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Archive For: West FL – 13 – Big Bend Region – Anclote Key to Dog Island & Carr

  • New Year’s Eve Fireworks, St. Joesph to Mobile, Northern Gulf

    Except as noted, most of these displays begin at midnight and last about 10 minutes. As usual with night time navigation, great care must taken in the vicinity of anchored spectator boats, especially following the displays.

    St. Joseph Bay            10PM
    Panama City Beach    Midnight
    Mexico Beach              Midnight
    Cinco Bayou                8PM and Midnight
    Fort Walton                 Midnight
    Santa Rosa Sound      Midnight
    Destin Harbor             8PM
    Mobile                          Midnight


  • Stolen Sailing Vessel, Panama City, FL

    If you sight this vessel, please contact Tony at 850-851-8619, local authorities or SSECN via email

    About two weeks ago, a crewmate stole my 43′ Gulfstar sailing ketch from Panama City Florida. The name of the boat is “The Solution”. She has white hill with red sail covers and red canvas over the cockpit.
    The guy who stole it is 18 yrs old named Bear McGinty. He has his girlfriend on board with her 6 month old baby boy. Believe they are headed to Galveston Texas.
    If anyone sees the boat please call me at 850.851.8619.
    Much thanks,
    Robert A. (Tony) Hicks

  • Help Requested on Western Gulf Marinas, Clearwater to Port St. Joe

    Skipper Spinucci is asking for recommendations of marinas between Clearwater and Port St. Joe. Let us hear from you.

    Some help please.
    I’m planning a trip from Venice, Fl to Orange Beach, Al in June 2016. I have a 315 BW, Conquest with a fuel range of a couple hundred miles depending on the sea’s. I am planning over nighters in Tampa and Clearwater. I need a stop halfway from Clearwater and Port St Joe. The marina must include transient dockage, Restaurants and nearby motels. Needless to say gas also. Any ideas?
    I’m trying to keep day trips under 125 miles.

  • Gulf Crossing Roll Call

    This call for a fleet formation of Gulf crossing vessels is from our good friends at AGLCA.

    Hey all,
    We are moving to Panama City today To sort of get in position for our crossing. Since it has been awhile since the weather window opened many of us have taken Eddy’s advice and been slow floating Since getting off of the rivers. Loopers are strung out from Carrabelle back to Mobile. It looks like that when a opportunity finally arrives there will be a whole armada of us moving. It would be nice to know how many, who we are and planned crossing speed.
    Probably not too early to get a roll call of vessels who are staged intending to cross at the next window since we are at many different ports right now. Our plans a capability:

    Panama City until the window is a day or so away. Then Apalachacola or Carrabelle (if there will even be room). If no room we are capable of going direct from Panama City.
    Boat speed 7 MPH to 25 MPH. Prefer 10 – 20.
    Charlie and Kay Woodard

  • A Hero’s Story – Rescue at Sea

    This story of Seamanship at its best was posted by Kim Russo on AGLCA’s Forum.

    A Hero in our Midst
    I’d like to give some recognition to a Looper who went above and beyond and rescued a diver that was lost at sea yesterday.

    Tom Duggan of “Island Time” was navigating the Crooked Island Pass near Mexico Beach, Florida, heading home from a yacht club raft-up, when a Coast Guard Mayday Call came over the radio advising of a lost diver at sea approx. 5-miles outside the St. Andrews Bay Pass. Tom immediately decided to take the long way home and steered further offshore in hopes of helping in the search for the diver. Upon reaching the search site,Tom slowed down and he, his wife Karen, and their guests starting watching the water. Right after a Coast Guard boat made a sweep a ½ mile in front of them, Tom spotted the drifting diver off the starboard side. He sounded his horn to let the diver know he was spotted, got on the radio to advise the Coast Guard vessel and slowed down to bring the diver aboard. The Coast Guard boat roared over and took the diver aboard as Island Time idled alongside. Thanks to Tom’s hunch and a lot of good luck, the diver’s life was very possibly saved to spend the rest of Fathers’ Day with his family.

