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The Salty Southeast
Cruisers' Net
Cruisers Helping Cruisers

Archive For: WEST FL – All Cruising News

  • Western Florida’s Big Bend Passage, Apalachiacola to Clearwater

    Clearwater Entrance - Click for Chartview

    I have often said before, but it bears repeating again, “get twelve cruisers together, and you will give fourteeen opinions about how to best traverse Western Florida’s waterwayless ‘Big Bend’ region.” Every time this topic arises, whether it’s here on the Cruisers’ Net, or some other nautical forum, a wide range of often very useful and informative opinions come to light. That’s just the case below.
    Overnight passages can be memorable, especially when the seas cooperate as Capt. MacMahon describes below. The direct channel to Clearwater Municipal Marina from the Western Florida ICW (there is another entrance from Clearwater Pass Inlet), cuts sharply west, just south of the high-rise Clearwater Beach Bridge.

    Calypso (American Tug 34) crossed the Gulf from Apalachicola to Clearwater on September 22-23. Left Apalachicola at 8:30 a.m. and went down the GICW to East Pass. Exited East Pass into the Gulf shortly before 11:30a.m.
    Weather report was for light winds (5 to 10 mph) out of some derivation of the North for all day and night with waves projected to be 1 to 2 feet. It was a little bouncy going thru East Pass and for the next 45 minutes or so until reaching deeper water. Then, it smoothed out into widely spaced two foot swells which the boat glided over. Conditions got even better as the day progressed and as Calypso worked its way further South until it was essentially smooth throughout the night. Made better time than planned so had to slow down several times in order to arrive after daylight. Stayed out in deeper water (40 feet plus) as approached Clearwater so as to avoid expected crab pots in shallower water. As it got light headed into Clearwater Pass and there were no crab pots off the coast there. Dredging
    equipment was at Clearwater Pass but no problem getting by it. Turned left just after going under the high rise bridge over the pass and went up the side channel to Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina. Somewhat shallow (5 feet over the bar) in the side channel (with about one foot of tide. But, once over the bar depth was fine. The marina has fixed docks and there is a little bit of wake from tour boats (but not bad at all). Showers/heads are not climate controlled. Dock master was helpful. And, it is close to the beach and lots of restaurants/bars.
    Mark MacMahon

    We found Panama City to Clearwater area to be the best for us. Leave Panama City in the morning, over night to Clearwater entrance. Anchor between condos and sleep and rest the rest of the day. Don’t like going across that shallow lake east of Panama City. We also found the return trip to Panama City nice also. We would anchor thru the single lift bridge for a day or two. Then there’s the visit to Gano’s bayou for some of the best hospitality ! Thanks,
    Ted Brown, boatless but thinking

    We’ve done the Gulf crossing 5 times, all overnighters. We departed from Tarpon Springs or Tampa/St Petersburg going west. Destin, Panama City, Carrabelle going east. We’ve always done the overnighters as our philosophy is that one over night is one overnighter at our trawler speed of 8 mph (7 knts). Leave in the Daylight from either end and plan to arrive no earlier than mid day going east so that you are not looking into the sun and can see the myriad of trap floats that extend a surprising distance off shore some as far as 30+ miles. Just get into port in full daylight going west.
    Having spent time in the arm pit, Steinhatchie and Cedar Key hold no attractions for me so I prefer to get across and not hassle with the shallow entry channels guarded by oyster/clam bed. If you really want to go to them watch your tides and remember the winter northerlies can and does draw the gulf waters down up to +2′ lower than MLLW where it will remain for several days.
    So beware of entering shallow channels with expectations of leaving when ever. The distance we go(departure to arrival point) when doing an overnighter is determined by the weather window and weather at each end which can vary depending upon wind speeds and directions at the different points i.e. following seas over head seas, vice fetch and durations along the planned route. Contrary to some guides in all our crossings we have never been out of range (VHF) contact with a USCG site. Remember, patience is the key to an uneventful and boring (at best) crossing and daylight
    departures and arrivals.
    M/V “Carolyn Ann” GH N-37

    Joe Pica said “and remember the winter northerlies can and does draw the gulf waters down up to +2′ lower than MLLW where it will remain for several days. So beware of entering shallow channels with expectations of leaving whenever.”
    That is some good advice and things to consider. Thanks for posting that Joe. After living in FL for one winter I saw that is true.
    Ralph Yost

    You ask a good question, what is the best destination for crossing the Gulf, Tarpon Springs or Clearwater. Both are good but slightly different. Tarpon Springs is about 5-6 miles closer if the total crossing distance is critical and marinas there will take reservations, more critical in years past when there were more boaters out there. Clearwater is an easier approach and a few less crab pots to dodge but you would be in the deeper Gulf for a bit longer, important if the west wind is starting to pick up as you finish your crossing. Clearwater has their sunset celebrations that are indeed special but Tarpon Springs has that delicious Greek food that can’t be found many other places.
    To decide what is best port, you will have to serve rum drinks to about a dozen cruisers who have done it before but hope that someone passes out so there can’t be a tie vote. Stay safe,
    Tom Conrad

    The information posted is very helpful. I do have a follow up question for the group. Cruising at 9knts aboard my GB 32, how long should I plan for getting from Fairhope AL to East Pass? Thanks!
    Randy Hondros

