N. Gulf Cruising News – ICW, Carrabelle & Apalachicola (Statute Mile 375 to 350)
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Despite 2018 hurricane devastation in several of these communities, residents are managing to carry on their tradition of greeting the New Year with celebrations. A reminder to spectator boats, that the time immediately following the displays, when boats are weighing anchor and departing, requires slow speed and sharp lookout. Please get back to your homeport alive!
FL – MEXICO BEACH – Fireworks Display
Mexico Beach CDC will be conducting a fireworks display on December 31, 2018, at midnight. The fireworks will be fired from the Mexico Beach Pier. Mariners are urged to remain a minimum of 420 feet from launch site due, to hazards associated with fireworks. For up-to-date information, mariners can contact the U.S. Coast Guard Waterways Branch at (251) 441-5976. Chart 11389, 11393 LNM 52/18
FL – SANTA ROSA SOUND – Fireworks Display
The Portofino Island Resort will be conducting their 2018 Season of Fireworks display on multiple dates through December 31, 2018. Specific dates will be announced by Broadcast Notice to Mariners. Displays begin at 9:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. The fireworks will be launched from a floating platform anchored 500 feet off the end of the resort’s pier. Mariners are urged to remain a minimum of 280 feet from the floating platform due to hazards associated with fireworks. For up-to-date information, mariners can contact U.S. Coast Guard Sector Mobile, at (251) 441-5976. Chart 11385 LNM 52/18
FL – GIWW – FORT WALTON BEACH – Fireworks Display
The Fort Walton Beach New Years Eve fireworks display will be conducted on December 31, 2018, from 11:00 p.m. until 11:15 p.m. The fireworks will be launched from a floating platform in approximate position 30-24-05.3N 086-36-27.4W (30°24.0883N / 086°36.4567W, 30.401472 / -86.607611), in the GIWW, Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Mariners are urged to remain a minimum of 175 feet from the barge due to hazards associated with fireworks. For up-to-date information, mariners can contact the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Mobile, at (251) 441-5976. Chart 11385 LNM 52/18
AL – GULF OF MEXICO – FORT MORGAN – Fireworks Display
The Beach Club in Fort Morgan, AL., will be conducting its New Years Eve Fireworks display on December 31, 2018, from 11:55 p.m. until 12:15 a.m., January 1, 2019. The fireworks will be launched from approximate position 30-13-44.5N 087-52-32.1W (30°13.7417N / 087°52.5350W, 30.229028 / -87.875583) . All mariners are requested to remain a minimum of 300 feet from the pier, due to hazards associated with fireworks. For further information, mariners can contact the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Mobile, at (251) 441-5976. Chart 11373, 11374 LNM 52/18
Our thanks to Lisa Keith-Lucas for this onsite marina report from Carrabelle, FL. Note Lisa’s caution from local captains re debris in channels.
Carrabelle Marina Report
The Moorings of Carrabelle
Slips available, water, 30/50 amps, showers.
Diesel $3.09 today (11/3) gas not yet available.
Pump out being repaired, and will update
Cable and WiFi is not yet working, but football fans need not worry, as the cable works in the Captain’s lounge. Free breakfast daily 6:30 to 9:30. WiFi at public library a 15 min walk from marina.
$1.50 /ft/night, $1.00/ft for those flying the Looper flag and with purchase of 100 gal fuel.
Click Here To View the Northern Gulf Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For The Moorings of Carrabelle
Some slips now open, with 30/50 amp , water and WiFi. Cable intermittent.
Ship’s store on site. Dinghy dock awaiting insurance sign off (update Monday 11/5). New fuel pumps on the way, will update 11/5.
Showers and laundry
$1.00+ tax /ft/night.
There is debris in the water everywhere; local captains urge caution in all waters. No reported changes in channels, but call the local Towboat US captain at 850-697-8909 for information about local waters.
Unofficial report second hand from Scipio Creek Marina in Apalachicola says they are open but have no phones and can be reached via active captain. They apparently have diesel (confirmed, see https://cruisersnet.net/177741). Will get an update over the weekend.