    Well done, Tom & the crew of Island Time!

    Kim Russo
    America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association

  • Shoaling Reported in Cedar Keys Channel, Big Bend Region, June 11, 2015

    Cedar Keys is one of a limited number of ports of call along Western Florida’s waterwayless Big Bend region, the Western Florida coastline between Anclote Key and Dog Island. The reported shoaling is in the main entrance channel to the east of Seahorse Key.

    The U.S. Coast Guard received a report of shoaling between Cedar Keys Main Channel Daybeacon 19 (LLNR 29805 [29°6.7123N / 083°2.7068W, 29.111871 / -83.045114]) 29-06-42.737N/083-02-42.411W (29°6.7123N / 083°2.7068W, 29.111871 / -83.045114) and Cedar Keys Main Channel Light 21 (LLNR 2981) 29-06-50.837N/083-02-25.131W (29°6.8473N / 083°2.4188W, 29.114121 / -83.040314) with depths as low as 3 ft at low tide. Mariners are advised to exercise caution while transiting the area.
    Chart 11408 LNM: 23/15

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To A “Navigation Alert” Position at Cedar Keys

    Click Here To View An Article on the Waters of Cedar Keys

  • Advice Requested for a Big Bend Region Crossing, Northern Gulf, West Florida

    Claiborne’s Comments: For those who have never cruised these waters, the Western Florida’s ICW’s northern terminus is at Anclote Key, while the Northern Gulf ICW does not begin its east to west trek until one reaches Dog Island and the charming village of Carrabelle.
    In between is better than a hundred miles of coastline, with a LARGE shelf of shallow water jutting for miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. These shallows are pierced at fairly regular intervals by man-made channels, leading to the Big Bend rivers such as the Crystal, the Withlacoochee, the Suwanee and the Steinhatchee. Some of these entrance passages are fairly reliable, while others are not.
    So, rather than follow the Big Bend coastline, staying several miles offshore, some mariners choose to cut the corner, and head (northbound) directly for Dog Island or Panama City.

    I will be traveling this route in a modified trihull pontoon in june. ( modified hull frame with welded steel frame to keep it solid ) what would be a good route with this boat. hopscotch ? pattern any map refrences would be great. also : hey there Rich Gano I had some emails with you. I was planning a steam boat trip on the great loop. But opted for this instead’¦ least for now.
    Bruce Noble

  • Report on Steinhatchee River, Western Florida Big Bend Region

    This report by good friends, Captains Baier and Landry, comes to us from the AGLCA Forum. As is usual with Big Bend Rivers, the Steinhatchee entrance channel is a long, drawn-out affair, from the deeper Gulf waters. It is well marked and perhaps the deepest of the Big Bend river channels. A third choice of marinas, but with only 4ft depth, is Gulfstream Marina located on the Steinhatchee’s southerly banks just upstream from Sea Hag Marina.

    We’ve been in and out of the Steinhatchee and you should not have any problem as long as you pay attention and stay inside the channel markers. There are two marinas, Sea Hag which is before the bridge and River Haven which will require being able to clear the 25 foot bridge to access. We’re heading there as soon as the weather opens up. We’re currently in Carrabelle.
    Chuck Baier and Susan Landry

    Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Sea Hag Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Sea Hag Marina

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For River Haven Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of River Haven Marina

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Marina Directory Listing For Gulfstream Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Gulfstream Marina

  • Advice on Doing the Big Bend Crossing, West Florida Northern Gulf Region

    Here is very good advice about the Gulf crossing called Big Bend from our friends on the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association’s Forum. For more on the Big Bend region from Claiborne himself,  see /?p=105951

    I hope for you all at Joe Wheeler right now that you are encouraged to NOT do the Big Bend in one overnight as most do. Go to Crystal River, Steinhatchie, etc places, especially if you draw 4′ or less even though we know of 5′ drafts that do it all the time. You will be glad you did. Of course it is dicey getting in and out somewhat, but you’ve already been tougher places to navigate on the loop for most at this juncture. Swim with the manatees at Crystal River at least.
    John and Sue Winter

