Boating in SW Florida

SW Florida Boating - Cape Coral Cruiser

is different than in many other areas. We have quite a variety of types of boats and types of boating! Rest assured, what ever you like in boating you can likely do here.

If you like cruising there are islands and cities all up and down the coast from here for you to visit. If fishing is your sport then you can choose between fishing the flats, reefs or deep sea. The Gulf is only minutes away, so if you like to sail the world is at your feet! Different boats are available for each type of activity. You can buy boats for a few thousand dollars or a few million dollars!

You might find your dream boat here!

Cape Coral Sea RayCabin Cruisers…These are typically “week end or vacation get away boats.” They are designed to give you acomfortable space inside, for preparing food, sleeping, showering, playing cards, or relaxing.   Complete with TV’s, microwaves ovens, stoves, air conditioners, and generators…they offer all the comforts of home!

Usually you can stand up in the cabin. The outside is designed for entertaining, relaxing and “cruising” the vast expanses of waterways. These boats can be used for fishing, however, in Florida; if you are a die-hard fishing person…you may prefer a true fishing boat. A fishing boat is easier to keep clean, as it can be hosed down. They also provide “live wells” which maintain your fish until you get back.  Remember, the weather is warm here.  It is not reasonable to just pull the fish in and leave it lie in a bucket until you get to the dock…The fish will spoil and smell! Cruising boats are made for passenger comfort. Fishing boats are for fishing ease.

 

Cabin cruisers often use a lot of fuel. Many of these boats will go under the Florida bridges that cross canals.  However, some of them have fly bridges, such as some of those pictured here. The fly bridge will create too much height to pass under lower bridge clearances.  A couple of the boats pictured here have a radar arch. Radar arches can mean that you are unlikely to get under a bridge lower than 11 or 12 ft. BRIDGES DO NOT RESTRICT LENGTH, THEY RESTRICT height. These boats range from 21 ft. and up in length and draft anywhere from 22 inches to 4 ft.. At 30 ft. you start talking about yachts.

 

If you have children, like to explore, and desire comfort, a cruiser is your best choice in a boat.  In a boat, children often need to be kept warm or cool depending on the weather, cruisers make this possible.  Florida has lots of boating clubs.  The members of these clubs, come together to cruise as a group to designated locations. Remember that we are close to the Keys and to the Bahamas….. what a great way to enjoy the incredible beauty, ambiance,  and excitement of this area!

 

Ft. Myers Bow Rider

Bow Rider… Now here is a really fun boat for speed, agility, comfort, and exhilaration on short time play days.  They easily clear all bridges! Compared to the “big boats.” these are more economical for initial purchase, and for fuel consumption.  They also have a shallower draft so they can go up onto a beach for a family pick nick.  On a good weather day, these boats can maneuver the inland waters…however, most of them that are less than 25ft. and really should not go out into the Gulf.  People do it, but the water can get really ruff, really quick…BIGGER is better in the Gulf!

 

Bayliner SW FLorida Boating

 

 

 

 

Cape Coral Trawler

 

Trawlers…. Perhaps in a class by themselves, trawlers are extremely sea worthy functional boats.  They are made for traveling on the water anywhere your gas tank will power you.  Steady and methodical, these boats have room to move, galleys for cooking, inside engine rooms, cabins for passengers, and wheel houses for the captain of the vessel.

 

Florida Trawler

Some have walk in clothes closets and even bathtubs! As you can imagine, they are usually too tall for passing beneath a canal bridge.  On the east coast, there are some canal bridges that are “draw” bridges on some of the canals.  We do not have that luxury on the west coast of Florida as a general rule. Don’t buy one of these for speed as they are too big and too heavy to go fast.  But if you enjoy the journey as much as the destinations, this is the best way to cruise. Choose property that offers deep direct access.

 

Cape Coral - Gulf of Mexico Boating OpportunitiesCigarette Boats… These boats are noisy, gas guzzling, works of art!  They are the fastest boats, usually the most colorful, and always the ones that turn the heads of everyone!  The gulf water is perfect for these vessels. It offers plenty of room to speed straight, in circles, or to a specific destination. To observe these boats in action, is quite a thrill….Just imagine being part of the experience!!!!!

 

 

Jet Ski in SW FloridaCape Coral Jet Ski Property

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jet Skies… These are fast and fun and throughout this area.  Like any watercraft, a jet ski mustdo minimum wake in the canals.  They can not “open up” the throttle unless they are outside the canals or on a FRESH WATER lake.  Gulf Access lakes insist on minimum wake for all vessels, no matter their size.

