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Old 11-06-2013, 07:10 PM   #1
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Route Advice, Carrabelle FL to Steinhatchee or Tarpon Sp?

Greetings all. We are currently planning the voyage home with the newly purchased Jefferson 42, from Pickwick Lake TN to Cocoa FL. The route down the Tenn-Tom, Mobile Bay, ICW to Carrabelle seems straight forward. From there we are trying to weigh the pros and cons of what I believe the two common routes are, 1) Carrabelle to Steinhatchee, or 2) Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs. Not being familiar with the Gulf weather patterns and sea states during the first and second weeks of December, I'd like to ask fellow members' advice. Although we are not under any schedule, I'd like to be back to Cocoa by Christmas, meaning that we hoping for no more than three weeks from Pickwick to Cocoa. That is an artificial requirement and if we have to wait for the right weather anywhere along our route, we will, for as long as necessary. FYI we draft just under 4 feet, and I know that there is a lot of shoal water in that part of FL which must weigh on the decision.

What advice can the experienced locals offer us? Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-06-2013, 07:23 PM   #2
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It will depend on how confident you are in the boat. If memory serves right, it's about 50 miles across to Steinhatchee and 140 or so to Tarpon Springs. If you don't have to wait for weather it will take 2 extra nights to do the Steinhatchee route. I don't recommend doing close to the coast at night. You will be able to see the bottom most all way.

The preferred route to me is straight across. I really prefer going in at Clearwater Pass. That is a good pass you could do after dark. It's about 160 miles.

Everybody needs to do the crossing at least once.
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Old 11-06-2013, 08:20 PM   #3
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It’s too early to worry about it.

On your voyage down the Tenn. and the Tenn Tom you’ll meet a lot of loopers, some on their second time around, and get good advice in person which is worth a lot more than what you’ll get on this internet site.

Loopers gather in Carabelle and plan the crossing with the assistance of the local weather “guru” and often come to a joint decision to travel in a pact usually grouped by cruising speed.

Why Don says all boats should do the crossing is a mystery to me.

IM Joe Pica here at TF - he’s done it a bunch of times.

Mike
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:04 PM   #4
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Why Don says all boats should do the crossing is a mystery to me.

Mike
Hey Capt Mike. Long time no hear from you. I have crossed it about every way it can be done. I enjoy the boon docks around Steinhatchee and Cedar Key. Love Crystal River. While there is some touchy water around the area, it is a kicked back, old Florida kind of place. Making the crossing for a new cruiser can be a confidence builder. You have to learn to depend on your instruments and your boat.

You're right especially in the snowbird season, there is usually a group at Carabelle or Applachicola staging a crossing. There should be company out there.
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:56 PM   #5
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We have made the trip across several times in our Monk 36 From Apalachicola to either Tampa bay or Anlote Key/ Tarpon Springs. If you haven't been to Tarpon Springs I definitely recommend a day or two there, it is one of our favorite spots.
We leave Apalachicola through Government Cut around 2-3 pm and arrive off the west coast around daybreak the crab pot bouys start about 15 miles off shore so you want to transit that in daylight, If the weather looks less than Ideal we wait for a good window.
You will probably meet up with boaters making the trip, they will be able to give you more advice, good luck.
We have not had a bad crossing yet.
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Old 11-06-2013, 10:33 PM   #6
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I don't quite understand the need to travel in groups offshore. Upfront, you really have to decide - if someone in the group gets into trouble, will you stop? Will you help and ultimately turn back? I've always felt that you're increasing your risk of problems, not decreasing them by going with a group. It's much safer to keep your own boat well maintained and go by yourself. Jumping offshore with a group of loopers who have likely never been offshore away from land (or really out at night) without knowing how well they maintain their boats is just crazy. I'd surely be willing to go with one other boat but only if I were in their engine room prior to leaving to assess the condition of their running gear/engines.

Maybe it's just me...

We plan on jumping from Port St Joe to Clearwater. It's a cleaner pass and actually a rather short overnight. The key is to be willing to wait a week or more for great weather if needed.

