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    • 50. Pelican Bay Outer Anchorage

      50. Pelican Bay Outer Anchorage
      Statute Mile 25
      Lat/Lon: near 26 41.495 North/082 14.595 West
      Location: will be discovered on the waters of Pelican Bay, a short hop south of the bay’s northeasterly entrance
      Minimum Depth: 4 ½-foot entrance depths, 5 to 5 ½ feet in anchorage
      Swing Room: sufficient swinging room for vessels as large as 42 feet
      Foul Weather Shelter: good, but this is the most exposed of Pelican Bay’s three anchorages


      Click on Chartlet Below to Open a Chart View Window,
      Centered on the Location of This Anchorage:

      Comments from Cruisers (14)

      1. Frank Cushing -  January 26, 2013 - 10:59 am

        The nun has now been replaced with a post R74. We were just there 1/20/13.
        Frank Cushing

        Reply to Frank
      2. Gene Fuller -  January 26, 2013 - 10:57 am

        Pelican Bay is right in my backyard, and I have been there a number of times. The descriptions above are reasonable, although the details change often.
        However, the discussion about tides is not correct. The tides in this part of the world cycle from diurnal to semidiurnal twice each month. The diurnal tides are near full moon and new moon, while the semidiurnal tides are near the first and third quarters. There is also an important annual component. The lowest tides tend to be mid-day in the winter and mid-night in the summer.
        There are no simple rules that can be conveniently remembered. Even thought the average tidal range is only a couple of feet, tide tables are essential if depth is important to you.
        Gene Fuller
        Punta Gorda

        Reply to Gene
      3. Marty & Jerry Richardson -  January 21, 2013 - 3:38 pm

        There are two really good anchorages near Boca Grande entrance to Charlotte Harbor. The second is Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa. This is one of our favorites. Many people avoid it because of the shoal at the entrance. Just hug the beach – stay 25-50 feet off the beach and you will be in 6-9 feet of water. We draw 4.5 feet and anchor here a lot. The beach and park at Cayo Costa are great and again the park is only accessible by boat.
        Marty & Jerry Richardson

        Reply to Marty
      4. Jim -  January 21, 2013 - 3:38 pm

        Alan is absolutely correct about Pelican Bay; it’s one of the premier anchorages you will find anywhere. However, “local knowledge” is important getting in there. Neither the approach to the bay, nor its entrance channel, are marked. So, ass/u/ming you are southbound on the G-ICW, turn west at a point south of G “75,” and about 200′ north of R “74.” Note that just off the shoreline, there is a Florida Speed Sign visible. Head toward that sign. Just before you reach the sign, turn SW and follow the line of the beach on Cayo Costa Island there, holding your course parallel to the beach and holding the shore close by to stbd at 50′ – 75′. Yes, a boat length or slightly more off the beach line. That “channel” carries 9′ of water, but it shoals very rapidly to the south, to 3′ or less. Many, many unwary boats go aground there. When you have passed by the beach, you will
        see the Cayo Costa State Park docks at your 11 o’clock, at a distance of about 1/2 to 3/4 miles. Aim at those docks, and set a rhumb line to them until you are past the shallowest water. There are slips there, with no services, but cruising boats generally can’t use them. Only the very outermost slips carry sufficient water depth. The dock tee heads are reserved for tour boats, of which there are several that ply those waters. Plan to anchor. The bottom is sand, and the holding is excellent.
        The gulf coast of Florida has diurnal tides; that is, one high and one low per day. Water depths are lowest in the morning and moderate to high in the mid-to-late afternoon. The tidal range at Pelican Bay is only about 2′. The rhumb line from the beach to the State Park docks will get down to 5-1/2′ at MLLW. By the time you get to the docks, you’ll see 6-1/2′ or more. There is a deep pool correctly charted on the current charts that carries 9′, which is the deepest water in the bay. Some older charts that are still widely circulated do not show that 9′ pool correctly. If you do not see that deep pool, you do not have the current charts of the basin. The basin is actually a “pass” between Cayo Costa Island to the west and Punta Blanco Island to the east. To the south from Pelican Bay, the water appears visually to be open; but, it is shoal, and not navigable by cruising draft boats. The only access back to the G-ICW from Pelican Bay is the one to the north of Punta Blanco Island, described above.
        Armed with this “local knowledge,” you will find Pelican Bay to be a delightful, well protected anchorage with a lot to see and do.
        Hope this is useful.

