabefore we made our choice and they are definitely a 1st class operation.
    Chas & Bev

  • Name Confusion on the “Circus bridge”/South Venice/ Tamiami Trail Bridge (St. Mile 55)

    Well, the bridge operators can certainly call it the “Circus Bridge,” and, since they do, this is how you should refer to the span when calling the bridge, BUT in the Federal Register, its the “South Venice Bridge.” Oh well, who reads the “Federal Register?”

    This bridge is called the “Circus bridge” and the tenders will correct you, if referred to otherwise. They are a bit touchy I guess.
    Rick Perry

    Claiborne – we travel this route often and for several years now (probably back to 2005-6) the bridge has been known as “Circus Bridge”. The Florida Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Bridge Schedule (this is a website item) now calls it the Tamiami Trail Bridge. We were last thru this bridge in late May of this year and it was Circus Bridge at that time. The current web page appears to be as of September 2010. Perhaps someone from the area will be able to provide up to date info. How about contacting the city of Venice or the County Offices??
    John N. Cover
    Hudson, Florida

    It was over 5 years ago that we hailed that bridge by the name in your cruising guide and were told that we should use “circus bridge” or risk not being answered. I marked our chart accordingly. Apparently the confusion still reigns.
    Duane Ising, IT

    Have been cruising through the area for over 30 years and have never heard of Circus Bridge, always was South Venice Bridge.
    Captain Walt Wagner

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Bridge Directory Listing For the “Circus Bridge”

  • Good Words About Naples City Dock (Naple, FL)

    Most cruisers refer to the Naples city marina as the Naples City Dock. However you name it, this facility sits on the western banks of the Gordon River, just north of the Naples Yacht Club. While some transient slips are available at Naples Boat Club, a bit farther to the north, Naples City Pier is where most transient/non yacht club member, cruisers berth while visiting this teeming city.

    Last winter we had the distinct pleasure of spending some time at Naples City Marina. Dockmaster Marlene and her crew are most professional, helpful, and most of all welcoming. What most cruisers do not know is that the City of Naples installed a mooring field, and for just $10 per night you are within walking distance to great restaurants (quite a few of which were offering two dinners and a bottle of wine for $30), concerts and other entertainment. The dinghy dock is located a short distance from the mooring field, the showers are spotless, and you can still do a load of laundry–wash and dry–for $2. Marlene wanted me to get the word out that Naples is no longer an unfriendly place to visit. Another easily missed attraction is the Boat House Restaurant located at the end of the Cove I! nn. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. they have 2 for 1 cocktails, a bar full of cheese and other goodies, as well as hot hors d’oeuvres for free. In the past we have avoided Naples, but never again!
    Darlene Rosen
    s/v Here’s to Us II

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

  • Thoughts on the Changing Seasons in Southwestern Florida

    Barb Hansen, author of the article below, is co-owner of Southwestern Florida Yachts in North Fort Myers, Florida. These good people are a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, and, by the way, one of the best charter operations in all of Florida!!!!

    View from the Marina
    Florida’s Four Seasons
    By Barb Hansen
    October 2010

    The full moon in late September this year was as big and as beautiful as it can be and it was accompanied by the most delicious breeze from the north, a harbinger of well-deserved, cooler weather for those of us who live in Southwest Florida.
    Now for at least nine months more the climate will be exceptionally good, proving again the area deserves its “paradise” title.
    This is the time of the year when I have to remind myself not to phone friends up north and brag about our weather, especially not when they’re getting cold fronts and, with autumn’s shorter days, must turn on their car lights at 4:30 p.m.
    People say Florida doesn’t have seasons. That’s incorrect.
    The temperature differential may not be as dramatic in Fort Myers as it is in Fort Wayne, but signs of seasonal change are just as unmistakable if you are tuned in to the sights and sounds of the subtropics.
    Winter is wonderful, of course. I think of it as the season of roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets and wood storks feeding on mud flat at low tide. Natives get chilly sometimes but those who know how cold it gets in other climes are comfortable and so grateful they are not shoveling snow. Personally, I like a wind chill of 75 degrees and break out the winter jacket when the temperature drops into the 60’s.
    By late March, the cold fronts seem to lose their punch and the flora and fauna of spring emerge. April and May are a special time of the year when tired, tiny tanagers and warblers hitch rides and a rest on your boat railing before flitting off in search of a berry tree on Sanibel Island. Our eyes and noses delight in the flowering trees — fragrant yellow frangipani, fire-red poinciana, lavender-blue jacaranda.
    Summer arrives with the first thunderstorm and the “full moon in June” as the saying goes. Shy cereus cactus flowers make their one-night-only appearances in June. Summer mornings are clear and clouds build throughout the day. On the water, the tarpon are rolling and a fishing frenzy ensues in the waters of Southwest Florida.
    Summer is relaxing on the flybridge, in the shade of a Bimini, with a cool drink in hand, watching a pod of dolphins circle in on their fresh fish entrée. This is the “low” season. Okay. Whatever.
    I love it here in Southwest Florida, as you can tell. Still, I’ve come to the point of view that no one place is perfect unless you make it so. I like to read and when I’m wrapped up in a great novel I don’t care where I am so long as the chair is comfortable. In fact, if it were snowing outside and I was close to a crackling fire, that would be just dandy.
    But dyed in the wool boaters logically migrate toward Florida (and they will leave their woolens behind). Snow skiers probably want to be close to the Rockies, High Sierras, or the Cascades. Surfers prefer the Pacific. We have traveled to all of those places and beyond, but as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”
    So maybe no one place is perfect but, like those snowbirds on the yacht pulpit, we can fly to some other place and suit our changing weather whims.
    As a Floridian who spent her first 20 years in the Midwest, I can tell you that I feel the change of seasons in the Sunshine State just as much as I did back in Indiana. Whatever the season, Florida suits me just fine.

    Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters, and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Contact her at, phone 1-800-262-7939 or visit

  • Thoughts on Crossing Florida’s Big Bend Region in the Fall

    The messages below have been copied from the AGLCA mail list. Captain Tom gives some very good advice about crossing the “waterwayless” Big Bend region of the Sunshine State, particularly his note about lower than normal tides during the fall months. Some of the other messages reproduced below give very specific info concerning some of the Big Bend rivers and ports of call. There is a wealth of good data in these notes, which is worth the attention of anyone planning on cruising these waters.

    There are some good points made recently on crossing the Gulf and going around the Big Bend. Bob Stone has said it very well. One thing to not forget is that come October and November, the “winter tides” set in as the prevailing winds shift from the northeast and blow the Big Bend channels and the Panhandle dry. This is typically 1-2 feet below the charted low water level. High tides are essential for going in or out of channels and those are 14 hours apart when the daylight hours are less. My fellow Loopers aren’t mentioning what month they were successful in using these Big Bend channels, but today would be an excellent choice.
    The folks at St. Marks may not agree that they are a good spot to be in a hurricane storm, even a small one. They certainly got beat up a few years ago. Most of the town was flooded as were the docks.
    More as the typical “crossing time” approaches,
    Meanwhile, stay safe,

    Our boat draws five feet and we have been to Steinhatchie and Cedar Key. We need one foot above low tide to clear the Steinhatchee channel. The floating green channel marker is in the area of least depth. There was only one floating marker in the channel. The others were fixed.
    We can not access Cedar Key via the North West channel. It has shoaled in. The Main Ship Channel is deep enough for us to access Cedar Key. Pay close attention to Skipper Bob’s directions for the Main Ship channel as you converge on the North West channel.
    Suggest mid tide or better for both locations.
    Jim & Pam Shipp
    aboard Silver Boots

    We will hopefully be crossing around November 7th. We draft 3′ 6″, but are still concerned about the depths if we take the big bend route. We would also like to do the crossing with someone else. We will be on our 3rd leg of a half loop (left from Illinois and will end up in South Carolina. Our 43ft. Wellcraft San Removed is currently at Demopolis Yacht Basin ready to depart on October 31st. We would love to meet up with anyone going that way. We plan on reaching Apalachicola by the following weekend for the seafood festival.

    Can only speak for St. Marks. After you cross the center chanel, go north through 63 buoys (approximately 7 miles). The St. Marks River is well marked and maintained by the CG. The CG keeps it dredged to 10 or 12 feet (up to buoy 63). There are 4 tides a day and are usually in the 1.5 feet range. Both Lynns Marina and Shields Marina are friendly and can dock your vessel. Just up the Wakulla River is the St. Marks Yacht Club and Shell Island Fish Camp. Shell Island Fish Camp is too shallow for your draft. It is an easier walk from Shields to a small store and 2 restaurants. 4.5′ draft is no problem. Both Marinas & the Yacht Club are good places to get out of a Gulf storm.
    Good luck.

    We made this run with no problems in a boat that only goes 15 knots (but it’s bigger) and there’s nothing particular about doing it Northbound. You do want to arrive in daylight though.
    Use PassageWeather – and click to get the Gulf of Mexico graphical forecasts, then scroll down to the bottom of the page to the wave height forecast and click “animate” so ti will show forecast wave heights for up to one week out, by segments of the days. I have found it to be better than NOAA or other weather sites for Gulf wave height forecasts.

