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Hi all,
I am tring to plan a little vacation for my family and wanted some info on Cedar Key, Florida and/or the "Forgotten Coast." I have 2 teenage daughters who are both highly athletic and seem to enjoy their dad's hair-brained adventures in sailing - especially in locations not at "home" (we live near the Mississippi Gulf Coast)!

I have spent a lot of time on the Emerald Coast and I have lived in St. Petersburg. I have always been curious about the coastline between those two areas.

Is the water and beaches similar to what is found on the Emerald Coast? Obviously, the girls want Panama City (which is real close, so they CAN drive over for a day :eek: ), but the parents want secluded island getaway ;) - and the Forgotten Coast or Cedar Key seems to fit the bill...

The Forgotten Coast seems to emphasize fishing, eating and siteseeing which tends to make me beleive they don't really have "beaches" like the communities to the south and west. Obviously, this is a "sailing trip," so it SEEMS we could sail out to the islands of Cedar Key or the "Forgotten Coast."

I love to park the boat for dinner at seafood eatery with a dock and would take recommendations...

any help (especially pic of the beaches/water) would be appreciated -- AND SAILING STORIES/ADVICE IS AWAYS NEEDED!

I am not "married" to these 2 places and would consider somplace in the area other than what I have mentioned!

Thanks,
Jay
"The Elephant" -- 24ft Spindrift
 

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Mechsmith
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Low points- Lots of skinny water.
High points- Called the "Nature Coast" with good reason.
From my point of view- Inglis is a nice town, Most stuff available that you need. Tarpon Springs is a little more commercialised. Beaches are not built up much. The Withlacoochee River is a bit of old maritime Florida, as is Cedar Key. Teenagers would probably like Tarpon Springs better. Can anchor in the Withlacootchee, The Greenway, or behind Anclote Key. Marinas and finer dining up the Anclote River.
 

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Tarpon Springs is worth a couple days...and a nice, fairly relaxing days sail up the intercoastal from St Pete...or you can jump outside if weather is good...I did a trip from Madeira beach to cedar keys a few years ago and I stopped in Tarpon Springs for about 5 days due to heavy rainstorms(late June).A small boat like 24-29 foot range is able to anchor right near the sponge docks if you come up the Anclote river and look for the first channel to the right when you come into the spongedock area...there is room to swing there out of the channel right where that finger channel comes in from the south before you get into heart of spongedocks. That bayou or finger channel takes you right into a big brackish lake and park just west of the middle of downtown Tarpon if you choose to explore it and I recommend it.
You are quite correct that Cedar keys is not Panama City Beach. It is skinny water as already said but a 24-footer should be fine. The town has about a 1000 people and there is a fishing pier and restaurants as well as off the tourist trap venues, clamming and scalloping should be great around here if you ask some locals where to go.There is a nice little library with computers and wi-fi if needed and a friendly library staff and a great mom and pop grocery store with everything you might need. Enjoy should be a nice change from St Pete...lol..take care.
 

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I have spent a lot of time at Cedar key sailing in and out of it. Unfortunately, it is not very sailboat friendly as there is no good dock adjacent to the restaurants where you can tie up. However, you can anchor out and dinghy in.
There are no real beaches at Cedar key. However, there is a nice public swimming area (no waves) with a good kids playground and basketball courts where i have seen people sunbathing and launching kayaks.
One can easily sail out to Atsena Oatie Key and out to the Key with the lighthouse and several others. The water is very shallow and you WILL go aground. At the waterfront, there is no fuel available and I'd buy any gas away from Cedar Key because all of it sold on island is with ethanol, even at the Marinas (two years ago). The marinas are not on the same side of the island as the restaurants and the marinas will not accomodate sailboats with fixed draft keels but call ahead to find out..
Cedar Key is an interesting place to wander around (walking) as it has art galleries, bars, restaurants, etc all in a small area. You could do almost everything on Cedar Keys in a long weekend. You can rent kayaks (a good thing to do), sail out to the islands, fish, wander around and admire the local cats. The Cedar Key Beacon newspaper sometimes covers the antics of the local cats.
South of Cedar Key, all the way to Tarpon Springs, there is almost nothing for a sailboat to get into.
West of Cedar Key, the entrance to the Suwanee River is s'posed to be good but tricky. I do know of bigger sailboats, even a Morgan OI42 that is there.
Anchoring out, holding is good in deep mud. Unless you can get in the lee of Atsena Oatie Key, there is little protection from west winds but the extensive shallows prevent any significant swells unless the weather gets extreme.
 

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If your 24' boat is trailerable, here is what I would do. Put in at Carrabelle, FL (west of Cedar Key 100 miles) where you have some deep water marinas. Then, you can sail out to Dog Island to get all the isolation you want. Dog Island does have good beaches and will be almost empty of people. Sail from there out around Alligator point/Bald Point to Panacea where the Forgotten coast begins and you no longer have beaches. This is about a 30 mile sail. Panacea has a marina and restaurants. Then sail across Apalachee bay to the St. Marks River and go upriver to St Marks where you haul out (more restaurants and marina). If you can get up the Wakulla River from St. Marks, you will see manatees just below the HWY 98 bridge.
 
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