Sailing FL Panhandle vs. FL Keys - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Florida & SE US East Coast > Florida - Western
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Old 07-30-2010
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Sailing FL Panhandle vs. FL Keys

Hi,
I am looking for a nice place to sail for a week next summer with my 3 boys on our 26 Columbia T-26. We are towing the boat from Austin TX so Fort Walton would be like a 14 hr drive vs. Key Largo at 24 hrs. We currently drive 3.5 hrs 4 or 5 times each summer to get to the Texas coast and stay out for 3 days each trip.
I have been trying to sail in some blue water for years, but just can't ever seem to get anywhere but the TX coast. So next summer I really want to sail somewhere scenic with clear water for snorkeling and with some nice remote island anchorages.
The big question is, can I find some nice clear water, island anchorages and fairly protected waters (boys are 7, 12 & 17 yrs old) in the panhandle vs. adding 12 hrs of driving to make it to the Keys, which I am assuming have much nicer water and island anchorages?
Thnx
Bob
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Old 07-30-2010
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Hey bob - are you on Travis?
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Old 07-30-2010
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For what you want, you're better off driving down to the Keys. Free mooring balls at Indian Key (just west of Largo). Also on the inside side in the same area.
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Old 07-30-2010
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I live 30 miles from travis, but i dont like sailing lakes, too boring, no dolphins, no charts
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Thnx for the input John, I am afraid I may not like the panhandle and think keys are worth the drive
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Old 07-31-2010
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Panhandle wins

I did travel both panhandle and keys. If you looking for beaches, clean water and protected anchorages, panhandle wins.
There are a lot more manmade attractions in Keys, it is a lot more diverse, both naturally and culturally and it is beautiful, I love Keys, however if your objective is to spend quiet week of sailing and viewing nature and having least interaction with two legged species, I'd choose panhandle, or 10000 islands area of Florida.
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Another thing to keep in mind is the possibility of residual oil around the Panhandle.

On another note, what part of the TX coast have you done? Didn't go south of Galveston when I was in TX, but I heard all kinds of good things about the southern part of the coast.
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Old 07-31-2010
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An alternative to the Keys would be the area around Port Charlotte and Pine Island Sound from Boca Grand to Sanibel Harbor. Relatively protected with lots of interesting places to poke into (prvided your draft is shallow enough) and good anchorages. Although we've sailed to the Keys, and it's only an overnight trip for us, we kind of prefer the Pine Island Sound area--Pelican Bay, Cabbage Key, etc., which is within 60 miles or so of Tampa Bay.

FWIW...
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Panhandle Paradise

I can assure you there is no need to go any further than the panhandle with 3 boys. We have so many places we call "paradise" from Alabama to Panama City. do you want a private beach on the Gulf? Go to Redfish Point or Ft McRae. Want to see deer drinking out of the water and dolphins swimming around your boat, go to Ingram's Bayou. Want to experience civilization at Pensacola Beach, throw down the hook and dinghy over. Check out the Blue Angels airshow in July in Pensacola. Sail inshore, or offshore, with easy access at Orange Beach, AL, Pensacola, Destin or Panama City, FL.

We had our 2 grandchildren on the boat for 10 days and they begged us not to go home they were having so much fun. Give it a try and you'll get to spend 2 extra days on the water instead of the interstate.

Will be glad to give you specifics for anchorages, marinas, etc. if you're interested.
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Old 08-22-2010
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"Port Charlotte and Pine Island Sound from Boca Grand to Sanibel Harbor. "
Sometimes called the "Thousand Islands" and there's enough sheltered water so that a storm at sea won't ruin your sailing, as it might in the Keys or other more exposed areas. A couple of hours close than the Keys, or twelve hours closer than the Keys when the infamous highway is closed.
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