Apollo Beach to Key West

Discussion in 'Southeast' started by Mr Mac, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. Mr Mac

    Mr Mac Member

    Feb 27, 2019
    Apollo Beach, FL
    1997 330 Sundancer
    Name Slàinte Mhath!
    Twin 454 Mercruiser with V-drive
    My wife and I are planning a trip from AB down to the Keys. I have looked at both options of ICW and out in the Gulf. Naturally, the ICW provides a ton of protection from the unpredictable GoM along with easier stops for food and fuel.

    My question is, how long should we plan for the trip down (by either route assuming fair seas) and where are the best fuel stops? We should be riding along at about 24 knots and I am planning on three full fuel loads at 250 gallons and will have Active Captain at our side, but would rather hear from those who have actually made the trip.

    Finally, any suggestions on where to anchor or moor while down there. 6837457_0_261220181135_0-980x652.jpg
    susanandlance likes this.
  2. 370Dancer

    370Dancer Well-Known Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Florida - Alabama
    1998 370 Sundancer
    380hp MAG MPI Gen VI with V drives
    I've done it a bunch, but in larger boats and diesel. Having said that, I'll offer up what tips I think will help. My experiences are from Sarasota or Bradenton. We always ran 20 Knots, and split the 200 mile trip into 2 each 5 hour days. I have done it in one from the fort to Sarasota in a 6 foot head sea. That was the last time schedule got in the way. That one was more like a 16 hour fire hose shower on a bucking bronco. And that was a 46 Post.

    Unless you are really in a hurry, I could see you splitting the trip down into 2 if not 3 days each way. Depends on your schedule.
    Our typical stop over on a 2 day run is at Naples or Marco Island. Marco is more casual, but a little shiftier in pass movement. Be up to date with cartography.

    When planning fuel consumption you would be wise to only allocate 2/3-3/4 of your fuel capacity on near coastal passage max. The Gulf can get nasty when it wants to, and the Inter-coastal will kill your mileage unless you idle all the way down. Then that IS the trip. Once you get past Romano Point, there are no gas stations until Marathon in a pinch, or all the way to Key West. Plan accordingly. You could duck in at Arsenic Bank, but you'll go the same distance to find gas as just holding course for Marathon.

    In Key West there are options, but for dockage, I always go to A&B Marina. Right in the heart of the action, and a safe harbor from any sudden weather. Be sure to eat breakfast at Damn Good Food. And, Sunday lobster omelettes at Spinnaker Wharf. Great entertainment by Michael McCloud (Spirit). If you want to stay on the hook, out off of Palm Island, around the West side of the island you see moorings. I would imagine that it's pretty unprotected out there in a blow. There are also some (I guess, I haven't looked in a while) around the island by the road to the airport. I have never stayed on the hook there.

    Have fun. Try to plan your down run right after a "cold front" like what just went through today. Could be trickier getting a good Southerly that won't knock you around coming back, but behind you is a lot better than in front of you when it comes to wind and waves. From Naples up, you can always hide inside. Be flexible above all. As easy as the trip seems, it is always full of surprises.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
    susanandlance and Blueone like this.
  3. fr8dog

    fr8dog Active Member

    May 25, 2012
    Currently Boatless
    Made the trip to Key West and Marathon many times from Cape Coral. I would recommend spending the night at Marco. You can top off the tanks at Rose Marina and enjoy a great anchorage in Factory Bay. It's 85-90 miles from Marco to the North West channel into Key West. I would also recommend staying at the A&B Marina. Usually the best fuel prices and a perfect location. Navigation into Factory Bay is straight forward, just pay attention to the markers entering the river.
  4. Griff 4

    Griff 4 New Member

    May 27, 2019
    Bayliner 325
    two 350 cubic inch 250 hp Mercruiser engines Bravo II
    Hi Mr Mac. Many of our friends have made the Key West trip. Advice here is accurate. Friends stayed at Marco, then the next day hit Key West. Our favorite weekend trip destination is to Twin Dolphins. Maybe sometime we could meet up. Our usual stops are at Egmont, Shell Key, the 273 Legion, Gulfport, Sea Critters, the Warf, the Pub, and so on. Griff
    susanandlance likes this.
  5. susanandlance

    susanandlance Well-Known Member

    Feb 10, 2011
    2007 Sea Ray 36 Sedan Bridge
    8.1 mercruisers
    +1 on Twin Dolphin, awesome place to stay and good location
  6. Griff 4

    Griff 4 New Member

    May 27, 2019
    Bayliner 325
    two 350 cubic inch 250 hp Mercruiser engines Bravo II
    WE like Twin Dolphins because its close and as nice a marina as you can find.
  7. GJarrett

    GJarrett Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    Tampa, FL
    '02 260 Sundancer
    6.2 MPI
    We are planning to make this trip next year from Ruskin, but will be on a smaller 260 'dancer. Thank you for starting this thread, already great info on it.

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