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South Florida Mini Loop

Discussion in 'Marinas & Waypoints' started by ocgrant, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. ocgrant

    ocgrant New Member

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    Thinking about doing this over the Xmas New Years weeks. Ft Lauderdale to Stuart then west accross the lake to Ft Meyers and then down through the Keys and back north to home. What should I expect? How would you pace yourself to enjoy but move along... Look forward to hearing from the experts.
  2. dennismc

    dennismc Senior Member

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    Great easy trip, just be sure to check for any lock closures or delays etc. Indian Town Marina a great stopover if all open.
    Take your time and enjoy, the trip back around from Ft Myers is fun, lots of thin water so be careful, suggest staying on the inside as far down as you can, thro Coon Key pass, really shallow. lots of side trips if you get ambitious.
  3. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Or run outside and avoid the shallow water. That would be my choice and he's got the speed to comfortably do so.
  4. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I did it years ago with my 53. Interesting trip, you get to see all the aspects of Florida Incl the Keys, the west coast and the rural side. Did it in 8 or 9 days. One of my favorite stop was the Gun and Rod club marina in Everglades city, not sure if they are still around
  5. motoryachtlover

    motoryachtlover Senior Member

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    I don’t know if you have a schedule but the winds that time of year can affect a schedule. The run from Naples to Key West or Marathon can be rough with 15 knot winds. Not unsafe just not fun. I think the Lake level is up now but they are doing a lot of releasing right now. But a lake level with a navigable depth of 6’ is a no go for me. I draw 5’ and the lake has claimed its fair share of victims. So check that as well. Have fun.
  6. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I've crossed lake okeechobee in a 75' MY and many times in less. It's a very nice trip. I skip over Indiantown unless you enjoy walking miles back to the boat from dinner and go to Roland Martins even though the food is straight out of a Sysco bag. The only shallow area to worry about is the narrow channel on the West side to where the lock is for Rolan Martins, I like 1.5' of additional draft, but have taken MANY yachts through there. It's a very nice trip in the winter and if cold all of the alligators are on the bank. Keep in mind the locks won't let you in 30 minutes prior to closing time. I also avoid the ICW on the West coast. You can easily do the entire trip in 5 days without stopping to smell the roses. None of the towns from Stuart to Ft. Myers are worth stopping to smell the roses.....so just travel through them just stopping each night for dinner and a dock. Ft. Myers has some nice things to do. Marathon is ok, Faro Blanco is a nice stop.
  7. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    We've gone through in up to 85' boats and drafts up to 5'3". At current depths you could even do greater.

    Our preference is to be at the first lock when they open for the day and then try to cross in one day or, at worse, make it most of the way and finish early on day two. I would assume you cruise the East Coast all the time so won't comment on Key West to Stuart. On the west coast there are many great areas to spend time. We love Fort Myers for a day. Then Sanibel Island can be fun. Naples is a great town. We enjoy Marco Island. Last night we anchored off Ten Thousand Islands near it. From there we generally would go straight to Key West although don't overlook the possibility of visiting the Dry Tortugas.

    You could make this loop a hundred times and never run out of places or things to see. We don't like shallow water and don't choose to cruise in it. Instead we'll cruise outside and if there's something inside we want to visit or see we'll do so. We've done most of the ICW's but not in one long run, just hitting different areas at different times.

    If I had time coming out of Fort Myers I'd detour north for a day or two. Venice is one of our favorite stops and not far north. Siesta Key, Longboat Key and Sarasota are pleasant. Then, of course, the Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater area. However, if you just go south from Fort Myers you'll find plenty to see.

    You can take as long as you have. We've made the loop in as little as 4 days, but normally we would want at least 8 to 10 days and two weeks would be better. At two weeks, you can easily have 7 days of cruising and 7 of playing. If we're going to cruise somewhere we at least want as much time to enjoy there as it took to get there.

    Now for where to spend your time and what to see, I recommend TripAdvisor. Go to each location and find the sites and attractions and decide which ones interest you most. Make lists for each city and rate them and then pick the top three or four places you want to see. Visit the others next time. We don't try to get every port into every trip. Rather we'd likely choose 7 places we wanted to see in 14 days and travel to and from them. One time it might be Fort Myers and the next Fort Myers Beach. One time it might be Naples and the next Marco Island.

    Capt J mentioned Faro Blanco. Great place to stop and play for a day. They rent lots of toys.
  8. KoffeeCruising

    KoffeeCruising Member

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    314EA9CF-FDEC-426A-B2D9-E5EC50807153.jpeg Last pre Covid trip we went
    -Bahia Mar to Faro Banco 9+hrs
    -FB to Key West 3.5hrs stayed @ AB Marina
    -KW to Naples... 6 hours stayed with pals.
    -Naples -OWW Sweetwater Marina 4.5 hrs
    -Sweetwater to Indiantown 8.2 hours had 20mph winds on Okochobee but it wasn’t too bad. Boring crossing the lake. Indiantown nice hole in wall marina but no restaurants or bar.
    IT to Boca 9.5 hrs all on ICW. Shallows near Stuart and 25mph headwind were no fun. Slow through PGA area but easy to navigate. Would be faster outside Stuart to PB or Port Everglades but too windy.

    I didn’t mind the Okochobee Waterway... easy to cruise @20kts; just a wide calm unpopulated River w 3 locks. Had great conditions from Key west coast/Gulf Mex. Took 6 travel days and we broke up trip staying in KW and Naples each for a few days.
    Edad likes this.
  9. ocgrant

    ocgrant New Member

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    Great info thank you. Going to plan it out and see if I can make it happen. I am home for the Holidays, not traveling but will be WFB (working from boat) So that gives me 2 weeks to "play" while working.

    Sounds like head north to Stuart and spend the first night there and then make the crossing in one day and take my time from there. I know I will have enough diesel to make these legs no issue but a buddy of mine wants to come in a 32 Sea Ray gasser, his range is a lot less. Is there plenty of "gas stops" along the way?
  10. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Plenty of gas stops but he will need a lot of them.
  11. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    It s a longish run from the keys to Everglades city, about 80nm or so from what I remember but doable even in a gasser

    I anchored of the middle cape overnight, nice and peaceful. The beach is beautiful for a long walk.

    I skipped Key West, took the “yacht channel” from Long Island and straight to the cape. It s doable with up to a 5 1/2 draft.
  12. Alzira II

    Alzira II Member

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    What is the yacht channel?
  13. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    It s well charted channel which starts on the north side of Long Key and heard NNW toward the capes. If
    Ve taken it a few times with as much as 5’ draft

    there are a few markers along the way, save the detour to Trailer Park Key (aka marathon)
  14. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Here it is. The only slightly tricky spot is the southernmost set of market where you have to follow a dogleg. If you pay attention to the chart it s no problem F52DCD8F-6897-4457-A232-89C47054A888.jpeg
  15. Cruz

    Cruz Member

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    @ocgrant - are you planning to stay exclusively at marinas or anchor out? Dockage is typically pretty booked up over the holidays in the areas you’re planning to travel and it’s particularly tight this year. If marinas are in your plan you should start calling around right away to see if you can even get dockage. Definitely not the time of year to be winging it as you go, especially this year. Good luck!
  16. ocgrant

    ocgrant New Member

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    g
    Good point... I don't mind the hook but not every night. Going to make some calls and see if this will work or not....