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Author Topic: Clearwater to Carrabelle FL; Any advice?  (Read 335 times)

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Clearwater to Carrabelle FL; Any advice?
« on: April 18, 2019, 02:16:11 PM »

I'll be moving my C34 from Port Charollette to Destin FL and will cross the Gulf from Clearwater to Carrabelle, have you done this and what advice or pointer do you have?  I love to hear it, thanks!



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Re: Clearwater to Carrabelle FL; Any advice?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2019, 09:41:30 AM »

Since my boat has a 5'6" keel, I'd be looking at option 2 but only with a clear 3 day weather window.  From what I've seen the GOM has PM T-storms and nasty wind chop frequently.  What is your keel depth?
1989 C34 Mk1 M25XP

The Green New Deal is coming...just keept the government out of the way!


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Re: Clearwater to Carrabelle FL; Any advice?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2019, 10:42:51 AM »

Caveat: I have not done either route, but have always found an offshore passage to be good for the soul. Check your weather window and go for it. 😎
1990 hull #1014, San Diego, CA,  Fin Keel,
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Re: Clearwater to Carrabelle FL; Any advice?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2019, 04:14:29 PM »

I like the way you think Noah. Maybe one day....
Glenn Davis
Knot Yet
1990 Catalina 34 Mk 1.5
Hull 1053
Patapsco River
Chesapeake Bay Maryland


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Re: Clearwater to Carrabelle FL; Any advice?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2019, 09:06:21 PM »

Hi MQ,

My wife and I made that trip both ways in 2016 on our trip to the Bahamas and back to Texas.  We traveled the GICW from Galveston to the Pensacola Pass then across the Gulf to Destin.  From Destin to Port St Joe to get back into the ICW to Carrabelle.  From Carrabelle straight overnight to Tarpon Springs and then down the ICW to Ft Myers Beach. On the return trip we left Tarpon Springs and entered the ICW at Apalachicola. Why did we go this way?  Our 88 is a tall rig with a fin keel, so air draft is 53' and draft is 5'-7" plus an inch or two for all the cruising gear ;-)  The ICW stretch from Pensacola to Port St Joe has three bridges with 50' clearance at strategic points requiring that we go out in the Gulf.  We took the ICW because we were not in a hurry and wanted to stop and visit the waterfront towns along the way ( Plus we like to sleep 8 hours at a time at night).  Saw a lot of bald eagles in the LA ICW.

First I would recommend that you pick up a copy of Skipper Bob Cruising the Gulf Coast.  It has two sections dedicated to the path between Carrabelle and ClearWater/Tarpon Springs.  It is one of the best guides I have read for this particular stretch of Florida coast.  One section is on the straight across path (what we took both ways) and the longer skip along the coast path.  The water along this part of the Florida coast is particularly skinny and we wanted to avoid it if possible.

Second is look for a good weather window for your crossing.  This part of the Gulf is realitively shallow and you get a short period sea when the wind picks up.  We used Buoy Weather and found it accurate in both wave height and wind direction strength.  You want a forgiving window with a day of good weather on either end in case  the weather prediction is off.  We waited in Carrabelle for 5 days (early April) for the right wind conditions ( a weak front with NW wind at 12-18kts and seas less than 3 feet).  Like wise on the trip North (first week in Sept), we waited three days for a fair SE wind of 0 building to 18Kts seas 3 feet. 

The straight across distance is ~160 miles, which a C34 with good wind can travel in 24 hours.  We used a 5 knot average as a planning tool which was a good measure of actual progress.  So with a conservative estimate 160/5 = 32 hours.  So plan on some where between 24 and 32 hours on the water.  I don't like to make landfall in a new place in the dark.  So we adjusted our departure time so that we would arrive before dark.  On the trip South we left at 9AM and arrived at off Ancolote Key at 7AM and were tied up in Tarpon Springs by 9AM.  An average of as little over 7 knots and I rolled the jib up to slow us down so we would not get to the coast in the dark.

As a side note, on the trip South, when we were motoring in flat water in the Gulf about 30 miles offshore, we say what appeared to be a big puff on the water heading our way.  It turned out to be a pod of about 50 dolphins moving together at speed heading North.  About 20 pealed off and joined us for 20-30 minuets playing about the boat.  It was a great day to be on the water!

Hope this helps.

Paul & Cyndi
Pablo's Girl
Paul & Cyndi Shields
1988 hull# 551 Tall Rig/Fin Keel
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