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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Florida & SE US East Coast > Florida - Western
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Old 01-31-2010
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Big Bend Local Knowledge?

My wife and I are planning to move our Lazyjack 32 schooner from Hudson, FL to Mobile Bay. I'm looking for some local knowledge on the route, particularly Florida's Big Bend. We're planning to stick close to the coast in 30-40 mile legs per day - we don't want to do the direct sail to Carrabelle due to our limited overnighting experience.

I've got all the charts and Young's and Rhodes' cruising guides; what I'm most interested in are any locations to avoid do to hazards, particularly depths, rocks and currents. The boat draws 2'10" with the centerboard up so we've got some options that deeper draft boats might not have. I'll have the tide tables for locations along the route. We hope to do some nights on the hook and some at marinas.

The tentative route, with alternates in parentheses, is:

- Hudson to Withlacoochee (alternates Homosassa River, Crystal River)
- Withlacoochee to Cedar Keys
- Cedar Keys to Steinhatchee (alternate Suwannee River)
- Steinhatchee to St Marks
- St Marks to Carrabelle (alternate Dog Island)
- Carrabelle to Apalachicola

At Apalachicola we'll enter the ICW and go on to Panama City, Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola, Pirates Cove/Ingram Bayou and home.

Any suggestions for locations not mentioned are also appreciated. I want to be prepared with basic information for alternates all along the route in case of weather, mechanical or other problems. We have about 3 weeks available to make the trip which should be more than enough.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-31-2010
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I've been to some of those areas but with less than 3' draft you will have many more options than we did, including leaving the channel when the tow and you are headed for the same corner.

The only tip I can think of is to not fear the crossing just wait for the best weather, then it is a hop across the pond but with such little draft you might be able to completely avoid any significant hop. After learning the hard way we waited a week for nice weather.
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Old 02-01-2010
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Northern Gulf Coast

You shouldn't have any problems. Pick a good weather window and make an overnight the run from Clearwater to Apalachicola. Check on the status of Goverment Cut before you try it. It is pretty bad to shoal up. You can always go around the east end of George Island. From there to Mobile you can stay inside assuming your mast height is less than 50'. There are a lot of nice marinas and great anchorages along the way that you will enjoy. It should be a fun trip.

If you need more information contact me direct @ bob@struct-engr.com.
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Old 02-02-2010
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The Withlacootchie is a long ways in. (6 miles in channel from the gulf to the mouth). Shorter for overnight would be the greenway, (Cross Florida Barge Canal) which is very sheltered and has a boat ramp and ranger station. Resupply would be a fair walk though from either place. However Yankeetown and Inglis are pleasant places to visit. Well marked but a bit confusing as there are three branching channels.

A plus for a beginner is that you can see either the stacks at Anclote or the cooling towers at Yankeetown for the whole 50 miles making it a piloting rather than a navigational event.
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Old 02-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mechsmith View Post
The Withlacootchie is a long ways in. (6 miles in channel from the gulf to the mouth). Shorter for overnight would be the greenway, (Cross Florida Barge Canal) which is very sheltered and has a boat ramp and ranger station. Resupply would be a fair walk though from either place. However Yankeetown and Inglis are pleasant places to visit. Well marked but a bit confusing as there are three branching channels.

A plus for a beginner is that you can see either the stacks at Anclote or the cooling towers at Yankeetown for the whole 50 miles making it a piloting rather than a navigational event.
How far in is it to the greenway? I see it on the chart, didn't know there was anything up there.

Great tip re: the stacks, I've seen the ones at Anclote. Thanks for both tips.

I think I've got the wife leaning with me now towards doing the overnight up to Carrabelle/Apalachicola, less chance of weather closing in in a 30 hour direct sail versus 5-7 days hugging the coast. But still evaluating.
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Old 02-02-2010
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At the Greenway the canal was finished up to about the first lock at Ingliss. You would spend the night in the canal near the bridge. (US 41) If you pick up the channel from the Gulf the canal to the power plant goes off to the right and the channel to the Withlacoochie goes off to the left. Probably two to three miles closer to the open gulf than the river.

Check your charts, it's well marked but there is quite a lot of skinny water. They didn't put the daymarks close together because they had extra posts to use up . (:-)
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Old 06-07-2012
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Re: Big Bend Local Knowledge?

Greetings,

I have an islander 32 shoal draft in N Alabama at the moment. This sall I plan to come down the Tenn Tom to Mobile bay and continue on towards Florida and points further. Eventually.

I would like to look for some Old Florida locations along the big bend where we can anchhor and find some new friends gunkholing all the way. We are retired and have no particular schedule.

We came to Joe Wheeler State park 14 months ago for 10 days...... Sold the sailboat we arrived on From Misouri and bought this one here.

Any information of neat places to visit along the bend and west coast of Florida would be appreciated. We have a travel blog with lots of pictures and some video of going through the Tenn river locks but I am not sure if I can put a link here?

Harry and Barbara
aboard New House
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Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Big Bend Local Knowledge?

Interesting, My first boat was on Lake Guntersville.
So, west to east
So, the Big Bend. At Carabelle, you gotta go to Dog Island. At the east end is Tysons Harbor where you anchor out in a well protected but shallow cove (yeah, yer gonna go aground, big deal).
Alligator Harbor to the east, difficult to get in, difficult to get out. Well protected though but no current marina.
Ocklocknee Bay, almost impossible to get in and out.
Panacea, very shallow but it has a marina.
Spring Creek up in far NW Apalachee Bay, really cool Old Florida but nearly impossible w/o going aground several times. Go ahead and do it. There is a dock where you can stay but no facilities except a bathroom.
Shell Point. Shallow channel, you will go aground. No facilities except at the Apalachee Bay Yacht Club.
St Marks, deep water with several choices of places to go. All facilities are about 5 miles upriver. There is a fair weather anchorage adjacent to the lighthouse boat ramp (just outside the turning basin) called Spanish Hole. There are numerous places going upriver to anchor. Both the St Marks and Wakulla Rivers are very nice.
Aucilla, NO WAY.
Keaton Beach, not if your draft is over 4'
Steinhatchee, deep water, a good place with two marinas last I checked or you can anchor in the river.
Horseshoe Beach, maybe, I have never been there.
Suwanee River, looks difficult but i have never tried it.
Cedar Key, You GOTTA go there, a cool place. Unfortunately, almost hostile to sailboats with no marinas you can get into. You will hit bottom at least twice going there. You anchor between the shore and Atsena Otie Key and dinghy in. Do not try the municipal dock as it is "difficult" for any boats and is meant for fishing. Sorry but no fuel easily available there.
Between Cedar Key and TArpon Springs, everyplace is hard to get into so I'd just do the 65 miles or so to Tarpon Springs.
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Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Big Bend Local Knowledge?

I tell people in the big Bend, "If you can see land, yer aground"
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Old 06-22-2012
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Re: Big Bend Local Knowledge?

My knowledge ends really in Pensacola, but be very careful of the Dixey Bar just outside the mouth of Mobile Bay. It currently stretches a set of channel markers past the lighthouse before ou can make the turn to the east.

Fairhope Yacht Club on the east side of the bay is incredible, and the club has very reasonable transient slip rates.

Pensacola Yacht Club is currently stacked full of boats for probably the next two weeks as they are hosting two large regattas last week, and this weekend. And it will likely take a few weeks to clear out.

Any idea what your time line looks like?
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