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post #1 of 9 Old 09-10-2009 Thread Starter
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Cruising W. Coast of Florida

Hello All!
We live in Panama City Florida on the Gulf Coast and are planning a 3 week sail down the west coast in December. We'd love to hear from someone who's made the trip, and would appreciate any tips you can give us. We are relative newbies and this is our first attempt at being out for longer than 5 days.
We have a 33' Pearson. Dry Tortuga would be our preferred destination, but that might be a bit ambitious. We'll just see how it goes. Any help or suggestion would be appreciated.

Last edited by charlienpam; 09-10-2009 at 03:47 PM.
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post #2 of 9 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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post #3 of 9 Old 09-10-2009
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Go over to Watson's Bayou and there are several sailers who have sailed the area . Gary will be there this weekend. He has been to Key west and back a few times.
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post #4 of 9 Old 09-11-2009 Thread Starter
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Gulf Crossing

One of the biggest things we are thinking about is the crossing from Apalachicola to the west coast and which port to sail to. Tarpon Springs is a choice and so is Cedar Key. Also wondering if Government Cut is the best departure point to head south. If anyone has made this jump please let us know what you did. I know we need to wait for a favorable weather window. I'm hoping there will be some other sailors that are crossing at the same time to buddy up.
Hopefully this is the right group to be asking these questions.

Any provisioning advice for the 3 week trip will be helpful too. Thanks.

Last edited by charlienpam; 09-11-2009 at 06:39 PM. Reason: Provisioning.
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post #5 of 9 Old 09-13-2009
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FL Panhandle to Tarpon Springs

I have made the crossing several times. The shortest route would be from Carabelle/Dog Island to Tarpon Springs/Anclote Key. It is an overnight trip that took us about 24 hrs. I have also gone from Government cut at Applacicloa to Anclote key about 24 hr+. The last couple of times we went from Panama City to Clearwater and that took us around 36 hrs. We did motorsail on all these trips.
Once to Anclote Key, you can stay inside all the way to Ft Myers or you can hop in and out: Clearwater, Johns Pass, Pass a grill, Tampa Bay (Egmont Key channel and SW passage), Longboat, Sarasota (new pass and Big Sarasota pass ,both with local knowledge), Venice, Boca Grande, Redfish pass, San Carlos/ Sanibel, Naples, Marco, Shark River and then the Keyes.
Anyway a great sailing/cruising area.
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post #6 of 9 Old 09-16-2009 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input!

Thanks for all the responses. We will probably hold up in Apalachicola for a favorable weather window then cross to Tarpon Springs. Maybe there will be some other vessels making the trip at the same time. We plan on leaving Dec. 5th from Panama City.

Pearson 10M
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post #7 of 9 Old 09-21-2009
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This Forum is a great source. My boat is in Destin and I plan about the very same window of time to sail to Key Largo and I am very interested in the trip with you. I have a Allmand 31. I'm looking at perhaps with the next two of going down from Idaho and visiting Destin. Might be a great chance to meet and visit.
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-01-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post

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
Hey CD, in the Dry Tortugas where can one drop anchor near the fort?
any mooring balls out there?

thanks
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-01-2009
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Hey CD, in the Dry Tortugas where can one drop anchor near the fort?
any mooring balls out there?

thanks
No mooring balls for overnighters. THere is a ball or two on some wrecks for diving and research, but not for overnight use.

You drop the hook right around the fort. You will see a lot of other boats anchored there as well. The park ranger will likely come out and meet you after you anchor and discuss the no-discharge and rates. No water or food, some come prepared. It is a beautiful place and great diving/snorkleling. You will love it.

Brian

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