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I have seen some publicity for sailing in the Punta Gorda, FL area, out in Charlotte Harbor and out into the Gulf. I was wondering if there is adequate depth in the Harbor and if it is indeed good sailing territory. Would appreciate hearing from anyone having experience in this area.
 

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There is alot of water for sailing in Charlotte Harbor....but you need to really keep up with the depths and your position. There are areas where there is ample depth, and there are areas where you can walk in waist deep water at high tide. But Charlotte Harbor is a pretty big body of water. You might want to take a look at the charts before you sail there.

Also, if you are entering the Harbor from the Gulf, and especially from the north....make sure you go out to the outer marker before you turn in. Do not take any short cuts into the channel as there is alot of shoaling on the north side of the channel, and while powerboats might take alittle short cut in by the shore on the north side, I don''t recommend it for a sailboat....that water is very skinny.
 

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Thanks for the report. Punta Gorda is advertised to be a popular sailing area, but in looking at some charts it looks rather tricky. Is it indeed all that popular for sailing?
 

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Personally I can''t say that I have seen all that many sailboats in the area. There are quite a few owned and you do see them out in the Harbor under sail.....I think it is more an area for powerboats. It may be that the local Chamber of Commerce is trying to drum up more business for the area. I know if I was going to do any sailing I would more than likely just go ahead and head for the Gulf, but its a few miles from Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte to the Gulf. My Morgan only pulls 4''...but I would still head for the Gulf.
 

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After you hit the Gulf, what next? We are planning to head south (in a leased Cat) toward Marco, Key West, etc. Any suggestions, comments, etc? Thanks.
 

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I have sail Charlotte harbor and Punta Gorda many times, It''s a great place to pull in for a few days, watch the deeph follow markers in to harbor to fishermen village, a nice place to dock party a little good food what not
 

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My wife and I purchased a Cat in Punta Gorda this past Febuary and had a great time sailing in Charlotte Harbour. We were amazed at how wide it was. We had no problem with depths since we draw only 3.5 feet. There's a nice anchorage inside Pelican Pass just south of the Boca Grande Inlet. It's very well protected but check your charts cause it's pretty narrow getting in. Also a nice State Park there that you can dingy in on. Heading south toward Ft. Myers was beautiful. Just be cautious around the "Miserable Mile" which is quite narrow. It's on the charts.
 

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Charlotte Harbor

Just a fast reply, I draw 4' 9" and you will not find me out there withoutt a gps enabled chart reader. Also a membership inTowboat US.
 

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I haven't sailed Charlotte Harbor in 7-8 years, but sailed it numerous times in a boat with 5 1/2 ' draft and never had a problem. All along the west coast, from Tampa Bay southward, you need to follow the charts carefully, but it's a nice place to cruise. As I recall, most of Charlotte harbor was about 15' deep, but then I stayed away from the edges.

My last trip there was pre-hurricane, but I enjoyed staying at Fisherman Village, Burnt Store Marina, Cabbage Key, South Seas Plantation (which, sadly, I heard was severely damaged), and I also enjoyed staying at the little marina on Boca Grand, located just north of Boca Grand Pass.
 

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SW Florida

My wife, kids and I lived aboard on Ft Myers Beach and then bought a house on the ICW in Cape Coral. We have been there countless times.

It is great. We are going to sail our new boat back down there from Texas shortly.

Once you learn the area, you should be fine. It is very, very shallow though. There are placdes in the ICW that are less than 7', and in the miserable mile (stretch b/t southern tip of Cape Coral to the back side of Pine Island) you need to run close to the middle of the ICW which is very, very difficult with all the traffic. You do not have to go that way though. You can go around the gulf and come back in the inlet to Charlotte Harbor. Takes longer, but you do not have to worry about getting run over by the many sports fishers.

There are lots and lots of dolphins and wildlife. The last time we were there, we saw a pair of bald eagles nested out by Cabbage Key. We have seen lots of manatees and many other beautiful things. If you like Gunkholling, hook the big boat and dinghy around. You will find yourself back in the mangroves in places that you would swear no living person has been (though we might have!!).

The harbor itself is not always the clearest water. It is very close to the river and it often clouds view. If you like diving and history though, you would be interested in knowing that the harbor used to be a safe point for the old Spanish Galleons on their way to/back from Spain (at least as rumor holds it). The guy that cleaned by hull has a cannon for sale in Naples and a Silver Dabloom (sp???) he found in the harbor.

If you like fishing, it is probably the Tarpon Capitol of the world, and the Grouper is an easy catch. Lots of Hammers and Bull SHarks though. Show a little caution as the water is murky close to the river (Caloosahatchee).

Cabbage Key is a must see. It is on the SWest corner of C Harbor. It has become a little too touritsty lately, but you still have to go. Good anchorage across from it and dinghy over. Lots of trails to walk the island and pretty good food and cold beer (though you will pay through the nose for it). Hang your dollar on the wall and pay tribute to Jimmy Buffett (whose picture hangs in the bar with a signed dollar from the last time he was there).

Hope your "get off the sand bar" skills are good. You will need them. Just plan on running aground a few times and you won't be so upset about it.

My boat draws 5'1/2, FYI. And as far as all the advertisement, I would not account that to some undiscovered country as they would like you to believe. They are just trying to get more buyers for houses down there. It is SOOOOOOOOOOOO overvalued that they are using any means they can find to attract people. Don't go there and buy a house unless you don't care what happens to your money. But as far as the sailing goes, it probably boasts one of the more fun areas that is not overloaded with boats (at least for that part of Florida).

And don't forget, if you don't mind an overnight passage, hop down to the Dry Tortugas (about 130 miles swest and 70 miles west of Key West). It is a protect Fed Park. Beautiful fort and lots of history. I can tell you that there, the diving is great. One small word of cautiuon: Don't get caught in a storm out there. The gulf in SWest Florida is shallow and strong fronts and storms make very steep square waves... not like the Atlantic or Pacific where you get the long rollers.

Also, if your stick is over 55', you will not be able to take the ICW past the first bridge in Cape Coral. The west side around Pine Island is not a problem... there are no bridges.

Hope this helps. Have fun with it! Let me know if you have any more questions.
 

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I have sailed their and it was nice sailing. I was there in February, and there are 2 charter companies there. One is SE Florida yacht and the other is one that was just forming, I dont know the name but they chartered all Island packets. Boats at both places where nice. There is a daysailor available for daily use. It has a hank on Jib, but still was lively. I thinkit was a cal 27.

Go for it, it sure beats work, and I did find some dolphins in Charlotte harbor
 
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