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Old 03-10-2013, 12:40 PM   #1
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Things to See in SW Florida

We have a charter lined up late next month on a KK 42 out of SW Fla Yacht Charters. Would love to know what would be on folks' A list for that area if you had 5 days to spend. We'll probably spend most nights on the hook, but won't rule out a mooring somewhere. We like to see the scenery, eat out occasionally, visit historical sites, fish and do some shelling.

Many thanks.
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Old 03-10-2013, 01:01 PM   #2
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We have a charter lined up late next month on a KK 42 out of SW Fla Yacht Charters. Would love to know what would be on folks' A list for that area if you had 5 days to spend. We'll probably spend most nights on the hook, but won't rule out a mooring somewhere. We like to see the scenery, eat out occasionally, visit historical sites, fish and do some shelling.

Many thanks.
You are going to what I consider a great cruising area. I am assuming that you will start at Burnt Store Marina on Charlotte Harbor. Punta Gorda is a decent stop with an anchorage nearby. Fishermans Village is OK, but touristy. Boca Grande is a great stop with an anchorage outside the harbor in calm weather or inside off Whiddens Marina. Whiddens is about the only place to land a dinghy. Ask permission. They will usually let you land on a very small private beach under overhanging bushes. (keep this one quiet. I don't want to ruin a good thing} I don't know the situation in the canal as there is a dispute whether it is private property. This is one of our favorite spots. Rent a golf cart at Boca Grande Marina. Nice village with good restaurants. Boca Grande Marina is a great place. but expensive.

Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa is good for a couple of nights. It is a state park, and the deserted beach goes for miles. Cabbage Key is a great stop for a meal. There is an anchorage off the channel across from the entrance.

For marinas I like Southseas on Captiva. Expensive, but worth it. Also a little farther down is Tween Waters. There was an anchorage near there, but I am not certain of the status now.

Then there is Sanibel Island. We love Grandma Dot's restaurant. Just below that is Ft. Myers Beach with a mooring field. The cheapest fuel around is usually at Ballard Oil there.

There is a lot of shallow water around. Keep it between the markers, and watch the narrow shallow spot going into Tween Waters.

We have spent several seasons in these waters, and love them.
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Old 03-10-2013, 02:24 PM   #3
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What a great set of options. Thanks, Don.
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Old 03-10-2013, 04:39 PM   #4
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We chartered down there a lot, though usually for a week or 10 days, starting in Sarasota. We usually anchored out all but one night, either a stop in Venice because we really liked the Crow's Nest restaurant there , and using the marina bikes to go into town, or at Naples City Dock for essentially the same reason. There are moorings at Naples too but at the time would not accommodate the boats we had.

Pelican Bay was a big favorite destination, great beaching hiking and biking (the park has rental bikes, as well as a tram across the island to the beautiful Gulf beach. We took the dinghy to Cabbage Key.
We visited Boca Grande once when we had to stop for repairs, had a good time renting a golf cart and generally screwing around for an afternoon and evening.

From there we'd usually go to the anchorage in the indentation on the north side of Sanibel just west of Tarpon Bay. Really pretty and usually not crowded. Take the dinghy through the little channel at high tide that connects to Tarpon Bay and explore around.

Then on to the 10,000 Islands, usually Indian Key / Russell Pass (we preferred the latter) for extensive wilderness dinghy exploration and genearl goofing around. Take dinghy or boat to Everglades City for lunch and a walk around... "Old Florida" especially in the off season. You'd want to check current depths in the channel if taking the big boat, call the Rod and Gun Club. A dinghy ride over to Chokaloskee is interesting too.

We like going on the inside route from Marco Island to Naples, but again get local knowledge for current conditions. Nice anchorage inside Hurricane Pass (which is not big-boat accessible from the Gulf.