    And from our friends, Chuck Baier and Susan Landry:

    A good suggestion. We have been in and out of the rivers mentioned and enjoyed every one visited. Although the approach channels were indeed long, we never found getting into the rivers “dicey”. As a matter of fact, it was
    much easier than many other places we have visited. The only caution is to watch depths after strong north and east winds have been blowing for a few days. We plan to return to the St. Marks, Steinhatchee, Withlacoochee and
    Crystal River on our return trip south, which we plan to begin at the end of October.
    Chuck and Susan

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To Crystal River’s Entrance Channel

  • GREAT Video Shows All the Good Qualities of Cruising Crystal River (Western Florida’s Big Bend Region)

    Here’s a really neat and useful video that will be of interest to ALL mariners contemplating a cruise of Western Florida’s Big Bend region. Our thanks to Skippers Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, owners of Beach House Publications, publishers of “The Great Book of Anchorages,” ( for providing this very visual aid. Wow, makes me want to visit Crystal River ASAP!
    Please check out:


  • Cruising Western Florida’s Big Bend Region

    I have often said, but it’s worth repeating, that if you get six veteran cruisers together, and ask their opinion about the best way to cruise the waterwayless “Big Bend” region of Western Florida, moving north from Tarpon Springs and Anclote Key to Dog Island and the charming village of Carrabelle (or the other way around), you will get eight different opinions.
    On the one hand, some argue for “cutting the corner” and heading directly from Dog Island straight for Anclote Key or Clearwater. There are a whole set of issues around this strategy such as what time of day (or night) do you depart, and the presence of crabpots and fish traps as one approaches Anclote Key.
    The other strategy is to follow the Big Bend Coastline, keeping WELL offshore, to avoid the large shelf of shallows which jut out from this portion of the Florida coastline. This plan allows visits to the Big Bend rivers, which pierce the coastline at regular intervals, and are joined to the Gulf’s deeper waters by marked, dredged channels. Following some of these passages can be a real navigational challenge, and some of these stream’s entrance cuts carry only 4 to 4 1/2 feet of water. Others are somewhat deeper, but none are a proverbial walk in the park.
    Below, you will find excerpts from a recent string of messages which have appeared on the “GL” (Great Loop) mailing list. As you will see, a full spectrum of opinions is on display here as well.

    Although most “loopers” seem to bypass the Big Bend, we are interested in actually experiencing some of the old Florida areas that are apparently still very much alive and well, if water depth and weather permits.
    Sanderling is currently in Carrabelle at the C-Quarters marina while we’re enjoying a few months at home. We want to resume our cruise homeward to Merritt Island once the winter winds subside and water levels return to near “normal,” temps warm up, and daylight is longer – probably March.
    We have visited St. Marks, Steinhatchee, and Cedar Key by car on our way to and from Sanderling, and would like to visit all three on our way around the Big Bend to Tarpon Springs. Might also consider Crystal River.
    At least one boater has visited both St. Marks and Steinhatchee in a DF 49 with a 5 foot draft (our DF 41 is 4 feet).
    Has anyone cruised into those three areas (St. Marks, Steinhatchee, Cedar Key) or Crystal River in a boat with 4+ foot draft, and what was your experience with the water depths and anchorages/marinas?
    Any thoughts or suggestions welcome!
    Judy Young & Bob McLeran

    When we were in Carrabelle my assessment was that the northerly winds that are favorable to leave will also blow or the water in those ports. I was trying hard to avoid the long overnight run and kept looking at all options very seriously.
    I was warned by the guys at C Quarters that Steinhatchee entrance can get quite shallow even on a good day. They tried to talk me out of going there. Then add to it the effect of the North wind which will make it even lower. I saw it as a crap shoot and decided against putting myself in that potential situation.
    I chose the overnight crossing and went straight to Clearwater instead of Tarpon Springs. It was a small additional time but there are far less crab pots approaching Clearwater.
    Left the bay near Carrabelle at noon and arrived at the Wrights at 3rd next day.