    Your priorities should be your major guide in planning time from Fairhope to East Pass. On our last trip through that section, it took us over 6 weeks. There are miles of sandy, shell-covered beaches to explore – usually by yourself this time of year. Anchor at Perdido Key, Shell Island, and Cape San Blas. Don’t miss the Naval Air Museum and Joe Patti’s seafood market in Pensacola. Apalachicola is a quaint town with some of the best oysters and shrimp in the world. The Florida Panhandle is a great cruising destination that should be savored slowly. Too many cruisers rush through the Panhandle concerned about getting to a point to cross the Gulf and miss some outstanding experiences.
    Glen and Jill Moore
    DeFever 40 Last Dance

    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 Clearwater Municipal Marina

  • Good Words for Port St. Joe Marina, Port St. Joe, FL, Northern Gulf

    The 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, FlThis wonderful facility is accessed by the Gulf County Canal, which departs the Northern Gulf ICW between Apalachicola and Panama City, and runs south to St. Joseph Bay. Port St. Joe Marina lies hard by the town of, what else, Port St. Joe. And, these good people are a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!

    Just wanted to remind everyone waiting on a good window for the Gulf crossing that Port St. Joe is a great place to hang out while you wait. The marina is top notch, the staff is friendly and helpful, they have cookies & coffee each morning in the office. The grocery store is only a block from the marina and the charming town, with cute shops and
    restaurants, is only a few blocks away. Oh, I almost forgot that they have free bikes available if you don’t have your own aboard. If you are looking for a comfortable spot to wait out rough weather on the Gulf stop in, you won’t be sorry.
    Theresa & Larry Valentine
    M/V Lauren Grace

  • Praise for Tarpon Springs and Turtle Cove Marina, off the Anclote River, Gulf Coast

    Turtle Cove Marina - Click for Chartview

    Turtle Cove Marina is located off the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs channel, west of Marker #50. Detailed channel instructions are found in our Western Florida Marina Directory listing for this facility, linked below.

    Tarpon Springs is one of our favorite stops on the Loop, lots of great food, music, marina life, fresh sea food and a good place to rest up after a long crossing. Last year we stayed at Turtle Cove Marina for a week (good weekly rate) and found it to be close to everything. To read more and see photo’s of Tarpon Springs, the farmers market and more you can click on the following link:
    Jim & Lisa Favors

    Fish Market

    Sponge Docks

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Tarpon Springs and Spring Bayou

  • Royal Palm Marina Lends Aid When Needed, Western Florida ICW – Statute Mile 46.5

    Royal Palm Marina lines the eastern banks of the Western Florida ICW’s run through Lemon Bay, south of Venice.

    These people accommodated us when the public boat launch was closed. We were in a pinch and they stepped up and for absolutely nothing they allowed us to pull our boat out. Oh yeah… and offered to help! Anything we needed they were ready to supply. Awesome!
    Tim, Dave, Pam, Karen

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

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

  • Report from Power Plant Anchorage on Anclote River, Western Florida

    Power Plant Anchorage - Click for Chartview

    The Power Plant Anchorage lies on the eastern shore of the Anclote River hard by this stream’s mouth and north of marker #18.

    We have anchored just inside the Anclote River heading towards Tarpon Springs. There is a public boat ramp there on the port side going in and the waterway is blocked off just past the ramp, but plenty of room. It is well protected from east winds.

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Power Plant Anchorage

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

  • Food at Royal Palm Marina Not Recommended (Statute Mile 46.5)

    Royal Palm Marina lines the eastern banks of the Western Florida ICW’s run through Lemon Bay, south of Venice.

    My husband and I went there with my parents. Food was not too good. Some was cold, sandwich had a strange taste.
    Lots of flies buzzing around, it was somewhat unappetizing. Bathrooms were very dirty. I wouldn’t recommend it.

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

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

  • Twin Dolphin Marina Specials and Promotions (off Tampa Bay on the Manatee River)

    Twin Dolphin Marina, 1000 1st Ave. West, Bradenton, Florida 34205-7852, 941.747.8300  -  fax 941.745.2831, e-mail: harbormaster@twindolphinmarina.comWe are very pleased to help bring to the attention of the cruising community the fall and winter, 2012 special and promotions from SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, Twin Dolphin Marina. This fine facility sits perches on the southern shores of Mantee River, just short of the Highway 41 Business bridge. We suggest that cruisers in the Tampa Bay region take full advantage of these special deals!

