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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Gulf of Mexico
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Gulf of Mexico US Coastlines, excluding Florida


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  #1  
Old 09-07-2011
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Dry Tortugas in Spring

Gang,

Last weekend I sailed my Cal 27 mk3 down to Ft. Myers area from Tampa Bay. It handled a SE 15-20 kts and weird seas from Tropical Storm Lee quite well. Pointing in 3-5's was better than I expected. I was thinking of sailing it back to St. Petersburg later this fall, but now I'm considering taking it to either Key West or Dry Tortugas in the Spring.

I have a regular job with limited time off and am hoping I could get it from Ft. Myers to Dry Tortugas and back to Naples, Ft. Myers, or Key West in a 7 day period.

Was thinking I could make it down and back to Ft. Myers in a week but was also looking for a bailout if there is a strong cold front that wants to move in.

Anybody have a suggestion on which month is better from Feb to May and also have any suggestions for a marina I could tie up to in Key west or near for a few weeks to a month that wont cost me a fortune?
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Old 09-08-2011
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From San Carlos Island to the Anchorage at Garden Key in the Tortugas is about 121 miles. With any wind you should be able to manage 4.5 to 5 knots in your Cal so, for all intents and purposes its about a 21-25 hour sail although will likely take you longer given the propensity for squalls off the Everglades once the sun goes down. If you know how to handle the boat, the squalls can really give you a sleighride, if not...well, that depends upon you. I'd be careful about locking myself into a schedule. To get an idea what average weather conditions are like pull up the coast pilots but generally in the winter you're looking at series of cold fronts that bring very unpleasant (cold!) north westerlies. I'd go by November or delay until May.

You can get quite a bit of information from ActiveCaptain.com

FWIW...
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Old 09-09-2011
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Thanks Hylite

I've never heard of that Active Captian website before, but it looks like a great reference tool. I was impressed with all of the details on each marina and anchorage along the way.

The schedule will be the hard part but these fronts are usually pretty predictable. Question(Will I get NOAA wx info on the VHF at Ft. Jefferson?)

I think I need to come up with Plan B and C. If the weather turns sour(cold front) I might just end up drinking at Cabbage Key. Another option might be to make Marco, explore the Little Shark River. Ideally I'd be able to make it to Ft. Jefferson and back to somewhere cheaper than Key West to tie the boat up in time to get back to work.

I think April might be the best bet weather wise.
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Old 09-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lans0012 View Post
I've never heard of that Active Captian website before, but it looks like a great reference tool. I was impressed with all of the details on each marina and anchorage along the way.
Active Captain is an excellent site.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lans0012 View Post
The schedule will be the hard part but these fronts are usually pretty predictable. Question(Will I get NOAA wx info on the VHF at Ft. Jefferson?).
You can get a pretty good look forward on weather conditions from PassageWeather.com. At Ft. Jeff the rangers can give you information and you should be able to get VHF Weather. You might also look into carrying a small portable High Frequency receiver so you can pick up highseas weather forecasts off the SSB channels (good to for WeatherFax plugged into your mic outlet on your laptop.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by lans0012 View Post
... I think I need to come up with Plan B and C. If the weather turns sour(cold front) I might just end up drinking at Cabbage Key. Another option might be to make Marco, explore the Little Shark River. Ideally I'd be able to make it to Ft. Jefferson and back to somewhere cheaper than Key West to tie the boat up in time to get back to work.

I think April might be the best bet weather wise.
Alternatives are always good. You can hop down the coast but eventually you'll have to make a long off-shore leg. Also, please note that you're not likely to find Transient Mooring Fees any less at Marco Island or Naples than they are in say, Garrison Bight--which with your mast height you should be able to access. It would be wise to join BoatUS if you are not already a member both for the Towing Service, which is a great deal, and for the discounts that are offered to BoatUS Members by many marinas. The savings can add up. Another option is to join a local yacht club that is a member of the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs. With that you will have access to good facilities everywhere at very low cost and the ability to mix with other sailors in the locale.

FWIW...
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