    We had a DeFever 44+5 with a 4′-7″ draft (5′ w/Admiral’s stuff). Cannot attest to the depths now, but we went into St. Marks in May of 2006 & had no problems. Also, no problems with Steinhatchee & Cedar Key in December of 2007. Best I remember we went into both places on a rising tide. Never did go into Crystal River, but had friends that have been in there with 4′-6″ draft & had no trouble.
    Don’t believe I would make the trip today into any of those places until the wind blows the water back into the bays.
    Eddie Lomenick
    Eagle’s Nest

    Leaving for the Big Bend in March is a good plan, better later in the month once the prevailing winds shift back to the southeast. That will return your channels to their charted depths. Ideally, you can leave one port and arrive in the next at high tide to reduce the margin of risk. Those tides are about 13 hours apart and if you hit the time just right, you can ride your departing high tide all down the coast. I have been through the Big Bend in a 4 foot draft sailboat and this strategy worked well. April would even work better for you.
    Stay safe,

    I’ve been in and out of a few but not all of these places. I think that if you can plan your arrival or departures around the tides you will be OK with 4′ draft and a single screw. The problem is that north winds blow all the water out and if you are unlucky enough to combine that with spring lows your draft will most assuredly exceed your depth.
    Crystal River is typical of many Big Bend rivers. It is about eight miles in (and back out) from the Gulf, which makes the day’s travel a couple hours longer than you might think.
    Randy Pickelmann
    Morning Star

    We have cruised the Big Bend several times in Silver Boots drawing five feet with stops at Steinhatchie and Cedar Key.
    We have found we need one foot above winter low tide to enter the Steinhatchie channel. There is one floating green channel marker and this is the low spot. We have stayed at the Sea Hag marina.
    We have entered Cedar Key from both north and south and do not suggest the north west channel because of shoaling. At high tide we have scraped bottom. The south Main Ship channel has plenty of depth but becomes tricky as you approach the intersection with the north west channel. Study the charts carefully and understand the zig zag route you will follow. No marina and very little protection in this anchorage.
    Jim & Pam Shipp
    aboard Silver Boots

    Steinhatchee, FL. is our hailing port , we sail in and out frequently. We have two sailboats there a 50 ft. Gulf Star Texas, and a Islander 36 that both draw six feet. As long as you keep it in the channel there is no problem navigating in and out here. We’ve also been in and out of Crystal River a few times with these vessels. You need a good peak high tide going in as there is a shallow sand bar to cross, or there was last time we went in?
    Fair Winds,
    R. Bideaux
    La victoria

    To me, the draft of your boat is the biggest consideration. My boat draws 5 feet and I always cut across, usually from Carravelle to Clearwater, or vice versa. If you are not in a hurry, don’t just wait for the weather, wait for a night with a full or nearly full moon, and it will make the night passage a lot more fun. It’s an easy one nighter.
    With less draft, there are several places that would be fun to stop and visit.
    R. Holiman

    For boats planning to arrive Crystal River – We live in Crystal River and home port our 44′ Island Gypsy here. We draft 4.5 feet. With the low tides we are having now, we only move at near high tide and even then there are several areas in the river that we clear with only 2.5 feet under the keel. The river will lull you with stretches of 12-14 feet and suddenly 2 to 3 feet under your keel – go slow. The channel inbound from CR1 to Shell Island also has several areas with the same depths so from CR1 to Kings Bay needs to be done slowly. Things will improve with the arrival of spring tides but for now deeper draft boats should exercise caution and only transit at high tide.
    Doug & Virginia Hall M/V Lotus