    To whom it may concern,
    Please take note of our Marina Specials and Promotions. We would greatly appreciate your support to help us promote these great deals!
    Thank you,
    Natalie Purcell
    Twin Dolphin Marina
    1000 1st Avenue West
    Bradenton, FL 34205

    § NEW Marina Specials/Promotions

    o Slips starting at $9/foot

    o Slips starting at $199/month (for a limited time, subject to availability)

    o 1st Month FREE with NEW signed annual contract for a limited time only

    o Get-Away-Package: Stay for 2 nights at Twin Dolphin Marina and receive a $20 gift card to Pier 22 Restaurant, A FREE bag of ice daily, and 50% of admission to South Florida Museum

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

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

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

    Marco Island is a large community south of the city of Naples on the West Coast of Florida.
    After many, many years of struggle, the city of Marco Island, as you will read below, has finally given up the attempt to regulate anchorage by cruising vessels, contrary to Florida state law. Some of you may remember that back in 2007, I journeyed to Naples, entirely at my own expense, to be an “expert” (boy, did I have them fooled) witness in the trial of Capt. Dave Dumas. This brave individual undertook a “civil disobedience” by anchoring his vessel, contrary to the local statutes, with the express goal of being taken to court by the city of Marco Island. Eventually, he was found innocent, as the local regulations were clearly at variance with Florida state law.
    All this hub-bub has now been superseded by the far more cruiser friendly, but still NOT perfect, 2009 state of Florida anchoring law. Even so, it’s really good to remember those who fought so long and hard for Florida anchoring rights.
    The cruising community owes a HUGE debt of gratitude to the Sailing Association of Marco Island (SAMI), their leaders, and, particularly Captain Dave Dumas. MANY THANKS TO YOU BRAVE WARRIORS!!!

    Subject: Marco Island, FL Amends Waterway Ordinance and Removes Anchoring Restrictions

    Tonight at 6:15 pm at the Sept. 17th meeting of the City of Marco Island council meeting, the anchoring restrictions enacted in May 2006 were repealed by an amendment to their Waterways ordinance. This is the end of an over six year battle. In Jan. of 2007, Capt. Dave Dumas on his Krogen 42 “Kinship” was cited by the Marco Police for violating the anchoring ordinance. In Oct. of 2007, Att. Donald Day and his law firm in Naples, Fl defended Dumas pro-Bono and won a Collier County Court ruling when Judge Rob Crown declared the anchoring provisions of the ordinance unconstitutional after an eight hour hearing on a motion to dismiss the citation. The City finally dropped an appeal to the ruling
    in 2009 and after three more years of prodding the City Council tonight voted unanimously to remove the invalid sections from their code of ordinances.
    The support of Att. Day, the Sailing Association of Marco Is. (S.A.M.I.) and over 25 other organizations and individuals was invaluable in this rare success over “City Hall”. The rights of freedom of navigation will continue to need defending, but this success is sweet. Thanks to all who contributed.
    Dave Dumas
    Lee Oldershaw
    Herman Diebler
    Karl Henning
    for S.A.M.I.

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

  • Boat/US Releases Updated “2013 Florida Anchoring Information Sheet”

    Let me be very, very clear about this. The wonderful folks at Boat/US are working just as hard, or harder, than we are here at the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net to look out for the rights and interests of the cruising community. If you are not a member of Boat Owners Association of the United States (Boat/US), may we strongly suggest you correct that oversight right now by going to:

    A few years ago, the political arm of Boat/US released a simply wonderful broadsheet which stated, in understandable English, what rights cruisers enjoyed in Floridian waters when it came time to drop the hook. Now, we are PLEASED to report that Boat/US has updated this document, and made it available to the cruising community without charge!!!

    We cannot urge strongly enough that ALL who plan on cruising the waters of the Sunshine State print-out the below linked document, and keep it aboard at all times! If you are requested not to anchor, or move on from an anchorage, just haul out this baby. It may make the difference!
    Of course, as you will see when reading this text, there are now exceptions, so check the language carefully, AND BECOME AN INFORMED CRUISER!!!

    So, without further verbiage, run, don’t walk to:

    You might also be interested in taking a gander at part of the “Press Release” from Boat/US which heralds the release of this important document:

    BoatUS Offers Updated Florida Anchoring Information Tip Sheet
    Great to Carry Aboard

    TALLAHASSEE, FL, October 22, 2012 – Since it was first made available at no cost two years ago, some boaters have called it one of the most helpful documents to have aboard when anchoring in waters across the Sunshine State. Others are saying it’s a great educational tool when they are confused about local and state anchoring regulations. Now, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers an updated “2013 Florida Anchoring Information” sheet to clarify for everyone, from the boating public to government agencies, the current status of the 2009 passage of Florida House Bill 1423 and the five pilot mooring field projects. Most importantly, the 2009 law gave relief to many boaters and meant they no longer had to fear their boat “overstayed its welcome” and needed to move on.
    “Every boat owner wants to follow the law, but in Florida, some boaters, anglers and sailors may still fear a visit from law enforcement that will force them to move on from an anchorage,” said BoatUS President Margaret Podlich.
    Four of the five pilot project areas include the City of St. Augustine, Monroe County (Key West, Marathon), City of Sarasota and City of Petersburg which have established mooring fields and passed local anchoring ordinances. These areas will be used to test policies that promote public access, enhance navigational safety, protect maritime infrastructure and the environment, and deter improperly stored, abandoned, or derelict vessels. As of press time, the fifth pilot area, Martin County/City of Stuart, was still drafting an ordinance likely to come on line in 2013.
    The 2009 law also clarified the meaning of “live-aboard”: Full time, active cruisers who sleep on their boats with no permanent residence on land are no longer considered live-aboards under this law and, as a result, their anchoring cannot be regulated by local governments, other than in pilot project areas. (For more: FLHB 1423, Chapter 2009-86, Section 6)
    BoatUS has been monitoring the pilot program and investigating its impact on boaters. “We recognize that there are still boaters who have not heard of the legislation but continue to arrive and enjoy Florida’s gorgeous waterways,” said Podlich. “They should know it is illegal to restrict anchoring of non-liveaboard vessels in Florida outside of mooring fields, except in the jurisdiction of the five pilot projects. In 2014, the anchoring ordinances of these five localities will expire unless renewed by the Florida Legislature. In the meantime, boaters should know that anchoring close to the any of the five pilot program mooring fields today can be limited by these participating local governments.”

