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Winter "cruise" in SW Florida ?


Docpal
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During the Messabout I spoke with Graham about the idea of (loosely) organizing a group cruise of a stretch of SW Florida this Winter. Unlike the Everglades Challenge this trip's purpose would be to actually SEE some of the local waters and coastline without having the pressure, and anxiety of a race environment. But at the same time using the safety guidelines of both the Water Tribe, and the Dinghy Cruising Association as benchmarks for all those participating.

I spoke to a number of people at the Messabout and there seemed to be a lot of interest in the idea. So far some of the thoughts that were kicked around were; doing daylight sailing, with evening destinations planned in advance. That would allow some people who wanted to go further/faster the option of joining the group before evening, or just catching up another day. Another thought was to use the campgrounds at the Flamingo campsite of Everglades national park as they have a LOT of room for camping, and great launching facilities as well. This would let people arrive/leave when they chose. AND it might make family sailing/camping  more possible as well. And racing or not, it would still be nice to have someone else in the area ,just in case....

With this framework in mind, I contacted Dale Neimann and he had a great idea which was to connect with the West Coast Trailer Sailing Squadron as they also have monthly trips scheduled, and a lot of local knowledge. In fact I just sent in a check to join them as I hope to be spending a good portion of next Winter exploring the area in Petunia. We thought that including everyone,not just B & B boats, would make a lot of sense. In fact I would think that the more people we include would add to this event.

The time frame, and location  is up in the air. Some people might be down in Florida headed for the EC, and others might want to use this trip as a "scouting run" to learn the route for later adventures.

I'm posting this idea on the Forum to see if there's any interest in giving this a shot. It might also be a nice complement to the Messabout so we could have TWO events a year for people to bring their boats to, and it would also serve as a great escape for those of us in Northern climes who don't want to give up sailing due to our lousy latitude....

ALL ideas/comments/thoughts/suggestions on this are welcome.....

 

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As I mentioned to Docpal, it sounds very interesting and could be a very fun beach cruise.  I am sure our WCTSS members will welcome any and all of you on any of our scheduled trips and would put the word out when you choose a date. If any of you would like to know more about our adventures just GOOGLE WCTSS.  We are in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

dale

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Doug,

 The idea would be to do this well before Cedar Key, and maybe give a few people the chance to 'tune up' their boats before the EC.

 

Lennie,

 It's going to happen, just trying to find out how many people will be there...

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Sally and I are planning a trip to Florida this March. Our plan is to do a three or four day trip out of Chokoloskee exploring the Thousand Islands.  My thinking was that this area offered more in the way of islands to explore around and Flamingo was more the open Florida Bay filled with sticky mud flats to trap the unwary. We would enjoy meeting fellow boaters and sailing together.  We were planning on going during the EC but a little before or after would make little difference.

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The West Coast Trailer Sailing Squadron has a couple of trips out of the Pine Island Sound area with an overnight gathering at Pelican Bay on Cayo Costa Island.  Last year they did the Cayo Costa trip in mid-March.  There are several good launching sites on Pine Island and the Charlotte Harbor/Pine island Sound area is wonderful for small boat sailing and is protected fairly well in the event of a big "norther."  Unfortunately I will not be able to do the EC this year due to a conflict with another regatta but I would be interested in a "southern messabout" and we have a place on Pine Island with a big yard that could be used as a staging area and trailer storage for the event.  Before or after the EC would make sense but could be a little cool that time of year.  CS17 #351 "La Perla" is down there and ready to rock....

 

Phil Garland

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I did Ten Thousand Islands twice in our Belhaven. It was some of the best sailing and R&R we had on our boat. Liked Panther key and the backside of Whitehorse key the best for camping. We went the second week in January both times. We launched at Port of Isles and took the 8 mile canal trip to the islands. Much wildlife to be seen in the canal, including manitee's.

There are many rules for camping and exploring the islands that are inside the Everglades park boundries. without a camping permit you have to anchor a 1/2 mile off shore and you must not be on the island after sunset. There are many islands that not included in the park to camp and explore at will without all the red tape and enforcers.

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Ron from WCTSS confirmed yesterday that their cruise to Cayo Costa will be March 20-22.  It is a state park so camping is only allowed on their campsites so protocol is that the cruisers must sleep on their boats in Pelican Bay.  This timing might work out for those doing the EC and want to cruise after.  Mid to late Feb might be an opportunity to have a messabout in the Pine Island Sound area for those that might want a shake-down prior to the EC. Maybe those that are interested can chime in with their preferences for time and place.  