We've done about 2 overnights, offshore every year for the last 11. This one seems like a pretty easy one compared to the much more open Atlantic Ocean. Still, it's something that we'll take very seriously before heading out.
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Old 11-07-2013, 12:17 AM   #7
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Agreed. I have singlehanded my sailboat from Alaska to the Gulf and also throughout the Caribbean. Whenever I hooked up with others, I became a babysitter, mechanic, psychoguide and fool. As you stated, unless you can inspect the other vessel, you will probably end up compromising your fun and safety.

Maybe it's just me too....There is always huge fun is meeting up with fellow voyagers and enjoying their companionship and stories, but there is no need to run side by side.
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Old 11-07-2013, 07:48 AM   #8
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I've done Apalachicola (via Governor's Cut) direct Tarpon and direct Clearwater half a dozen times this time of year. It's a chilly start, but you'll be in t-shirts and shorts by the time you hit the west coast. Wouldn't waste the fuel and time to head up to Carabelle. Hang out in Apalach either on the hook or at one of their many marinas (eating those scrumptious local oysters!) until you get a decent weather window and take off. Depart early afternoon.At 7-8 knots you'll cover the 144 NM in about 20 hours, well before noon the next day. As previously mentioned, you want daylight as you approach land to see the crab pots up to 20 miles off the west coast of FL. It's a neat trip in good weather. The stars look so close you could reach out and touch them. And if the moon is full, well....WOW! Enjoy and Good Luck!
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Old 11-07-2013, 11:13 AM   #9
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I've done Apalachicola (via Governor's Cut) direct Tarpon and direct Clearwater half a dozen times this time of year. It's a chilly start, but you'll be in t-shirts and shorts by the time you hit the west coast. Wouldn't waste the fuel and time to head up to Carabelle. Hang out in Apalach either on the hook or at one of their many marinas (eating those scrumptious local oysters!) until you get a decent weather window and take off. Depart early afternoon.At 7-8 knots you'll cover the 144 NM in about 20 hours, well before noon the next day. As previously mentioned, you want daylight as you approach land to see the crab pots up to 20 miles off the west coast of FL. It's a neat trip in good weather. The stars look so close you could reach out and touch them. And if the moon is full, well....WOW! Enjoy and Good Luck!
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Old 11-07-2013, 11:46 AM   #10
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This conversation interests me as I plan to make this trip....someday. I have been receiving the Looper forum emails and a couple of Tom Conrad's comments address this subject. Tom Conrad evidently the weather/crossing guru in Carabelle and advises folks on when to cross. He said this a couple of days ago:

Last week, another Looper wrote that the distance across the Gulf from Carrabelle to Tarpon Spring was 148 nm across the Gulf. Can I hear from those folks who were at Wheeler and attended my presentation on crossing the Gulf. It is 170 STATUTE miles across the Gulf. When someone said 148, did you notice that was nautical miles? Don't be confused by folks telling you different numbers and what they mean. It is 170 statute miles across the Gulf from Carrabelle docks to docks in Tarpon Springs, a little further to go to Dunedin or Clearwater. Some people talk nautical miles, some from sea buoy to sea buoy, and some avoid submarines by zig zagging across the Gulf. Always remember, it is 170 statute miles across the Gulf from dock to the closest dock.

Let me say it again. It is 170 statute miles ZZzzzzzzzzzz.

Stay Safe,

Tom


Later Tom had this to said concerning the Big Bend and depths at some of the destination points:


By: tomconrad on October 29th, 2013, 7:16 pm
Sandra,

One persons doable is another's undoable. It all depends on the folks and their boat. With yours drawing 4 feet, you are marginal in October and March when the water into the 3 ports in the Big Bend, Steinhatchee, Cedar Key, and Crystal River, is deeper. After October and before March, the channels shallow up due to the shifting prevailing winter winds and I would not take a 4 foot draft boat into those ports except at high tide. The problem is that if you get a 4pm high tide one day, the following high tide will be around 5am when it is dead dark and unsafe to be in those channels. Waiting until first light is after the time when the water depth is sufficient so you have to wait a week or so for the high tide schedule to come around to what you want it to be. With a 2 foot draft boat, things are more doable. Yesterday's suggestion for using the Big Bend was for this week only and it is marginal for the deeper draft boats.