  • Crossing Florida’s Big Bend

    I have said it before, and will probably say it many times again. If you get six veteran Western Florida cruisers together, they will express seven different opinions about the best way to cross the Sunshine State’s waterwayless “Big Bend” region. There are two basic strategies. You can cut the corner and head straight for Carrabelle or Panama City (if you are northbound), or for Anclote Key and Tarpon Springs (if you are southbound), OR follow the coastline around as it curves, staying well offshore. The advantage of the “corner cutting” route is that it’s shorter, and the “Big Bend Route” allows you to duck into one of the coastal rivers if the weather turns nasty. However, all of the Big Bend rivers have shallow, sometimes tortuous entrance channels.
    Few know these waters better than Captain Alan Lloyd, so I’ve copied his note below from the AGLCA mailing list.

    I would not wish make a 180 mile run across open water in a 25 foot boat. For one thing, I could not be certain the weather would be consistent all the way across. As a minimum, I would make an intermediate stop at Steinhatchee. A second option would be stops at Crystal River and Steinhatchee. Although a 20 mile side trip, Crystal River is a popular stop for loopers and manatees! A third option is a stop at Suwannee River. This is halfway between Tarpon Springs and Carrabelle. Loopers do not normally include Suawannee River since the entrance is too shallow but I believe a C-Dory could make it in and then enjoy 20 miles up river to Springs State Park. I have made this crossing three times using each of the above options.
    Alan Lloyd
    Author, Great Loop Navigation Notes

    I’ve only crossed once, and going south – but we made the crossing in a 23’ 5” cuddy-walkaround with a single 225 HP outboard with a WOT top speed of ~35-37MPH. It was at the end of June (2008) and indeed, we ran into
    weather. Weather bad enough to cause us to look for a safe harbor; and we found one that no one ever talks about or mentions – Horseshoe Beach. Luckily, we worked our way there with sufficient tide to navigate the
    channel in a skinny part of the Gulf. A call to “anyone familiar with the Horseshoe Beach channel” gave us the confidence to run the channel after a Sea Tow operator answered our call.
    Aside from what Alan mentioned, and Horseshoe Beach at higher tide, I know of no alternatives for a safe haven. (There’s the Withlacoochee River, but that’s not too far north of your departure and near Crystal River.) Since
    the storm we tried to avoid gave us some warning, we were already trying to stay closer to shore than originally planned.
    Our crossing was fine without the storm and many similar size boats make it easily. That doesn’t mean that you may not want to stop and smell the roses. It’s just those darn storms and sometimes higher winds that require
    vigilance and good risk management skills are in order.
    Stats and info from log: (We only went from Carrabelle, to my home inHudson Florida.)

    • Total mile run expected to cross the Gulf, (slip-to-slip)
    o 170
    • Total miles to actually cross the Gulf to the Sea Pines channel marker #1
    o 188
    • Total elapsed hours from Carrabelle, through Horseshoe Beach, to mooring
    at Hudson public
    o 11 ½, including about a 2-hour layover in Horseshoe Beach
    • Average underway speed across the Gulf
    o 20.8 statute MPH (18.1 knots)
    • Total gallons of fuel to top off the tank at the near-completion of our
    journey (including
    replenishment of the 3 extra gallons we carry for emergencies, and used)
    o 99.5 – the fuel tank holds 101

    As you can see, the seas slowed us drastically from the WOT capabilities of the boat. BTW, Horseshoe Beach has virtually no services except a restaurant where we had the best Gulf shrimp I’ve ever had in my life.
    Kitty Nicolai

    I made this run in Dec 2008 – same direction you’re travelling. Due to sea conditions we had to seek a safe haven. We went into the Steinhatchee River. This is a friendly port as long as you enter and
    depart in daylight. We left Steinhatchee the next day and completed the trip into Appalachicola.

  • Naples Waterfront Dockage Facilities

    Having had the good fortune to stay at both Naples City Pier and the Naples Boat Club, I can categorically state that both are well worth considering when it comes time to pick a place to coil your lines along the Naples waterfront.

    I have always stayed at the city docks but my last trip down there around Aug 1 I stayed at the Naples Boat Club. Much nicer then the city docks with floating docks, just as close to down town and about the same price. Fuel is cheaper at the Boat Club and they sell Valvtec diesel (less smoke).
    Al Halpern
    “Hunky Dory”

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

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

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