Best route from Clearwater/Tampa/StPete to Bahamas???
I'm leaving mid-week and trying to decide whether to sail down to the Marathon/Key Largo area or through Lake Okachobee to the Stuart area and down a ways and then over the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.
I know the cruising guides say - it depends on your destination - but I can see going to either Bimini/Berrys or the more northerly Abacos - so which is a better route for a 30' Sloop, 8000lb displacement racer-cruiser Seidelmann 299, with Yanmar 2GM engine (15 horse) AND A DEEP KEEL OF 5'5" CRUISING OVER AS FIRST TIMERS TO THE BAHAMAS?
And specific suggestions, routes and moorings/marinas are most welcome.
Do not go thruogh Lake Okeechobee, water is too low, it may even be closed.
Are you sure? I read a few months back the water had come up quite a bit.
There is an Army corps site that posts current levels. I don't have the link, sorry
I'd go down the coast, then through the Channel 5 bridge, then east. If your weather window is good, you keep going, if it's not, you can pop into Miami.
<nobr> </nobr><nobr>For current information on</nobr> <nobr>waterway depths, locking, and navigational data</nobr>
<nobr>contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at any of</nobr> <nobr>the following numbers:</nobr>
<nobr>Jacksonville District Office (904)232-2539</nobr>
<nobr>South Florida Operations Office (863)983-3101</nobr>
<nobr>W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam.... (239)694-5451</nobr>
<nobr>Ortona Lock and Dam... (863)675-0616</nobr>
<nobr>Moore Haven Lock and Dam (863)946-0414</nobr>
<nobr>Port Mayaca Lock and Dam (561)924-2858</nobr>
<nobr>St. Lucie Lockand Dam (772)287-2665</nobr>
<nobr>Canaveral Lock (321)783-5421</nobr>
The present MINIMUM depth on route 1 is over 7 feet.
Daily updates here: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Divisi...orts/r-nav.txt
This is the way to go assuming your mast height will clear.
After that...head down to Lake Worth Inlet and wait for the right weather to transit to the Abacos. Lots of details available in past threads here on that route and timing. Do a search.
Glad to hear that is re-opened, 7ft is great...
I went through Okeechobee in November. Water was very high then. Right now there is still plenty of water to make it through. Vertical clearance is 49 feet. I had a good time going through Okeechobee. It is an interesting place and definitely worth seeing at least once. It is protected and very easy to navigate. The downside is that the canal is narrow, and you motor nearly the entire way. If you are headed to more northern destinations in the bahamas, this would probably be the quickest route.
I did the trip in May this year from Tampa Bay through Lake Okeechobee to Florida's East coast but than north to the Chesapeake.
The draft on my IP 37 is 4'6" and my mast height is 49'5" above water. We saw 6 1/2' of water at any point and just made the infamous railroad bridge (ooficial clearance 48') by just touching the very tip of the VHF antenna on my mast.
I called the corps of engineers the day I entered the Caloosahatchee River in Ft.Myers and they were very friendly and gave me exact info about the official water level in the lake and what that means to both the bridge clearance and minimum depth to expect within the lake.
You will motor most the time from Ft. Myers to the Lake and from the lake to Stuart but it is a nice voyage through central Florida.
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