Our thanks to Robert Austin for this fuel update from the Northern Gulf. Scipio Creek Marina is on the GIWW north of the John Gorrie Memorial Bridge.
Marc Grove of Wefing’s Marine reports that fuel is available at Scipio Creek Marina in Apalachicola.
Bob Austin, Pensacola
This story of a vessel fire in Carrabelle, FL was posted by Captain Janice Marois on her blog, http://janice142.com/, where she was anchored. Initially very frightening, once the fire location was determined and contained, Captain Marois was able to calmly relate and photograph the episode. For photos and the complete story, go to:
We continue to hear only good things about this marina. See /?p=46813 MS Dockside Marina is located at 292 Graham Drive in Carrabelle which is at the eastern end of the Northern Gulf Waterway. The phone is 850-697-3337. Email is email@example.com
PS: The MS stands for Marine Systems.
Although we are not currently cruising (we are home in Carrabelle FL) we really wanted to applaud the staff of the MS Dockside Marina here at home. We chose this town in a great part because of this marina, and we continue to be amazed at their expertise and kindness. If anyone needs any kind of mechanical help just before or after the crossing between the northern gulf and the west coast of FL, these are the guys to see. They are skilled, professional, and will do what it takes to correct your problem. We are so grateful to have them right here in our own town.
Hope you are doing okay. We think of you often.
Tim and Lisa Keith-Lucas
MV Santa Catalina de Guale
C-Quarters Marina is located on the Carrabelle River in Carrabelle, Florida. This full service marina features 67 boat slips. The marina has a complete ship store for your cruising and fishing needs. www.c-quartersmarina.com
Carrabelle is a must stop for preparing to cross the Gulf and two marinas are always highlighted. We have always stayed at the Moorings which is a wonderful, up scale marina and very popular. This trip we tried C-Quarters and found that they too are a wonderful stop. They continued the Carrabelle tradition of caring about their customers and insisted that we give them a safe arrival call when we arrived at our destination. We couldn’t ask for anyone more helpful. Stay safe,
Carrabelle is the perfect jumping off place for cruisers headed south across Florida’s waterwayless Big Bend Region, or the first port of call for vessels northbound across these waters. In addition to C-Quarters, the Moorings at Carrabelle is another good marina choice here.
Very cruiser friendly, fairly priced marina. Diesel fuel price on 11/30 $3.65 incl tax. Suggest you add to fuel price listing to benifit Loopers and other cruisers. Jump off point to cross to Clearwater/Tarpon Springs/Big Bend routes.
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 John’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 year’¦), 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 2’11’³ 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 it’s sandy. Position was 29 37.25’N: 084 57.768’W and depth registered at under 3 feet.
So stay much closer to the greens than the red markers when transiting the sandy `inner’ 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.\
Dockside Marina just reopened a few months ago, and it’s a good thing this facility came back to life. It’s the only readily available repair yard in Carrabelle, staging ground for crossing Florida’s waterwayless “Big Bend” region!
I did a pull out and some bottom work out of Dockside Marina this past month and am happy to say that Eric and his crew are competent on the travel-lift and easy to work with. It is great to have a good boat yard back in Carrabelle!
Dockside Marina in Carrabelle is now fully functioning. They got their travelift in late last week and Marine Systems has moved their shop onto the Dockside Marina grounds.
They are a do-it-yourself yard. Nice people. Just put my boat back end the water after twos ashore. 6-2-12.
C-Quarters is one of two marinas in Carrabelle, which cruisers can patronize with confidence, The other is the Moorings at Carrabelle, which is found upstream of C-Quarters.
Carrabelle is, of course, the perfect port of call to wait for good weather before making the jump across the waterwayless Big Bend region of Florida, shooting for Anclote Key or Clearwater.
We also had one of our best stays at C-Quarters about a month ago. The slips were a little shallow, but they made sure we were in one that was deep enough. And the seafood store was wonderful! And there was always a gathering every night at the marina.
