Boating in Florida/Salt Water - What's It like?

Discussion in 'Sport Yachts/Yachts' started by midexp, Feb 2, 2019.

  1. midexp

    midexp Active Member

    249
    Oct 5, 2016
    Harrison Township, Michigan Lake St.Clair
    1999 40' Sundancer
    454 merc
    As I struggle through winter, I figured I'd use this great forum to start asking a number of questions about boating in other parts of the U.S. that I've always been curious about.

    First, I must admit, being able to boat all year around sounds nice and I guess you could say Florida is the boating capital, but as a fresh water boater on the Great Lakes (well kind of, Lake St. Clair), I've always had these questions about boating in Florida and salt water in general.

    Is it difficult keeping your boats “pristine” in the hot sun and salt water? Do you constantly have to rinse with fresh water and wax to keep the gel coat nice? Most the boats I see brought up here to Michigan purchased from salt water look fine. However, many boaters up here advise to stay away from salt water boats. What do the owners of salt water boats have to say about that?

    Second, it's got to be nice in the winter months to be out on the water down in Florida, but what’s it like boating in Florida in June – September? Up here, we can just hang out at the marina, or out on the water in typically 80ish temperatures. Is this difficult in the extreme heat and humidity down there during the summer months (sounds like you guys go through air conditioners and refrigerators like crazy)? Do you guys use your boats much this time of year?

    My next post will be about getting your thoughts on another question I have about boating in the ocean - sharks! Yikes!
     
    Krazzeeddie likes this.
  2. LattitudeAdjustment

    LattitudeAdjustment Member

    66
    Apr 8, 2018
    Palm Harbor FL 28°03’”N 82°46’”W
    Sundancer 380
    Mercruiser 8.1
    I live on FL's west coast and we are boating year round with our 380DA. Overall, your expenses run a lil higher with better quality bottom paint due to more growth (warmer water temps) and regular bottom cleaning service that can run you 80+ a month. Waxing, compounding more often than fresh water, things you have already mentioned above and more attention to metallic items all around the boat. Our WX can change quickly here at times, but if you are a seasoned capt., you should already be aware of this. ;) There are lots of other things to consider and I will let some others jump in with their ideas.

    But it is well worth it in my opinion when you have 7 or 8 dolphin jumping 5 feet from the back of your swim platform putting on a show in your wake in the middle of January. We are headed over to the boat shortly for the rest of the weekend. That could be you! Or if you are in our area, come visit.

    Here is our WX report @11:23 EST:
    A Few Clouds 75°F/24°C
    Humidity 74% Wind Speed S 6 mph
    Barometer 30.13 in (1020.4 mb)
    Dewpoint 66°F (19°C) Visibility 10.00 mi


    Vince
     
  3. midexp

    midexp Active Member

    249
    Oct 5, 2016
    Harrison Township, Michigan Lake St.Clair
    1999 40' Sundancer
    454 merc
    Thanks, yes the dolphins would be very cool. And I guess your weather is a bit better there today than here as it's being reported Lake St. Clair ice is 12" and Lake Erie is completely froze over.
     
  4. LattitudeAdjustment

    LattitudeAdjustment Member

    66
    Apr 8, 2018
    Palm Harbor FL 28°03’”N 82°46’”W
    Sundancer 380
    Mercruiser 8.1
    Here is a web cam view of the area just to the north of our marina. This island in the distance is Honeymoon Island, a 2x #1 National Beach Winner. The small islands are near our intracoastal waterway headed towards Tarpon Springs. Its flat calm in the bay and Gulf today. Trying to wet your appetite a lil bit. :)
    https://www.wunderground.com/webcams/WU_1700652/2/show.html

    I forgot to mention, the summer time is not too bad here....we spend a lot of time in the water and use a lot of sunscreen. Out early in the day, or late in the day for a sunset/night cruise. Middle of the day is OK, just need some shade, sunscreen, time in the water and maybe some chill time in the A/C. There are more boats out in the summer than all year long if that says anything. Sorry to hear about the ice....sounds like a good time for a vacation.
     
  5. Ididntdoit

    Ididntdoit Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Dec 5, 2007
    New England & South Florida
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Im sitting on my boat in newport harbor ri right now.......it sucks, and im having a hard time getting excited about the coming summer season......why? The boat was in fla for the past 4 years and I loved boating there - the summer is great as that is when the ocean is most predictable (other than afternoon pop up storms) but even on our winter trips, we were able to stay in the intracoastal if it was blowing too hard - I rack stored the boat inside most of the time, so the sun was less of an issue - cant say enough about boating in south fla - it ruined boating up here for me - im ready to head back
     
    Richie89 and dtfeld like this.
  6. Third Edition

    Third Edition Active Member

    302
    Apr 9, 2017
    NE Florida
    360 Sundancer 2002
    T-8.1L V-drives
    It is very different in Florida.

    First, I have boated quite a bit in the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, Harson's Island and the St. Clair River. Also northern Lake Huron, North Channel, Mackinaw, and around to Charlevoix with places in between. I've sailed those waters and power boated.

