Florida loop or "Smuggler's Run".... Places to stop?

Post here if you want to discuss a topic specific to the MV/32, MV/34, and MV/41.
Post Reply
makala
1st mate
1st mate
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:18 am

Florida loop or "Smuggler's Run".... Places to stop?

Post by makala »

We are looking to do the Florida loop over Christmas Break... leaving from Sebastian, FL and likely going through the Okeechobee Stuart to Ft. Myers,possibly visiting the Cayo Costa area, then south to Marco and 10,000 islands, maybe Everglades City, and then the Keys... and if weather cooperates the Dry Tortugas.

Any suggestions of must see places? Nature areas, towns, restaurants, bars, anchorages, marinas, etc? It will be myself, wife, doggie, and two daughters 8 and 10. Places to anchor in the Keys? I am hoping we can get to Marvin Key and the Content Keys.

Places to avoid?

Any other tips are appreciated! We have Navionics so will know the general anchorages.

We have traveled the Okeechobee so are familiar with transiting the locks (super easy on the PDQ 34!!)

Thanks,
Doug

deising
admiral
admiral
Posts: 324
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2014 3:48 pm
Location: Punta Gorda, FL
Contact:

Re: Florida loop or "Smuggler's Run".... Places to stop?

Post by deising »

Ft. Myers has a nice River District area to visit. Pelican Bay at the north end of Cayo Costa is a great anchorage. You can go ashore with a dink ($2 per person cash park fee) and take the free tram to the gulf beach. There is a manatee pocket south of the park docks for dinghy exploration. Tween Waters marina on Captiva Island has a gulf beach just a few hundred yards away. Sanibel Island is not as easy to visit from an anchorage, but maybe Sanibel marina can accommodate.

Ft. Myers Beach is a happening place. There are marinas and a mooring field (need to make reservations online). Naples can be interesting if you like expensive shopping. You can anchor in some of the larger canal areas (see Active Captain). There is an inside route to Marco from Naples, but tidal heights are lower in the winter, so depths can be challenging. Our PDQs are usually OK. From Marco you can take an inside route to Gullivan Bay to avoid fetch if the winds are up from the east (again, skinny water).

Have not been to Everglades City in many years. It is likely continuing to deteriorate as a place to stop. Anchoring inside the Ten Thousand Islands is great as long as the bugs are not bad. Usually, the winter is not a big problem. Little Shark River is a good place to hide out from nasty weather. Anchoring off Cape Sable is nice in settled weather and the shelling is normally great since so few people can get there.

You can make your way to Key West on the bay side of the Keys (navigate carefully) and then hop to Dry Tortugas (no services, so have ALL you need). People get stuck there in nasty weather, so watch carefully before committing. Heading up-key from Key West, if the winds are north or east, Hawk Channel is rough. You could stay on the bay side until you farther if you choose. Most people think Marathon is a good stop. You can take a bus anywhere in the keys if you want/need.

Last place to cross bay to ocean side is Snake Creek if you need to visit Key Largo. I have never stayed on the inside all the way up to Biscayne Bay, but it is not a bad idea if you have no reason to be on the ocean side. Lots of people (and many crazies) anchor and party off Elliot Key on weekends. North from there on the ICW is where you will see all the sights, but have patience as the bridges are numerous and on fixed schedules.

Have a great time. Hope you don't have to rush too much.
Duane Ising
m/v Diva Di
Punta Gorda, FL
2006 PDQ MV 34 - hull 91, 75HP, 3-blade

kentmckee
deckhand
deckhand
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:00 pm

Re: Florida loop or "Smuggler's Run".... Places to stop?

Post by kentmckee »

Be aware that the St. Lucie lock is scheduled to close for maintainance Jan 2 until Mar 31.
We keep our PDQ in Ft. Myers and frequently visit Cayo Costa. Beautiful place with a great anchorage. Water clarity in that area is unusually good right now.
Lovers Key just south of Ft. Myers beach is also worth a visit. Avoid it on weekends. Lots of traffic.



Kent McKee
Paint the Sky
#44 75hp

AlanH
admiral
admiral
Posts: 160
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2016 3:55 pm

Re: Florida loop or "Smuggler's Run".... Places to stop?

Post by AlanH »

Doug,

First, you may be aware already but be sure to pass through the Saint Lucie Lock before the end of the year. There is a Jan. 2 scheduled closure per this link. https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions ... intenance/

Roland Martin Marina is an interesting one night stop on the west side of Okeechobee. There is a large tiki hut restaurant at the marina. If you don't stop there, about 15 miles further is the River House Marina. Nothing at all there except an nice dock and $1.00a foot including electric when we were there early this year. I second the recommendation for Ft. Myers Beach. Several Marinas to choose from.

Alan
Alan Hendry
Catbo
2006 34' Hull #81
75hp engines

MikeH
deckhand
deckhand
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2021 2:42 pm

Re: Florida loop or "Smuggler's Run".... Places to stop?

Post by MikeH »

Hi Doug - one of my favorite stops along the Okeechobee Waterway is the town of LaBelle. The city docks are free, with free water and power, max 3 night stay, first come first served. There are no finger piers. I usually go bow in, and board on and off the bow. The PDQ fits great in the slip that is about 4th from the west end. The only downside is that it's right next to the bridge, and you'll get traffic noise at night, so bring your earplugs. On the weekends, there are sometimes activities in the park next door. Earlier this year, we were there for square dancing night and had a lot of fun !
Mike Hendry
M/V Easy Riders, Gulfport FL
2003 PDQ MV 34, Hull #29
75 HP, 3 Blade

makala
1st mate
1st mate
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:18 am

Re: Florida loop or "Smuggler's Run".... Places to stop?

Post by makala »

Thanks for everyone's responses! It turns out we have other business to take care of over Christmas Break (moving my wife's business), so we won't make it this year. But I will revisit this thread when we get a chance to go.

Another PDQ'er at my marina mentioned the 10,000 islands, shark river, and whitewater bay. I looked up whitewater bay and it sounds pretty cool to check out in our shallow draft boats!

Thanks,
Doug

Post Reply