Subject: C-QUARTERS MARINA IN CARABELLE, FL
For those of you who are nearing your Gulf crossing, be sure to look at C-Quarters. While The Moorings has more amenities perhaps (cable and wifi), you can’t beat the prices for both dockage and fuel, especially if you need to spend longer than a couple days. Capt’n Kim is there to help and is a delight to visit with. They have showers and laundry, but no pumpout. You can walk a block to the library for their open WIFI. Diesel price was $2.80 a week ago at C-Quarters. Both the Moorings and C-Quarters are equal distance to the cross the street IGA and hardware store.
Be sure to make the trip to Millenders Seafood. Great local seafood prices.We bought a half bag (~5gallon bucket) of fresh raw oysters and had a grilling party at the dock. What we didn’t use, we kept in the burlap bag and put back into the salt water for a couple days till the next feeding a couple days later.
Dorothy and Larry Rand
M/V KNOT HOME
I absolutely agree with everything said here about C-Quarters, Kim and everyone else that helped us during our 4 day stay. The crew and the local towns folk made us feel like we’d been a part of their sweet little town for years! Be sure to bow into any slip there but know that you are safe and among friends.
Just wanted to update we have pumpout working for a few weeks now and cable at the slips at the office. Thanx knot home for a super review! Happy holidays all!
Captain Kim and Rover and the gang
Just to comment on the updated diesel price is currently 2.95. We also have non-ethanol mid grade gas at 3.10
Happy holidays all!
The gang at C-Quarters
Boaters in the Florida Panhandle will certainly be glad to hear this news from Paul! An earlier posting here on the Cruisers’ Net told us that Dockside Marina had closed, and lamented that now there was no pleasure craft haul-out facility in this section of the Florida Panhandle, east of Panama City. That problem HAS NOW BEEN REMEDIED!!!
Good News, Dockside Marina in Carrabelle, FL has re-opened. The official name is `M.S. Dockside Marina’. I was told that `M.S.’ stands for Marine Systems which has long operated a mostly engine repair facility across the river. Even better news, they are getting a boat lift and expect to have the full boat works up and running by late Fall. Yahoo!
Enjoy exploring St Marks on foot and by dink as we wait for he gulf to settle down before moving on to Steinhatchee.
A lot like s Louisiana with palmettos. Kid told me they filmed the Tarzan movies on the St marks River above where we’re tied up. No condos, no frills. Just raw beauty.
You don’t need to know the name to find the BBQ joint and my friend, Lisle, swears it’s the best he’s eaten outside his native Texas. Make a mean crab cake sandwich as well. Passable if not exquisite key lime pie at the Riverside Cafi. Bo Lynn’s grocery and hardware is limited but a one for one book exchange replenished the ship’s library.
Diesel and corn-free gas, maintenance, 70 cents/foot transient available at Shields Marina, a first class operation and the only evidence of the 21st century in the town that time barely remembers. You don’t accidentally get here by land or sea on the way somewhere else; you have to choose it as a destination.
The posting below is longer than what we usually put up on the Cruisers’ Net. However, it is such an excellent account of the often memorable (for good AND bad reasons) experience of crossing Western Florida’s waterwayless “Big Bend” region, I’ve posted the text below in its entirety. Note that this posting is copied from the AGLCA mail list with Captain Quince’s permission
A fellow cruiser has inquired about our Gulf Crossing so I thought I’d chronicle it for him and share it.
We arrived at Dog Island hoping for anchorage as the trip across St George Sound Bay had been a rough ride. We started east okay in one footers but after starting to fight the tide at the bridge, the next bit of open water continued to build until we met the confused waters between Dog Island and St George Island. Waves coming from both directions really kicked us around. Then the Shipping Cove turned out to be too rough to anchor so we turned and cranked up the engines heading to Carrabelle.
The next day brought heavy fog and about noon, a flotilla of Loopers left in a short clearing window. We wondered if we should have gone but the rough water the day before made us wonder. We disconnected power and threw off our lines about 3 0-clock to head out to the anchorage again and abruptly stopped as the fog moved back in. Listened to Hank on Queen Anne’s Revenge come across the bay and up the channel in thick fog. The talked to Mint Julep who anchored in the cove but neither boat ever saw the other. The Fog never lifted.