    The Great Lakes is relatively carefree boating. That's not to say you don't stand a chance of grounding here and there. However, most places in Florida have very thin water outside of the marks, and there are marks most everywhere. It requires constant attention. In the GL when offshore 100 yards, the water is often pretty deep. Not so much in Florida, unless you're in the Atlantic or way out in the Gulf, and then you still need to be careful.

    The tides need watching. Our neighbors are neophyte boaters and frequently run aground. It's easy to do. Markers can move or disappear (though that's rare). A tide app on your phone is a great friend. So too, is knowing areas you want to have slack water for docking (St. Augustine), and areas to never traverse at low tide (Matanzas Inlet). Tides can be sufficiently swift to take control of a slow moving boat.

    The Gulf Coast of FL has better cruising than NE FL (and more restaurants to boat to), for sure. Here you are restricted to up & down the Intracoastal (ICW) (few restaurants), and when the conditions are right, into the Atlantic (no restaurants). Still boating here beats not boating.

    Another thing to watch out for are manatees. You don't want to hit one. Also, there are many slow-zones on the ICW during the summer months and they can lengthen a trip considerably. Still it's great to see manatee and I'd rather slow down for them than not have them. A few months ago we had one bull servicing 3 or 4 cows in our canal right next to our boat. They were so active we had a hard time getting a count, and they were engaged for about 2 hours.

    In the summer we have manatee in the canal, in the winter it's dolphin.

    The price of maintenance/repairs, etc., can vary widely by locale. In Bradenton the price for our desired canvas work was 2x what it was here near St. Augustine. We pay $70/month for bottom cleaning. I do most of the other cleaning & waxing myself so I don't know prices to have it done.

    Flitz for the metal, paste wax for the hull, and Woody Wax & Woody Wax soap for the decks & non-skid, work extremely well for me. If you stay on top of the maintenance it isn't much. Zen like. Of course, my recent injury set my boat cleaning back quite a bit.

    I have the boat tied up to a dock at my house, in the water, and with a full cockpit cover. That works well. Birds aren't much of a problem right were we are. Many others have covered docks with a lift. Too expensive for my 36'er. Plus, I think covered docks attract bugs.

    Many run their A/C, mostly in dehumidify mode, all the time. I opt for a stand-alone dehumidifier draining into the shower. It fist under the stairs when we're underway or in the cabin. The boat might get hot inside during the summer but it is mostly bone dry. It is also less wear & tear on the A/C.

    It is hot here in the summer, but monitoring the temperatures in the Midwest where we came from on a daily basis, and comparing them to temps here, I can honestly say it gets hotter in the Midwest than here along the coast in NE Florida. That's because of the omni-present sea breeze and cooler off-shore water. Sure, at Orlando you might have high 90's and dead air, but here you have cooling breeze and low 90's.

    The Gulf Coast is generally warmer, the water is warmer, calmer, and more salty.
     
  7. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    No experience in Florida, but many years in saltwater.
    Still lots of 80’s Sundancers running around in pretty nice shape that have spent their whole lives here.
    Like anything else, it’s more about the owner than the location.
     
  8. my3sons

    my3sons Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Feb 24, 2009
    NY (Lake Erie)
    2004 400DB, Onan 9 kw Gen, Highfield RIB,
    Cummins 6CTA
    The nicest most showroom condition looking boat I have owned was my 360 da. I bought it in Connecticut, it was a saltwater boat for 6 years before I took it home to Lake Erie. Agreed it was northern so short season and no punishing sun, but it was truly one of the nicest looking 6 year old boats I have ever seen, anywhere. When I told the guy who bought it that it originally was a salt boat, he thought I changed my mind and wanted him to walk away so I made it up.
    I now have a very nice 400db, always fresh water until we looped it. Now I’m back in Fl with it for the winter. Yes, it’s a little more work to keep it looking nice, and I freshwater flush the motors whenever it’s going to sit more than a few days, not that it’s necessary, but that’s just me. I’ve got the time since we’re living on it for the time we’re here and I like doing it, keeps me out of the admirals way.
    Being able to be here for the winter is worth the extra elbow grease.
     
  9. midexp

    midexp Active Member

    249
    Oct 5, 2016
    Harrison Township, Michigan Lake St.Clair
    1999 40' Sundancer
    454 merc
    Lot's of good feedback. Third Addition mentioned something I always wondered about and that was running over some of the large fish there. He mentioned manatee. Guess they could wipe out a prop. Does the salt stick all over the boats just sitting in the wells? And will hosing them off get rid of it? And while out swimming, are you ever worried about sharks?
     
  10. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    Florida

    Wash every other week.

    Wax 3-4 times a year.

    Diver cleaning bottom once a month.

    Everything it seems fails faster.

    Boating year around.
     
    bahamabreisus and carterchapman like this.
  11. Third Edition

    Third Edition Active Member

    302
    Apr 9, 2017
    NE Florida
    360 Sundancer 2002
    T-8.1L V-drives
    Sharks are always a worry. Hose the salt off after each outing. If close to the Atlantic, there's a lot of salt in the wind. Our car in the carport is covered in salt after 2 days on average. We live a mile from the ocean. Windier & more waves = more salt spray.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  12. Boat Guy

    Boat Guy Well-Known Member

    I'm in the Keys now.....I think it's just one long marina...Center consoles everywhere...

