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Florida’s Small Boat West Coast

Small craft enthusiasts show off their vessels at various festivals and meets throughout Florida. Photo By Glenn Hayes
Small craft enthusiasts show off their vessels at various festivals and meets throughout Florida. Photo By Glenn Hayes

The shallow waters of Florida’s west coast are perfect for messing about in small boats, and spring heralds no shortage of events encouraging owners to get their small boats launched and on the water.

If relaxed boating is your speed, the 29th Annual Cedar Key Small Boat Meet is a good fit. The May 3-5 event attracts small boat enthusiasts who enjoy spectacular waters and each other’s company. The Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce says all shallow draft vessels are welcome and that “tides and weather are the only organization.”

During the weekend, hundreds of boats sail, motor and paddle through the inviting shallow waters surrounding Cedar Key and surrounding islands and making landfall to explore the various beaches.

The quaint main island is free of fast food (but has plenty of good eateries) and has a good selection of hotels and bed and breakfasts.

The event attracts a bevy of production boats, custom and home-made craft. Visit cedarkey.org/events.php for details.

Some participants sail or power up to the meet from a different event held the prior weekend, 25 miles to the south.

The April 26-27 Crystal River Boat Bash takes place at the Crystal River Preserve State Park, 3266 North Sailboat Ave. It is billed as “a celebration of small craft, nautical heritage and fun on the waters of the Nature Coast.”

Attendees to see boats built by members of the Crystal River Boat Builders as well as their ongoing scow project. There will be displays showing the area’s maritime history. Visitors are invited to show off their own small craft.

Other activities include get-togethers at local restaurants, vendors, a movie and waterside bonfires on Friday and Saturday night. Visit tsca.net/CRBB/bash.htm for details.

Further up the coast is yet another small craft event. The Apalachicola Antique Boat Show on April 20 will showcase stunning antique boats, traditional Florida workboats and other classics from decades past. The fully restored 1877 gaff-rigged schooner The Governor Stone, a National Historic Landmark, will be on display.

Kids can build their own model boats and create artwork in a special booth. Marine art will be on exhibit in the Cotton Warehouse along with a 50-foot trader’s canoe that was recovered from the bottom of the Apalachicola River. There will also be booths with exhibits explaining the unique river and bay ecosystems of the area.

When you tire of boats, wander the streets to view a collection of classic cars.

No matter where you go on Florida’s West Coast this spring, there is sure to be a small boat event nearby.

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