    WE have sailed the St. Marks/Shell Point area for years. St. Marks is not problem, the channel is dredged for large fuel barges and has plenty of water. Shields Marina is a very nice facility and anchoring well up the St. Marks river is a wonderful wilderness experience. There is plenty of water up the river to the large powerlines that cross just south of US 98 bridge. The St. Mark’s wildlife refuge borders the east side of the river and the flloodplain on the west has a few docks and houses, but you cannot see most of the houses. When anchor overnight you are usually alone are with light traffic and you really think you are in a jungle. This is truly an undiscovered part of the big bend. Try the Riverside restaurant which has music most weekends and a transient dock.
    Phil Werndli
    MSV Banana Wind

  • Thoughts on Cruising Across Western Florida’s Big Bend Region

    I’ve said it many times, but it’s worth repeating. If you get six cruisers together and ask their opinions on the best way to cross Western Florida’s waterwayless “Big Bend” region, you’ll get eight different opinions. Some argue vehemently for cutting the corner and heading straight from Dog Island (Carrabelle, FL) or Panama City, straight to Anclote Key or Clearwater, FL. Others are equally convinced the best way to make this passage is to follow the Big Bend shoreline, keeping well offshore to avoid the huge shelf of shallows running west into the Gulf of Mexico from this portion of the Florida coastline. Then, there is the issue of the best time of day (or night) to depart. Throw in a mix of these various alternatives, and you have an endless variety of opinions.
    Here is a string which just appeared on the AGLCA forum.

    Can someone tell me if it is possible to leave from Dog Island in the dark early morning hours to cross over to the west coast of Florida. I have been through there three times and don’t remember if there are crab pots in that area. My boat can do 12-13 mph without burning excessive fuel, but that isn’t quite enough time to cross in daylight at this time of year. We did a daylight crossing from Crystal River in 2012 when we came north, but I would prefer going farther down the Florida West coast.
    Dave Miller
    Sea Ya

    We have crossed from behind Dog Island three times, last time three years ago. I have left at 2 am and at 4am, go thorough East Pass to the lighted buoy and direct to Anclote Key. I have never noticed crab pots at Dog Island, however, at the East end of the journey, they are thick. I run about 12-14 MPH for the first 6 hours and then adjust my speed to match getting into Tarpon Springs before 4pm. We usually anchor at the power plant. We are headed that way this year on our way to the Bahamas and intend to use the same strategy. We operate a 48′ Tolly and it is good to see another Tolly out here.
    Robert and Patty Mitchell with Maggi the wonder dog

  • GREAT Fuel Discount at Panama City Municipal Marina FOR SSECN READERS!!!!, Northern Gulf ICW, Statute Mile 290

    Panama City Municipal Marina - Click for Chartview

    The Panama City Marina is located on the intercoastal Waterway one block from Downtown Panama City. The Panama City Marina is a newly renovated 240-slip marina facility designed for all classes of vesNow here’s a good deal, just for being a SSECN reader! This $.10 per gallon discount, offered with no minimum purchase when staying overnight, is typically reserved for fuel purchases over a 1000 gallons.
    The Panama City Municipal Marina is lies immediately adjacent to the Northern Gulf ICW, one block from Downtown Panama City. And, of course, they are A SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!

    We offer $.10 off per gallon for any transient [overnight dockage required] that mentions seeing this on Cruisersnet.
    Stan Jones
    Marina Director

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Panama City Municipal Marina

  • Good Words for MS Dockside Marina, Carrabelle, FL, Northern Gulf

    MS Dockside Marina - Click for Chartview

    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

    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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of MS Dockside Marina

  • More Praise for Port St. Joe Marina, St. Joe Bay, Northern Gulf

    The Port St. Joe Marina is at the heart of Florida's Forgotten Coast, on the eastern shore of pristine St. Joseph Bay on Florida's northern Gulf Coast. Located between Panama City and Apalachicola, Fl

    Port St. Joe Marina - Click for Chartview

    If this SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR facility racks up many more laudatory comments, we may have to open a separate page. Really, from all reports, you can’t do better than coil your lines at Port St. Joe Marina.
    This facility is accessed from the Northern Gulf ICW by way of the Gulf County Canal, which cuts south off the Waterway between Apalachicola and Panama City. The side trip is well worthy your time!!!

