Florida certainly lives up to its nickname: the Sunshine State. After all, this southeastern U.S. state boasts nearly 3,000 hours of rays annually. Plus, wintertime air and water temperatures that average 79 and 72, respectively, in locations such as Miami, provide perfect conditions for recreational boating. Add to this that Florida has plenty of places to cruise. The state’s coastline of 1,350 miles is the second longest in the U.S. after Alaska. Plus, Florida has some 1,540 navigable miles of intracoastal and inland waterways. What’s more, Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America due to the city’s 185 miles of waterways.
“Most of the country shuts down to boaters when summer is over, but Florida offers year-round boating in the Atlantic, in the Gulf, and throughout hundreds of miles of inland waterways that showcase the state’s natural beauty,” says Kelly Skidmore, public relations specialist at the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Here is a sampling of places for cruisers to stop, stay and see in the Sunshine State.
Where to Dock / Moor in Miami
Miami. Located in the Coconut Grove neighborhood along Biscayne Bay, the mooring facility at the Dinner Key marine complex accepts vessels up to 40-foot LOA on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, “our wet slip facilities at Dinner Key Marina and Miamarina (in downtown Miami at the Bayside Marketplace) received substantial damage during Hurricane Irma and we are unable to accept transient dockage at these facilities,” says Daniel Muelhaupt, assistant marinas manager for the City of Miami. “We are hoping that we can have our wet slip marinas available for the 2018-2019 season.”
Nearby, IGY’s One Island Park Miami Beach is offering transient slips this winter for vessels over 100-feet LOA, says Gili Wojnowich, regional director for marina operations and planning in the U.S., Bahamas and South America. “The Miami area does have several anchorages available for smaller vessels, yet none are well suited for larger yachts or vessels with deep drafts.”
BWA Yachting, on site at One Island Park, presents a soup-to-nuts of services including provisioning. The marina’s guest services encompass a pickup and delivery laundry service, customs and immigration, yacht maintenance and fuel. Close by is downtown Miami’s popular shopping, dining and entertainment venues, and the famed Miami Beach.
Where to Dock / Moor in Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale. Slips for visiting cruisers with boats from 30- to 175-feet LOA are available at the three City of Fort Lauderdale marine facilities: Las Olas Marina, Cooley’s Landing Marina and New River Docks. “Las Olas Marina and Cooley’s Landing Marina have bathrooms/showers, laundry and a TV room,” says Levend Ekendiz, dockmaster at Las Olas. “New River Docks do not have facilities; boaters have to use facilities at Cooley’s Landing Marina. All marine related services, beaches, downtown activities, movies, nightlife and culinary experiences are near.
Ekendiz adds that there is a mooring field on the southwest corner of the Las Olas Bridge. Here, there are 10 mooring balls available on a first-come, first-serve basis for yachts with a maximum of 50-feet. Vessels can anchor at nearby Lake Sylvia.
Transient slip space is also available at the 250-slip Bahia Mar Marina. Located across from Fort Lauderdale Beach, where there are many restaurants, shops and watersports operators, the marina offers dockside pump-out, Wi-Fi, captains quarters, fuel, a ship’s chandlery, dive shop, on-site car rental and the Bahia Mar Hotel, a Doubletree by Hilton.
“We do not have an anchorage or mooring field, but we will always have something available and if we do not we will assist in finding another option,” says general manager, Megan Lagasse.
There are often slips available at the Marina Bay Marina Resort, which is especially convenient for those who plan to haul out at one of the shipyards on the New River and don’t mind transiting the 4.2 miles from the intracoastal waterway (ICW). The marina accommodates vessels from 40- to 150-feet LOA, according to marina resort manager, Tara Dirato. “Transient cruisers have full access to the property, including a resort-style pool, hot tub, fitness center, tennis court, racquetball court, showers and laundry facilitates, plus a restaurant on site that is open daily. Many commercial options for anything related to yachting are available on State Road 84, within 2 miles of the marina.”
Where to Dock / Moor in Fort Pierce
Fort Pierce. Cruisers passing through on yachts with drafts no deeper than 6.5-feet can find overnight dockage at the Fort Pierce City Marina. Additionally, there is a location across from the marina on the other side of the ICW that boaters can use to anchor, says marina manager, Dean Kubitschek. “We staff and have fuel available up to 22 hours daily seven days a week.”
Fresh produce provisioning is easy, Kubitschek adds, at the nearby Wednesday Green Market and Saturday Farmer’s Market in downtown Fort Pierce.
Where to Dock / Moor in St. Petersburg / Tampa?
St. Petersburg-Tampa. Transient slips are accessible at IGY’s Maximo Marina, in the heart of this west coast city, where guest services include shower facilities, laundry, waste management and a business center. Great beaches, popular attractions such as Busch Gardens and the world-renown Dali Museum are in the vicinity.
Where to Dock / Moor in Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville. Cruisers with yachts up to 130-feet LOA can find an overnight or longer slip at IGY’s Marina at Ortega Landing. Some of the more unique facilities include a picnic and dog run area and complimentary bicycles for local exploring. There is also a private anchorage located across from the marina for smaller vessels with limited draft. Permits for anchoring are handed through the local authorities.
Sold Out!? PLAN AHEAD…
Do try to reserve a slip in advance if you’re planning to cruise to Florida in the future, especially if planning to stay in a busy yachting area and/or around the holidays. As Sue Morgan, marketing and public relations director at Old Port Cove Marinas, says, “Many of us were already sold out (of slips) for the season by October.”