        Reply to Jim
      5. Bill Dixon -  December 16, 2012 - 4:13 pm

        On Pelican Bay entrance. R 74 is now a nun, not a daymark.
        Bill Dixon

        Reply to Bill
      6. Jim Favors -  December 3, 2012 - 5:01 pm

        We’ve anchored here on 4 occasions and each time we enter and exit from the north Pelican Pass inlet. We stay as close to the north beach as possible as this is where the deepest water is at the entrance channel. Once inside Cayo Costa you’ll find two pools with 8 to 9 foot depths with the balance being between 5 to 6 feet or so. There are some shallow areas but it is all manageable.
        Jim Favors

        Reply to Jim
      7. Kim -  November 29, 2012 - 9:39 am

        Eyeball method into PBay is a line from R74 to the entrance sign leaving sign to Starboard; then along the sand spit. Start aiming for the park dock once you are about halfway down the spit.
        Or if you must-plug these into your GPS to route yourself into PBay.
        A: 26 41.940N 82 14.208W
        B: 26 41.745N 82 14.525W
        C: 26 41.600N 82 14,600W
        D: 26 41.100N 82 14.600W
        E: 26 40.900N 82.14.400W
        F: 26 40.950N 82 14.200W
        G: 26 41.100N 82 14.250
        There is small power boat access out the south with local knowledge (uses part of the Punta Blanca channel) – Watch the ferry. Above will get you in (for 5′ or less) on all but an extreme winter low. There are a couple of bars so don’t freak if you think you’re in but start losing depth again. If you are coming from the south you can turn onto the A-B leg close to B. Start cheating about G71 and aim for a point to the right of B. If the depths get scary jog right until you are comfortable. Turn onto the track when you get to it. Once inside the chart is petty good at identifying the deeper areas. Standard rules apply- if there are a lot of boats in the anchorage and no one is anchored in what looks like a choice spot there is probably a shallow reason. You want to be surprisingly close to the beach from B to C. There is a nice hole around ‘E’ and we usually anchor there in about 8-9′. E-F can be a problematic stretch so exercise care. You may stir more mud than you want.

        Reply to Kim
      8. Alan Lloyd -  November 28, 2012 - 4:12 pm

        We are there now and can see why the west coast is Jim’s favorite. We anchored last night at the best anchorage on the West Coast. Even [cruisers] adverse to anchoring out should give Cayo Costa a try. There is more than ample room to swing on one hook. There were 18 boats anchored last night enjoying a full moon and a romantic sunrise. Cayo Costa Island is a state park. We dinghied to the dock and walked 3/4 mile across the desert island to the gulf side beach. (There is a regular tram service and bikes for rent, but we preferred to walk ). We had the whole beach to ourselves! Access Fee is $2.00pp. Don’t pass this anchorage! Oh, by the way, there is also a floating dock where you may tie up overnight for $20.
        Alan Lloyd
        Author, Great Loop Navigation Notes

        Reply to Alan
      9. Marty & Jerry Richardson -  November 28, 2012 - 3:58 pm

        Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa is the best anchorage on the west side of Florida – hands down. We have been in there on a holiday weekend when there were 70 boats and everyone was on a single anchor with plenty of swing room. Easy dinghy ride to Cabbage Key for a ‘cheeseburger in paradise’.
        Marty & Jerry Richardson

