SOUTH FLORIDA MINI LOOP

Discussion in 'Southeast' started by ocgrant, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. ocgrant

    ocgrant Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Dec 31, 2006
    Miami / Ft Lauderdale
    H2O Therapy
    2006 Sundancer 48
    Novurania 460
    Yamaha EX-R
    Cummins QSC 540's
    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. dtfeld

    dtfeld Water Contrails

    Jun 5, 2016
    Milton, GA
    410 Sundancer
    2001
    Axiom 12 MFD
    Cat 3126 V-Drives
    As a planning tool, check out -> https://www.greatloop.org/

    The good stuff is in the Members only sections, but a huge amount of "local knowledge"
     
  3. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    How fast or how slow do you want to go?

    Good choice on direction, more predictable going fort Meyers to the keys southbound this time of year. Fronts tend to push down this time of year.

    Check the lake route to make sure water level is there and locks are opening.

    Keys back to Miami, winter time east winds will make hawks channel rough some days.
     
    JC3 and 370Dancer like this.
  4. Alex F

    Alex F Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    East Coast
    2005 420DB with AB 11 DLX Tender, Raymarine Dual E120 MFD/Radar/XMWeather, ST7001 A/P, AIS, SeaLift
    T-Cummins 450Cs Straight-Drives, 9KW Onan Generator, 40HP Yamaha for tender.
    Great trip, which I did couple times. The pace depends on the time you have for the trip in general, the hours/distance you're comfortable covering per day and the places you want to see. There are lots of great ports to enjoy along the way.

    For example, before you get to Stuart, you can have fun in Boca and WPB.

    On the other side of the lake you got Fort Myers, Sanibel, Captiva and Fort Myers Beach which deserve a stop. Then, as you head south you got Marco and Naples.

    When shooting for the keys, are you looking all the way to KW or cutting to Marathon via Yacht Channel? If you have the time, I'd shoot over to the KW. Just be aware that it's probably the busiest time of the year there. Without advanced reservations it might be tough to get a spot. I have no idea how it is due to Covid this year.

    My upper keys route usually includes Duck Key (Hawks Cay), Marathon, Islamorada and Key Largo.

    Other things to consider:
    - During a long trip, facing with couple days of NEster blow is almost a guaranty at this time of the year. Since you'll be heading north, it will be on the cooler side.
    - Check the lake level.
    - Check the locks hours of operation. If I recall they were on 7pm-4:30pm schedule. Remember that you must be in the lock 30min prior it's closing time. If they run until 5pm, you must be in the lock by 4:30.
    - You'll be going through 5 locks. It's a good idea to cover them in one day, so you can end your trip in Fort Myers. If you're running out of time, Franklin Camp ground is a cute little place to spend the night. I stayed there once.
    - Locks walls are nasty. I cover my fenders with garbage bags, so my custom covers don't get ruined.
    - Regardless of what keys you're shooting for, you'll be pretty far offshore. Watch the weather and pick good day for the run.
    - Be prepare to see LOTs of lobster pots. They're all over, especially on the western side of the keys. Hawks channel (the eastern side of the keys) has less of them, but it's no picnic either.
    - If you have never done keys route on the inside, be aware of very shallow sections around Key Largo and some spots in Islamorada. If I recall, shallow section heading north starts at R84. It's much safer to do it on the outside. If you have to be on the inside, study the charts and AC hazard markers very well.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
    FootballFan, JC3 and Blueone like this.
  5. DB360

    DB360 Active Member

    141
    Feb 25, 2010
    CAPE CORAL, FL.
    360 SUNDANCER 2004
    BOW THRUSTER
    AXIOM 12 RV
    EVOLUTION 200 AUTOPILOT
    YANMAR DIESEL 315'S
    8 KW KOHLER
    4 HP JOHNSON
    Alex is spot on. Just came from St.Lucie lock marina across the lake to Labelle docks two days ago and it was a very enjoyable trip. No problems with the depth of the "chocolate milk" water. We draw 42".

    Also agree with calling for slip availability. Over the month of our cruise, all the marines we went by from Cape Coral to St.Augustine and back, were very full. Had many conversations with other cruises who had been turned away because the marines were all booked up.

    The Florida Mini Loop a cool trip. You'll have a great time.
    Best of luck with your planing.
     
  6. ocgrant

    ocgrant Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Dec 31, 2006
    Miami / Ft Lauderdale
    H2O Therapy
    2006 Sundancer 48
    Novurania 460
    Yamaha EX-R
    Cummins QSC 540's
    Well... made some calls and there is just no supply of transient slips this year due to Covid. Marinas are all saying people that normally go to the Bahamas are not going since the rules seem to change every day over there and no one wants to deal with that so they are staying put in south Florida. Guess I will keep this on the to do list for another time.
     
  7. carterchapman

    carterchapman Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor SILVER Sponsor

    Mar 25, 2008
    Lake Chickamauga/Marietta, GA/Ft. Myers, FL
    2006 Sea Ray 58 DB
    MAN CRM V8-900s, Twin Disc Drives; Onan 21.5 Generator
    We went by our old Marina at Tarpon Point/Cape Coral - spoke with the Harbormaster - he said they are full with a waiting list. Said he pumped a record amount of fuel this year so far...
     

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