Fantastic cruising area, especially if you like anchoring out and exploring undeveloped areas. Our personal view of places like South Seas is that if we wanted to do that, we'd take a car and stay at the resort (Which we did, once!) for a lot less money over all given the cost of the boat charter and the dockage. But to each their own, it's a matter of personal preference and fun either way.
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Old 03-10-2013, 07:48 PM   #5
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Thanks for the additional ideas, George. Exploration and goofing around sums up what we want to do mostly. Wish I could get away for more than a week. Two years and counting . . .
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Old 03-10-2013, 07:58 PM   #6
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The spots above mentioned by Don and George, We also enjoy Ft Myers for the Edisona and Ford Museums which are a short walk from the mooring or mooring field.
You can also anchor close to Useppa Island and dinghy across to Cabbage Key for a meal. The shelling on Sanibel is as advertised fantastic especially near the southern end not too far a walk from the marina.
I believe SW Fla Carters had a location across the river from Ft Myers also I was there a few years ago.
Active Captainss site can give you lots of information too.
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:39 PM   #7
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From Burnt Store it is only about 40-45 miles to the South end of Sanibel. If you want to make it that far, I suggest you skip Punta Gorda. My choices on a five day would be Boca Grande, Pelican Bay, Cabbage Key, and Captiva. You would have plenty of time for a relaxing cruise with a mixture of anchoring and marinas.

Pelican Bay can be a little tricky for a 5' draft to enter. Find marker 74 turn to starboard. You will see a sign very near shore on your starboard side. Go almost to it. Turn slightly to port and follow the beach line very closely. I mean to where it looks like you can almost put your foot on the beach. There is usually about 9' of water in that narrow channel. When you get passed that anchor in the 6-7' water to your port. It will get shallow as you proceed toward the state dock.
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:52 PM   #8
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^^^^
Wow, that is how I remember it from 9 years ago! I think we are headed over there in April or maybe the Bahamas???

21 feet and 53,000 lbs ago in Useppa on the Albin.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:13 PM   #9
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From Burnt Store it is only about 40-45 miles to the South end of Sanibel. If you want to make it that far, I suggest you skip Punta Gorda. My choices on a five day would be Boca Grande, Pelican Bay, Cabbage Key, and Captiva. You would have plenty of time for a relaxing cruise with a mixture of anchoring and marinas.

Pelican Bay can be a little tricky for a 5' draft to enter. Find marker 74 turn to starboard. You will see a sign very near shore on your starboard side. Go almost to it. Turn slightly to port and follow the beach line very closely. I mean to where it looks like you can almost put your foot on the beach. There is usually about 9' of water in that narrow channel. When you get passed that anchor in the 6-7' water to your port. It will get shallow as you proceed toward the state dock.
Good advice on Pelican Bay, I don't think we have ever been in there with less than 5 ft draft.
The charter company should be able to give you a bunch of local knowledge, but you have to take them with a grain of salt because they want you to boat as "conservatively" as possible. The local Tow Boat US and Sea tow guys are pretty good for info too.

Pelican Bay and Cabbage Key as individual days seems a little boring to me, as you can go over to CK in the dinghy for lunch; much rather have that extra day in PB or go down to Ding Darling. For that matter you could take the dink to BG from PB as well but not a very attractive idea. I mean, why not just drive to Boca Grande and a marina at Captiva in a car, what does going by boat bring to the party? And three days at PB, BG, and CK are confined to such a small area. It's kind of different when you are on your own boat and not tied to a schedule. A charter, every day is precious, so why not do stuff and go places you can only do by boat? Well, that's my opinion...
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:42 PM   #10
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George, you are quite right that Boca Grande and Captiva can both be reached by car. I just don't think you get the same experience when you arrive by car. When going by boat you go to bed and wake up with the community. You are more immersed in the experience. Plus there is just something more exciting to me arriving in a new harbor. Marina Jack's in Sarasota and the Crows Nest at Venice can both be reached by car, but it is not the same experience.

For my style of cruising, I would do one night at Boca, 2 nights at Pelican Bay, stop at Cabbage Key, then one or two nights at Captiva.

I could spend two nights at Southseas. The restaurants there are good. Then there is the Mucky Duck, the Bubble Room, and the Green Flash restaurants in the village. I just enjoy it all. Everything is very first class at Southseas. Nice after a few nights at anchor.

I love Grandma Dot's at Sanibel Harbor. It is also a short walk to good shelling. There is much to do. Naples is wonderful, but too far for the time. You could drive there also.

Useppa Island is beautiful. It is private and by invitation only. Steve is right there are two anchorages there. One off the main channel from the ICW, and one on the East side of the island.