    My wife and I just spent four days at Port St Joe marina waiting for the weather to improve enough to make the overnight crossing. Lisa and her team are the friendliest folks you will ever meet. Their facilities are excellent and everything you need is within walking distance or a short ride on one of their complimentary bicycles. Port St Joe will always be a stop whenever we are in the area.
    Randy Hondros

    I agree. This is a great marina. The only caution is to be ready for the sharp turn coming in. We stayed here a couple of nights and loved it.
    R. Holiman

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Port St. Joe Marina

  • TowBoatUS Tampa Bay Earns “Tower Of The Year” Award

    This just in from our good friends at TowBoat/US. Looks like the Tampa Bay franchise of this very popular service is really up to snuff!
    Notice this franchise has satellite operations on the Western Florida coastline, from Tampa Bay north through the Big Bend region!

    CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla., January 29, 2013 — An on-the-water towboat company that helps Gulf Coast boaters get home safely was singled out for its professionalism at the BoatUS Towing Services Annual Conference recently held in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Tower of the Year honors went to TowBoatUS Tampa Bay, which is owned and operated by Capt. Larry Tieman and Capt. Clayton Tieman. The company has eight locations along the Gulf Coast from Tampa Bay to Cedar Key, including St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Hudson, Homosassa River, Crystal River and Yankeetown.

    The company also received two additional awards – the BoatUS Membership Achievement Award for selling the most BoatUS memberships in the entire fleet, and was honored with the BoatUS Dispatchers Choice Award, given by the dispatching staff at the BoatUS 24-hour call centers for providing members with fast response and utmost professionalism during the dispatch process.

    “We have grown our business to become the largest BoatUS towing service provider in the United States and we are very proud of our accomplishments,” said Capt. Larry Tieman. “With fourteen boats and sixteen captains, we handle over 2,500 requests a year for on-the-water assistance. If you’re broken down or run out of gas near shore, we’re very proud that we can get a bright red towboat with a professional captain to your location in usually an hour or less,” he added.

    “The Tieman’s operation is the standard bearer that many in our towing fleet look up to, showing others how to run a successful on-the-water towing business in one of the busiest regions of the country,” said BoatUS Vice President and Director of Towing Services Adam Wheeler. “And they do it professionally, with the great care that our members deserve, and always with a positive attitude.”

    BoatUS Towing Services offers an “unlimited” towing plan for Florida boaters for just $149 a year, which includes BoatUS membership. Without a towing plan, the national average out-of-pocket cost for a tow is about $600. For membership and towing information visit or call 800-888-4869.

  • GREAT Advice About Cruising Western Florida’s Big Bend Region

    I have lost count of the number of times I’ve said this, but it bears repeating. If you get a dozen veteran cruisers together, you will get at least twenty different opinions about how best to cross Western Florida’s waterwayless “Big Bend” region. For those who have never cruised these waters, the Western Florida’s ICW’s northern terminus is at Anclote Key, while the Northern Gulf ICW does not begin its east to west trek until one reaches Dog Island and the charming village of Carrabelle.
    In between is better than a hundred miles of coastline, with a LARGE shelf of shallow water jutting for miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. These shallows are pierced at fairly regular intervals by man-made channels, leading to the Big Bend rivers such as the Crystal, the Withlacoochee, the Suwanee and the Steinhatchee. Some of these entrance passages are fairly reliable, while others are not.
    So, rather than follow the Big Bend coastline, staying several miles offshore, some mariners choose to cut the corner, and head (northbound) directly for Dog Island or Panama City.
    Whichever route you choose, there ARE challanges. Some day I must relate the story of the most disastrous yacht deliver in which I ever participated, all of which took place in the Big Bend region. But that’s another story for another day.
    For now, let’s all give a good listen to the excellent advice offered by veteran cruiser Captain Bob Duthie below. His words are well worth your time!

