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Old 01-23-2019, 11:04 AM   #41
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We have gone back and forth from Ft Meyers Yacht Basin to Key West many times this year.

We usually hit Marco Island Marina basin, and hit the Tiki bar for a burger and drink before anchoring for the night. Very good holding, super secure.

Next day is Shark River. Very cool secluded anchorage. No need to get off the boat. Stars are incredible.

Next day a run down the islands to Key West.

We stayed at the Stock Island Marina. Super swank, pool, bar, restaurant, floating docks, etc. Expensive, but quiet and worth it. They run a shuttle to Duval street avary hour. Good place to leave the boat. They just bought A&B in the Key West harbor.

You can anchor out, but having the boat tied up, powered, while being under the influence with my wife is a no brainer for us.

You can PM me for restaurants and bars. We prefer the old Key West, good drinks, good food, and people watching. Having a marina with a pool and lots of eye candy made it relaxing.

From there you should go to the Dry Tortugas. It is a day down and back, and worth several days there. You should go there before the Bahamas as a shake down run.

Weather is key. I try to keep it on my stern or close to it and run with the waves.

Crab pots are thick. Running at night you better be on gaurd.

You can easily fly in and out of KW, and the van will take and pick you up from the airport.

Last time the weather lined up and we ran from KW to Marco Island. Long ways for us.
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Old 01-24-2019, 11:24 AM   #42
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Re: Pine Island Sound

Been cruising in that area for about six years now. There is plenty to do and see for a 4-5 day destination.

- Captiva: Very nice little party district with live music from multiple bars. You can drink on the street, rent golf carts from YOLO, great sunset view on the outer beach at The Mucky Duck, excellent food at The Bubble Room or The Green Flash. You can anchor if you have <5' draft in front of the Tween Waters hotel, or in calm weather in front of the Green Flash. The Green Flash has a nice dock that you can tie a <40' boat up for a lunch berth, and the owner seems to be pretty laid back about leaving your tender tied up there while you walk up the street to hit the bars (I usually buy a round and an app as "payment" for the dink moorage). If you want a fancy marina experience South Seas Marina is fantastic but expensive. Moorage comes with resort access to their extensive pools, hot tubs, etc.

- Useppa Island: If you can find a member to bring you there as a guest, it's the real gem of the sound. I joined almost immediately on moving the boat to that area. Beautiful island, unique culture, most relaxing place ever. Google them and check out the website.

- Cayo Costa: Nice state park kept very clean by the park service. Good shelling. You can anchor in Pelican Bay for an overnight, take the dink to the state maintained dock, and catch the free shuttle ride for the 1 mile ride across the island to the outer beach.

- Outer Beach: If the wind is from the East the best part of Pine Island Sound is the ability to anchor a short swim off some really pretty beaches. If you leave the sound via the gap between Cayo Costa and Boca Grande you can see on the charts there's a deep gut that runs South along the beach. The "entrance" to this gut is shallow so you can't get over it if you have a deep draft (w/ 3'2" under me I have at least 4 feet under the keel when I go over). It's clearly marked on the chart. Obviously this is only to be done in calm seas and preferably with wind from the East.

Gasparilla is also nice with a cool historic lighthouse and a decent marina.

If you want any work done, get a slip in Burnt Store Marina just South of Punta Gorda. That's where I keep my boat. Good fuel dock, good bar/eats, and a the harbor master keeps a book full of service people who do work on boats in the marina.

Punta Gorda is cool too.

Stay out of Matlacha Pass if you can. Narrow, winding, shallow, easy to run aground. It's even worse South of the bridge.

Sorry ramble. Hope this helps someone out.

Dave
Thank you Dave! We are going to go to Captiva. Our plan is to anchor there for a couple of days while we explore the island. The only think Iím worried about is the wind looks like itíll be from the east. Think itíll be an uncomfortable night? We had a bad experience up towards St Petersburg where I thought weíd be protected from a SE wind but the waves were still coming in from the Gulf from the SW. So the boat weather vaned into the wind which meant we had the waves in the beam all night. It was awful. Not going to do that again.

Our Dinghy is a 4 person raft with an electric 3 hp trolling motor. WOT is 3 MPH. And it has no lights. But we have a couple of really bright flash lights. Ideally Iíd like to anchor near the green flash, but if itís too rough and we need to go further south to Tween Water, can we use their docks for the dink? Also is there enough room down there to safely anchor without the fear of getting run over in the middle of the night?