    Thank you for the update and please keep us posted.
    Jim Angel

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

    Gordon Pass - Click for Chartview

    Gordon Pass is the primary inlet serving the Naples, Florida region. This cut has to be dredged every so often, but, as will read below, depths do not seem to be a problem here at the moment.
    According to our experience, Captains Bruce and Susan are correct about depths not being a problem inside Naples Bay, leading to the primary Naples waterfront, and its two FCYC Yacht Clubs, the Naples City Pier and the Naples Boat Club.
    We would also second the notion expressed below about the two more northerly inlets, Doctors Pass and Wiggins Pass being very much subject to shoaling!

    I noted several references to shallow water in Naples. There are no shallow water issues involved with Naples Bay accessed through Gordon Pass. Naples Bay is where the marinas, yacht clubs, restaurants, shopping, tour boats and large pleasure craft are located. You will not see less than ten feet of water in the channel, even at low tide.
    There are two other Naples passes located further north, Doctors Pass and Wiggins Pass. These passes lead to shallow bays that do not connect to Naples Bay. The passes experience shoaling and are dredged every few years. They are used by mostly smaller boats than used on the Loop.
    Bruce and Susan Armstrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • More Good Words for Legacy Harbour Marina (Fort Myers Waterfront, on the Okeechobee Waterway)

    239 461-0775 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.Well, of course, Legacy Harbour Marina is a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!!!

    Five Stars for Legacy Harbour and Cap’t Eric (Harbormaster) and his team. Always there to help you dock and to ensure your stay is what you expect. Cap’t Eric is a good source for referrals for yacht services that you may require during your stay and yacht maintenance if you need to leave your boat for an extended period of time. Historic Downtown Fort Myers with a variety of restaurants/entertainment venues and grocery store within walking distance add to the enjoyment of this location. You can enjoy a walk or bike ride down the palm lined streets and a tour of the Edison/Ford Estates.
    Bob Long

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

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

  • Praise for Dunedin Municipal Marina (Western Florida ICW, Statute Mile 139)

     We have always enjoyed a stay at Dunedin Municipal Marina. This facility is backed by a beautiful green park, which often hosts local shows and fairs, and one block farther on you will discover the downtown shopping district. Here, don’t dare miss Dining at Kelly’s Bistro. Yummmmmm!

    Dunedin Municipal Marina is convenient to restaurants & shopping, just a 2 block walk to the main downtown area. We liked it so much here we moved from Illinois to Dunedin while on the loop earlier this year.
    From Anclote Key follow the ICW south to G”7″, from Clearwater Inlet follow the ICW north to G”5″.
    Ron & Jan Matuska

    I agree Dunedin is really a nice town and they have a very good Mexican restaurant not far from the marina!
    Jim and Dale McGovern
    Aboard SweetPea

    The Dunedin Municipal Marina is excellent. Great staff and facilities at a good rate.
    Sea Potts

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

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

  • Local Advice for Entering Glover Bight Anchorage, off the Caloosahatchee River/Okeechobee Waterway

    Glover Bight Anchorage - Click for Chartview

    The entrance channel to the Glover Bight Anchorage also eventually leads to Tarpon Point Marina. If you have not been here for a few years, you’ll be amazed at the huge condos that now surround the dockage basin.

    This is a local spot for us..some words of caution about this anchorage. Stay on the west/northwest side of the bight..close as possible to the fuel docks/bar if you are drawing anything 4ft and over. Do NOT cut Red marker “8″ to go in or you will be on the ground. The SE corner of the bight is SHALLOW…talking knee deep.. The line between the deep water and the shallows is a narrow one and shifts.
    Best to enter this as if going to the fuel dock then turning out into the bay.
    Keeping in mind all of the above it is an excellent spot with quick easy access to the Gulf, the river, or ICW/Pine Island sound. Holding is good and the warning above [in an earlier posting] about strong SW winds is true and should be heeded. Tarpon Point marina has fair fuel prices but forget the “Chandlery” as you may get sticker shock should you choose to eat at the bar/restaurant.
    S/V Almost Somewhere

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For Glover Bight Anchorage

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Tarpon Point Marina

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

  • Good Words for Turtle Cove Marina – Tarpon Springs, off the Anclote River

    Turtle Cove Marina - Click for Chartview

    Turtle Cove Marina is located off the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs channel, west of Marker #50. Detailed channel instructions are found in our Western Florida Marina Directory listing for this facility, linked below.