        Reply to Marty
      10. Doug Kendrick -  August 28, 2009 - 9:44 am

        We cruised into Pelican Bay to show our guests the anchorage. The entrance depths are in the four to five foot range and we saw similar readings approaching the Park Service docks. No comment on the park as we did not go ashore.
        Doug Kendrick

        Several of us with 6 foot drafts anchor there regularly. I’ve never had any trouble entering Pelican Bay. Just stay close to the north beach where the sign is. Now when you get in, 6+ feet at low tide is limited to a relatively small portion of the Bay, but still enough to accommodate all the boats I’ve ever seen there. The bottom is very gradual in the anchorage area and rises toward the shores predictably.
        Bob Hanners

        With winter low tides, you could easily see 4.5’, but generally, you won’t find less than 5’ if you are careful. The trick is looking at the chart and figuring out where the current comes through the entrance. That’s where you will find the deepest water, and at the entrance, it is very close to shore. Once in, 6-10 depths rule, though there is a small hump in the center, just east of the park dock. The park has a new dock and you can tie up a small boat of dinghy to explore the park. The Rangers want you to stay on the road if you go to the beach, but there is a wagon/trolley that makes the trip back and forth to the beach if you don’t want to walk. The beach is great for shelling and just exploring for miles. The park has some camping and picnic facilities on the beach. There are latrines, etc. on the beach.
        Jake Dye

        Cayo Costa and Pelican Bay are fabulous. We went in keeping well to the starboard side of the channel and found no less than six feet. We went ashore and over to the Gulf beach. There were bathrooms and cold water showers for free. Also, there is a small store on the island with beverages and island souvenirs. Don’t bring any rubbish onto the island.The beach is seven miles of unspoiled tropical beauty. There are picnic pavilions for your use and a free shuttle if you choose not to walk to the beach. There is a $2 per person landing fee which is collected on an honor basis. What a bargain! There are also a few docks available on a first come basis for free, but they are only suitable for shallow draft (under three feet) vessels.
        Bob Cormier

        Subject: West Coast–Pelican Bay anchorage
        Message: We have been anchored in Pelican Bay several times in the last month and found at least 5 1/2 feet at the enterance at dead low (very low do to NE winds). Stay very close to the sand bar on the north side.
        Bob Sween

        At low water, you can carry at least 5.5 ft if you know where to go. Ashore, the ranger station/state park has decent bathrooms, a drinking water fountain, a small museum, and a ranger station where you can buy ice. Hike across or take the crude tram to the beautiful beach on the gulf. There they have camp grounds, some small cabins, and bathrooms with showers, along with a water spigot. Each person pays $1 on the honor system to visit ashore.
        Duane Ising
        s/v Diva Di
        36 Catalina

        We anchor in Pelican Bay numerous times per year. The entrance channel is actually plenty deep, around 7 feet at zero tide. However, the best water is relatively narrow, and it is VERY close to the entrance sign. We have found that it is best to approach from ICW marker 74 and aim to pass the sign board only 50 to 75 feet to the southern side. The depth gets quite a bit worse only 200 to 300 feet from the sign. As you make this “best” approach it appears that you will quickly end up on the beach. It is necessary to turn to follow the beach as you pass the sign, and continue on for a couple hundred yards. The water is actually 9 to 10 feet deep only 50 feet from the beach. After the short, but close run along the beach, head in the direction of the Cayo Costa dock and proceed to your favorite anchoring spot. It is important to avoid cutting the corner outside of the entrance sign. There is a shoal just north of the line from the sign to ICW marker 74.
        There was a major rearrangement of sand in this area in the early part of 2008. The beach has changed a lot (smaller and shorter), and the little lagoon behind the entry beach has opened up. The inlet near the park dock, where the park service boats used to tie up, was completely closed by a newly formed sand bar.
        Best regards,
        Gene and Sue Fuller
        Punta Gorda, Florida