You say you can do 17 mph, why not just pay the fuel man and go on over during daylight hours? It might be cheaper than getting stuck in the Big Bend for a week or so. Leave from an anchorage behind Dog Island and you will save a little time. Remember, dock to dock crossing distance is 170 statute miles. Say it again, 170 statute miles.

Please send me a personal note at tomconrad@prodigy.net with where you are and when you expect to cross.

Stay safe,

Tom





I thought there were some good points made concerning distances and depths when talking about this gulf crossing, especially at this time of year.
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Old 11-07-2013, 01:11 PM   #11
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My rule of thumb is 2000 yds in a nautical mile.


I always use charts for Nautical mile planning.

Statute is for land.
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Old 11-07-2013, 01:59 PM   #12
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To echo Blue Heron's point, statute miles are fine for lakes, rivers and the Intracoastal water, but at sea we use nautical miles for distance, and knots for speed. Knowing the difference between nautical and statute reflects the most elemental tenants of navigation. I would earnestly suggest to anyone contemplating an open water passage that they first learn how to navigate. It kinda helps.
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Old 11-07-2013, 03:19 PM   #13
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To echo Blue Heron's point, statute miles are fine for lakes, rivers and the Intracoastal water, but at sea we use nautical miles for distance, and knots for speed. Knowing the difference between nautical and statute reflects the most elemental tenants of navigation. I would earnestly suggest to anyone contemplating an open water passage that they first learn how to navigate. It kinda helps.
I would be fascinated to hear why. I am a MPH and Miles guy. For me, the math is easier.
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Old 11-07-2013, 03:28 PM   #14
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Waterfront, my trawler is currently in Carrabelle. I had to come home for a few days for a Dr. appointment but will be returning to the boat next week. I have not done the crossing to Stienhatchee, but that is my probable course. Lots of people can give you their opinions but ultimately you must make the decision. Hopefully the weather will clear soon. Here is some advice from the AGLCA forum

Today is Tuesday, November 5th.

It is 5:30 this morning, what are you doing up and about, hoping the
weather will have improved? It has. Waves have decreased to now only 9
feet. Turn off your engine and go back to bed. Today will not be a good
crossing day, nor will tomorrow. Plan on another chicken party tonight.

Thursday's weather window is not looking as good this morning as it did
yesterday. The short length is still there but it is moving forward. Too
much will be in the dark on Wednesday night. The Gulf will not likely have
time to calm down. Starting in the dark, only to find rough weather in the
first few hours, will make the entire voyage one not to remember. A
Thursday, daytime crossing for the fast boats, should not be definitely
ruled out for those boaters positioned in Carrabelle, but it is not a sure
thing as of this morning. After Thursday, more nasty weather will be
coming up to our northeast crossing corner of the Gulf.

Boats must be filling up most of the transient dock space along the
Panhandle while waiting for a weather window to cross. Some will go
straight across, some will use several days to get around the Big Bend with
stops naturally in Steinhatchee. As I said at the Fall Rendezvous, there
is limited dock space this year in Steinhatchee for the larger size Looper
boats. Sea Hag has the only space available and they have only three deep
draft, large tee-docks with one usually taken by a local. The additional
new slips in Gulf Stream Marina have all been snatched up for some other
purpose. There is no place to anchor in Steinhatchee in the winter, the
water is too shallow. Some of the other marinas in Steinhatchee will
encourage you to come to them but only at high tides. You will not likely
find that tide schedule convenient for your travels into and out of this
beautiful little port. A large fleet of south bound Loopers can overwhelm
Steinhatchee without any other good solution for those without dock space.

