Tampa to Key West in a day? You sure? I overnight from Tampa to Charlotte Harbor off of Cabbage Key. Then it is 141ish miles to the Tortugas. Weren't you going to the Tortugas first? Mile Marker 1 from FMB to outer marker of Tortugas is 121nm IIRC. Made that run many times. That alone is a overnighter. Remember, light winds. You will be motoring a lot. You and I run about the same ~7-8 knts under power with a clean bottom. The tides runnin north off Sanibel/Captiva out of Charlotte will slow you down unless you remain well offshore.
BTW: Do you race? I love the Tampa-FMB race off Davis. You do that?
If you are going Bahamas, and just hanging in K West, I would not go there (and save a bunch of money). Go the 7 mile to Marathon and duck under the bridge. I would hang in Marathon. Course, I have kids and Key west is fun to be around but we are out of there soon.
If you are going via way of Tortugas, go N side and exit east. N entrance is good but needs daylight as does E entrance so need to plan on a light arrival. I know the Tortugas well if you wanna chat about it? I would NOT enter Tortugas at night. Also, you will lose all VHF on that trip. I wrote a long thread about that somewhere here. No SSB, you are on your own.
Ok, my timing is probably Marathon around the end of June unless we can push out to Bahamas quicker. I love Marathon and the kids do so I will be moving slower than you. Keep an eye to the sky. If a storm comes, the only harbor in the keys (IMHO) is Boot Key. You do know you can punch out of Boot Key without really losing much time on your run? Still would go Rod Key. Worst case, you sit there another day. Best case, you haver a relaxing trip and really lose no time even going outside. The GS gets really nasty in some winds.
Curious what RichH and SV Hylyte have to say about this??? You guys around??
PS Wheat is the Crab season? The bay is loaded during crab season. Just a warning. I never remember that stuff.
Yeah, I plan about 30 hours from Anna Maria Island to Key West. We stopped in Captiva on the way home last time, and really enjoyed our time there, so I may duck in there if weather doesn't support a single hop to the Keys, but my intent is to get down there and THEN relax. I also plan on heading well offshore this time. Those crap traps were REDICULOUS last time. The plan is to bring the family over to the Dry Tortugas for a long weekend when they meet us in Key West. From there, we'll of course have to drop them off making Key West our jumping off point. We are going to keep a close eye on the weather, I'm by no means set on the plan to make a single jump to the Bahamas, if the weather isn't ideal I'll likely hop my way up. (I still have to keep the ride comfortable for the wife)
I totally agree with you on Marathon, it's one of my favorite spots. Sombrero Reef is probably my single favorite dive spot in the Keys. I like the pace of the middle Keys a lot better than Key West, and if it weren't for the family coming down for the DTs, I think we'd have spent some extra time around there.
I used to do a lot of racing on my Catalina 36 when i lived in Virginia, and some racing when I was living in Hawaii. I'm still relatively new to the Tampa Bay Area sailing scene, but now that I have the new boat I am DEFINITELY going to be looking to start doing some offshore races. I am trying to tweak my work schedule for next year for the Isla Mujeres race, and if the SYC ever gets a green light for the Havana race, you can bet I'll be there for that. I haven't done the race to Fort Meyers, but I'll see if I can fit that one in next year as well. I work overseas and won't be home until early June so it looks like I'm going to miss out this year.
Where do you sail out of, are you around Tampa?
As for the forecasts, I'm going to do my best to wait for the 'best' window I can; but ultimately, I'm going to have to take it as it comes. At some point, I've got to trust that I'm not going to get in over my head in a 40' boat given a reasonable forecast.