We contacted Queen Ann and agreed to leave the following day about 1pm to head out to Dog, thinking we’d pick up Mint Julep as well. (never did as they had moved on the night before) Heavy fog stayed with us the whole day so at 1 we headed out anyway, slowly down the channel from the Moorings to Pick up Queen Ann at C-Quarters. They pulled out and led the way as Hank had good
experience the previous day but more likely his experience with using radar as a pilot! It was interesting going out the channel as we met a 90 foot research vessel coming in and a couple of other boats as well. Not really a problem going slow, watching radar and working your way out. After Dog Island, Twins took the lead on a waypoint at Clearwater Pass. Queen Ann intended to drop off about 4 am and head to Tarpon Springs.
The advice we’d received from various sources recommended you be 2 to 3 hours offshore at daybreak so you can see and avoid the crab pots. There are also mileage from the coast guidelines and depth guidelines that help guide where you will start finding them. Like 20-30 miles and less than 30-40 foot depth but I’m not particularly sure of those numbers. So we set a course and started out at 8 knots, later cutting back so we didn’t arrive too early.
The fog stayed thick and with us for quite a while, about half the way. Boats were about a half to a mile apart and we could see their lights most of the time. Sometimes disappearing into the fog and other times more clearly. We turned on Christmas lights on the bridge to help light the way, 5 strings of white LED lights that draw less than 20 watts total. We also turned on the inverter and settled into our salon for most of the trip. About 8 0-clock I turned on the TV and we had satellite reception all across the bend.
How to stay awake for 22.5 hours crossing. Yes, it’s a long day..normal wake up at 7am, departure at 1pm, arrival to private dock on Treasure Island at 11:30 am and then up until about 8pm..what’s that, about 37+ hours! We had rested fairly well at Carrabelle. Vaughn bought a 12 pack of diet pepsi to help stay awake. I make some coffee. You’re wired at first with the fog. Then darkness descends. You set the autopilot and stare at the radar screen. The best part of the crossing may be the other boat nearby. Waves were rolling us for the first few hours, then it seemed to calm more about midnight and the crossing eased.
Vaughn and I took turns at the wheel (actually the radar screen). We ran the boat from above at first and then moved below after darkness. You can pretty well see miles ahead of you with the radar so staring at the screen seems useless. One of us would take the helm, the other watched TV and/or snoozed. We each had about 3 cat naps, the longest was probably an hour and a half. We
snacked on sandwiches. I had a coffee about 10 pm and Vaughn had a few pepsi’s. About 3:30 am Queen Ann slowed down and turned off toward Tarpon Springs, and we redirected for John’s Pass..they would not arrive at their destination until 11:30 due to very heavy fog..Hank’s now the expert!
Stars were first seen in the wee hours and a welcome sight, then more fog. We were lucky in that the fog lifted at daybreak. We never saw any crab pots until sunrise, then we saw a new line every minute. Daybreak and the sunrise are especially welcome after such a passage. My wife, Vaughn get’s to see so few sunrises anyway! We never saw any other boats on the crossing either. It’s possible that one or two targets on the radar were other boats but they were never closer than about 5 miles.
It was a fairly comfortable crossing but at some point I’d reset the autopilot to go to Clearwater and thought I’d arrived at John’s Pass. Took us a little time and phone call to our friends to understand our mistake, then we just motored down the ICW, an enjoyable ride. That afternoon we baked in the sun until we jumped in their pool..freezing at 70 degrees it was not..very refreshing and just what we needed!
So, in hindsight, I could have probably just relocated to Shipping Cove in the fog but you do get a good night’s sleep at the dock. We could have started later and maintained our 8 knots but that would only make about an hour or two’s difference or so. Longer or shorter travels don’t matter that much over such a time and distance when on autopilot (The boat and the crew). Our trip was 195 miles. The waves and winds treated us fairly. Fog sucked but what can you see in the dark anyway? No moon so it would be dark.
