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Old 07-16-2012
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Re: Gulf Crossings

Wow. Let me see what I can answer here.

I sailed across from Pensacola to FOrt Myers Beach. I headed out late December then made final destination first week of January. I could have jumped across from Texas a lot cheaper, but had little interest in doing the oil rig hop. PBeezer may help you some on that. Many people jump out to the water gardens and hang a left. I suggest really timing that well because that is a 100+ miles out and not a lot of duck-in points between Texas and Mobile. And if you are considering Mobile, you might as well jump into Pensacola. You can take Pensacola in a blow if you have to. It is well marked. Inside the bay it is pretty calm for the most part.

We jumped into Panama City after a storm. You might consider that. Appalachicola may not be the best place in a blow because it is shallow and narrow entrance. You can get into Panama City in a blow, but best to do during the day. You can stay at the city marina which is on the north end. Pretty reasonable rates and you can walk to the grocery store from the marina (though it goes through a bad part of town so do it during the day). The immediate area aroud the marina is fine.

From there you will jump across the armpit of FLorida. Tampa is a really easy in/out. I just sailed in from south Florida into St Pete a week or so ago. You can take the main shipping channel (which will be closer given your direction) or the southern pass which the ships avoid. I forget the name of it now, but it is the entrace just south of the channel. I have done that entrance at night and day, but suggest using a chartplotter. THere are shallows there so your approach needs to be right.

Many of the people heading to Cozumel choose to get further south than Venice, but that is up to you. I would probably consider Port Charlotte, Ft Myers Beach, or maybe even the keys depending on your interests. I know those areas very well and am happy to give you any anchoring or restocking advice you need. If it were me, I would probably make for FOrt Myers Beach and head out from there. You could stop in the TOrtugas on the way which is beautiful, but remember there is nothing there for supplies - not even water. But it is a good point to jump off for the next jump from. Marker to marker (FT MYERS BEACH to Tortugas) is circa 121 miles.

Mexico is off our cruising list so you are on your own from there.

If you wait until SUmmer, you will deal with a lot of very light airs and thunder storms in the afternoon. ALso have to watch for hurricanes. A Northern in the gulf, as you know, really stinks and is wrose around south FLorida where you have 800+ miles of fetch. THat is why I suggest APril - May and maybe even June to get across.

Hope that answered some of your questions? Good luck on your trip.

Brian
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