That's just my style of cruising.
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Old 03-10-2013, 11:40 PM   #11
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I appreciate these great recommendations from all of you. We'll start planning seriously for this in a week or so when we get back from Brussels/Paris. The forecast is for snow and freezing temps for much of our stay over there, so I'll be doing a lot of dreaming of SW Florida.
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Old 03-11-2013, 06:28 AM   #12
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GULFPORT ,,, Boca Siega Bay

Great holding , dozens of eateries and the town welcomes boaters with a free no hassle dink dock.

Library is walking distance for wi fi , tho some resturiants also provide the service.

Good used book store to top off the library.

NOT a "designated anchorage" so you will need the anchor light.

Key West feeling like 40 years ago.
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:56 AM   #13
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This is our home cruising area and know it well, but don't have much to add to all the great suggestions from Moonstruck and others.
We are not as restrained by draft as others are but one should be aware that most of SW Fla waters are very skinny. The instructions for entering Pelican Bay are spot on. Once in and near the docks, one can turn to port and find good water.
The anchorage just west of Tarpon Bay near Sanibel is one of our favorites also and has good water almost in to the mangroves and good holding.
Its a fantastic cruising area and I am sure you will have a great time.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:46 AM   #14
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This is my cruising area as well. Don of Moonstruck did the best job of describing this excellent cruising area. Pelican Bay is one of my favorites but know how to get in before you attempt it.
Tween Waters was mentioned briefly and I will add this is one of my favorite marina stops. I don't believe they still allow anchored boats off their docks, but their docks can handle any boat that can get to them.
You've picked one of the best cruising areas in FL, enjoy.
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:09 AM   #15
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Capt. Tim, we liked the Tiki Bar at the pool at Tween Waters. The beach there is spectacular. I haven't been back for 7 years. My late wife and I stopped there to meet some friends on our way back from Hilton Head to Boca Grande. She wanted to make the trip. We left to go home on the 13th and she passed on the 27th. I just haven't wanted to go back. I think I should.

FF is right about Gulf Port. It also has some of the cheapest fuel in that area. I have run up there just to fuel sometimes. Everything from Tampa Bay South is good. I have kept a boat at St. Pete Beach, Bradenton, Venice, Boca Grande, and Key Largo. I like this area better than cruising the Keys. The Keys are great to run down to, but too windy much of the time. We had a little wind when my Boston Whaler was down there-------Hurricane Andrew!

I haven't checked Active Captain to see is the anchorage in Roosevelt Channel is still available. Maybe you could anchor but not land at Tween Waters. Jensons just up the way may work a deal for landing.
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:09 PM   #16
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There's the book "Over Florida". Good thing I have it as I'm not likely to see much of SE Florida on this thread "Things to see in SW Florida". I keep checking and only one photo.
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:34 PM   #17
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Some pictures of SW FL
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Old 03-11-2013, 01:36 PM   #18
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Timjet, where it the location of the second to last picture, Marina Jack?
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Old 03-11-2013, 01:56 PM   #19
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[qoute]George, you are quite right that Boca Grande and Captiva can both be reached by car. I just don't think you get the same experience when you arrive by car. When going by boat you go to bed and wake up with the community. You are more immersed in the experience. Plus there is just something more exciting to me arriving in a new harbor. Marina Jack's in Sarasota and the Crows Nest at Venice can both be reached by car, but it is not the same experience.[/quote]

I get your drift, but the difference is, spending one night out of 7, or 10 for that matter, at the dock vs the majority of nights at the dock.

And, the perspective of a charterer, taking a special type of vacation. We spent the money on chartering, which is just not the fee for the boat and fuel, etc, but the air travel and other expense to get to the destination, to have a very unique experience. When we went to the PNW or the Delta, we spent zero nights at the dock. We wanted to go places and be places and enjoy nature that could only be done by boat. Sure a day trip to Victoria or take a day mooring at Buchart Gardens or a visit to the spa at Rosario or lunch at Old Sacramento or Rio Vista would get worked in for variety, but no overnights. I always felt like those day trips deducted from boating, but there they were and were cool places. We like to anchor out or take a mooring therefor we boat. Everyone has their own reasons for boating.

We had a super time when we "land" vacationed at South Seas many years ago. Likewise Clearwater Beach and Rosario. And in each case that included renting a boat and going fishing!
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:47 AM   #20
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Timjet, where it the location of the second to last picture, Marina Jack?
Yup, Good catch.
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