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Old 08-12-2017, 02:25 PM   #1
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Ft Myers to Alabama

Hey all. My husband and I purchased a 1980 Grand Banks 36' in Ft Myers and we will be cruising it back to Alabama soon after we complete some repairs. We have 85pds of furry love traveling with us (my husband's service dog) so we will definitely be stopping twice a day to find soil either anchoring out or at marinas. Our draft is 4 ft, so we plan to cross the gulf rather than taking the armpit of FL since much of it looks too shallow. Any suggestions on best places to stop along the way from Ft Myers to Cedar Keys to accommodate the dog and our draft? Appreciate any suggestions!
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Old 08-12-2017, 04:58 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum! Might consider taking the ICW to Tampa or Crystal river. If you plan to anchor out, Cayo Costa state park is a real nice stop the first night with ample beaches for the pooch.

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Old 08-12-2017, 05:37 PM   #3
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Thanks Ted, I will check it out!
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Old 08-23-2017, 01:31 PM   #4
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I've done this same trip several times myself. Almost all of it at 8kts in a 3'8" draft boat. We cruise with both kids and dogs (just lost our dog in May though) and just returned from a trip to the Keys at the beginning of this month.


Here is my suggestion going north from Ft. Myers using mile marker 0 for the ICW at Cape Coral -

Ft. Myers to Longboat Key - 73nm. Stop at the Aquamarine Palm Harbor marina for fuel. It's right on the ICW and it had the cheapest diesel I found on the west coast of Florida. Take a potty break for the dog at the Venice Avenue Boat Ramp. Anchor off the Mar Vista Restaurant or use one of the marinas on Longboat Key. (We splurged for the Moorings at Longboat one night. You can walk to Publix.)

Longboat Key to Tarpon Springs - 65nm. Stop at the free floating dock at McDonald's in Madeira Beach and grab groceries at the Publix. You can also stop in Indian Rocks Beach at the day dock. Pull into Caladesi Island at the state park marina instead of going all the way into Tarpon or anchor off Anclote if you wish. We go to Turtle Cove in Tarpon when we travel. Best diesel price was at Marker 1 marina off Caladesi/Honeymoon.

Tarpon Springs to Crystal River - 75nm. This is pretty much a straight run. Anchor in the bay or pull up to Pete's Pier.

Crystal River to Carabelle - 122nm. This too is a straight shot. Not much gained by going to Cedar Key or Steinahatchee. The water is too shallow especially in Cedar Key. Stay at the Mooring of Carrabelle. Eat across the street at the Fisherman's Wife Restaurant.

Carabelle to Panama City - 78nm. Plenty of places to stop along the way. Stay at the Panama City Marina.

Panama City to Pensacola - 96nm. Stay at the Palafox Pier and Marina. Plenty of places to eat within walking distance on Palafox St. (Hopjacks is my favorite)

Pensacola to Mobile - straight forward into Alabama. No sure of your final destination.
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Old 08-23-2017, 05:03 PM   #5
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Wow this is incredibly helpful information. Thank you so much for the detail. We cruise at 8knts as well. I'm looking forward to checking your recommendations out. Our final destination is near Florence AL, so we'll spend most of the last half of the trip on the Tenn-Tomm river.
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Old 08-23-2017, 05:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by k9medic View Post
I've done this same trip several times myself. Almost all of it at 8kts in a 3'8" draft boat. We cruise with both kids and dogs (just lost our dog in May though) and just returned from a trip to the Keys at the beginning of this month.


Here is my suggestion going north from Ft. Myers using mile marker 0 for the ICW at Cape Coral -

Ft. Myers to Longboat Key - 73nm. Stop at the Aquamarine Palm Harbor marina for fuel. It's right on the ICW and it had the cheapest diesel I found on the west coast of Florida. Take a potty break for the dog at the Venice Avenue Boat Ramp. Anchor off the Mar Vista Restaurant or use one of the marinas on Longboat Key. (We splurged for the Moorings at Longboat one night. You can walk to Publix.)

Longboat Key to Tarpon Springs - 65nm. Stop at the free floating dock at McDonald's in Madeira Beach and grab groceries at the Publix. You can also stop in Indian Rocks Beach at the day dock. Pull into Caladesi Island at the state park marina instead of going all the way into Tarpon or anchor off Anclote if you wish. We go to Turtle Cove in Tarpon when we travel. Best diesel price was at Marker 1 marina off Caladesi/Honeymoon.

