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Old 08-22-2018, 09:11 PM   #1
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Florida trip planning help for a west coast guy?

I'm under contract to buy a 63' trawler that is located in Florida. Assuming we make it through survey, it will close sometime in September. I plan to move the boat to Vancouver or Victoria no later than early spring to prepare for cruising in BC and Alaska for the summer season.

So I expect to find myself with a boat in Fort Lauderdale or Stuart from about October 1 to February or so. Can any of you Florida locals or experienced east coast cruisers help me out with some suggested destinations and/or routes to use the boat this winter? I would like to take advantage of the location and visit some favorite spots along the Florida coast and/or Bahamas, or even out into the Caribbean. Where would you go if you had 4 or 5 weeks (a week or 2 at a time) over the winter to experience the best of the area?

We will spend some time nearby learning and shaking down the boat first, but would like to get out and cruise after that. My wife and I will be on the boat and likely another couple. I don't want to look back after the boat is on the west coast and wish I had done this or that while I was in Florida and had the chance. So it's pretty wide open - what would you do?
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:19 PM   #2
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Keys Mon

Why not make your way down to the keys? and from the keys to the Dry Tortuga national park to fort Jefferson.
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:24 PM   #3
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Not really an answer to your question but there are sales tax consequences to keeping the boat in FL post sale if you plan on eventually leaving FL. I believe the limit is 90 days but not sure. You want to have a strategy.
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:37 PM   #4
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I would be tempted to scoot up to Charleston, SC and cruise South in and out of the AICW sampling the cities and towns alone the way. Weather and temperatures should be pleasant from Charleston south in October and November.

Certainly the Bahamas could be good depending on the weather.

Staying on the East coast certainly gives you weather protection in the AICW.

You could also cross through Lake Okeechobee to the west coast and cruise in protection from Fort Myers to maybe Tarpon Springs.

With a boat of that sizes, you certainly don't need to hide in the ICW, but it's nice to cruise the Gulf or the Atlantic when it's nice, and be comfortable inside when it's not.

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Old 08-22-2018, 11:14 PM   #5
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Not really an answer to your question but there are sales tax consequences to keeping the boat in FL post sale if you plan on eventually leaving FL. I believe the limit is 90 days but not sure. You want to have a strategy.
Good point and definitely a concern of mine. I have an attorney handling the purchase and providing advice to hopefully avoid any tax surprises.
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:19 PM   #6
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Why not make your way down to the keys? and from the keys to the Dry Tortuga national park to fort Jefferson.
Good idea and one that I will look into. I was in Key West a couple years ago and their was a lot of skinny water. I imagine there is enough depth through the keys if you pick your spots, but I need to do some homework. Any issues getting a 7í draft boat there with some planning?
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:25 PM   #7
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I would be tempted to scoot up to Charleston, SC and cruise South in and out of the AICW sampling the cities and towns alone the way. Weather and temperatures should be pleasant from Charleston south in October and November.

Certainly the Bahamas could be good depending on the weather.

Staying on the East coast certainly gives you weather protection in the AICW.

You could also cross through Lake Okeechobee to the west coast and cruise in protection from Fort Myers to maybe Tarpon Springs.

With a boat of that sizes, you certainly don't need to hide in the ICW, but it's nice to cruise the Gulf or the Atlantic when it's nice, and be comfortable inside when it's not.

Ted
I hadnít thought of that but my wife would love Charleston.

We donít do hurricanes on the west coast so Iím still trying to figure out how to manage that risk. Does your exposure decrease substantially as you go north, or do you still have to have a hurricane plan in place if you are going north in October? Iím not wild about trying to protect a boat in a hurricane from 3,000 miles away, so Iím considering leaving the beast in the yard until Nov 30 and starting then. Too conservative?
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Old 08-23-2018, 05:27 AM   #8
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4-5 weeks a week or 2 at a time isn't enough time to do anything in the Caribbean. Go down to the Keys for a shakedown, maybe straight to Key West, plenty of draft there in the right places, then the Exuma's in the Bahamas. Second choice, the Abaco's.
Anything else and you would spend too much time in transit to enjoy a destination.