    We stayed at Turtle Cove after a rough night at Anclote Key (the winds were from the East). Having previously stayed at the City Docks with it’s strong current, I was pleased to find this sheltered marina with floating docks. The staff was very accommodating and the facilities were clean, the pool was great. Too many good restaurants to name within walking distance, but try Mama’s – you won’t be disappointed. I will definitely return to Turtle Cove.
    Cambren Davis

    I can only endorse Cambren’s remarks about Turtle Cove Marina.
    Our sailing club, Hudson Beach Yacht Club, has sponsored several weekend cruises to this marina. I took a “women-only” crew there in June. We have always received the best service and enjoyed the Tiki Hut, pool, and bar. The shower facilities are exceptionally clean!
    One tip: Try Rusty Bellies restaurant, just a 5 minute walk from the marina, for their good food and fun entertainment.
    Karin Glessner
    s/v Callystos

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Tarpon Springs and Spring Bayou

  • High Praise for Southwest Florida Yacht Charters, North Fort Myers, Florida

    Southwest Florida YachtsWe simply can’t praise our good friends, Barbara and Vic Hansen at Southwest Florida Yachts enough. Not only are these good people a SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, but they also offer one of the best power and sail charter fleets in Florida, and all within easy cruising distance of the cruising rich waters of Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. What’s not to like?

    We chartered numerous times with SW Florida Yacht Charters in Ft. Myers and they were superb. Boats were well maintained and the place is run very well. They are also having some great deals as they celebrate 25 years in
    the business.
    Marty and Jerry Richardson

    For more information about Southwest Florida Yachts and Florida Sailing & Cruising School visit,, Mailing Address: 3444 Marinatown Lane, N.W., N. Fort Myers, FL 33903. Telephone: 800-262-7939 or 239-656-1339, or email

  • Florida “Sojourner’s Permit” Explained

    A couple of years ago, we published complete instructions here on the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net about what a Florida Sojourner’s Permit is, and why it was/is so important. Well, it’s time to refresh that information here as the fall, 2012 transient season gets underway.
    First, here is the message, which originally appeared on the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association forum which prompted us to get off our duffs and bring this issue anew to the attention of the cruising community.

    If you plan on staying in Florida over 90 days, you need to consider getting a Sojourners permit. Most Florida tax collectors are not familiar with the program and when you go for yours, take along all the forms your will need. Permit is good for 11 months, cost us less than $125. Florida, as do all other states, limits the time you can spend there without registering your boat in their state.
    Go to for more information.
    You should also refer to yourself as long-term cruiser, not live-aboard.
    Ron Matuska
    Dunedin, FL

    Now, why is it important to get a Sojourner’s Permit if you plan to have your vessel in Floridian waters longer than 90 days. There are at least two reasons, and one is referred to in Captain Ron’s message above.

    1. If your vessel is registered in another state besides Florida, you can operate in Floridian water for up to 90 days without a problem. HOWEVER, if your vessel is Federally Documented, and NOT ALSO state registered, you MUST register it with the state of Florida, or you may be ticketed immediately upon entering Floridian waters. Or, put another way, Federally Documented vessels MUST ALSO be state registered (either with Florida or another state), or you face the possibility of a ticket.
    By the way, it’s this onerous feature of Florida state law that used to allow the “Venice Water Nazi” to ticket boats coming and going in the city of Venice.
    If your vessel remains in Florida for longer than 90 days, even if it’s registered in another state, YOU MUST ALSO REGISTER IT IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA UNLESS YOU OBTAIN A SOJOURNER’S PERMIT! Conversely, iF you succeed in getting a Sojourner’s Permit in hand you will not have to fork over for a costly FL state registration (again, see below) for stays up to 11 months.
    My, my wasn’t that fun!

    2. With a Sojourner’s Permit, you will NOT be hassled to pay sales tax on your vessel. I know this sounds crazy, but if your boat has been owned out of state for less a year before being brought into Florida, and the state in which you purchased your vessel does not collect sales tax on purchases of pleasure boats, the Sunshine State will actually try to charge sales tax on your vessel’s purchase price, if you stay in Floridian waters longer than 90 days (without a Sojourner’s Permit). So, to avoid this ridiculous and expensive charge, get a Sojourner’s Permit. Again, crazy, I know!

    OK, so the above is why obtaining a Sojourner’s Permit is a really good idea. How does not obtain such a document?

    We are pleased to report that our good friend, Captain Mike Dickens at Paradise Yacht Sales and Service (Fernandina Beach, FL, provides what cruisers need to obtain one of these permits on his web site. Follow the links below.

    Sojourner’s Permit Form –

    Sojourner’s Permit Instructions –

    Hopefully, along with a little cash, that’s all you will need to cruise tax free in the Sunshine State for up to 11 months. Of course, if any member of the cruising community has found out DIFFERENTLY, WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU! Please send all your comments and accounts of your experiences directly to:

    Good luck and good cruising to all!

