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I am planning a sailing trip from the Tampa Bay area to the Florida Keys. My first mate is not thrilled about the prospect of sailing our Catalina 445 with a five foot draft after dark. I am trying to make the shot across Florida Bay to the keys as short a distance as possible. Am I stuck departing from Marco Island, or is there a suitable marina or protected anchorage available further south?

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Frank
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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When I made that trip I went overnight from Marcos Island to a bit north of the Yacht Channel, where I dropped anchor and waited until daylight to proceed through the Channel and to the Bridge. Depth doesn't become a problem till you get near the Yacht Channel.

As I recall, I chose that route because of concerns over depths along the coast south of there, and I'm only 4'6" draft. I also had a benign wx forecast to work with.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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My mistake, I left from Sanibel , not Marcos. Key West, Marathon, and the Channel Five bridge are all roughly equidistant from there, approx. 125 statute miles, not nautical. So, at 5.5 knots, you're looking at roughly 21 hours.

I went through at the Channel Five bridge, as I was on my way up the east coast.

Sorry for the confusion. It's been 5 years and I lost my track log when my old laptop died.
 

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Señor Member
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When we passed that way in Dec 2009, we anchored in the Little Shark River -- a very neat little spot. This allowed us to traverse Fla Bay in daylight hours (one day Marco to LSR; one day LSR to Marathon.)

Another thing to consider in addition to the depths -- crab pots. Depending on your keel/rudder arrangement, and whether or not the trip will be done entirely or partially under power, the number of crab pots out there almost require doing this in daylight.

You may want to consider logging on to Active Captain -- we found this to be a most helpful website for passage planning.

Best,
PF
 
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