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Discussion Starter #1
I'll be sailing from Melbourne FL (Space Coast) to Key West in 20 days... It's my first long trip and everyone I talk to seems to have a different opinion, all of which will "save me three days" Our options are ICW then outside at Lake Worth, or Okeechobee across to Ft. Meyers. There seem to be pros and cons to both routes.. i.e. It's my first time in the ocean.. Any advice would be much appreciated..
 

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cruising all I can
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any advice you say?
I would suggest you not go.
I see some potential issues with how this whole trip is planned, or not planned.
this is a sailboat we're talking about? so the "best " route is jump outside and sail it.
However, you stated it would be your first time outside!
that's your first possible issue, maybe it would have been more prudent to take her in and out a few times to alleviate the obvious questions you have about going out in the big O.
Another is your "schedule " you're going in 20 days? well,I hope the weather is cooperating,cuz if anyone's telling you what the weather is going to be in three weeks ,their full of it.I'll be able to tell the weather, in three weeks.
even motoring the ditch the weather is a primary consideration.
So,your whole premiss if flawed .
don't mean you shouldn't go,just hoping to give you a different perspective on how to look at sailing to go someplace.
I took off 7years ago didn't know nuthin, now all I know is the mistakes I made and if anyone would have told me different (and many probably did) I would have dismissed them,and I'm glad I did,or I never would have left the dock.
best route, you'll know the morning you cast off.
You're the captain, it's your ship, not the calendar's.
good luck.
 

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Disregarding weather, the quickest way is outside sailing down close to the coast so as to avoid the Gulfstream (and hopefully pick up a counter current).
The second quickest is down the ICW then Hawk Channel to Key West, or some combination of outside and ICW.
The third quickest, if you can do it, is to take the ICW down the keys as far as Marathon.
Going across Okeechobee seems to me to be an unnecessary detour for no good reason.
As I said, all of the above disregards weather, which could dictate your route decision.

It is always a good idea to let us know what type/make/model of boat you have.
You might not be able to go down the ICW in the keys due to your draft, you might not be able to go across Okeechobee due to your air draft (mast height), etc.

Study the charts and make your own decision. None of us who are giving advice are going to be onboard when you leave.

Have fun, it'll be a great trip.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Are you going by yourself, or with crew? Draft and mast height? (45' fixed bridge at Miami if on the ICW)

I singlehand, and would do the trip this way ...

ICW to Fort Pierce. Outside at Fort Pierce overnight to Miami (I come in at Cape Florida rather than at Government Cut). Next day, outside to Hawk Channel, overnight to Key West.

First leg will give you a chance to make sure everything's working and get you into rhythm. Then, weather permitting, you can go outside and not have to deal with the bridges and other stuff on the ICW.
 

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Are you going by yourself, or with crew? Draft and mast height? (45' fixed bridge at Miami if on the ICW)
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If you are referring to the Julia Tuttle Causeway bridge it's actually 55', with another foot available one span to the west.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's myself and my boyfriend (as I'm a girl) mast is 38' draft is 4'9"

Sent from my SM-G730V using Tapatalk
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Correct Mike, right bridge, wrong clearance on my part (had another bridge on my mind).
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Okay, with that info, it comes down to what kind of trip you want it to be and what you're comfortable with.

If you're both inexperienced, you might want to take the ICW down to Miami, then out to the Hawk Channel for the run to Key West. Sooner or later though, you're going to have to go out to open water. Oh, and if you don't have towing insurance, get it (unlimited), use it just once and you've paid for years of it.
 

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I would not be embarrassed to take the Intracoastal Waterway all of the way down if I was inexperienced and a little nervous about my skills. Just make sure you have a good VHF radio and you understand the rules of the road, and what things like "a two whistle pass" are, and how to call a bridge tender for an opening.

That and remember to anchor well away from the ICW channel at night, and there really isn't that much that can go wrong. You'll know when you're ready to step it up and go outside or offshore.
 

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"Anhinga" St. Augustine
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From Melbourne, you have no choice but take the ICW S. to Ft. Pierce. Spend the night there, if the forecast is perfect go offshore to Lake Worth Inlet. If the weather is not perfect take the ICW. Spend the night in Palm Beach, then repeat the above to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. Repeat again to Marathon, then again to Key West. The entire route gives you an inside or outside option, pay attention to weather and make smart conservative decisions. The biggest mistake you can make is to decide ahead of time what route you will take. Let the conditions dictate the route one day at a time. It's an easy safe coastwise passage that is perfect for gaining experience at both sailing, ICW motoring, Anchoring, and weather forecasting. The Okeechobee route will be slower and potentially more difficult. Once you are in the Gulf, the rhumb line to Key West takes you quite far from land with no good place to duck in if the weather turns snotty. You will also have to sail overnight if you take that route. Good luck and have fun!
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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The biggest mistake you can make is to decide ahead of time what route you will take. Let the conditions dictate the route one day at a time.
Well said. I would add though, nothing wrong with having a plan, just don't be wedded to it.
 
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