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Old 09-17-2020, 04:40 PM   #1
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First Trawler Rental

Been lurking here for years, followed Dauntless, Caribbean Sea Life, and Sylphide among others.
Been boating Lake of the Ozarks over 35 years but this will be my first experience in salt water. Current boat is a Wellcraft Portofino. We are renting a 40' Mainship from SWFY at the end of October for a week.

Excited and apprehensive! I've been looking at a local chart of the area and it appears most of the cruising area in the ICW is 10'! Am I reading this correctly? I can get within 15' of the shore in most places at LOTO and still have 20' under the hull.
We've rented several smaller boats in Florida, center consoles, pontoons, and deck boats, and they've never had a depth sounder on them.

My biggest concern is running aground. I've noticed several members are from this area and would like any info or advice.



My wife and I plan to semi-retire (winters) in this area in 3 years (once the youngest is out of high school). My goal is a trawler in the 40' range so we can spend time cruising the coast, Key West, and Bahamas. I don't plan to cross any oceans like Richard has. We lived aboard our Portofino with both kids for years and are ready to get back to that lifestyle without them . So this is our first step in trawler life. Tried to go to Trawlerfest this past Feb but didn't make. Hoping this year works out if they have one.



SWFY is helping us with an itinerary but would like to hear any "must see" or "don't bother's" from all that have been in this area.


Thanks



T.J.
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Old 09-17-2020, 04:58 PM   #2
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The safety plan of the ICW is if you fall in, stand up... If you're outside the dredged channel, chances are, you can stand up. There are exceptions, but you can be a half mile off the shoreline and be up to your waist.
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Old 09-17-2020, 05:47 PM   #3
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Most of the Florida ICW is at least 6 feet at low tide right up to the daymarks. Not so in other states. Not sure where you’re getting 20’ from. In SWFL you won’t find 20 foot deep water anywhere but in a pass or Tampa Bay. Outside of the ICW the “deep” water is waist deep.
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Old 09-17-2020, 06:33 PM   #4
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A bit dated but most is still relevant.

Primer for first timers on the ICW, Erie Canal and Bahamas
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Old 09-17-2020, 08:36 PM   #5
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Sure the water is often thin but the bottom is mostly soft.

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Old 09-17-2020, 08:42 PM   #6
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Propellers are the expensive ways to stir up the bottom...
Don't go around the wrong side of a marker.
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Old 09-17-2020, 09:40 PM   #7
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Florida has shallow waters in that area. It's generally not an issue unless you're drawing over 5 ft of water. As mentioned the bottom is soft most everywhere. I suggest no further south than Naples by boat. Marco Island is only a 30 minute car drive south of Naples if you want to see it. The Sanibel Island area is close to Cape Coral and lots to enjoy. Hope you can relax in the shallow waters this Oct because your retirement goal is all shallow waters. Lot's of folks do it. Cheers
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Old 09-17-2020, 10:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by High Wire View Post
Most of the Florida ICW is at least 6 feet at low tide right up to the daymarks. Not so in other states. Not sure where you’re getting 20’ from. In SWFL you won’t find 20 foot deep water anywhere but in a pass or Tampa Bay. Outside of the ICW the “deep” water is waist deep.
The 20’ is at Lake of the Ozarks (LOTO).
My point was iI’m used to deep water. The shallow waters in Florida is where my anxiety lies. This will be my first full week of cruising in this type of waters.

Positively

T. J.
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Old 09-17-2020, 10:17 PM   #9
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Florida has shallow waters in that area. It's generally not an issue unless you're drawing over 5 ft of water. As mentioned the bottom is soft most everywhere. I suggest no further south than Naples by boat. Marco Island is only a 30 minute car drive south of Naples if you want to see it. The Sanibel Island area is close to Cape Coral and lots to enjoy. Hope you can relax in the shallow waters this Oct because your retirement goal is all shallow waters. Lot's of folks do it. Cheers
Thanks for the words of encouragement.
Looking forward to being there.
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Old 09-17-2020, 10:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by stubones99 View Post
Propellers are the expensive ways to stir up the bottom...
Don't go around the wrong side of a marker.
Great advice!
Planning on keeping it between the navigational beacons!
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Old 09-18-2020, 03:04 AM   #11
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I moved to Florida 15 years ago from San Francisco where I spent about 5 years as a delivery skipper. Before moving, I thought Florida was idyllic waters - how hard could it be to stay in the channel?

I will take the big water challenges of the Pacific over the skinny water challenges of Florida any day.

Two tips:

1. Spend some time on aids to navigation for ICW. The ICW bounces between red-right-returning and ICW rules where red is on the land side. I still find it very easy to get confused despite the abundance of markers.

2. Maptech Chartpak chart guide. I know many consider paper charts an anachronism compared to electronic charts, but I find paper charts useful in new areas as paper provides situational awareness in a way electronic screens cannot. I cannot fully explain why, but I find it difficult to really "see" a relatively crowded zone/area on an electronic chart. On the downside, paper charts cannot be kept updated and channels in Florida have a habit of moving from time to time. It's an expensive chart kit - $150. But I find it helpful, especially as they have enlarged chartlets for certain areas.