Thanks so much for your help! Feel free to PM me if youíd like.
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Old 01-24-2019, 12:11 PM   #43
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Draft is critical for anchoring in Roosevelt Channel off Captiva. When I had my Mainship I drew 3'2" and could usually find a spot to anchor off Tween Waters. However Tween Waters isn't receptive to people who are anchored out using their docks for dinghy landing. Captiva in general isn't very dinghy friendly, lots of high end housing. I had a good relationship with the folks at Jensens and they let me land the dinghy there, I haven't tried the Green Flash. But if you can come up with a good solution for landing your dinghy, it's a fun island.

If you have a shallow draft, 3' or less', one of my favorite anchoring spots is in Fosters Bay on North Captiva, using the charts you can feel your way in around the shoals and anchor in 6-8'(around 26 34'43.2"N 82 12'37.6"W) and there's a little sandy spot to land your dinghy. Most of the south end of N Captiva is state park, so you can walk the beaches without too much competition. Also, Barnacle Phil's on the north end of the island is a nice place to grab lunch.
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Old 01-24-2019, 01:29 PM   #44
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Steve,

"Micksbuddy" is correct on all points. Just to add on. . .

I have found that there is a beach at Tween waters that they don't seem to mind if you pull your tender onto. With just a trolling motor I'd not try to motor up to the more Northerly docks.

If it's blowing Easterly I would avoid anchoring in front of the Green Flash. You'll be rocking. You'll get behind the little island if you're further South and should have a comfortable night. There are usually boats anchored there, so you can get a feel for where to do so by their location. Recommend taking a look on Google Earth too so you can see the channels. The water isn't clear inside the barrier islands, so you can't see the deep water vs. the shallow.

I haven't seen any crazy people running fast through that area, so I wouldn't worry about being hit in the middle of the night if you have appropriate anchor lights on.

Be wary of anchoring too far out of the channel. It shallows very rapidly. I usually anchor almost parallel with the stakes.

Be wary of trying to anchor next to the large white sailboat that's on permanent anchor in front of the Green Flash. If you look on Google Earth you'll see it's tucked up inside a little hole and it's wicked shallow on either side. I got stuck there once trying to anchor next to it.

Good mud holding bottom there. I was in 20+ knots one night and didn't drag at all with modest scope.

Luck and have fun!

Dave

PS: forgot to mention the tricky part, getting into the channel itself. You'll note on the chart it's a crazy narrow entrance. The hurricane last year caused shoaling and I was told they dredged it out again. The result is a very, very narrow pinch point as your first come in. If you get out of the the channel and drag a rudder or prop, the wind from the east will twist your bow around and you'll be hard aground on the bar before you know it. It's very well marked, so it's not a problem if you maintain forward thrust, but often smaller boats coming out crowd you. I bob around outside the first red stake in about 7 feet of water and use the binoculars to make sure I've got a stretch of time with no boats coming out before I go in.

Just re-read the above. I'm making this sound harder/trickier than it is. It's a piece of cake, but just be aware of the narrow entrance.

D
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Old 01-24-2019, 10:01 PM   #45
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We have gone back and forth from Ft Meyers Yacht Basin to Key West many times this year.

We usually hit Marco Island Marina basin, and hit the Tiki bar for a burger and drink before anchoring for the night. Very good holding, super secure.

Next day is Shark River. Very cool secluded anchorage. No need to get off the boat. Stars are incredible.

Next day a run down the islands to Key West.

We stayed at the Stock Island Marina. Super swank, pool, bar, restaurant, floating docks, etc. Expensive, but quiet and worth it. They run a shuttle to Duval street avary hour. Good place to leave the boat. They just bought A&B in the Key West harbor.

You can anchor out, but having the boat tied up, powered, while being under the influence with my wife is a no brainer for us.

You can PM me for restaurants and bars. We prefer the old Key West, good drinks, good food, and people watching. Having a marina with a pool and lots of eye candy made it relaxing.

From there you should go to the Dry Tortugas. It is a day down and back, and worth several days there. You should go there before the Bahamas as a shake down run.

Weather is key. I try to keep it on my stern or close to it and run with the waves.

Crab pots are thick. Running at night you better be on gaurd.

You can easily fly in and out of KW, and the van will take and pick you up from the airport.

Last time the weather lined up and we ran from KW to Marco Island. Long ways for us.
Thank you for your post. When we do go to Key West weíll probably go through shark river as well.
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Old 01-24-2019, 10:10 PM   #46
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Steve,

"Micksbuddy" is correct on all points. Just to add on. . .

I have found that there is a beach at Tween waters that they don't seem to mind if you pull your tender onto. With just a trolling motor I'd not try to motor up to the more Northerly docks.