Tarpon Springs to Crystal River - 75nm. This is pretty much a straight run. Anchor in the bay or pull up to Pete's Pier.

Crystal River to Carabelle - 122nm. This too is a straight shot. Not much gained by going to Cedar Key or Steinahatchee. The water is too shallow especially in Cedar Key. Stay at the Mooring of Carrabelle. Eat across the street at the Fisherman's Wife Restaurant.

Carabelle to Panama City - 78nm. Plenty of places to stop along the way. Stay at the Panama City Marina.

Panama City to Pensacola - 96nm. Stay at the Palafox Pier and Marina. Plenty of places to eat within walking distance on Palafox St. (Hopjacks is my favorite)

Pensacola to Mobile - straight forward into Alabama. No sure of your final destination.
Great info for all of us....
One thing to add, Madeira Beach Marina has pretty cheap gas at $2.54 now. (Across the waterway from the McDonalds mentioned above.

And k9medic, where is Aquamarine Palm Harbor marina? This is my neck of the woods and can't find it on Waterway or Active Captain or Google. The MacDonalds stop is great, groceries, a few new restaurant, Slice and Japanese Steak house, and drug store.

And the new boat day docks in Indian Rocks are a 1/4 mile south of the Walsingham bridge, walk the dog and plenty of restaurants there. I like Aqua Prime, but JDs and Crabby Bills are fine, too. Also a post office and CVS.

The above is a good reference.
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Old 08-23-2017, 06:42 PM   #7
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Seevee, I think I found Aquamarine on Active Captain. I'm sure k9medic can confirm:
https://activecaptain.com/quickLists...L&i=1116160115
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Old 08-23-2017, 07:26 PM   #8
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And k9medic, where is Aquamarine Palm Harbor marina? This is my neck of the woods and can't find it on Waterway or Active Captain or Google. The MacDonalds stop is great, groceries, a few new restaurant, Slice and Japanese Steak house, and drug store.

And the new boat day docks in Indian Rocks are a 1/4 mile south of the Walsingham bridge, walk the dog and plenty of restaurants there. I like Aqua Prime, but JDs and Crabby Bills are fine, too. Also a post office and CVS.

The above is a good reference.

Aquamarine is the old Palm Island Marina south of Stump Pass where the ferries cross. They changed owners about a year ago I think.

In Indian Rocks, we love going to Slyce Pizza. There is also one next to the McDonald's.

Like I mentioned, we just got back from a trip down the coast and I run from Crystal River south several times a year and have worked out what is best for both the kids and the dogs.

I forgot to mention, you can anchor off the Sheriff's dock on the north side of Jewfish Key if the anchorage at the Mar Vista is full. I may or may not have also just tied off to the Mar Vista dock overnight after a late dinner...
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:36 PM   #9
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First, may I respectfully suggest you train your dog to potty on an appropriate pad as stopping twice a day is simply not going to happen. K9 has the distances/stops right in his post. You will have to do an overnighter to cross the Gulf.

I have done the Crystal river to dog island and the Steinhatchee to dog island several times. If weather permits, anchor off at Crystal river and you can make Stein. 4 ft draft means you cross the bar at high (or at least rising) tide, Once in, the river is fairly deep. That's your daylight option.

The only alternative is to go from either Tarpon or Crystal straight to dog island/Carabelle. If you are in Tarpon springs a few days, you will meet plenty of people doing the crossing and can tag along,

Just remember, you will be over 100 miles offshore at night. Prepare accordingly, then it is a fun trip!
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:05 PM   #10
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Aquamarine is the old Palm Island Marina south of Stump Pass where the ferries cross. They changed owners about a year ago I think.

In Indian Rocks, we love going to Slyce Pizza. There is also one next to the McDonald's.

Like I mentioned, we just got back from a trip down the coast and I run from Crystal River south several times a year and have worked out what is best for both the kids and the dogs.