Stay Safe,

Tom

Disclaimer: The preceding information must be taken as only what I would
personally do with my own vessel, a 28-foot, open cockpit, sailboat. It
must not be a substitute for your own observations and your own research of
the situation. Even after considering all available information, including
what I offer here, captains must make their own decisions based on the
capability of their vessel, the seasoning of their crew and their own
abilities as captain, realizing safety must never be compromised.
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Old 11-07-2013, 05:17 PM   #15
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I would be fascinated to hear why. I am a MPH and Miles guy. For me, the math is easier.
Excellent question. The answer, I'm afraid, is lengthy. Going into it here would be tantamount to hijacking this thread. Perhaps we could explore this in another thread if you care to?
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Old 11-07-2013, 10:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
One persons doable is another's undoable. It all depends on the folks and their boat. With yours drawing 4 feet, you are marginal in October and March when the water into the 3 ports in the Big Bend, Steinhatchee, Cedar Key, and Crystal River, is deeper. After October and before March, the channels shallow up due to the shifting prevailing winter winds and I would not take a 4 foot draft boat into those ports except at high tide. The problem is that if you get a 4pm high tide one day, the following high tide will be around 5am when it is dead dark and unsafe to be in those channels. Waiting until first light is after the time when the water depth is sufficient so you have to wait a week or so for the high tide schedule to come around to what you want it to be. With a 2 foot draft boat, things are more doable. Yesterday's suggestion for using the Big Bend was for this week only and it is marginal for the deeper draft boats.
Big point right there!
we were up there not too long ago in a simple little 23' Proline CC, and saw were looking at the bottom quite a bit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ActiveCaptain View Post
I don't quite understand the need to travel in groups offshore. Upfront, you really have to decide - if someone in the group gets into trouble, will you stop? Will you help and ultimately turn back? I've always felt that you're increasing your risk of problems, not decreasing them by going with a group. It's much safer to keep your own boat well maintained and go by yourself. Jumping offshore with a group of loopers who have likely never been offshore away from land (or really out at night) without knowing how well they maintain their boats is just crazy. I'd surely be willing to go with one other boat but only if I were in their engine room prior to leaving to assess the condition of their running gear/engines.

Maybe it's just me...
I agree with you, but...if you do decide to go with a group, then plan on staying until everyone is where they're going safely (see the bolded section above).

IMHO...In my mind, when travelling in a group, it's a no brainer.
No one get's left behind...Ever!!
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Old 11-07-2013, 10:24 PM   #17
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Thanks to everyone on your thoughts on the original topic, and even the sidebar topics. The discussions and recent information on the loopers stacking up, not to mention the facts concerning the lower water levels this time of year and
the crab pot locations, is exactly the "nuggets" I was hoping for and the facts that we need to make decisions. This is a new boat and new waters for us, but we will have a couple of weeks of shakedown cruising to gain better confidence in what by all evidence points to a well-maintained and reliable vessel. Those two weeks will drive our decision making.

On the sidebar of units of distance, having owned antique aircraft that indicate in MPH yet fly in airspace that works in Knots, not to mention having lived in the US and metric Canada, I can easily translate between units without difficulty. However, I'm always on alert to make sure that the spoken or printed distance units are understood...that's where confusion sets in. No different that confirming that soundings are in feet, meters, or fathoms.
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Old 11-07-2013, 10:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waterfront View Post
Waterfront, my trawler is currently in Carrabelle. I had to come home for a few days for a Dr. appointment but will be returning to the boat next week.
I love the name you chose for your boat: Waterfront is perfection.

Hoping your doctor appointment is spiffy and perhaps we'll say "hello" if you're around when I come in for ice -- usually every three days or so. It's supposed to get stinking cold so thank goodness for the electric blanket and propane heater. Brrr.

Take care and if you launch your dinghy, feel free to give a call on the VHF and come on out to visit. Don't come straight across unless the tide is up though!
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Old 11-07-2013, 11:02 PM   #19
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Just wanted to add that while traveling in packs of "strangers" may be a bit nerve wracking at times, you may also find a few veterans in that stack of loopers

It'd certainly be nice to play follow the leader with someone whose BTDT, and occasionally take the lead knowing someone has your back if you screw up I know it would for me

OD
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Old 11-08-2013, 10:11 AM   #20
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A boating friend in Panama City gave me this site
Tampa Bay Surf Report (STORMSURF)
When it opens look at the "control panel" under the chart. On the first "Gulf of Mexico" line click on the "sea height" red and blue icon fot the wave height predictions. there are other topics, wind, etc. We try to go only when the route is shaded dark blue, you can count the hours to make sure you have some slack before and leaving and after arriving, so far so good for us using this product!
As we all know the key is to not have a schedule, leave from someplace you don't mind spending an extra couple of days.
Bon voyage!
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