If it's blowing Easterly I would avoid anchoring in front of the Green Flash. You'll be rocking. You'll get behind the little island if you're further South and should have a comfortable night. There are usually boats anchored there, so you can get a feel for where to do so by their location. Recommend taking a look on Google Earth too so you can see the channels. The water isn't clear inside the barrier islands, so you can't see the deep water vs. the shallow.

I haven't seen any crazy people running fast through that area, so I wouldn't worry about being hit in the middle of the night if you have appropriate anchor lights on.

Be wary of anchoring too far out of the channel. It shallows very rapidly. I usually anchor almost parallel with the stakes.

Be wary of trying to anchor next to the large white sailboat that's on permanent anchor in front of the Green Flash. If you look on Google Earth you'll see it's tucked up inside a little hole and it's wicked shallow on either side. I got stuck there once trying to anchor next to it.

Good mud holding bottom there. I was in 20+ knots one night and didn't drag at all with modest scope.

Luck and have fun!

Dave

PS: forgot to mention the tricky part, getting into the channel itself. You'll note on the chart it's a crazy narrow entrance. The hurricane last year caused shoaling and I was told they dredged it out again. The result is a very, very narrow pinch point as your first come in. If you get out of the the channel and drag a rudder or prop, the wind from the east will twist your bow around and you'll be hard aground on the bar before you know it. It's very well marked, so it's not a problem if you maintain forward thrust, but often smaller boats coming out crowd you. I bob around outside the first red stake in about 7 feet of water and use the binoculars to make sure I've got a stretch of time with no boats coming out before I go in.

Just re-read the above. I'm making this sound harder/trickier than it is. It's a piece of cake, but just be aware of the narrow entrance.

D
Thank you. I was looking st the charts and was thinking the same thing, man that looks tight! Well I think we are planning on anchoring at the anchorage just south of The Green Flash. Looks like itíll only be about 1/4 mile to The Green Flash. Thatíll be fine in our dink. Iíll call to make sure.

Weíre going to be kidless and with friends who have no kids. Any other places within a couple 2-3 hours that are a good time similar to Captiva?

Thanks again.
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Old 01-27-2019, 11:04 AM   #47
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Ha. Look at this google maps picture just south of the Green Flash. That dude is stirring up some mud! Man it looks shallow.

I called the Green Flash and they said absolutely no problem using their docks to go explore the island. So our plan is to hopefully anchor within 1/2 mile south of them. Thatíll keep our dink ride short.
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Old 04-03-2019, 11:08 AM   #48
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Hey guys! Been having a blast in the Cape Coral/ft Myers area. We might do one more quick Caltiva trip with the kids but then we want to move again. We have decided to nix key west. Itís just too expensive and I think having the kids with us will more or less defeat what we really would want to do in key west. So weíll save it for another time.

Next question....take the okeechobee or go around south Florida. How long does each way take? We really donít want to miss anything. Would we by taking the short cut? Is the okeechobee a boring trip? Seems like it would be.

Getting the boat to the east coast would be easier for us to get to and from, especially once we are north of Jax.

We can usually do 2-3 days of actual boating per trip to the boat. Then we leave the boat in a transient slip.

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?

Thanks guys!
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Old 04-03-2019, 11:26 AM   #49
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Unless you want to stop in the Keys or Miami, I would go the Lake O route. Check the depth, though. Anything less than 12 feet requires extra caution, especially in the rim canal. Don't ask me how I know!
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Old 04-03-2019, 11:37 AM   #50
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The Okeechobee trip is not boring IMO. The canal from Gulf side is interesting and wide, making for some easy cruising. The locks are also interesting and fun. Then on the Atlantic side you get to cruise past (or stay at) Indiantown marina, which is very retro and ďold FloridaĒ looking, usually with a few interesting characters hanging around working on their boats. There is also a big field of boats in various stages of repair, disrepair.

Iíve done the trip a few times now so itís a bit less interesting now, but if you have never made the trip I bet you will find it interesting.
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Old 04-03-2019, 02:20 PM   #51
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Unless you want to stop in the Keys or Miami, I would go the Lake O route. Check the depth, though. Anything less than 12 feet requires extra caution, especially in the rim canal. Don't ask me how I know!
11.85' today. That's why we went around.
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Old 04-03-2019, 02:42 PM   #52
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Why not stay on Stock Island instead of downtown Key West? Nice quiet working family sort of place and nothing like Duval St. Great food at Roostica and Hogfish Grill and no crowds or drunk people either.
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Old 04-03-2019, 02:46 PM   #53
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We used to live in the Keys, 12 years. Went to Key West a couple weeks ago for a 4 day weekend. Stayed in a place a half block off Duval St. Neither me nor my wife drink, and we are in bed by 10PM.

