Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 03-18-2012
I took one, quick look at Captain Dave’s question below, and knew he was speaking of the so-called, Boca Grande Swash Channel, immediately south of Gasparilla Island. For years and years now, local cruisers have used this cut to short-cut the looonnnggg run out into the Gulf of Mexico via the main Boca Grande Pass channel.
If and only if all goes well, cruisers can turn north immediately west of Gasparill Island’s southwestern tip, run the Swash Channel hard by the concrete piers of the old dock that will passed to your eastern flank, and then continue with good soundings for points north, such as naturally deep Venice Pass.
And, there is some reason to believe that this is a naturally deep (enough?) passage. Hurricane Charley completely filled up the Swash Channel, but a few months later, tidal current had scoured it out again.
Trouble is, to be really safe when using the Swash Channel, captains must know where the good water is “this week.” And, that requires local knowledge. Trust me, this is NOT the spot where you want to ground your vessel. The tidal currents and surf could quickly bring on a life threatening situation after running aground here, not to mention the danger to your vessel.
So, as of late February, 2012, have any of you run the Swash Channel lately? What depths did you discover, and where did you find the best water? Please be as specific with your advice as possible. Send your info to us via clicking the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, or send e-mail directly to “yours truly” at CruisersNet@triad.twcbc.com. Many thanks in advance!
At the southern end of Gasparilla Island there appears to be a unmarked channel that is close to the Boca Grand light house and parallels Don Pedro park. which opens in a North westerly direction. Charts show enough water if one stays close to the beach. Does anyone have any experience going through there?
Haven’t run the swash channel since last fall, but we’ve had no major storms. Sand bars then were at/near as charted, we saw nothing less than 6 feet. Both Isles YC and Sarasota YC publish way points to lead you thru the shoals.
Wind against tide can throw up NASTY chop. Watch the weather
I have run the Swash many times over the years. 6 month ago was the last time I used this path. I took the route that the Sarasota Yacht club had layed out and found I was too close to land and running out of water. I went back to my old path that was a thousand feet further off shore and found 5 to 6 feet of water.
Just use your charts and go slowly and watch your depth . You should not have a problem
Robert M. Wilson
I passed through the swash channel on Sunday March 18th and found depths of greater than 6 feet at high tide. Please note, however, that I dont’t have the data on the height of of the tide, and my trimaran sailboat only draws 3′ 2″ so I wasn’t too concerned and didn’t make detailed observations.
I’ve run the swash channel for years in a 43 Viking DCMY with 42″ draft. I always found both ends of the channel to vary in depth over time but always passable. Clearly with deeper drafts you need to play the tide. Although I always had confidence I dropped to 5 knots to make the transit with a close eye on the sonar and plotter.