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    • Navigating From Marco Island/Goodland and Coon Key Pass to Everglades City (Southwestern Florida Coastline)

       As southwestern Florida cruising veterans will tell you, there is an UNOFFICIAL waterway which runs behind Marco Island, and eventually, all the way north to Gordon Pass and Naples. The “unofficial” part means that this passage is NOT part of the Western Florida ICW and is therefore not maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
      The shallowest spot on this unofficial Waterway lies near its southern terminus, hard by the southern tip of Marco Island, which is occupied by the fast developing (but still interesting) village of Goodland. Here, you can easily encounter 4 1/2 foot soundings right in the middle of the channel at low water.
      Also, a bit farther to the north, where the channel passes under the (northern) Marco Island Bridge, there is an UNBELIEVABLE “L” turn in the channel, just southeast of the span. You MUST pass marker #26 to its eastern and southern sides, or your vessel’s keel WILL find the bottom!!!!!
      The southernmost point of this “unofficial Waterway” is known as Coon Key Pass. Cruising craft must traverse the “shallow spot” near Goodland, and then cruise through Coon Key Pass, if they are southbound to Everglades City, Little Shark River or the Florida Keys via this “unofficial waterway route.” Of course, you can avoid all of this by staying offshore, being sure to stay well clear the vast Cape Romano Shoals, and then continuing south.
      The messages below pertain to cruising south from Marco Island/Goodland, via Coon Key Pass.

      What is the water depth? It looks very shallow. We are heading to Marco on Wednesday and could go to Goodland on our way to Everglades City…IF there is water!
      One September

      We’ve been thru Marco to Goodland several times in our boat which drafts 4 ft and haven’t had a problem. The most challenging spots were just after leaving the Marco Bridge (toward Goodland) and when exiting from Goodland back to the Gulf at Coon Key. Pay attention to the tides and charts and it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s our preferred route to avoid Cape Romano Shoals.
      Steve and Gina Smith
      M/V Island Time

      We draw 42″. Go at high tide, or close to it. It’s a soft bottom.
      Swing Set

      The moon is full, now. Even though the tidal amplitude isn’t much we discovered that inches count!. After poking around south of Cape Romano we decided that the charts were not accurate enough to go into some of the places that warn of 4 feet or less at MLW. Consequently, we headed directly to Marathon because we were in the area at full moon tide and the tide cycle was wrong for us to make a daylight entry into some of the places south of Goodland. We went into Goodland in a friend’s outboard runabout below half tide. At one point the channel was narrow and too shallow to get Sequel in and out, safely. We opted for the Little Marco River and Capri Pass and, at that, there is an uncharted bar on the right of the pass entering the Little Marco where an island blew away in the last hurricane.
      Joe aboard M/V Sequel

      Two great anchorages on the way to Marathon are Russel Pass outside of Everglades City and Little Shark River. We found them to be one of the nicest anchorages to be at for an overnight stop.
      Michael Rizzo

      Have made the run from marco to everglades city outside many times, in both bad and good weather. if you trust your gps and the depth sounder you can pick your way through the shoals with no problem, once you have done it its a piece a cake. I draw 5.5 feet.
      Nick Chavasse

      Don’t forget about the 55′ bridge from Marco to Goodland.

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Goodland and Coon Key Pass

      Comments from Cruisers (3)

      1. Gaz Haring -  August 4, 2017 - 12:56 pm

        Has anyone been through the Cook Key Light / Gullivan Bay channel lately?
        Been a few years since last transited. Always a little dicey with tight places around and south of Coon Key Light. Wondering if still 4′ at MLW according to Coastal Pilot / charts and my personal observations. Aug 2017

        Reply to Gaz
      2. Stephan Mariani -  December 3, 2014 - 12:14 pm

        When navigation the southern side of Marco Island through Caxambas Pass, Caxambas Bay, and Sunset Pass, pay strict attention to the channel depth between markers R16 and G17. Hug the G17 and G15 markers to avoid possible grounding near R16. Avoid this passage at ANY tide less than HIGH. Sounds of 3.0′ to 2.8′ have been encountered here at HIGH tide.

        Reply to Stephan
      3. Stephan Mariani -  December 3, 2014 - 12:05 pm

        When cruising south from the Marco River, passing Goodland on your STBD side, hug marker R2 on your PORT side and choose the channel on the east side of Coon Key heading directly towards Coon Key Light. The western channel at this point is too narrow and shoaled for safe passage at any tide.

        Reply to Stephan
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