I forgot to mention, you can anchor off the Sheriff's dock on the north side of Jewfish Key if the anchorage at the Mar Vista is full. I may or may not have also just tied off to the Mar Vista dock overnight after a late dinner... :so cool:

Thx, good info!
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:12 PM   #11
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Here is a weather site I have had good results using when planning when to cross the corner of the Gulf.
Tampa Bay Surf Report (STORMSURF)
When it opens it will show the Gulf off Tampa Bay, just scroll down to the "MWxPro Control Panel". In the "Gulf of Mexico" line click on the "Sea height" Icon it will give you several days forecast at 6 hr intervals, you can pause or back it up using symbols the screen image.
If you have to wait for good weather head up to Tarpon Springs, it is a great place to stop.
Good Luck!
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Old 08-24-2017, 06:09 AM   #12
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First, may I respectfully suggest you train your dog to potty on an appropriate pad as stopping twice a day is simply not going to happen. K9 has the distances/stops right in his post. You will have to do an overnighter to cross the Gulf.

I have done the Crystal river to dog island and the Steinhatchee to dog island several times. If weather permits, anchor off at Crystal river and you can make Stein. 4 ft draft means you cross the bar at high (or at least rising) tide, Once in, the river is fairly deep. That's your daylight option.

The only alternative is to go from either Tarpon or Crystal straight to dog island/Carabelle. If you are in Tarpon springs a few days, you will meet plenty of people doing the crossing and can tag along,

Just remember, you will be over 100 miles offshore at night. Prepare accordingly, then it is a fun trip!
You know the saying "cant teach an old dog new tricks right?" When we started travelling with out Golden Retriever and our Dachshund they were 10 and 13 respectively. There was no way they were going to go anywhere but on grass. They were used to holding it while we were at work for at least 8 hours.


Side note as well, I don't think you get that much relief out of going to Stein. It's 8 miles from Kings Bay to mark 1 in Crystal River so that is an easy hour. You could leave around 0500 and be in Carabelle by 2000 doing 8 kts. and still have daylight.

Me personally, I'd rather travel with a rising sun than a setting sun.
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Old 08-24-2017, 06:10 AM   #13
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Seevee, I think I found Aquamarine on Active Captain. I'm sure k9medic can confirm:
https://activecaptain.com/quickLists...L&i=1116160115

That's the one.
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Old 09-01-2017, 08:09 AM   #14
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Boca Ciega bay at Gulfport is very protected and good anchoring.

There is a free city dink dock and a great almost Key West type bar/resturiant (Malloy?) .

One day a week ( Tues?) there is a farmers market with lots of vendors.

One of our favorite stops , the library has free fast Wi Fi.
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Old 09-04-2017, 10:21 PM   #15
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Here is a weather site I have had good results using when planning when to cross the corner of the Gulf.
Tampa Bay Surf Report (STORMSURF)
When it opens it will show the Gulf off Tampa Bay, just scroll down to the "MWxPro Control Panel". In the "Gulf of Mexico" line click on the "Sea height" Icon it will give you several days forecast at 6 hr intervals, you can pause or back it up using symbols the screen image.
If you have to wait for good weather head up to Tarpon Springs, it is a great place to stop.
Good Luck!
Thanks Steve, I will definitely take your advice and check this site. We had planned to depart much sooner than now, but repairs were lengthier than anticipated (I know that's a shock!) I sure wish we had been able to go, Hurricane Irma is quickly making plans of her own it seems.
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Old 09-10-2017, 08:53 PM   #16
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You know the saying "cant teach an old dog new tricks right?" When we started travelling with out Golden Retriever and our Dachshund they were 10 and 13 respectively. There was no way they were going to go anywhere but on grass. They were used to holding it while we were at work for at least 8 hours.
So my dock neighbors wife wanted to entertain their kids that also had a dog. She built a 2'x3' tray and literally placed grass sod in it for the dog. It took all of 5 seconds for the dog to assume the position.

It seemed crazy but it worked perfectly.
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Old 09-20-2017, 11:01 PM   #17
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I've read that as well. Darwin tends to be a high maintenance, have to find the "magical spot," kind of dog. So far he just lays on the tray when it is out. Lol

Irma of course delayed our trip and we are still in Ft Myers. Working on repairs and hoping to head out Friday finally and start heading up the coast. I really appreciate all of the great recommendations and tips. Keep them coming please
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