From The Northeast U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 6/12)

We´re almost in the Caribbean. I know, and I bet you can´t wait to find out how one experienced sailor makes the sailing really easy. But first, let´s look at Florida.

Florida Keys

Although some sailors warn that Florida Keys is a problem if you have a deep draft, others have experience sailing a 6-foot draft boat and reported they had no problems for the most part. Have a good set of charts, watch the tides and monitor where you are at all times and you should be fine, says one sailor.

Where to Spend the Night

Jim Faughn has sailed around the Florida Keys extensively in his Gemini 105M (with its 3 foot, 6 inch draft), and handily mapped out all the many spots where he´s anchored – and most importantly, where he´s left his dinghy. Check it out. And if that´s not enough, here´s Cruiser´s Net´s directory.

Tampa, Florida

Most people who sail in Florida consider it one of the best sailing destinations in the US! The Florida Keys are a prime spot for blue water cruisers, but let´s not forget Tampa (although it´s not technically on the east coast!).

The Bays of Tampa Bay, Florida

Tampa Bay is a large natural harbor and estuary connected to the Gulf of Mexico on the west central coast of Florida, and provides an excellent location to spend the night, or a bit longer, before you make the break for the Caribbean, or go west for Central America en route to South America!

Local authorities may try to restrict where you can anchor in the Tampa Bay area, and in Florida in general. One sailors recommends carrying a copy of this document with you as you travel in case you need to educate a person of authority about the fact that you are not a liveaboard (someone who doesn´t sail their boat, defined in the document) and are pretty free to do what you like 😉

Where to Spend the Night

Here´s Cruiser´s Net anchorage directory. McPherson´s Bayou near St. Pete Beach at 27 degrees 42′ 40.77″N, 082 degrees, 43′ 50.25″W is a quiet, out of the way spot with good holding, says one sailor. There’s also Veterans Hospital Anchorage. See details here.

The Caribbean

Once you’ve finished sailing down the east coast of the US (yes, way before Tampa!), you may want to head for the Caribbean. Here´s how to do it if you want some easy sailing, and, of course, where to drop anchor.

One seasoned sailor, Don Street, says forget Bermuda if you´re sailing south. Sailing from Little Creek to St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, should take between 8 and 11 days, according to him. You can alternatively set off from Morehead, NC, and take advantage of the Gulf Stream. You´ll be below the worst of the North Atlantic gale area. Check out the offshore routes here and information about what sort of kit you need here.

Catamaran in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Are you prepared for the Caribbean now? Next time, we´ll look at how to find secluded anchorages and experience some delightful downwind sailing.

Sailing From The Northeastern U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 7/12)

From The Northeast U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 10/12)

From The Northeast U.S. to South America – A Sailors Guide (Part 9/12)

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