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Old 08-10-2012, 07:11 AM   #1
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Planning Fort Myers to Key West Cruise -Help

My wife and I switched from a 23' Sailfish to a 30' Sundowner tugboat last winter. We took a couple of short trips and this November want to take a longer cruise from Fort Myers to Key West. We'd like to take to take the east coast one way and the west coast the other. The Sea Turtle can do 6-7 knots and we are planning on around 2-3 weeks with 3-4 days in Key West. Looking for input/advice on routes, anchorage, dockage, and anything else we should know. Thanks.
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:07 AM   #2
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard! Nice looking vessel. One point. Check the water levels in Lake Oka'.
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:12 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.

When planning trips, I find the guide books to be a great start. Boating retailers will have them. anazon.com will have most.

https://activecaptain.com/X.php is another great resource for cruise planning.
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:24 AM   #4
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Tugboat Patty??? Is that Fred Keith's old boat?

Welcome! Good to see another Sundowner on the forum.
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:30 AM   #5
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Welcome aboard, nice looking boat!
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:06 AM   #6
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Hi ST Welcome from another Lee county boater. I'd definitely skirt as close to land as possible in this size boat. Nice to be able to duck in behind an island if you need a break from the seas we've had the last several "winters". PM if you'd like some in depth upper keys tips (lived there until just recently). Would love to hook up as we've been looking for trawler boating buddies. Assuming you're not snowbirds?

Give yourself 2 days to get from Naples to Channel 5 bridge (overnight around Shark River, take bug spray as they are likely still gonna be an issue). Once there you can decide which side of the Keys you want to run depending on prevailing winds.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:29 AM   #7
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Yes it is Fred's boat - we bought it in December.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:50 AM   #8
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Cool!
Fred emailed me at least once a week for over a year with questions. Knew he was trying to sell her and he stopped emailing so I assumed he did.
Hope you're enjoying your Sundowner!
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:01 AM   #9
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Sounds like a fun trip! If you you spend any time in the Miami area on the trip stop by my store. I'd love the chance to meet you. If you need any advise on the Miami area send me a PM with your questions.
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:10 AM   #10
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Plenty of water in the lake right now, a little over 6' minimum depth. I've found the corp's depth measurements to be very accurate in the past. I draw 3'4", I go through as long as they say 4' or more.

With as much rain as we have been having since debby you should be fine through the next few months. Here is a link to show the depths.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers®*— Jacksonville District

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Old 08-10-2012, 10:57 AM   #11
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Thanks for the link Doug. I'd deleted this one and been missing it.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:02 AM   #12
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A good way to do the trip is to loop through the OWW, down to the Keys, and back up the West Coast. The "Hilton Head to Boca Grande 08" page on our blog has our trip down to Key West through Hawk Channel and straight back to San Carlos Bay from Key West. A couple of pages have our OWW crossings.

From Key Largo down there are few anchorages on that side. One we use is Rodriguez Key. You can anchor either side depending on the wind. It is a long dinghy ride from there to any shore facilities. Marathon is a good provisioning stop. Key West is a hoot. Leave plenty of time to see the freaks. The food is wonderful.

We cruise a little faster, so some of the other guys will have more anchorage info. I will suggest if going or coming on the West side that there are good anchorages at Marco and Naples. Marco is about 100 miles from Key West. We ran from Key West green marker 1 to San Carlos Bay entrance in 4 hours.

According to your air draft there are two good crossings to Hawk Channel. The lower end of Vaca Key (Marathon) and Channel 5.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dougcole View Post
Plenty of water in the lake right now, a little over 6' minimum depth. I've found the corp's depth measurements to be very accurate in the past. I draw 3'4", I go through as long as they say 4' or more.

Doug
Doug, I draw 3'9", and being as how the shallowest spot in the channel from Clewiston to the Lake is cut from coral rock, I like a little more margin. Moonstruck has no keel protection. If it is that close, I go around through the Keys. I had a friend that hit there. It ruined his cruising season and many boat bucks.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:07 PM   #14
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I love that run.

In random order...

Nice little marina/campground on the freshwater side of Franklin Lock - we use the ramp there.

If you approach KW from the Gulf side, make sure you clear the East Jetty which can be awash on some tides.

There's a delightful protected harbor at Bahia Honda. Approach from the Gulf side, tie up and walk a block to the Atlantic side beach.

Another great protected hidey hole is No Name harbor on Key Biscayne.

Manitee Pocket is a nice place to anchor...many shoreside facilities.

Pay attention for recent shoaling at Bakers Haulover.

We always do a side trip up the New River at Lauderdale. We anchor off Secret Woods Park (have seen many Manitee there) or hook out for the night just above Red 20 at the ICW/New River junction - love being in the backyard of those multimillion dollar mansions.

And finally, get used to the plethora of signs:
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Old 08-10-2012, 01:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Doug, I draw 3'9", and being as how the shallowest spot in the channel from Clewiston to the Lake is cut from coral rock, I like a little more margin. Moonstruck has no keel protection. If it is that close, I go around through the Keys. I had a friend that hit there. It ruined his cruising season and many boat bucks.
Understood, I bumped twice in that exact spot in 2007. The corps was saying 3' 6" was minimum depth, the people at Roland Martin's said we were the last cruising boat through that year. Our props are pretty well protected by our big, fat keel.

Also, the keys around trip presents problems of its own for our slow rolly boat. For you, with the speed and seaworthiness of your Sabre, it is a much easier trip. Shallow water worries me less than a big open water run.

Still, though, if they are saying 6' minimum depth, anyone with less than 5' draft should go right on through with no concerns. Just stay in the channel.

I think things were so bad in the lake in 2007 and 2008 that now boaters are more afraid of it than they should be. There are lots of places in Florida where you can go aground on rocky/coral/oyster bottoms and royally mess up your running gear.

We have been through 5 or 6 times now since 2007 with no issues at all,
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Old 08-10-2012, 01:20 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Dougcole View Post

I think things were so bad in the lake in 2007 and 2008 that now boaters are more afraid of it than they should be. There are lots of places in Florida where you can go aground on rocky/coral/oyster bottoms and royally mess up your running gear.

We have been through 5 or 6 times now since 2007 with no issues at all,
I have been through 3 times since then with no problems other than scheduled lock openings. Without that we make from Stuart to Boca Grande in one day. In 2007 we had to go around by cutting across at Marathon into Hawk Channel. We ran the 160 miles from Boca Grande Pass to Marathon in one pull. Got there about 2 in the afternoon. Sometimes speed is good.
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:28 PM   #17
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I have been through 3 times since then with no problems other than scheduled lock openings. Without that we make from Stuart to Boca Grande in one day. In 2007 we had to go around by cutting across at Marathon into Hawk Channel. We ran the 160 miles from Boca Grande Pass to Marathon in one pull. Got there about 2 in the afternoon. Sometimes speed is good.
No doubt about that. That is the main reason we have our current boat on the market, as great as she has been we want to buy a little more speed.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:56 PM   #18
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Thanks to all for the great information and suggestions. We are looking forward to a fun and safe trip.
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:12 AM   #19
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Plan on motoring out to Ft Jefferson , great place to visit.

The Federalies may come aboard to view and perhaps test your holding tank.

be prepaired,

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Old 08-11-2012, 10:25 AM   #20
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Plan on motoring out to Ft Jefferson , great place to visit.

The Federalies may come aboard to view and perhaps test your holding tank.

be prepaired,

FF
On all my trips to KW, the weather has never been favorable for a run to Ft Jeff. And did you know, Bimini is closer to Lauderdale than Ft Jeff to KW.
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