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Tampa to Fort Lauderdale - Around the tip?

Old 02-02-2019, 08:34 PM
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Default Tampa to Fort Lauderdale - Around the tip?

I need some local advice. In the future I am looking at moving a trawler style boat from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale. I always considered the Okeechobee waterway as the only way. I was messing around on google maps and it looks like the waterway would be 350 miles while the other way, pass up Fort Myers to Marco Island then to Islamorada and then up through Miami would only be 20 miles longer. But perhaps not messing with canals, no wake zones, locks, etc. It does seem like Marco Island to the keys is 100 miles with not much around. Is this the reason? fuel, emergency help?

Boat will cruise at 15 knots, 31 LOA, draws 3 foot. bridge clearance a non issues, maybe 14 feet. Easy to handle. Trip will be made with just the guys who if they get seasick I won't care.

Any thoughts or reasons either way?

Old 02-02-2019, 08:43 PM
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You will be more decent on weather if running the outside down. If you come across you could run outside or intercostal if you needed.
Old 02-02-2019, 10:19 PM
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Easy trip either way. I've done the trip down the west coast to Flamingo and then across Florida Bay through the Lower Matecumbe-Long Key Bridge (Channel 5) and out to Hawk's Channel and then up. It's a beautiful run, but be sure to be fueled up at Marco Island because there's nothing beyond until you get to the oceanside keys. My boat has gone through Lake O and the canal twice without me. That trip across takes a little more than a day, but is very easy too. Going across Lake O is less weather dependent.
Old 02-03-2019, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by jillybird View Post
Easy trip either way. I've done the trip down the west coast to Flamingo and then across Florida Bay through the Lower Matecumbe-Long Key Bridge (Channel 5) and out to Hawk's Channel and then up. It's a beautiful run, but be sure to be fueled up at Marco Island because there's nothing beyond until you get to the oceanside keys. My boat has gone through Lake O and the canal twice without me. That trip across takes a little more than a day, but is very easy too. Going across Lake O is less weather dependent.
How is the depth on this route in Florida bay?
Old 02-03-2019, 08:08 AM
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Last April I ran my new to me 41 Tiara from Sarasota to Ft Pierce through lake O. While it was nice it was also a PITA. My boat throws one hell of a wake and while I tried to keep away from others I was still hollered at for waking people out (especially by sail boaters). After getting bitched out a few times I just went off plane every time I approached another boat. And there were a TON of boats. Some of them, especially the blow boaters, would not slow their speed to allow me to overtake them without producing a wake. Then they would give NASTY looks as we went by them and a few still gave me crap over the radio. I tried to be nice but finally went off on one about not reducing their speed to allow me to overtake them. I guess the VHF carries pretty far because after that it seemed like more people slowed their speed.

All that start/stop used a TON of fuel. Those 3208 Cats love to suck it up anyway but getting on plane they are really hitting it hard. My next time (if there is one) I will stay outside and just run. Probably a faster trip with less fuel used.
Old 02-03-2019, 08:28 AM
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Just went through the lake last week. NIce trip, depths were fine. Not many boats this time of year and didn't have to worry about weather. In fact we went through as a strong cold front was coming through, which made going around impossible.
Old 02-03-2019, 08:38 AM
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Go around an thru the keys. Its much more scenic and you are not "crawling the ditch". However, the Big "O" locks are nice and easy to use. In your trawler, at 15 knots, you would be pulling a 3' wake and annoy others, as said above. I did the waterway back a few years as Licensed Captain for a clients 44' trawler. We stayed at about 8 knots, and enjoyed the trip. However, most people do not have the patience to run displacement speed for that long of a trip.
Old 02-03-2019, 09:01 AM
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Other than Cape Sable its fine, may be 6-8 foot at Cape Sable
Old 02-03-2019, 10:05 AM
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OK, once you get to Cape Sable, you've got to follow the yacht channel across Florida Bay closely. There's plenty of water from the markers to the southwest until you come up to Sprigger Bank. Then make sure you're in the channel which has about 7 foot controlling depth. There's one tricky tight intersection about 3/4 of the way across which will scare the crap out of you but is actually fine. The water turns from Florida bay murky to gin clear so you suddenly see the bottom which looks to be about 1 foot deep but is really 5-6 feet deep and you've got to watch the channel markers here very carefully and not stray. Once past that point, it's easy and you're close to the Five Channel bridge and the way out to the ocean. I absolutely loved running that route, plus there's some really good fishing along the way.
Old 02-03-2019, 10:18 AM
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With your draft, the Yacht Channel will be no problem. Numerous 5' draft vessels regularly travel between the west coast and here in Islamorada. Tow Boat US Islamorada operates as far west as Flamingo. And, again with your draft, no need to take Hawk Channel if easterlys are a concern, the ICW can be run at your speed all the way to Miami with the exception of a short no-wake zone on Jewfish Creek, and the slow downs needed due to traffic through the mangrove cuts.
Old 02-04-2019, 02:16 PM
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Thank you all very much for the insight! I will most definitely be doing the trip this way. I like that weather dependent I can make some other choices on routes. Thanks!
Old 02-04-2019, 03:07 PM
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We've done Marco to Marathon the last two summers and it's about 90 miles. If the wind is heading the wrong direction (SW) it can chop up pretty good because it's got a long way to build. But other than that, it's a pretty nice run and we did it in sight of land for most of the run. I've also run from Marathon to Miami. We stayed mostly outside because it was a nice day but were in sight of land and it was a pretty nice scenic boat ride.

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