Enjoy your trip. It's a beautiful area. Hopefully whet your appetite for retirement.

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Old 09-18-2020, 05:20 AM   #12
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1. Spend some time on aids to navigation for ICW. The ICW bounces between red-right-returning and ICW rules where red is on the land side. I still find it very easy to get confused despite the abundance of markers.
On the same topic, the ICW aids will have a small yellow/gold square or triangle in the middle of the mark. Sometimes two "families" (ICW and not-ICW) will be intermingled so being able to pick out the ICW ones can be helpful.

Here are a couple photos of what I mean:
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:04 AM   #13
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Years ago I was training the new owner of a 5’ draft trawler in Stuart, FL. They were experienced boaters from the Pacific NW who were going to ship the boat out west after cruising FL for a month. He was very uptight and couldn’t relax with all the shallow water. We were scheduled for a short haul to change a depth transponder and on the way to the haulout In the private marina channel we slipped into what I call “navigable mud”. Basically at idle I noticed we were no longer moving forward. When I mentioned we had run aground he flipped out and panicked. A little reverse and some use of the thruster to wiggle the bow back and forth and we were free. Once we lined up and threaded the needle to the lift we hauled the boat. Not a bit of paint was disturbed on the keel. He began to relax and to this day his wife still laughs and says “Running aground was the best thing that could have happened.” They cruised S.Florida and enjoyed their time in the shallows.
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:21 AM   #14
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Lots of great places to go and things to do. More specifics about whereyou start from would help us give suggestions.
#1 rule stay in the channel
#2 go slow unless you are certain of the depth. Storms change charted depth every year but markers are usually moved.
#3 dont plan to go too far each day. This is a vacation not a delivery. Stop early enough to enjoy where you are.
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:26 AM   #15
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Lots of great places to go and things to do. More specifics about whereyou start from would help us give suggestions.
I'm not the OP, but it looks like SWFY is in Cape Coral, FL
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Old 09-18-2020, 09:39 AM   #16
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Yep. Lots of shallow water on the west coast of Florida. The good news is that the bottom is mostly soft sand. That means that if you don't run aground too hard you can often just back out, with little or no damage.
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Old 09-18-2020, 09:48 AM   #17
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I strongly disagree with the comment about not going south of Naples. The 10,000 Islands are a wonderful cruising destination which we have enjoyed in a variety of vessels drawing up to 5 feet and 46 to 60 feet LOA. However, take SWFY's advice on a maiden voyage itinerary; they want you to have fun so you'll be a repeat customer.

Is the boat including a dinghy? We feel it is a necessity to enjoying the various great anchorages and adjacent islands such as Pelican Bay / Cayo Costa and the bight off the Ding Darling reserve. If you are strictly a marina hopper, SWFY will have good recommendations I'm sure.

Have fun, it is a beautiful and fun area to cruise in. Wish we were there!
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Old 09-18-2020, 09:56 AM   #18
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You will learn to appreciate a chart plotter FAR more in SWFL waters that you ever did in Lake of the Ozarks. And remember, you can cruise the ICW and cross a "shipping" channel marked with typical red-right-returning navaids some of which may have little yellow triangles or squares painted on them signifying their use as ICW markers. Your chart plotter can help you here. The mnemonic for the ICW is red-right-to-Galveston. Now you know all you need to know to avoid running aground in SWFL. You will also find very fine days to run offshore between places like Marco and Naples and Ft Myers Beach. We enjoyed taking the Goodland passage behind Marco and going on down to Everglades City.
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Old 09-18-2020, 12:37 PM   #19
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It does include a dinghy. We are wanting/hoping to do 3 days on the hook and 3 at marinas.
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Old 09-18-2020, 04:56 PM   #20
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It does include a dinghy. We are wanting/hoping to do 3 days on the hook and 3 at marinas.
Well, if it was me (and again I will defer to SWFY, especially on current local knowledge), considering it is your first trip, I would do some combination of the following more or less in order, some local activities may or may not be available so check:

- Head up to Boca Grande Marina, rent a golf cart, explore the island, beaches, etc.

- Thence to Pelican Bay off Cayo Costa and spend a couple nights on the hook. If they are renting bicycles, that is fun to get over to the fantastic beach, or if they are running the tram, or it's not that bad a walk. Plenty of dinghy exploration opportunities too, including the touristy Cabbage Key.

- Spend a night on the hook in the bight off the Ding Darling reserve, explore Tarpon Bay etc.

- Spend a night at South Seas Plantation and/or Tween Waters. Though on that time frame and with good weather, I'd rather head down to Naples and the town docks there. Or both.

There are a whole lot of variations from there depending how adventurous you are. Very hard not to have a great time.
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