    Have question concerning this. Our boat is documented only as our state does not require a registration if doucumented. So this information says to aquire the Sojourner permit you need a copy of registration. What do we need to do for this? Thanks for any help on this.
    Susan Dawson S/V Colleen Mae

    In my original post I noted our Fl permit was good for 11 months. I am not sure if the period was related to when we purchased, Jan 2012, good until Dec 2012, or to some other criteria. You get the permits at a DMV / Tax collector office and in Florida, vehicle registrations end the month of your birthdate, and my birthmonth is December. Also, at the time we purchased the permit we were Illinois residents, our boat was registered in Delaware, and is USCG documented. We stayed in Florida from about Dec 1, 2011 until June 1, 2012. After cruising the east coast this summer, we left our boat in NJ for winter storage when we will continue north again.
    Ron Matuska

    And, here’s some valuable input from fellow nautical author, Captain John Kettlewell:

    Looking around at different county websites it is pretty clear that most say your boat must be state registered to get the Sojourner permit. Some states, like Massachusetts where I keep my boat, do not require state registration of documented vessels, so there is no real savings in hassle for me. I would have to first get a state registration before heading to Florida. In fact, I don’t believe Florida has any grace period for documented vessels–your boat has to be state registered somewhere to operate on Florida waters.

    From Manatee County here:

    Yes, the State of Florida recognizes valid registration certificates and numbers from another state issued to visiting boaters for a period of 90-days on recreational boats only. You can operate your out-of-state registered boat on Florida waterways without obtaining a Florida registration/decal.
    However, if you reside in Florida for more than 90-days, you must either title and register your boat in Florida or purchase a Sojourner registration (if you plan on taking the boat back to your home state).

    To obtain a Sojourner registration, you must:

    1. Provide a copy of the out-of-state registration showing the boat details, out of state # and owner names.
    2. Complete Form 87244 Application for Non-Titled Boat

    However, the sales tax thing is also clear. Many of us will not owe sales or use tax even if we have to register in Florida, unless we bought the boat within the last six months and/or we are Florida residents:

    Under most conditions, use tax and surtax are due on boats brought into Florida within 6 months from the date of purchase. However, use tax may be due upon importation into Florida, under either of the following conditions:

    • The boat belongs to a Florida resident; or
    • The boat belongs to a corporation for the use of a corporate officer or director who is a Florida resident or who owns, controls, or manages a dwelling in Florida.
    John J. Kettlewell

    By the way, for some of us with older boats (30 years or more) Florida has an antique boat registration that is very cheap. I believe you are exempted from most of the annual registration fee. More information here:

    I’m reading and rereading the words and am thoroughly confused. We live in NC, purchased our boat in NC, paid the sales tax on our boat to NC, and annually pay property tax on our boat. Our boat is a USCG documented vessel – NC does not require state registration on USCG documented vessels. We plan to visit FL this season but for less than 90 days. Do we need a Sojourner’s Permit? I’m still not sure about the answer to this question.

    Claiborne answers:
    OK, I have an answer for that one. Since you will be in Florida for less than 90 days, you do NOT need a Sojourners Permit.
    1. You can not state register your vessel, and hope you don’t get stopped in Florida, knowing that if you are, you WILL be ticketed!
    2. You can register your boat with the state of Florida, which, I’m told, is an expensive proposition
    3. You can register your boat in NC, even though our state does not require state registration for Federally documented vessels. Florida WILL accept NC (or any other state) registration, BUT you must have your state registration papers aboard, and put the appropriate sticker on your boat’s bow.
    As I said, no really good alternative, but, for my money, I would pick #3.
    Don’t shoot the messenger. That’s my take on your situation!

    After receiving the first message below, there was some question whether the state of North Carolina would state register a Federally Documented vessel. Turns out “titling” and “registering” are two very different creatures, at least in the Tar Heel state, and, as you will read below, it IS possible to “register” a documented boat in NC.

    Hi again
    I checked the NC Web site for vessel registration (which I use for our dinghy registration) and it’s curious to note that the lead questions on the VL-1 form are this:

    1) Is this vessel documented by the US Coast Guard Yes or No (If Yes, vessel cannot be titled)
    2) Is this vessel 14′ or longer, or a personal watercraft Yes or No (If Yes, vessel must be titled)

    Registration must be a different process than titling Hmmm
    My answer to both of these questions is Yes guess I’ll give them a call on Monday

    Hi Claiborne …
    Here’s what we just learned from NC Wildlife Resources Commission – both on their Web site ( and by phone (1-800-628-3773). They will also take questions via email at
    Actually the woman we spoke with chuckled and puzzled over why in the world we’d want to register our boat with NC if it’s already a USCG documented vessel! She did say that we couldn’t title the vessel – but if we wanted to pay $15 for 1 year (or $40 for 3 years), we needed to complete form VL1 (see link below), submit a copy of our USCG documentation paperwork, and they would get us registered.
    Here’s the link to the NC form VL1:
    So hopefully once that is done and we receive our registration number for NC, if we carry that paperwork and display our NC number on the bow of our boat, we won’t be pestered or ticketed by FL authorities – if we stay less than 90 days.
    By the way, we always carry our tax information on board.
    Is that your understanding, given this information?
    Thanks again for providing us your info – hopefully our follow-up will help others.
    Barb & Roy Masinton
    s/v Waterdog

    One suggestion to Captains Barb and Roy – see Captain Ted’s remarks below. Looks like it’s NOT a good idea to paint your NC registration numbers on your bow IF and only if your vessel is Federally documented!