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Scott after reading your caution about anchoring 1/2 mile off shore I reviewed the Wilderness Planner.

 

" Wilderness Permits are required for all overnight camping except in drive-in campgrounds or when sleeping aboard boats."   " If you sleep aboard a vessel anchor out of site of chickees and 1/4 mile from other sites." 

 

Maybe I am missing something but to me that makes it sound like if you are sleeping aboard your boat, you do not need a permit and you can anchor anywhere as long as you avoid designated camping areas. Sounds almost too unregulated to be true.

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Joe, I think that's correct...a lot of folks on boats are OK sleeping on board and a lot of the islands one might anchor of or pull up on the beach are well away from the chickees and campsites.  A lot of people stop at Pavilion Key just south of Everglades City...it's an outlying island and not close to any camp sites. There are a number of people who do the Everglades Challenge that cruise among the Ten Thousand Islands regularly and don't seem to have any issues.

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  • 1 month later...

Sounds like a few folks will be in the area on/off much of the winter. I'm going to drive to NC tomorrow, pick up Petunia and leave for Punta Gorda,FL Tuesday AM. I found a storage yard there for the Winter so I'm hoping to  be a part time snow bird this Winter.

If everything is in place I'll be back down to do the WCTSS Ten Thousand island cruise in early Jan, and then I'm going to meet some friends in the Everglades in Mid February. We'll stay at the Flamingo camp ground for a week, and then in March I'm hoping to do the Cayo Costa cruise with the WCTSS. the plan is to do about ten days in FL, ten days in the NE, etc. weather permitting. I'll also be looking up Lennie G. and hopefully be around for the launching of his boat. If anyone will be in the SW Florida area this Winter drop a note here and maybe we can try to connect.

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My winter plans have changed so I will not be out of town late Feb, early March and am available and look forward to sailing. Hoping to finish boat end of Jan but dancing around an epoxy sensitivity issue right now. I don't see it pushing me back much.

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  • 2 months later...

Joe,

 Your thoughts about Florida Bay and the mud flats were right on target ! I just got back from a week camping/sailing out of Flamingo and we ran the full gamut from temps in the upper 30's  with 30+ mph Northers which were blowing tents across the campground, to warmer temps which brought out the entire insect population of the planet who ALL seem to be Wintering in the 'Glades as well. When the temps rose, we got out and had some incredible sailing from Flamingo to East Cape Sable. Then as the high built the winds started to die again (but not the bugs) and we were constantly being driven across the channels by the tides, rather than wind. I don't think I'd make Flamingo a "base camp " again.

 Just posted this picture on the Water Tribe/Facebook page to remind people to bring whatever repellant  they think the bugs won't lick off them before chowing down.

post-539-0-63575200-1425055128_thumb.jpg

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Bill

 Glad you made it to Florida Bay. I still want to get there. I just thought it might be better if it was not my first sail in the Glades.  I am planning to leave from Chokoloskee on the 5th of March. The plan is to cruise along the coast explore around the islands and up the Lostman River. We may get as far as Northwest Cape. Though I do have a chart of Florida Bay. Maybe five days on the water. We will watch for those skeeters. 

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and leave for Punta Gorda,FL Tuesday AM. I found a storage yard there for the Winter so I'm hoping to  be a part time snow bird this Winter.

Docpal,

 

Very interested in getting storage  in the area - I'm from Massachusetts - and need a good storage spot to keep the boat there when not sailing.

 

If you'd be so kind as to share the name & contact info of the one you found - and the monthly charges.

 

Also, if anyone else has leads for good, economical, and secure storage... please chime in

 

Thanks a lot

TomH

 

.

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Tom,

 I have been storing Petunia down at the  Charlotte RV storage yard ( 150 Rio Villa Dr, Punta Gorda,FL. 941-575-7473)  for the Winter. . They have a large yard with both boats, and RV's . Very well protected (keypad gate entry, and security on the premises, 24 hour access....) and there must be over ten million dollars worth of large RV'sin the yard  so I feel pretty secure in leaving her down there for weeks at a time without my presence. NO amenities (such as water,electricity, or bathrooms) although they DO have a flush out station ($5) for when you bring a boat back in after a day on the gulf. They charge $69.44 per month (taxes make up the odd number) . It's right on Route 41 so getting to/from most places is easy. And I've been able to get away with doing light maintenance work on the boat since I do much of it with hand  and battery powered tools.

I'll attach two shots to show you what it looks like.

post-539-0-11485500-1425139250_thumb.jpg

post-539-0-30726800-1425139262_thumb.jpg

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