We had a great time and were not bothered at all by the Duval St crowd. We basically operated on different time frames than the partiers. For example, my favorite time of the day was at 630AM when I walked about 5 blocks to the 24 hour Fitness.

There is plenty for kids to do there during the day. If you want details, PM me your #, we can talk.
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Old 04-03-2019, 05:18 PM   #54
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Hey guys! Been having a blast in the Cape Coral/ft Myers area. We might do one more quick Caltiva trip with the kids but then we want to move again. We have decided to nix key west. Itís just too expensive and I think having the kids with us will more or less defeat what we really would want to do in key west. So weíll save it for another time.

Next question....take the okeechobee or go around south Florida. How long does each way take? We really donít want to miss anything. Would we by taking the short cut? Is the okeechobee a boring trip? Seems like it would be.

Getting the boat to the east coast would be easier for us to get to and from, especially once we are north of Jax.

We can usually do 2-3 days of actual boating per trip to the boat. Then we leave the boat in a transient slip.

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?

Thanks guys!
Okeechobee water levels are rather low right now. It may not be the best time to cross it, but if they get some rain, it could be fine. You can check water levels here:

USACE Jacksonville District

Ken
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Old 04-03-2019, 06:05 PM   #55
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Boat home is Clearwater area, so face the question of Lake route or Keys Route when going back and forth to the East coast quite a bit.


Have you ever crossed the lake? If not then you should. Lots you will see and experience. Everyone should do it once or twice.


For us we have done 8 or 9 Lake crossings - not as exciting for us - and we love the Keys.


If I compare the two routes between Fort Meyers Beach and Stuart two factors have to be considered.


First as mentioned above, lake level. If you don't have enough water in the Lake - then it is a no-go.


Second is the weather. Lake route is MUCH less subject to weather, Keys route can be affected by wind.


With weather suitable for open water cruising I feel the difference between the two routes is 1/2 day. If a person gets to Marathon and faces a significant East wind, then you are sitting. Same east wind is manageable through the lake route - not a big deal.


Our previous boat we crossed in 1 day sometimes (really long day, and before the locks started closing earlier), sometimes 2 days.


Our current boat has more draft - so we have to watch very closely when we transit the bottom end of the St Lucie river before and after Stuart. Current boat it is a 2 day trip so we can time when we are passing some low spots.


Hope that helps. Either way is a fun trip.


Cur
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:04 AM   #56
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A different take... Have been boatless for several years now but used to spend a LOT of time between St. Pete and the Keys. Left the boat longterm in the Keys twice and, at least for us, the best choice was Plantation Key Yacht Harbor in Islamorada. Once the boat was there the commute was via car. The time and hassle driving to the airport, waiting there for the flight (often delayed), time of the flight itself, then usual airport/rental car hassles...not worth it. Really nice to hop in your own car, on your own schedule. Then had your car there for any commuting you desired. Not right for everyone but sure worked for us. Did the same thing at Marathon YC when St. Pete YC has reciprocal privileges with them. Have long since dropped our SPYC membership so donít know the current status of that arrangement.
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Old 04-05-2019, 11:20 AM   #57
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Went around south and stopped at several places along the way and had a great trip. Anchored just south of the beginning of the narrow yacht channel and swam and dinghied to Indian key and several marinas. Swimming was great as I remember clear water for a bottom inspection. Stopped in Marathon, key largo and someplace in Biscayne bay.
The city marina near coconut grove was easy walk to restaurants and the Barnacle and Viscya museums.
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Old 04-05-2019, 01:16 PM   #58
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Today's lake level is 11.82 feet. The route 1 navigational level is 5.76 feet. If I understand correctly, the nav level is the recommended maximum draft for a vessel crossing the lake. If I'm wrong please correct me.
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Old 04-06-2019, 12:02 AM   #59
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Today's lake level is 11.82 feet. The route 1 navigational level is 5.76 feet. If I understand correctly, the nav level is the recommended maximum draft for a vessel crossing the lake. If I'm wrong please correct me.
It's actually the minimum estimated depth which would be the maximum draft that would clear or within an inch or so. However, I would never go through with less than a foot extra. At 5.76' on Route 1, I'd never cross with a boat with draft over 4' 9". There are still some challenging areas where you better be sure you're centered in the channel.

One other point is that boat drafts vary by load but also by angle of boat and speed and water depth.

Also note that the water is likely to drop more over the next month and a half.
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Old 04-06-2019, 06:48 AM   #60
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Guess weíre Taking the long way then.


Dumb question, where is the ICW when heading south? I literally canít figure it out
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