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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning a move to Fl from WI to sail year round. I have chosen Punta Gorda or Cape Coral as my destination. I only visit there and have not sailed either area and would like to know which is better sailing. I realize Charlotte Harbor is quite large and long to get out of... but is it nice to sail? or is is always choppy like the Great lakes. I have not sailed the gulf but am planning a long carribean trip in 2 years.
I plan to do short weekend island trips to get some experience but I don''t even know the islands. Before I buy a house and hate my sailing area or my neighborhood can I get anyones opinion on these two cities and their waters? It would help a lot!!!
Troy
 

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Troy, I can offer you some observations on Charlotte Harbor and the W coast of Florida, FWIW - which won''t be much, since this is such a personal thing.

We owned a condo in the PG/PC area and, while the bay is a wonderful resource to local sailors (tho with much shallow water), the town has always struck us as provincial and uninteresting, with the Snowbird enclaves sequestered and not really part of the community. (Please remember, these are just personal reactions we''ve had to the area...). The undeveloped bordering lands to the estuary were purchased by the State of Florida several decades ago - finally, Florida took some steps to preserve a small piece of its natural beauty - which promises little change for the future from a sailing perspective. You have multiple passes both N and S of the area, offering protected motoring up/down the ICW or alongshore passages of varying lengths. The water from Venice (to the N) down to Ft. Myers is quite attractive, much moreso than further north.

We ended up being far more attracted to the Tampa Bay area, which has a nice collection of larger cities AND small towns, plus a nearby ''critical mass'' that provides more entertainment, employment (I realize, not your concern), skilled trades and the other infrastructure that makes life pleasant and easy. There is local cruising both on the Bay and somewhat N and certainly S of it. I''d encourage you to include this area in your consideration; if smaller towns are your desire, consider Ruskin, Palmetto and Bradenton in your review.

Good luck on the search...

Jack
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Punta Gorda IMHO is a lot prettier than the Cape...One of the problem with sailing the area is that you don''t have much wind except when we have fronts coming through in the Fall and Spring. The waters in the bay are usually quite calm..you do get a lot of wakes in the ICW during week-ends...tons of boat and you are the slow one.....
The day trips to Cabbage Key, Useppa, Captiva are wonderful from either direction.
Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Charlotte Harbor is nice, but as Jack said, there is much skinny water and if you pull too much water your sailing areas in the harbor are limited. The harbor is very large, but as stated before....there are lots of shallows. From the Harbor itself there are no bridges to the gulf. The harbor can get choppy but generally its too bad unless its a strong front moving through.

Punta Gorda is no Rose...the town itself is nothing to get excited over....rather small and unexciting.....summertime its just plain dull....many of the residents go north in the summer. Port Charlotte across the river/harbor to the north has the major shopping areas and most everything else.

Cost wise, depending on what you want real estate wise your prices will be higher in the Cape Coral/Ft. Myers area than in the Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte area. Crime rates are higher in the Cape Coral/Ft. Myers area than in Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte. The distance from Cape Coral to the Gulf is about the same as Punta Gorda...except that you have to go out the Caloosahatchie River and depending on your mast height you may have to wait for the bridge to Sanibel to open.

I live aboard just south of Punta Gorda at Burnt Store Marina & Country Club which is about 12 miles south of Punta Gorda.
 

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Ahoy,[email protected] .net, I live in both PA and Cape Coral and it is my opinion that the Cape coral fort Myers area and Charlotte Harbor including Punta Gorda is an execellent area to sail for shallow water local sailing , and a great place to step off for the gulf, Florida keys and the Carribean. Deep water is a matter of and hour of motoring from any of these cities and all are laid back and nice to visit. There are a great many things to see and do both by land and water. The resorces for boat repair and maintenance are execellent. The property values are directly proportianal to water access in all of these cities, but compared to the rest of the nation the prices are reasonable and even very reasonable if you drive to the boat. The tourist industry and booming economy is an asset and a drawback. Jobs are plentifull but low pay for unskilled. Small boat factories are offering livable wages and abound. There is no big city close by and you don''t have the problems either. I have found the area to be the most like the chesapeake bay. The sailing in any of the rivers and harbors can be rough with shallow water, bad weather ,strong tides, traffic in the marker channels. The unspoiled nature and varied places to visit with sheltered anchorages makes up for the shortcommings. The weather is generally very good with only seasonal squalls and cold fronts to be wary of. With so much protected sailing wind can be iffy but the coastal properties of the area provide plenty of usable wind. I love the area and never get tired of exploring and enjoying sailing on the waters you will find there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you for your imput. I appreciate the opinion. While we are looking for cheaper realestate we need to find employment and good sailing. I plan to sail a 31'' boat there and want nice water. I was hoping to live somewhere between. You mentioned moving further north and I am looking into jobs and costs and realestate now. thnks again, Troy
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A few of you folks mentioned thin shallow water. Are we talking rock, sand, or coral bottoms under 10'' of water or sandbars hiding under the surface. I sail the latter now and I am trying to get away from 7-8'' depths and always worrying I''ll run aground.
My wife likes the lower prices and lower crime rates in Charlotte county but I am guessing Cape Coral/Ft Meyers may hold the jobs we''ll need. I am so excited about making leaving Wisconsin before snow!!!!
ANY and all your imput is much appreciated! thanks!! Troy
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You''re going to deal mostly with sand...and its really just an issue of reading your charts and staying aware of where you are at all times. There is plenty of room in the harbor to sail....just be a prudent mariner and it''ll be okay. Take a look at the chart for the harbor and you''ll see there is plenty of water to sail in.

