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Old 01-22-2018, 06:43 PM   #1
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West Coast of FL (GICW)

Hi all,

Looking for some input on the gulf ICW, specifically between Sarasota and Fort Meyers.

Working on the plans for a trip in late Feb/early March and asking for some input.

Currently keeping our boat in Clearwater area. In the last month have gone as far south as Sarasota in the GICW, wondering if there was much difference in controlling depth going south from there to Ft Meyers area.

We have gone from Fort Meyers north to Boca Grande in the past, not sure if the storm this past summer created any problems.

Have 5.5 ft. draft. Have looked at Active Captain, didn't pick up any trouble spots. Know that we will have a few bridges.

Also any local knowledge or experience with Longboat and Venice inlets?

Have been advised that both of the Sarasota passes are very much local knowledge. Will be avoiding them.

I expect it will be a combination of "inside" and "outside", just identifying options.

Thanks in advance,

Mark
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Old 01-22-2018, 07:00 PM   #2
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I have run this route multiple times from Tarpon Springs all the way down to the OWW.

The Venice inlet is very straight forward with no real issues. The Longboat inlet is on the other hand shifty and I would stay away from any of the Sarasota inlets.

I would suggest run the ICW across Tampa Bay and enter in the ICW on the south side by Anna Maria. Alternately, if it's nice out, you can run outside from Clearwater to Venice inlet. South of Venice, your next stop is Boca Grande. DO NOT try Stump Pass.


Watch the markers near Jewfish Key as they can be confusing. I have in the past run aground while thinking I was in the channel only to find I was not lining the markers up correctly.
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Old 01-22-2018, 07:06 PM   #3
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We went from Tampa bay to Pine Island two winters ago, no issues with depth in the Chanel.
We only need four feet for our 34' MT, have not noted any change since Irma,
others may have more recent updates. We were inside the whole time.
Our trip took two days with one night on the hook in the Venice area.
Enjoy the trip.
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Old 01-22-2018, 07:14 PM   #4
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Hurricanes Irma and Maria took place in 2017. I too have done this route many times, but not in the last three years, so I'll withhold my opinion. I saw what a difference the confluence of storms did here with Charlie, et al, so I'd be asking the same question as the OP if we were about to cruise there shortly.
One could also consult the LNMs. the CG and their towing company for latest local knowledge.
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Old 01-22-2018, 09:02 PM   #5
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You should be ok with your draft as long as you actually stay in the ICW. Lemon bay has some narrow stretches.
How fast do you expect to run? If more than 8 knots, run outside.
Btw, the porpoise love to swim under your boat and set off your depth alarm.
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Old 01-22-2018, 09:29 PM   #6
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Ran from Tarpon Springs to Fort Myers city in November without issue. Stayed in the ICW the whole way to sight see. I draw 4.5' and there were a number of snow bird sailboats doing the same. There is some tidal current in certain areas, so know your air draft and the bridges. Some are on demand; some are half hour; some are only hourly. In general, the on demand bridges in the areas with tidal current are real good about timing openings if you call in advance and are POLITE.

I didn't hear any spots less than 6.5' (depth alarm) the whole way. Don't remember any shallow spots <10'.

Ted
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Old 01-22-2018, 09:52 PM   #7
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I cruised from the LaBelle area on the Okeechobee waterway to Longboat Key early November and had no problems. Went outside at Boca Grande and went back in using the Venice Inlet with no problems. I draw 4’ and never had any shallow water. No real issues with the bridges, but the operator at the Siesta Key bridge is an on time Nazi— if you are 30 seconds late he will not open. Opens only on the half hour, so we had to float around for 30 minutes after missing the opening by less than a minute. So, the moral of my story is, don’t be late!
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Old 01-22-2018, 11:40 PM   #8
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I would think with a 59' boat, going outside would be faster and shorter....straight line travel and no bridges to worry about.
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Old 01-23-2018, 01:11 AM   #9
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Although it's been a few years since I have traveled this stretch, I feel confident echoing what "K9Medic" and "High Wire" said above. The passes in and out of Sarasota Bay are shifty. With five-plus feet of draft, local knowledge of those channels would be prudent.

As to Stump Pass, not only is the pass itself unreliable, but the ICW inside the pass can be quite shifty. The bottom comes up sharply as you get near the sides of the marked channel. To prove it I can point to a few square feet of submerged land, on the correct side of the markers, that scuffed up my bottom paint one night (drawing 5.5', just like you). Wound up waiting for the incoming tide to float us off. Message: watch your fatho and don't hug the side of the channel too close.

The ICW stretch from Boca Grande Pass to the Caloossahatchee River is one of my favorites. The anchorage just east of the flashing red #60 (off the east end of Cabbage Key) is a good overnight spot and convenient to the dining pleasures of the Cabbage Key Club or ashore on Useppa. In a blow, I have seen some fairly large yachts anchored in Pelican Bay (between Punta Rassa Is. and Cayo Costa), but haven't tried it myself.

Heading south across Sarasota Bay and again crossing Pine Island Sound, there are wide expanses with ample water depth, resulting in some long runs between markers. Be alert that the marker you are steering toward is actually the next one on the chart.

Enjoy!
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Old 01-23-2018, 06:38 AM   #10
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We love to anchor just inside Stump Pass and Blissboat is correct. Just outside the channel in that area shoals very quickly.
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Old 01-23-2018, 12:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k9medic View Post
... DO NOT try Stump Pass.
Really? They just dredged Stump Pass this past year and added the Groin. Is it already filled back in?

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Old 01-23-2018, 12:33 PM   #12
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Thank you all for your input.


I expect that we will run both inside and outside at varying times. Sometimes we just like to slow down and enjoy the ride. Also a different view on the inside, constantly changing.


Running off shore looks pretty much the same all the time.


We are used to the bridges on the southeast side of FL. Having 2 or 3 to open in a day is not bad.


I appreciate your input.


Mark
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Old 01-23-2018, 03:05 PM   #13
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I've done it several times. It's a very nice trip. We like going on the ICW.
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Old 01-23-2018, 07:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Really? They just dredged Stump Pass this past year and added the Groin. Is it already filled back in?

Sidney

It was a mess in August of last year.

I’ve done it in my 3.5’ draft but wouldn’t touch it with a 5’
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Old 01-23-2018, 07:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidney View Post
Really? They just dredged Stump Pass this past year and added the Groin. Is it already filled back in?

Sidney
Yes you cant even see the new rockpile from the marked channel. I went thru it 3 days ago in my skiff. There is decent water on the gulf side of land but there is one spot where it drops to ~4 ft on the inside between SP markers 8 and 10. They did not dredge that. I did turn off and follow a large catamaran down Ski Alley. Several 4 ft spots. He was kicking up a nice trail of sand in his wake but got through. No thanks!
Post IRMA aerial photo:
https://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/i...9636/-82.34116
The jetty fixed nothing!
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Old 01-23-2018, 08:27 PM   #16
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Got back about 2 weeks ago and we left Boca Grande in an abnormally low tide. We draw 5’. Lemon Bay near Englewood has a stretch where you need to be vigilant and favor one side. Otherwise I would say you will be fine. Active Captain really helps so look into that if you don’t have it. I have run the inlet at Venice and find it safe and easy. I was told to avoid longboat pass.
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