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Detailed Info On Entering Pelican Bay Anchorage (Statue Mile 25, off Cayo Costa State Park)

Pelican Bay is one of the most popular anchorages in anchorage rich Pine Island Sound. Protected Pelican Bay sits just behind Cayo Costa, an undeveloped barrier island that is also a Florida State Park.
The only problem with anchoring in Pelican Bay is the somewhat thin depths on the bay’s entrance, particuarly at MLW. The wonderful Isles Yacht Club in Punta Gorda, has made it their particular mission to detail the best passage into Pelican Bay.
We have had many postings here on the Net’s “Western Florida” section about entering Pelican Bay, but Captain Lee’s message below gives some truly detailed data. So, I thought it best to put it up as a fresh posting that would be more readily noticed.

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

I had the opportunity to discover Pelican Bay after limping across Charlotte Harbor in a bad squal several months ago. A nice place to lick your wounds and relax. Plan on some trips back there in the near future.
Donn Brown
Namaste – Watkins 27

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

Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Pelican Bay Park Service Dock Anchorage

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

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