As to jobs in Ft. Myers....you might want to not necessarily make a leap down here without either a hunk of change in the bank, or a job already lined up. Wages here DO NOT compare with up there, though the cost of living is alittle lower. If you live in the Fort Myers area you will pay much more for housing and insurance for cars and home will be higher. The nominal distance from Port Charlotte to Fort Myers is 27 miles, and believe me when I say alot of people commute from Charlotte County to Lee County (Fort Myers) for work.
 

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Ahoy, tgm micron.net, I''m talking shallow like 6" to 6 feet in most areas out of the marked channels in most rivers and sounds. Charlotte harbor offers the best deep water that you require yet considering the Gulf just an hour away the harbor is a duck pond. The sand bars,mangrove reefs and oyster bars of solid stone in most areas of shallow water make sailing a challange. The gulf is the real gem for you trust me. Port Charlotte , Punta Gorda,and the other small cities are barley more than rest stops and bedroom communities. Forget Crime it does not exist as you know it from the north unless you go looking for it. I can guarantee there is never any snow. Come on down to paradise. Big Red
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, I broke down and drug out my charts and gave them a gander.....Charlotte harbor has alot, and I mean alot of water for sailing and access to the Gulf is easier than from the Caloosahatchie.

The depths in the Charlotte Harbor are deep enough to sail exspansively, as long as you maintain a safe distance from the shores and watch out for a couple of shallow areas not too far from the ICW and Gulf.

Just as a personal aside....I have lived in this area for awhile and I am native of FL, but Fort Myers to me is something akin to to a "hemorroid"(sp). Don''t care for it much.
The crime levels in Ft. Myers are much higher than the papers will admit....don''t want to scare away those tourist dollars ya'' know.

But if you don''t have to have sailboat water in the backyard...you could live in Cape Coral on north into Punta Gorda and over to Port Charlotte and be better off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Rob,
Thanks for the advice. My wife and I are looking for a cheaper home and both looking for work. Coming for a few weeks to search for work soon. My wife and I both need jobs. I was hoping to find a home in Cape Coral or Port Charlotte. I found your hurricane info interesting too..

I probably will end up making that same commute between cities.

I am looking forward to sailing in the Gulf.
I have a 25''boat now and will end up sailing that until we are financially stable to upgrade to 30''. When you say I''d need a big junk of change.... I wonder are the jobs that low paying???
How expensive are slips? Troy...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I captained one of three boats out of Burnt Store Marina all 35ft Island Packets. Charlotte Harbor was calm on the out bound passage as well as the return. Depth is a consideration and pay close attention to your charts and depth readings. We went aground at the entrance to the Naples city docks well within the channel. We got off ok but the police boat said " the locals know to stay to this side of the channel. As for the trip south outside the ISlands we had a beautiful 25 to 28 mph wind from shore for a beam reach steady for most of the day at 6 to 8 Knots. Yachting Vacations Charters (great) out of Burnt Store Marina.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Punta Gorda has some Nice areas, as Well as Port Charlotte.. Just depends on how much you intend to spend on a Home. We have a small Home on Boca Grande and love it, although we sail alot as we are now..
Charlotte Harbor for the most Part is Shoal draft !!
If you really want to enjoy the area keep that in mind...Swing Keels rule in this area.
We have a deep draft boat, so we are limited in going behind the barriers ect..And we have to sail "the ditch" to go very far.
Punta Gorda is a fast growing area. But there are alot of other ares that to are nice.
IronWind
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If you are really interested in sailing, think East Coast. Bimini is 8 to 10 hours from Homestead/Miami, Key Largo is 5 hours south. Pretty blue water. Lots of jobs. Healthy crime rate :(

I lived in Ft. Myers and dead in the summer is an understatement. Winter is clogged with old people. Poor jobs and LOW PAY. Good luck.
 
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