    I enjoyed reading this post as it sounded similar to our experience crossing the gulf. The unforecasted winds in the gulf on our trip blew up at night unlike what we were used to everywhere else where the winds tend to die down at night. On our crossing the night winds came from the north-east. There are a few things that might make a more comfortable crossing compared to the course that Muddy Waters took. We did the crossing in a 36 Grand Banks with no stabilizers. We had 4 adults aboard and changed the watch after dark every hour. The autopilot did all the steering and we planned a straight line course without any deviations.
    1. Leave from Carrabelle and go staight to Tarpon Springs which is 168 miles vs 180 miles for Appalcahcola to Clearwater. This means less time on the gulf.
    2. Stay 50 miles from shore in deep water to avoid all the crab pots that are found 20 miles from shore. Don’t follow the Big Bend.
    3. With north-east or north-west winds you will be rolling uncomfortably. Since you are 50 miles out, you can turn to the east so the winds are now on the bow/stern or one quarter. This reduces or eliminates the rolling.
    Slow down from 8 mph to 5 mph since you don’t want to get too close to shore at night and the slower speed makes it easier to take the waves. The up and down motion is much easier for people and all the stuff inside than rolling. The autopilot also can maintain a straight course.
    4. I estimated the highest wave at 8 ft when the bow platform was buried once into a wave with green water coming over and along the decks.
    5. At 5:00AM the sun came up and the wind died down. At about 10 miles off Cedar Key we changed course and headed for Tarpon Springs. The strings of crab pots were now easy to see.
    6. Overall it took us 24 hours vs a planned 18 hours and we went 25 miles further due to the change in course.

  • “Druggies” Using Crab Pots In the Gulf of Mexico??????

    OK, folks, everyone has to take a look at this series of messages just copied from the AGLCA forum. All I can add is that this reminds me very much of the lyrics of one of my favorite 1960’s songs:

    “It’s a strange, strong world we live in, Master Jack!”

    Memsahib was stopped by Homeland Security for a routine document check about 10 miles south of Tarpon Springs. The Coasties didn’t even come aboard — we just handed them our papers and that was it. But it was a nice day and they hung around talking about the boat and the trip. etc.
    One of my comments was that I couldn’t understand the economics of the stone crab business because on our Gulf crossing we started seeing pots 32-35 miles out of Tarpon in 50 feet of water. How could anyone afford to fish those traps? The boss security guy became very, very interested and asked if they were rows or singles (singles and pairs), whether there was evidence of any otherpot lines in the area (no), whether we saw any suspicious boats (no — just that night’s Looper Flotilla). Seems that planes are dropping drugs way out and marking them with crab pot floats so nobody thinks anything about it.
    Thanks to a rendezvous with Catmandu to dodge pots, we were exactly on the rhumb line to Buoy R4, so I was able to give them a pretty accurate description of where the pots were, but I didn’t have my tracking feature turned on, so couldn’t give them a GPS fix.
    I would strongly suggest that if any future crossers see single spots way out in deep water, that they plug in a waypoint and phone it in when you land. Also, that’s another good reason to reach Crabland well after dawn,
    since running into a black Cigarette boat full of drug fishermen wouldn’t be any more fun than snagging a pot line.

    For what’s it worth, when we came across last week, the crab pots appeared to be in straight lines, typical of normal fishing style. When we saw a single, we sometimes had to really look for its mates but normally saw them. Also, we observed typical lobster boats working those traps. That said, everyone should stay alert to suspecious activity. Cruisers are the best eyes and ears for Homeland Security and they know it.
    Stay safe,

    Tom’s right, what appear to be isolated pots could well be in lines so far apart that they are hard to spot. Still, I felt badly that I couldn’t give them a good fix, and hope any ohters spotting really dodgy ones will do so.

  • Praise for C-Quarters Marina, Carrabelle, FL, Northern Gulf

    C-Quarters Marina - Click for Chartview

    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.

    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,

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of C-Quarters Marina

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