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Old 04-18-2008, 10:51 AM   #1
UaVaj
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Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

Launching from Black Point. What is the shortest but safest way to get to the Atlantic Ocean to access the reefs east off Elliott Key. Safest as in water depth. To idle through - I like a minimum of 4ft of water. Boat is a 30ft catamaran.

Toward the very south end. Caesar Creek looks like it is at least 6 feet at all tides.

Toward the very north end. There is Biscyane Channel. That also look like it is at least 6 feet at all tides too.



Here is the question. How about cutting straight across/eastward. Lewis Cut seem somewhat reasonable? Sand Cut seems questionable? What about the Safety Valve - seem out of the question?

If anyone has any experience in safely navigating this area. I do appreciate the guide. (I wish I could take my pwc out there and run around scouting the area - too bad biscayne is close to pwc.)
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:08 PM   #2
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Re: Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

I wouldn't try lewis cut or sand cut unless its on an incoming tide, how much does the boat draw? Caesar's creek is probably your best bet, biscayne channel is like 10 miles north/out of the way. Angelfish creek is the deepest of the cuts and is at the south end of elliot, we have a sailboat that draws 6 ft and this is the only one in the south part of the bay we use.
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Old 04-18-2008, 02:07 PM   #3
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Re: Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

Caesar creek is your best bet launching from Black Point
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Old 04-18-2008, 02:40 PM   #4
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Re: Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

Launch from Turkey Point and go through Ceaser Creek. Beware of Pelican Bank.
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Old 04-18-2008, 06:53 PM   #5
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Re: Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

Further correction. According to the official biscayne national park map. All those cuts mentioned above/here has at least one or more questionable spots (0-6') while navigating through.

Biscayne channel is the only exception that offer a guaranteed 6'+ depth all the way through.

Looks like there is no short cut to this.



Boat draft is 1' 6". Motor down draft is 2' 6". That is why I like to have at least 4' of depth. 1' 6" of cushion.

One of these days durning a peak of high tide. I will attempt to cut through Lewis Cut. So has anyone attempted this crossing with a similar size boat?
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Old 04-18-2008, 07:42 PM   #6
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Re: Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

Caesar Creek is probably your best, but you may need to trim up engines at low tide. The bay side entrance to the channel gets pretty shallow.
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Old 04-18-2008, 08:57 PM   #7
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Re: Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

That official biscayne map probably may have some inaccuracies. According to my navionic gold chart. August 2007 revision. There are a few cuts above Ragged Key that looks safe to navigate through with water depth being in the 4-5ft. (I am assuming this is at high tide)

I just have to find that one deeper cut and track a route through it. Since pwc is prohibited. Anyone know someone or a place where I can rent a jon boat with a small outboard for a few hours for scouting around? Probably more fun and more economical than scouting with the big boat.
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Old 04-18-2008, 09:31 PM   #8
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Re: Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

I have run all of the passes you mentioned so far. I have a 26' center console with twin 150 outboards. It drafts about 2.5' at idle and 2' on plane (1.5' with the tabs down and engines up). Here is the order of the passes from the shallowest to the deepest:

1) Sands cut - easily the shallowest cut (ocean side only) once inside you have at least 4' but it is also the closest one to Black Point (~6 mi.). I would only attempt this cut on plane and at or near high tide....but.....not when the winds are or have been out of the west. West winds knock the tide down and high tide is not as high as you think. This is not a pass to be used by the faint of heart because it looks like you are about to run aground because the water is so clear. Whenever I run it I don't kick up grass or sand so it is at least 2 or 2.5 foot at high tide.

2) Lewis cut - the second closest (~7mi) to Black Point and the second shallowest. You have to be careful running from Black Point because there are feather banks (shoals) in between. You have to run towards Sands cut then turn north. Like Sands cut, the shallow area is on the ocean side. There are actually two cuts in Lewis cut. One north and one south. Look at the satellite image on google maps and you can see what I am talking about (you can also see the feather banks & prop scars if you zoom in). I only use the north cut since I am usually coming from Matheson. There are marker buoys that bring you from the bay to boca chita key marina. Instead of taking a left into the marina take a right and follow the bank around to the cut. Once you pass between the islands there are two marker buoys showing the south edge of the shoal on the oceanside. Stay just south of those buoys and on plane and you will be ok (or you can idle through....recommended for the first time so you don't run hard aground is you stray from the cut). The only time I would be worried with Lewis cut is low tide AND west wind.

3) Caesar cut - about 10 miles from the last marker at Black Point. Very well marked channel. Stay in the channel and you will have at least 4-6' throughout. Don't cut out of the channel early or you will run hard aground especially on the ocean side. Shoals on both sides of the channel can be exposed during low tide.

4) Biscayne Channel - one hell of a long way from Black Point (estimate 14-15miles). Might as well trailer the boat to Key Biscayne. The stiltsville cut (not sure official name) would be closer and nearly as deep. No way I would make that run from black point especially since the reefs get better as you go south. Highly recommend Caeser cut but it is deepest of the 4 and also well marked.

Hope this helps. I recommend looking at the google earth satellite images to get an idea then buy a good chart or a good GPS with depth contours. They are invaluable in this area. Keep in mind that there are reefs and obstructions on the ocean side of Elliot key that are less than 2' below the water at low tide. This is also where a good GPS and chip come in handy. I have avoided some really bad days and saved my lower units because of my GPS. Remember that a good GPS is much cheaper than two new lower units.

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Old 04-18-2008, 10:35 PM   #9
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Re: Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

That is exactly what I am looking for. Some real life EXPERIENCE. Thanks a million.

BTW - do you have those "safety proven" routes saved on a GPS? (GPX format) If so may I have a copy of those routes. Of course using it at my own risk. I would hate to have to re-invent the wheel.
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Old 04-20-2008, 10:33 AM   #10
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Re: Navigating through Biscayne Bay to Atlantic Ocean

UaVaJ said:
There are a few cuts above Ragged Key that looks safe to navigate through with water depth being in the 4-5ft. (I am assuming this is at high tide)

Soundings on charts at shown at mean lower low water. Read all the charts fine print for good information on an area. The next best source is from local knowledge, like Rigs2Reefs gave you.
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