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Old 08-23-2018, 07:43 AM   #9
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Take some time to head a little north and hit Vero Beach and Cocoa (Space Program).
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Old 08-23-2018, 09:02 AM   #10
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I hadnít thought of that but my wife would love Charleston.

We donít do hurricanes on the west coast so Iím still trying to figure out how to manage that risk. Does your exposure decrease substantially as you go north, or do you still have to have a hurricane plan in place if you are going north in October? Iím not wild about trying to protect a boat in a hurricane from 3,000 miles away, so Iím considering leaving the beast in the yard until Nov 30 and starting then. Too conservative?
I live in Fort Myers, FL during the winter and summer in Maryland. As far as hurricanes, my insurance (which seems a good barometer for risk) halfs the cost of my insurance for being out of FL until November 1st. I usually head South after the 1st of October. While I offer no guarantees, based on what now is expected to be a more modest hurricane season (check for yourself), I would consider heading to Charleston the fist of October to enjoy the Fall.

Considering you will likely only do this once, you might want to see about a hurricane haul out agreement. Considering the size of your boat, you might want to have an arrangement with a boatyard that can haul or secure your boat. If you were to go to Charleston, I would consider one of the two major yards just below Savannah, GA, Thunderbolt Marine or Hinckley's yatch service.

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Old 08-23-2018, 01:50 PM   #11
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Good idea and one that I will look into. I was in Key West a couple years ago and their was a lot of skinny water. I imagine there is enough depth through the keys if you pick your spots, but I need to do some homework. Any issues getting a 7í draft boat there with some planning?


The Cruise ships draw 20-30 feet and have no problem in Key West. You wonít either. : )
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Old 08-23-2018, 06:39 PM   #12
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Great suggestions. I'm really liking the idea of heading north and then working our way back down in October and November. December and January can be Bahamas and maybe we work in a keys run at some point. Thanks and please add any more suggestions that come to mind. Having some local perspective is a big help.
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Old 08-23-2018, 10:51 PM   #13
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Some of my favorites and some on my to visit list heading South:

Charleston
Hilton Head Island
Savannah (stay at Isle of Hope)
Brunswick
Cumberland Island
Fernandina Beach
Jacksonville
St. Augustine
New Smyrna Beach
Fort Pierce
Stuart

Some you cand spend days at like Charleston and Savannah. Others are for one day. A few are sightseeing stops such as Cumberland Island and the ruins of Dungeness. Whether you travel from dock to dock, like to anchor and experience nature, prefer the cities, or crave the less visited areas, Charleston to Miami has all sorts of interesting places to visit.

Ted
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Old 08-26-2018, 10:06 AM   #14
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"Thanks and please add any more suggestions that come to mind."

Heading North may require heat , esp if you get a cold snap when air cond reverse cycle fails , about 40F.

My guess would be on a new to you boat staying somewhere where parts and help is easy to find might work well.

Are you going to motor thru the Panama Canal and bash your way North to Alaska?

I would want to do some serious shakedown trips first , not just put putting in the ICW.
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Old 08-26-2018, 10:45 AM   #15
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Great list, I've added a couple of my thoughts to this.

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Some of my favorites and some on my to visit list heading South:

Charleston - city marina had free shuttle to and from downtown and there are plenty of Ubers.
Hilton Head Island
Savannah (stay at Isle of Hope)
Brunswick - stay at MorningStar Marina (old Golden Isles Marina) on the St Simons side. National will being you a car which you can leave at the marina if you wish.
Cumberland Island - agree on the one day stop here. The walk to the beach is short and it is a spectacular ocean beach. It is only 45 minutes over to Fernandina, so after the day you can go over there late afternoon.
Fernandina Beach. Matthew totally destroyed the marina. The funds have now been appropriated to rebuild (from FEMA and the city). There are noises that they are going to move it a bit more towards the inlet to reduce the silting issues they have always had. We tried to book in there last night on our way past as they have some dockage. But here is the latest; they have space for four boats up to 45 feet only. No fuel or pump out. They still have a mooring field which looks about half of what it was. It was about 30% full yesterday.
Jacksonville - I would say more Jacksonville Beach. Downtown is a long run and there is not much there unless you want to tie up for a Jags game or the Times Union Center. Docking along the wall is free for up to 72 hours. There is River City Brewing Company marina right downtown across the river as well. There are two great marinas in JAX Beach, Palm Cove which we favor or Beach Marine. Close to supermarkets and restaurants.
St. Augustine - plan multi days here. So much to do and see, and one of the friendliest cities on the planet. Start off by taking the little train to see the city and hear its history. Then do some sightseeing, not forgetting the Alligator Farm and lighthouse across the river on Anastasia Island. The city Marina is right downtown, just watch the currents at flow. Conch House and Comanche are good too, just an Uber or long walk from downtown.
Adding Palm Coast. Two choices. Palm Coast Marina to the West, good marina with the European Village a short walk away with lots of quality restaurants and shopping. Hammock Beach Resort to the East. Resort Marina, fairly priced given you have the run of the resort. Pool right by marina, shuttle run on request to the main resort which has multiple restaurants, pools and is right by the beach. We usually spend the July 4th weekend there.
New Smyrna Beach
Adding Cocoa. Nice marina right downtown and very nice restaurants within a block or two.
Adding Vero Beach. Great city marina, walk to beach, city shuttle runs to and from the marina. Good restaurants within walking distance. Publix across the bridge - walk there, Uber back.
Fort Pierce
Stuart

Some you cand spend days at like Charleston and Savannah. Others are for one day. A few are sightseeing stops such as Cumberland Island and the ruins of Dungeness. Whether you travel from dock to dock, like to anchor and experience nature, prefer the cities, or crave the less visited areas, Charleston to Miami has all sorts of interesting places to visit.

Ted
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Old 08-26-2018, 10:51 AM   #16
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FF, good point on the cold snap. Its easy to forget when its hot every day that before long the temps start to drop. I’m thinking we likely won’t go north of Charleston and will be back south in November, so I would think temps would be pretty moderate.

I’m with you on the shakedown period. We are going to put a few weeks and a lot of miles on the boat before heading far offshore. The boat is set up to run long distances (including redundant systems) and has done so with good maintenance. I’m optimistic that the shakedown period will be more training for me than de-bugging the boat, but I’m preparing for both.

We are going to have it transported on a freighter to Vancouver or Victoria, BC. There are long stretches of that run that I’m not really interested in doing in the boat. Doing it as a delivery would be a huge grind and doing it as a pleasure cruise would take months. I hate to pass up a great adventure, but I would rather spend those weeks/months at our start point or destination rather than on that trip.
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Old 08-26-2018, 11:00 AM   #17
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IMO leave the boat east for a year and cruise the entire coast.
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Old 08-26-2018, 11:01 AM   #18
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Menzies, thanks so much for the additional suggestions and info on OC Diver’s list. That local knowledge is really valuable to help work out an itenerary and timing from afar. I really appreciate the help. Its pretty time-consuming to research all along the route so this info gives me a big head start. Local knowledge and recent/current experience is irreplaceable.
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Old 08-26-2018, 11:56 AM   #19
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IMO leave the boat east for a year and cruise the entire coast.
That would be nice but I donít think its in the cards. Our plan all along has been to have a boat in BC/Alaska, and this time on the east coast is just a bonus since thatís where we found the boat.
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Old 08-26-2018, 11:58 AM   #20
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Unless the boat you are buying has been in constant use there will be maintenance items to deal with from disuse. You may be surprised just how long it takes to get things done at a boatyard too..... In other words, you may not be able or even will want to move aboard and start cruising that same day, even if you do you might find yourself a few weeks later with a long list of items needing specialized attention. And do not think that you will get them all fixed in a week or two, either. Most yards and all really good ones have a backlog and as we approach the winter boating season lots of other people are wanting to prepare their boats too.

If that’s the case, you could do worse than JAX: at least two good yards, nearby shopping, several really good dining and entertainment districts and many marine support businesses. It’s not a tourist town, but it IS a good place to take care of business.
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