Join Date: May 2002
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I have sailed that area many times, but not in the past 3-4 years. To me, the main question is primarily the weather. If it is completely unchallenging, you might go into the Gulf. If the weather is even a little threatening, I would travel on the ICW. You are not sailing a boat that you know well. Having just bought it, even if it has been surveyed, you can''t be certain of the age or condition of the shrouds and other hardware. You have probably never reefed the sails, and have not had to operate or handle all the boat''s equipment. That being so, it would not be a good idea to take her where there is any likelihood that she might be put under stress. I suggest you take her home via the ICW, inspect her thoroughly and sail her a few times in Pine Island Sound or Charlotte Harbor, putting her under stress in a more sheltered area, until you can be more confident of her soundness.
Every pass from the Gulf to the ICW can be treacherous in bad weather and strong tides, but I have not found the Venice Inlet to be any more so than any other pass. Boca Grand Pass, at Charlotte Harbor, however, is flanked by shoals on both sides, and when a strong tide is running, it can be very choppy and uncomfortable. In bad weather, it is treacherous. In good weather, just watch your charts and stay in the channel and away from the shoals.