    Saw the HCB 65 today.
     
  13. LattitudeAdjustment

    LattitudeAdjustment Member

    66
    Apr 8, 2018
    Palm Harbor FL 28°03’”N 82°46’”W
    Sundancer 380
    Mercruiser 8.1
    Looks likes your getting some great input on your FL questions. Some people say Tampa Bay is one of the larger breeding grounds for sharks. When I take people Tarpon fishing, there are times we lose a 100# or larger Tarpon due to a bull or hammerhead. I sometimes wonder when I reach over the side for the release if a huge set o teeth are going to scare the death out of me as my hands are hanging over the side of the boat.

    When I would take people for a sight-seeing flight along our beaches, they would ask what all those brown dots were right along the beach. I had to break the news to them their favorite beaches were dotted with sharks. They were usually only 4' reef and black-tips, which don't post a real threat but it still upset them when I told them. Usually the sharks were in closer than the swimmers were to the shoreline, but you could only see that from the air, low and slow. In the 27 years I have either beached my smaller boats or anchored larger ones near an FL beach, I have never seen a shark from the water level unless I was fishing or diving.

    As pointed out, we do get an afternoon sea breeze here each afternoon around 1:30 or so which cools things off a lil but and also keeps the summer squall line east of Tampa Bay usually. Once that sea breeze stops, its time to head for the barn because the bad WX isn't too far behind. On the west side of FL there are lots of little islands to stop at and plenty of restaurants/bars as mentioned (including a McDonald's with a floating dock). We have a nice intercoastal system here, buts ends 10 miles north of me in Tarpon Springs.

    Take some time looking at some free online charts to see what kind of coast you prefer. If you are a blue-water fisherman, the west-coast is not the place to be. I have to run 20 miles just to get to 60 feet of good bottom. The Gulf has a gradual slope here, but places like Palm Beach, you can be in the Gulf stream catching sailfish and see the folks on the beach....crazy.

    Vince
     
  14. Third Edition

    Third Edition Active Member

    302
    Apr 9, 2017
    NE Florida
    360 Sundancer 2002
    T-8.1L V-drives
  15. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    Where is the McDonalds with a dock?
     
  16. LattitudeAdjustment

    LattitudeAdjustment Member

    66
    Apr 8, 2018
    Palm Harbor FL 28°03’”N 82°46’”W
    Sundancer 380
    Mercruiser 8.1
    [​IMG]
    North end of Boca Ciega Bay - Madeira Beach East Side Of ICW just north of the Welch Causeway Bridge. Nice floating docks there and if you go there at night, there is good Snook fishing in the mangroves, but hard to get them out.[​IMG]

    I tried to put a red & yellow star on the chart where the dock is. This is from chart online chart #11411
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  17. midexp

    midexp Active Member

    249
    Oct 5, 2016
    Harrison Township, Michigan Lake St.Clair
    1999 40' Sundancer
    454 merc
    McDonalds on the water, love it. Thanks for the great comments. Up here there are literally thousands of people wading/swimming in waist high water in bays on nice summer days. Is this done on the ocean or is the threat of shark attacks enough to make you just jump in to cool off and back to the boat?
     
  18. Dani-Lu

    Dani-Lu Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    533
    Apr 20, 2007
    Delray Beach, Fl. / Long Island - GSB
    2001 410DA
    3126 Cats
    A lot of people worry about sharks. But the reality is, you don’t have to worry about sharks.

    Now convince your brain of that after watching all the shark movies and discovery channel shark week.

    Today the ocean was beautiful, so my daughter and I were in the water for over 45 minutes. Thankfully, no shark attacks. Seriously, it is not something you should worry about.
     
  19. Blkbird

    Blkbird Active Member

    284
    Jul 5, 2010
    Lake Lanier, GA
    1997 Sea Ray 450 Sundancer
    Twin 3126 CATS
    Chez-nous came from the Miami area. I loved it down there but ended up bringing her back to Georgia. No need to have the bottom scraped by a diver every month, bottom paint lasts longer, chrome stays shiny... but I do miss Florida. Oh and please cover your helm when she is left at the dock. Previous owner didn't do that and the sun brutalized the three faux wood dashes until they looked like grey cardboard.
     
  20. Todd320

    Todd320 Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    901
    Jul 21, 2016
    St. Petersburg, FL
    2007 Sea Ray 320DA
    Twin V-drive 5.7L 350 Horizon
    Sharks, you think about, but not an issue. Don’t swim with a large cut on your foot and you’ll be fine. Literally thousands of people swimming and you rarely hear of shark attacks. Along with dolphins and manatee, Have seen thousands of cow rays, and several large devil rays, the latter of which you see when they fly out of the water and land right next to your boat going 28mph!

    I rinse the boat with salt away after each trip, boat is stored in a rack, so protected from the sun. I wax/compound/polish once a year, wash more frequently.

    Going to spend the night this weekend and head out to Bunces Pass or Passage Key on Sunday, high of 78. That’s the best thing about Florida.
     
    Jaybeaux likes this.

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