    After reading some of this discussion last week I registered my documented vessel with North Carolina, we live in NewBern, for three years for a total of $60.00.
    We are heading to the Bahamas on the 15th but will bepassing through Flordia (very quickly).
    Newton Collyar
    S/V Bifrost

    You suggested putting registration numbers on a documented boat. That is against USCG documentation rules. Putting the registration STICKER on is OK, but not the state registration number on the bow.
    Second; some people get titling & registration mixed. If federally documented, that is your title. In that case, you CANNOT state TITLE, but you can state register a CG documented boat. The state will issue a reg number & sticker. You can use the reg number for paperwork but do not put it on the bow. The sticker should be sufficient for the water cops.

    We’ve just reviewed the further post from Captain Ted and this may have answered our question of latest concern.
    We’re in the process of renewing our USCG certificate of documentation and there’s one paragraph on the form that states this:
    “If the vessel has been lost, sold, abandoned, destroyed, or placed under state numbering [and isn’t that what we’re about to request by registering our boat in NC?], the vessel owner must notify the National Vessel Documentation center in writing. If the Certificate of Documentation is available, it must be surrendered.”
    We did try to give the Documentation Center a call today (1-800-799-8362) to ask their advice, as we wish to retain our Certificate of Documentation – but they were closed for the holiday. We will call tomorrow. Meanwhile, we’ve not mailed a thing and won’t do so until we know for certain we are proceeding with our best interests in mind.
    Barb & Roy Masinton
    s/v Waterdog

    And, a very important final message from Captains Barb and Roy. As you will see, it IS possible to register their vessel in North Carolina, thereby avoiding having to register it in Florida, and STILL RETAIN their Federal Documentaton!

    Hi Claiborne and others!
    Here’s the next (and maybe last) installment in the search for answers to our sojourner’s permit questions. After talking today (10/9/12) to a documentation officer from the National Vessel Documentation Center in West Virginia (1-800-799-8362), she gave me the following advice and guidance: Yes, we can obtain a NC vessel registration number and not be in conflict with our Certificate of Documentation from the Coast Guard, provided we 1) do not title our vessel with NC, 2) do not affix any registration numbers or stickers to our vessel, 3) continue to follow all the rules applicable to a documented vessel. If we follow these 3 guidelines, we do not have to surrender our Certificate of Documentation. If we carry our NC registration paperwork on board while cruising in FL waters (for less than 90 days) we can demonstrate to officials that we have been responsible in paying fees to NC, and FL fees are not required and potential ticketing in FL will no longer be an issue. We are comfortable with this advice and look forward to our cruise down south this season.
    Thanks everyone for helping with answers and comments.
    Barb Masinton and Captain Roy
    s/v Waterdog

    Regarding the 90 days…
    is this 90 days per calender year?
    Lets say I enter Fl Dec 1st and leave for the Bahamas Jan 30. That’s 2 months. When I come back do I have 1 month or 2 left in my 90 days? And when I come back in the fall?
    How do they track your comings & goings? Do marinas like Fernandina Beach turn in reports to FWC? Bascule bridges?
    How heavy is the burden of proof of your entry into the state?

  • Florida Marina Liveaboard Discussion

    For the last week or so, there has been a lively discussion on the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association forum ( about the issue of liveaboards, particularly as this issue relates to facilities in Florida. All of us at the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net are aware of the importance of this issue to the cruising community, and will soon make available a comprehensive, professionally researched list of marinas where liveaboards are welcome. Until that happy event, listen to what our fellow mariners have to say by following the link below! This discussion is just too lengthy to post in its entirety here.

  • “Report” from Matanzas Pass Entry Channel, Fort Myers Beach, FL

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words and Capt. Armstrong provides “‘nuf said” about the entry channel into Matanzas Pass where shoaling has drastically shifted the deep water. Click link below for a recent Navigation Alert posted on Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net.

    Hi Claiborne,
    Lastest info on Matanzas Pass…don’t follow “red, right, returning”…safe to outside green markers #5 & #7, depths 8′ to 13′ on the tides.
    Capt. Art Armstrong
    State of the Art
    In God We Trust

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To A “Navigation Alert” Position at Matanzas Pass Channel Light #5

    Click Here To Read Earlier Comments about shoaling in This Area

  • Praise for South Seas Island Resort Marina, West Florida ICW, Mile 135

    South Seas Island Resort Marina is found at the western foot of the marked and charted channel running west between Western Florida ICW markers #38 and #39.

    Just visited this marina this last Saturday (Sept 15) with our Tartan 33, and found the experience to be thoroughly enjoyable. The Dockmaster and his staff here are among the most pleasant and helpful I’ve encountered anywhere (unlike at not-to-be-named marina a mile or so to the south). The facilities are first rate, the showers excellent (just walk right in… they provide towels, soap and shampoo!), and the grounds are tropical and very well tended. In all, a great experience. For any of you folks traveling with a boat club, be sure to negotiate club rates (maybe not in full season?). Yes, it’s a bit pricey atmosphere, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this place to anyone. I don’t mind paying a bit more once in a while, especially if I think I’m getting my money’s worth. Easy access from the ICW, and Redfish Pass is right there for a good deep-water opening to the Gulf.
    Capt. Mike Smith

    Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For South Seas Island Resort Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of South Seas Island Resort Marina

  • Cruising Southwestern Florida Coastline With a 5-foot Draft

    Here’s an interesting discussion, which originally appeared on the American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association Forum (an organization we continue to heartily endorse) about cruising the western coastline of the Sunshine State, between Sarasota and Captiva Island, with a 5-foot draft.
    My experience having researched this coastline since 1992, which reflects the remarks below by Captains Gina and Chuck, is that 5-feet of draft will be fine for most marinas and many anchorages. There are some exceptions, and if your vessel has 6-feet of draft, it can start to get a bit tricky!
    The message below from our good friend, Captain Chuck Baier, former General Manager for Waterway Guide, is particularly useful. Most (but not all) of the marinas he mentions as being too shallow are not even listed in the SSECN’s “Western Florida Marina Directory” as they are too small and shallow to really serve cruising size craft. Nevertheless, this is superb information!