 

Hurricane Deck Boat in Florida

Deck Boat… Believe it or not, these boats can get up and move!  However, usually, they are used for relaxing, entertaining, and putting around for a few hours.  Deck boats are practical and very functional. Their design does not evoke heart throbbing excitement.

 

These are not usually recommended for the Gulf waters as many of them are designed to be used in calm water. Obviously, the Gulf, like an ocean can get very scary for “fair weather” boat, which this is.  Often in ruff water, the boaters get somewhat wet due to sea spray as they head home.  These boats have a shallow draft and less free board (side height) than the cruisers and fishing boats.

Deck boats are fun for families and friends alike!

Fishing boat…. Like the cruisers, there are so many different types it is hard to generalize.  These boatsvary in length, draft, and height because of the location of the fish that an individual wants to catch.

 

Gulf of Mexico Fishing Boat

A “flats” boat will be shorter, draft less water, and usually have no height to concern you for clearing bridges.  These are usually powered by out board motors (because the motor can easily be tilted up to raise the propeller) to increase the boats ability to fish the “flats”. Flats are basically inner-coastal waterways that are shallow and protected from harsh seas. These boats are attractive to fly fisherman, tarpon enthusiast, spin-casters and all kinds of people who love variety and frequency in their fishing excursions.

 

Flats boats are usually affordable at 20K or less depending on year, size, engine power, and whether it is new or used.  They are stable, sturdy boats designed with one thing in mind…Get to the fishing spot and function for him/her without “stuff” in the way. No frills on these boats!  Bare bones, open air, and if you are lucky, a useable, port potty type head for your convenience.

 

These boats are easy to maneuver into the best spots for a nice catch. There are some flats boats that have a tuna tower on them.  Unlike true tuna towers on the big fishing boats, these towers are not very high. But they do offer you an over view of the nearby fishing area.

 

There are the deep sea fishing boats which vary in length from 25ft. to 35 ft. These are made to venture out into the gulf waters.  They can be low enough in height to clear most bridges or too tall with true tuna towers to get under any of the bridges.  Normally they will have good free board and a seaworthy design.  Since often “deep sea” fishing is 6-10 miles from shore and you are truly in “very open” water, these boats have to be created to take some fowl weather water conditions to be safe in the gulf.

 

Center console boats are popular here for fishing because you can walk all the way around the boat as you work your fish to the surface.  For most people who like to fish, center console boats are great. But don’t plan on sleeping on them as there is no cabin to do that.

 

Think radio, GPS, radar, depth finders, cell phones and any other gadgetry you can afford to help you with emergencies and positioning. These modern day devices help boaters to make their way with out land markings, to reefs, wrecks, and holes where the BIG fish abound.  We are talking up to and including fish that tip the scales at 800lbs!  For safe boating, always give a  plan of where you are going to family or friends.  There is a very popular emergency boat service called “SEA TOW.”  This company will come out to where ever you are to help you if you are a member.  Think of it like a AAA auto club for boaters. If you are headed for tuna, there’s no telling where you will end up! Learn to be prepared.  The water is warm….but it’s a long swim home!

 

Some of the boats will have sleeping bunks tucked down into the V of the hull.  They are great for a nap, but not great for a weekend get away. Keep in mind that the boats which are over 26ft long, handle the gulf waters much better.  With out being technical, it has to do with the average span of the crest from wave to wave.  When the boat is too short, in bad water it’s a really ruff ride to get back from where you are.

 

Fishing boats have lots of storage compartments.  Some are for ice chests, some for lures, some for your fishing pools and still others exist for whatever you need to store!  Most of these compartments lock keep their contents secure.

 

Sail Boat in Cape Coral Canal

Sail Boats…. Like most boats, these come in a variety of prices, sizes and styles.  With all of the “living space” below deck, they are sleek in design and ready for deck passengers in swim suits, shorts, and suntan lotion!  Tampa Bay, Port Charlotte and the Ft Myers area are all areas where shallow waters are abundant.  Sail boats MUST stay in marked channels to maneuver through these areas.  Bridge height is VERY important as you consider sailboats.  They can not pass under “fixed” bridges that span canals and sometimes can not sail under “fixed” bridges that connect islands, keys and peninsulas. However, sailboats, like all types of boats are throughout all of Florida.  How wonderfully romantic to sail to the Caribbean or South America or even the Florida Keys!

Cape Coral Catamaran