        Reply to Doug
      11. Douglas Kendrick -  August 27, 2009 - 1:47 pm

        Subject: Western Florida Tunnel of Love
        Cruising News: I have an update on the “Tunnel of Love” near Pelican Bay. On Tuesday 25 November we were anchored in Pelican Bay and attempted to explore the Tunnel of Love by inflatable dinghy. The water at the entrance to the tunnel was very shallow when the tide 0.9 feet above MLLW. I had to drag the dinghy across the shallows. Then, we only went down the tunnel about 50 feet. Dead mangroves were everywhere. We stopped in fear that a mangrove stick would puncture a tube in the dinghy and leave us stranded far from our boat. The exploration would best be done at high tide with a hard-sided, shallow draft craft.
        Douglas Kendrick

        Reply to Douglas
      12. Lee Stapella -  August 27, 2009 - 1:43 pm

        We got directions from the Cabbage Key ferry guy and true, coming in from the RENUMBERED ICW marker 74, and passing close to the sign..I think it’s a mantee warning, you have to be just about 1/2 a boat length for our 42-footer from the beach and you can look down and see the darkness of the deep water current. Then you turn and head for the fixed wooden dock. South of it and even with a manatee pocket, is a 9-foot hole about 150 feet from the shore. You cannot exit via the south unless you have a zero-draft boat.That chartlet was sure to guarantee a grounding and I am so glad you removed it for liability reasons. A call to Lynda at Isles Yacht Club in Punta Gorda the other day reveals if you send them a $3 check they will send a laminated bearings chart mentioned in the 3/1/08 posting.
        That YC sends members there with assigned bearings stations every once in awhile to update the chart. Boaters should go in DEAD SLOW as they skirt both the sign and the beach. Don’t side tie to the long outside dock because it’s the ferry’s.
        We found it and waited a year before we were brave enough to go in, and only after we hailed the ferry and he told us to follow him exactly, on the way in. He exits all the way south to Cabbage Key because he knows which houses on Useppa to sight off of, but we’ve gotten hung up in our dinghy on our way south out of there to the Tunnel of Love because we couldn’t follow the ferry closely enough to see what he was doing. But for any fearful boaters standing off in the ICW, if you find his schedule and hail him, he will let you follow him in.
        Best regards…your fan,
        Lee Stapella

        Subject: Detailed info on entering Pelican Bay
        Cruising News: As a follow up to Lee Stapella’s posting: the ferry is the Tropic Star, and if you follow closely, you can carry about 3 ft or so all the way to Cabbage Key (that’s about the draft for Tropic Star, and even in the extreme low tides, there\’s room). The best representation of the good water is found in the West Coast Chart Kit, and it’s a very meandering path to follow. As a former captain on Tropic Star, I’ve been through there about 8 or 9 hundred times, and I was taught the pathway by a native of Cayo Costa. If you’re following in your dinghy, stay real close behind – but then you have to get back, don’t you?
        Capt Mike Smith

        Reply to Lee
      13. Jay E Wigginton -  August 27, 2009 - 10:24 am

        Just south of Boca Grand Pass, west of marker 74, in Pelican flay, is an outstanding anchorage, one of the best in Pine Island Sound. The water is shallow, but boats carrying 5 feet can enter by staying close to the Cayo Costa side to avoid the shoal building out from the northwest end of Punta Blanca Island. Inside, depths improve to 6 feet along a broad band.
        Come abeam of marker 74 and set a compass course of roughly 240 degrees through the northern third of Pelican Pass, staying to the Cayo Costa side. Curve slowly around to the south into the main body of the pass on its mid width. Consider anchoring northeast of the docks. From the docks south lie many unmarked shoals..
        Jay E Wigginton
        M/V SAILS

        Reply to Jay
      14. Donn Brown -  August 11, 2009 - 12:17 pm

        I had the opportunity to anchor in Pelican Bay in June of 2009 and found it very nice. You have to be careful coming in because it is shallow in areas.

        I exited the same way I came in and had no problems.

        Donn Brown
        Namaste W27.

        Reply to Donn
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