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Old 09-10-2009
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We used to live in SW Florida and hope to soon be there again.

You can sail on the outside for most of it. I have not been as far north as Panama City, but I cna tell you that Tampa south is a nice, easy sail. There is a cut there (ICW) but we got to where we avoided it altogether because it was so crowded and shallow.

There are a lot of places to duck in. One of our favorites would probably be Useppa Island around Charlotte Harbor. You could anchor there and dink over to Cabbage Key where they have a nice restaurant (and $5 beers and hamburgers!!!). It is worth seeing if for nothing but a single beer. Bring a dollar to tape up on the wall.

From there, it is maybe 8 hours sail south. I would again tell you to avoid the ICW if you can as there is a stretch called the miserable mile where the ICW is very narrow, lots of traffic, and it is ankle deep outside the cut. It is even a little difficult following the nav aids and we have run aground there many times.

From there, you can anchor in Ft Myers beach or grab a mooring ball. Lots and lots of restaurants and stores to restock and relax. Ft Myers Beach has its own little flair, I guess. Pretty white poweder sand the typical beach-front living atmosphere. If you feel ambitious from there, you can hop off to the Dry Tortugas. They are about 121 miles southwest. I would really urge you to see them if you can. They are one of my favorite places on this planet, probably due to their seclusion from everyone else. Be aware that it is all offshore and you cannot (or let me say, should not) attempt to enter the park at night unless you swim well. Lots and lots of shipwrecks. But that also makes great diving and snorkeling. The fort itself is a page from history and you could spend a month there and still not feel that you have seen enough. Do be aware that there is no water or food so you have to bring in everything with you.

I hope that helps. Good luck with it. Take lots of pics and put them on Sailnet!!!

- CD
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