Next time I want clear skies, a full moon and the millpond sea!
All that to say we did it with caffeine and cat naps.
Bring on the Keys and Bahamas
C-Quarters is one of two cruiser friendly marinas in the delightful village of Carrabelle. The other is the Moorings!
At C-Quarters marina in Carribelle Diesel is $2,40 per gal. includingtaxes. Not a fancy marina, but very friendly people and a good overnight before crossing the Gulf. Stores close by.
Cheers from Queen Ann’s Revenge crossing tomorrow to Tarpon Springs
CDR Hank & Queen Ann
First, Michael and Jana’s advice about departing south over the Big Bend region, from Tysons Harbor on Dog Island, is a really good idea. Tysons makes for an excellent anchorage, and you are right at the jumping off point whenever you choose to turn your bow south.
Sea Hag Marina is the only facility really fitted out for cruising size craft on the Steinhatchee River. As long as you remain the in marked entrance channel, depths should not be a problem on the Steinhatchee. This is one of the deepest of the Big Bend streams.
Second Star and Emotion III crossed from Dog Island two days ago. As predicted the first six hours were pretty lumpy then it smoothed out. Trip took 10 hours (6 knots) so we left in dark. First we shot the pass and left a bread crumb trail the day prior so the dark passage was at least well plotted. Next time I would leave from Tyson’s Harbor on the far east side of Dog Island which would eliminate the pre dawn departure. The charts don’t show it but that exit is very well marked. We stayed at Sea Hag Marina and experienced no problems getting in. We arrived two hours before high tide.
Michael & Jana La Porte
m/v SECOND STAR
We stayed for a few days at SeaHag Marina in May 2010. Three sailboats plus one trawler. No problems with depth in or out. The Marina was very accomodating, arranging a pick up to give us a ride to a local restaurant. They also provided a ride to the local IGA. Rustic but a great stopover.
I, too, have experienced the low water – wind tide conditions described by Captain Tom below. As he notes, these depths usually persist only a few days, but while they are underway, soundings can be spooky!
If you are near or in the Florida Panhandle this morning, you will find the water levels are 1-2 feet below the charted depths. The north winds have been blowing hard for a few days and pushed the water off the coastline. It will come back in a few days; but for now, be careful.
I’ve heard for years about Buddy’s prognosticians concerning the state of the Gulf waters, while cruising south across the “Big Bend.” Reading below, sounds like Buddy still knows his stuff!
In Carrabelle, we can’t say enough about Buddy [at the Moorings at Carrabelle Marina]. He is truly a `weather wizard’. We were laid up for about a week waiting for good crossing weather to Tarpon Springs and points south, and Buddy was absolutely right on with his predictions. He warned two 60+ foot boats that they should wait one more day, but they went anyway. They called us the next day and said they should have listened to Buddy.
Mark Giraldi and Barb Lechman
36′ Sabreline Trawler
now home-ported in Punta Gorda
Apalachola is one of the most enjoyable ports of call in the Southeastern USA. I highly recommend a stop here. Looks like vern though Captain Reggie had a few marina problems, the local dining was pretty good!
Cruising News: Arrived Apalachicola 5/24 in late afternoon. Miller Marine would not answer phone or VHF. Scipio Marina would not answer phone or VHF. We wanted to buy fuel and do some shopping and go to a reataurant for much hailed oysters. We ended up at the Raw Oyster Bar which has free docks for those who eat there. We ate there. Oysters were adequate, some being more cheeese than oyster. Conch fritters were interesting. Prices seemed a little high for the fritters and the deep fried zuccini. We had a nice night at anchor just east of R"20" just downstreem of the railroad bridge. quiet, good holding and if you did drag, you would drag to deeper water. We did not drag.
We're transiting in a Cal Cruising 36 sailboat with 48.5 ft mast and antenna clearance and 5.5 draft. When headed from East Pass to Apalachicola, stay left as you approach the bridge. Right side shoals into the channel to 4 ft.