Here’s an important message for all cruisers plying the waters of the eastern Florida Panhandle, and especially for those looking to the cross Florida’s “Big Bend” section. I agree wholeheartedly with Captain Tom that East Pass is far more reliable than Government Cut, and his recommendations about the WONDERFUL anchorages along the northern shores of Dog Island, are right on the money!!!
Each year I give the recommendation of using the East Pass to enter the Gulf, not Government Cut closer to Apalachicola. Government Cut is a man made access to the Gulf and Mother Nature keeps laughing as she pushes the sand back the way she wants it. After a dredging, the Cut is deep enough but sometimes it doesn’t stay that way for very long. The second major reason for recommending East Pass is that anchorages are nearby, on the north side of Dog Island. A good strategy is to come across Apalachicola Bay, stick your bow out to the sea buoy at East Pass to create a GPS track line, then anchor for the night. By following the track line in the dark, you can feel assured you have a clear line to get into the deeper waters of the Gulf. Lastly, the distance across the Gulf is the shortest from East Pass and your vessel will be closer to land for some wave protection. Even for those boats going around the Big Ben, enter the Gulf at East Pass,
We came southeast from Apalachicola to Johnâ€™s Pass (just N of Sarasota) on 11/8-9/2011. We were following a deeper-draft sailboat out Government Cut (had not read this posting, and they do this every yearâ€¦), when they slewed strongly to starboard and came to a stop. They were able to power off and continue. We are a catamaran, loaded for cruising, with a draft about 2â€™11â€³ and WE also bumped in that spot. It was well within the channel, not in the riprap-protected part of the cut, but farther in toward the bay, where itâ€™s sandy. Position was 29 37.25â€²N: 084 57.768â€²W and depth registered at under 3 feet.
So stay much closer to the greens than the red markers when transiting the sandy â€œinnerâ€ extent of this cut, and when we go back, we will probably give East Pass a try! Thanks, all.
Heather and Derek
I was fishing in Government Cut this past Sunday, Nov. 13, and can attest to the fact that the channel there has shoaled just inside (bay side) of the cut, as it often does. A large recreational boat ran aground briefly at close to low tide, but was able to get underway again promptly. As an aside, it was very rough in the cut due to a rapidly falling tide and southerly winds. Using East Pass provided a much more sheltered passage and, I imagine, an easier time exiting the bay into the gulf.\