    My husband and I are chartering a 50′ Trawler for a week out of Sarasota. We are beginning to seriously look at various style trawlers available as we get closer to retiring and beginning a cruising lifestyle for awhile. My question is, as I am studying the waters in this area, Given the depths and tides, am wondering if we are going to have trouble getting in/out of marinas etc. with a draft of 5′ Any suggestions as to how best navigate this area and where to stay would be appreciated.

    It shouldn’t be a problem. We made the trip from Cape Coral to Tarpon Springs and back last year. We draw 4 ft and our friends who traveled with us draws 5ft (a 53 ft Carver). Marinas were fine. South of Sarasota we stayed at Crows Nest (Venice) and Palm Island Marina. We did the whole trip inside via ICW (except for the section north of Tampa where the ICW ends) and didn’t have a problem. Between Sarasota and Captiva we did have to watch the tides through Lemon Bay as it can get skinny there.
    Enjoy your trip. It’s a beautiful area. It’s been our cruising area for 15 years.
    M/v Island Time
    Cape Coral, Fl

    We traveled the entire west coast of Florida on several occasions with a 6 foot draft. There are some shallow areas but be sure and have
    current charts and you won’t have any issues. Most marinas will be accessible to you. If you get to Sanibel, Adventures In Paradise Marina might be a problem. On Pine Island Sound, Four Winds Marina will be a no go and Jensen’s Twin Palm Resort will also be iffy. In Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda Marina and Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club are very shallow. In Lemon Bay, Stump Pass Marina is shallow and in Little Sarasota Bay, Turtle Beach Marina will be too shallow. In Sarasota, the problem marinas will be Sara Bay, Sarasota Cay Club and Cannon’s Marina. Some of these will be too small for you but might be considered for fuel stops. If in doubt, call ahead and ask. Other than that, pay attention to your charts and if the chart says it’s shallow it is. There will be plenty of available anchorages if you want to get away by yourselves.
    Have a great trip.
    Chuck Baier

    Mary — We live in the city of Punta Gorda at the far northern end of Charlotte Harbor and sail our Ericson 38 sloop drawing 5’1″ throughout the waters you indicated. I would agree with the comments above with the added mention of northerly winds particularly in the winter months which result in lower than normally predicted tides. Come on up Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda for a visit to a really quaint, beautiful waterfront community.
    Noel Hyde

    We live in Punta Gorda and have a 35′ Compac, fully loaded we consider her a 5 foot draft. We have had no issues in this area along the coast line, nor have we had any with the ICW. There are areas that you have to watch the markers and aids to navigation in the ICW, but outside is “clear sailing” so they say. You should have no problems being you have major power, but like everyone mentioned above, follow your charts and if at all possible, get some local knowledge when going into a new marina or channel or canal. Relax and enjoy!
    Lynda Leonard s/w Choctaw Brave

    Careful attention to charts and the depth sounder will keep you out of trouble.

    Most of the ICW is trouble free with 5’ if you stay in the channel. There are many places to go and some you cant but they are usually obvious. A week is not a very long time to explore the area. Sarasota is north of the middle of the SW Florida cruising area of Clearwater to Naples and the keys. You wont have time for the keys unless you want to do long days and short stops.
    Going north, Marina Jack in Sarasota, St. Petersburg muni marina, and Clearwater beach are all easily accessible with the only trouble spot being near marker 40 near longboat pass. To the south Venice, Boca Grand, Cayo Costa anchorage (no marina), South Seas resort, ( entrance a little shallow) Ft Meyers, Ft Meyers beach and Naples are all different and interesting. Narrow or shallow entrances are common but should not be a problem with proper attention. Check for current information on this site as conditions do change from charted depths.
    IMO for the best sample of area cruising go south, take your time and stay in the ICW. It is a shame to miss the St. Pete waterfront but you cant do everything in a week.

    Fortunately, most of the shoreline of the Gulf from Louisiana to Florida is soft albeit shallow. Keep one eye on the charts and the other on the tide tables. Frustrating as it ma be, sometimes the different tide charts seem to not agree. Live with it.
    I have sailed the Gulf along Florida’s West coast for the past 14 years and have ‘found’ most of the shoals. I could have avoided them with little bit of caution but was able to free myself with no injury or damage and sailed away with minimal delay and another sailing story.
    I think the Gulf coast has some of the best anchorages of anywhere I have been. Very well protected, plentiful and shallow. I don’t like to anchor in more than 8-10′ of water- too much work to haul the anchor and to figure swinging area.
    Always FOR SAILtoo

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