Battered and Bruised
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Key West it is!
I have been talking to several Sailnetters by e-mail and PM regarding my trip from Destin, FL around Key West, over to Bimini and eventually up to the Chesapeake. I thought it would be nice to check in with everyone at once by posting this thread.
Last I talked with many of you I was in St Petersburg where I left my boat at St Pete City Marina while I went back to another semester of law school (mid life crisis? probably). Anyway, I departed from St Pete Marina around 1000 making for the ICW to Sarasota. It was an easy trip motoring through a scenic area. I anchored just inside the Boca Grande pass. Not the best choice of anchorages. Wind and current were counter each other. Thought about setting two anchors and at about 0100 I regretted not putting out a second one. Woke up because the boat motion was odd. Current had shifted and spun the boat around the anchor rode. Had a nice tight wrap around the keel. Fortunately it came loose pretty easy by letting out another 100 feet or so and working it free with a boat hook. Raised the anchor and moved a mile or so in from the entrance and current was much milder. No more excitement.
Early next morning I stowed the dinghy on deck and secured the outboard in the cockpit locker and headed out the pass into the Gulf of Mexico. Made the 30 mile run outside to Sanibel Island near Ft. Meyers. Was nice to finally sail a little. Had a beautiful and quiet anchorage by Matanzas Pass.
Next Morning it was up and out around 0800 for the run outside to Key West. Weather called for east wind 5-10 kn and a slight chance of thunder storms over night. Pretty typical for south Florida this time of year. I should have played the lottery because I caught at least a half dozen of those "slight chances" over night! All in all it was a mild run to Key West. The night time thunder storms in this area kind of materialize in place so they aren't easy to predict or plan for as if they were a line of storms with a track to follow. Mostly they are pretty mild, occasionally heavy rain for 15-20 minutes and sometimes a lot of lightening. Wind usually kicks up to 20-25 knots and dies back down after the storm passes. I am a pretty conservative sailor so I rig the boat in preparation for the storms and plan to sail slow. I am making this trip single handed and don't go out on deck unless I need to and try to keep the boat set up to minimize deck time at night. So, as the sun set I rolled the genoa in and reefed the main in anticipation of the weather as forecast. Was able to maintain around 3.5 -4 knots and when the storms would hit I had nothing to do but go below and wait it out and let the auto pilot steer. During the storms I would pick up speed to 6-6.5 knots then drop back to 4 or so afterwards. It was all in all a pretty easy run to Key West.
I tried to Anchor near Wisteria Island as I have never seen the area. Found a couple of good looking spots among all the mooring balls only to find that the holding is horrible. Being as cheap as I am I couldn't bring myself to pay $10 a night for a mooring ball when the Navy Base is only 8 miles away and I can get a slip there for not much more. So, off I went to Boca Chica where I am writing this from. I will stay put through the weekend and make a grocery run and do some sight seeing by land before I make my way up to Biscayne Bay next week to pick up a guest for the run to Bimini.
A couple of specific questions that I was asked to keep an eye out for. I am on a Catalina 310, mast height is 47'8" plus instruments brings it close to 49'. I am conservative and will not go under a bridge which is lower than 50' The ICW between Destin and Ft Meyers has a couple of 50' bridges, they were easy enough to go around between Panama City and St Joe Bay and again just inside the ICW entrance at Charlotte Harbor heading across the Okeechobee Waterway. The 49' lift Bridge in the Okeechobee keeps me from going that way.
My boat has the wing keel and draws 4' 8". The only skinny water that gave me any trouble was near Wisteria Island in Key West. There were plenty of sand bars and shallow places. I bumped bottom twice while trying to anchor. Grabbing a mooring would not be a problem though. Coming down the ICW between St Pete and Sarasota I did see several places in the center of the channel that were marked as 8' but I was seeing 6' at most. Keeping to the outside of bends helps keep deeper water underneath so anyone going this way might want to avoid hugging the insides of turns.
Hope this is helpful to anyone thinking about going this way.
It's my happy pill
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