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Old 02-23-2013
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Where to keep a sailboat? Jacksonville or Pensacola??

Planning for the future..... What would be the better place to keep a sailboat and sail? Southeast coast around the Jacksonville to Savannah area or panhandle of Florida near the Pensacola area?

From our port, we would plan to cruise to the bahamas for a few months at a time. Looking for a place that has an avid sailing population as well as an area where the seas are easier to sail in - don't like big waves and strong currents!

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

thanks,

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Old 02-23-2013
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Re: Where to keep a sailboat? Jacksonville or Pensacola??

Is this an either/or proposition? Does it have to be one of these two places or would you be open to other spots?
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Old 02-23-2013
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Re: Where to keep a sailboat? Jacksonville or Pensacola??

Open to other areas; however would prefer to be near a midsized city. Curious to know if sailing conditions are much more difficult on the Atlantic side versus the Gulf side of florida.

Last edited by manhattan08; 02-23-2013 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 02-23-2013
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Re: Where to keep a sailboat? Jacksonville or Pensacola??

Generally speaking you will have calmer conditions in the Gulf around Pensacola. Protected areas for cruising will be limited depending on draft. There a lot of protected bays along that coast from Apalachicola to Panama City, and from Destin to Mobile. A deep draft boat will keep you in the major harbors though. The benefit of the East coast is the proximity to the Bahamas if you have the time. It's a whole lot farther from the panhandle. If you are looking for a sailing community, St. Augustine is a good choice with a reasonable commute to Jacksonville. Neither has any good inland sailing, and the Atlantic can be snotty and rough at times. The best of both worlds can be found on the west coast in the Tampa/St. Pete area.
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Old 02-23-2013
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Re: Where to keep a sailboat? Jacksonville or Pensacola??

I would choose pensacola between those two. It has a great and protected bay, very friendly people (they both do), and beautiful water. They area is very pretty too. They have a nice beach/strip scene with Peg Leg Petes a "must see". There are some gorgeous beaches and lots of places to go and anchor. Even panama city is not too far away and apalachicola oysters can be had still dripping with salt water. Yard rates are the most competitive of anywhere i have been except maybe kemah. However, they do get a winter and there are times it gets quite cold (at least for my s florida blood). Depending on your water and air draft, you may have to circle key west to go east to the bahamas. Also, you will do 2-3 overnighters to get to the keys and it is quite a long sail. Jack would be much closer, though you are going against the stream to get to a jump off point.

A better choice is probably saint pete. Of all the places i have been, this is probably my favorite. Great cruising community, small city inside a larger city. Very young and vibrant downtown. Very dog friendly. Lots and lots of places to anchor with great historic parks that are gorgeous and well kept. Lots of history here too. And if you just want to sail, tampa bay is awesome. If you want to race, davis island has a great fleet and fairly competitive. The water here us pretty. Drafts are not an issue. Everything is available for your boat locally, or it simply isnt made. Yard rates aee pretty good. Slippage is good for florida, but higher than pens or jack. The only overnighter is jumping off from marco/fort myers beach to the keys. However, you are 100-120 miles to marco and another 120 to key west or marathon. So you still have to plan for a trip to get to rodriguez key to jimp across to bimini or west end.

Personally, i think it is worth it. Btw, great cruising community here and bery friendly people. We leave st pete in a few days to head to bahamas, but we will really miss this place. It always felt like home and family. Pm me if you want more details on marinas, etc. i know west florida to rodriguez key extremely well.

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Re: Where to keep a sailboat? Jacksonville or Pensacola??

We had a brief stint in Jacksonville and did not enjoy it. There are a few "nicer" areas, but generally everywhere we went it was hard to get around and everything was spread out. There were parts of the St Johns that weren't bad, but it wouldn't be my choice.

Someone mentioned St Augustine, if I were looking at somewhere to live, that'd definitely be in my list. It's a little south of Jacksonville, but it's a really nice city and is accessible. You also have the benefit of being near an inlet. When we were there, a lot of cruisers were passing through, I don't know anything about the local sailing community there, though.

Another option, slightly north of Savannah, would be Charleston. They have a really active sailing population there and it's a great city. I have never sailed there personally (I have lived there, though), but I know they have a large community of people there that do.
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Old 02-26-2013
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Re: Where to keep a sailboat? Jacksonville or Pensacola??

Thanks everyone for your response to my question. I haven't had access to a computer in a couple of days and now finally do.

It sounds like the easier place to sail is going to be on the gulf side. I have friends that sail out of tampa and they seem to really enjoy the area. I will definately plan to take a look at Saint Pete. I know that property values have come down there substantially over the past few years so maybe a house on the canal???

Thanks again for all of your input.....
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Re: Where to keep a sailboat? Jacksonville or Pensacola??

Given your choices I would suggest Pensacola or the panhandle in general. We lived several years in the Destin area, between Pensacola and Panama City. There is fantastic sailing in that area, lots of places to explore, the gulf is typically very nice sailing. It is easy to get to ports south and over to the Bahamas when you wan to venture further afield. The economy in the panhandle has faired well with the Air Force and Navy not only avoiding BRAC but gaining in the Destin area. From the panhandle you are easy sailing to Alabama, Louisiana, south Florida, either inside or out. Inside if you have air draft of < 50 feet. There is a 50' bridge going into Destin, a 50' bridge on the icw between Destin and Pensacola, and a 50' bridge between Panama City and Port St Joe. My Catalina 310 can make all of them at low tide.

St Petersburg would be my suggestion if you want to get south a little bit and want larger cities around. Easy access by car, plane, or boat. Easy sail to Key West and beyond. The bay is shallow and busy, not really to my liking but it is a short hop to the Skyway bridge and out into the gulf.

Seems to me that much of your decision depends on the sailing that you want to do. Gulf and bays are typically much calmer. Atlantic offers big ocean sailing and access to the Islands, although Jax is quite north for crossing to the Bahamas, you would probably find that you would want to head south while staying out of the stream and crossing from someplace closer to Ft. L or Miami.
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Re: Where to keep a sailboat? Jacksonville or Pensacola??

Are you talking Jacksonville proper, or Jacksonville Beach area (along the ICW)? Getting from downtown Jax to open water will take up nearly half your day (and then there's getting back). Also the St John's River with an outgoing tide is quite strong. Great if you're going out, not so great if you're coming back in.

Also, rather than Savannah, I would pick the north end of Hilton Head Island. You can daysail in the Sound, out to the ocean and up to Charleston, or south to St Simons.

If currents and tides are a concern though, stick with the Gulf.
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