St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) - General Info

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The Tampa Bay area is an enormous metropolitan area surrounding a large bay. The Tampa Bay area encompasses the dominant cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg (St. Pete) as well as all of the outlying suburbs and intermediate towns. St. Petersburg occupies the peninsula to seaward with all its associated neighborhoods including Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park, Gulfport, and the outer barrier islands. Tampa occupies the inland area.

To the south, Bradenton is a major yachting center and separates the Tampa Bay area from the Sarasota Bay. The well-known Longboat Key is the outer barrier island that separates Sarasota from the Gulf of Mexico.

Like the Atlantic coast, this area also is served by a well-traveled Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), a unique system of navigable channels, rivers, and canals on the inside of the barrier island chain. The ICW enters Tampa Bay and passes through Boca Ciega on its way north. If you are traveling via the ICW, Tampa and downtown St. Pete will be somewhat out of the way: Gulfport has many yachting facilities in a protected bay. St.Pete and Tampa, on the other hand, have almost ever feasible repair service, fabrication facility, and marina amenity possible.

The main body of Tampa Bay is deep enough for any cruising vessels; however, there are areas of shoaling and spoil areas from dredging. This is especially true outside of the ICW channel. Keep to the markers and do not cut corners.

A number of wildlife refuges and state parks are scattered around this area. Be aware that there are local laws that may limit fishing or another resource usage in these areas. Follow all posted signs or notice boards. The area is patrolled by Park Rangers who enforce the laws in these areas.

To pinpoint the location of each marina in this listing, refer to the address: each address specifies the neighborhood in which the marina/boatyard is located.


 27°36.80’N,  82° 45.64’W (entrance to Tampa Bay)

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St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) was last updated 7 years ago.

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  1. November 5, 2018 at 6:59 AM
    Data Entry says:

    Hello everyone: I have one question regarding departure from us with a US flagged boat (Delaware). A crew member arrived at the US on an ESTA and do have a return flight to Europe (That he will not use).

    Can he depart from the US onboard our boat? I have been reading and I get so many mixed answers, maybe you guys know the answer?

  2. November 5, 2018 at 6:58 AM
    Data Entry says:

    Please remember that flood waters from Florence and now from Michael will have lifted tons of debris into the Waterway channels and submerged hazards can do serious damage to your vessel. See Waterway Guide for the latest updates –

  3. November 5, 2018 at 6:58 AM
    Data Entry says:

    Reported by Joan Conover (SSCA):

    All Florida boatyards are full up with boat repairs..we can’t find anyone to work on our boat (cutlass bearing). Marathon Marina is open, they can haul us..but no one available to WORK on the boat except one yard which has a very iffy reputation. Same for Key West..and also here in West Palm Beach which we diverted to. We whined our way to getting our jib repaired using a sailmaker who Donna Lange is a close friend with..she is here and has given us ideas of who to ask for work.

    LOTS of boats heading to the Med on freighters..and at least five large yachts jus scrubbed their winter season (didn’t know where to go…in the Caribbean) and SAT at the dock here in West Palm Beach. So the boats are either south near Grenada..docked in Florida/East Coast USA..or on freighters heading to the Med. The boats were just coming in and loading out of Crown Bay/IGY Marina in St. Thomas. Think it will be a big Med season coming up.

    Of course, the LOOP may be another cruising choice for boaters..or the Western Gulf of Mexico/Florida..depending on the storms this season.

  4. November 5, 2018 at 6:56 AM
    Data Entry says:

    Regarding Cruising Licences/Permits, specifically with regard to the canceling/surrendering of one permit to enable a new one to be obtained when returning to the USA within the same twelve months, we had an enlightening conversation with the CPB Officer in St Augustine earlier this week; the key point is that whilst a Cruising Permit cannot exceed twelve months, it does not have to write for a full twelve months; you can ask for a shorter period.

    We got one issued which is dated to expire in a little over eight months (when we know that we’ll be outside of the USA) and if we do then return here for the next hurricane season too, we will be eligible for a new one when we return. Apparently, the issues many of these sub-twelve month licenses to the Canadian yachts which spend each winter in the Bahamas and wish to return to the USA, on or around the same date each year, rather than have their ‘earliest return’ date pushed out by fifteen days each time.

  5. November 5, 2018 at 6:53 AM
    Data Entry says:

    We arrived in Key West from Havana in June 2018. We had no problems at all. We had US Visas issued in London and obtained our US Cruising Permit in Culebra, Spanish Virgin Islands.

    Aware of some scuttlebutt, I rang the CPB office in Key West before arriving in Cuba. The officer told me that as a British registered boat with British nationals onboard, they could not care less where we arrived from, so long as we met US entry requirements.

    We were not breaking any British laws by visiting Cuba, so the UA authorities were delighted to see us. They were very helpful, very cheerful and set the tone for an excellent stay in Key West.

  6. November 5, 2018 at 6:52 AM
    Data Entry says:

    Posted on behalf of Andrew Smyth

    I saw that some people had problems arriving in Key West from Havana. The best advice, which we followed, was to head on up to West Palm Beach and enter the US there. The customs and immigration have a big office which services the cruise liners close to the marinas. They weren’t the friendliest, but they didn’t question our arrival from Cuba.

  7. November 5, 2018 at 6:51 AM
    Data Entry says:

    Where to winter on board in Alaska – great article by SY Salty Kisses.

  8. November 5, 2018 at 6:45 AM
    Data Entry says:

    Info for any non-US sailors wishing to maximise their 12-month US cruising licence, we ‘surrendered’ the licence provided whilst cruising USVI’s, Spanish VI’s and Puerto Rico mainland (we surrendered at Mayaguez, west coast PR), sailed onto the Bahamas for a few weeks, they were able to obtain a fresh 12-month cruising license on making landfall in Charleston, South Carolina.

    We were aware that award of the full 12-months license is at the CBP Officers discretion, but we were never made to feel that the full 12-months were not likely. Interesting to note that in Charleston they were very aware that we’d surrendered our earlier license in PR, so the computer tracking system certainly works.

    And with regard to calling in to report change of location, we were initially told to do this whenever we change the location of towns (one bay to the next was unnecessary), but after reporting assiduously through South Caroline, once in North Carolina we were told not to report until we reach the next State, and now on arrival in Virginia, were told the same – maybe once you’ve built up a track record of reporting, you’re no longer considered such a risk… Anyhow, we’ve never felt any less than fully welcomed wherever we’ve been so far!

  9. November 5, 2018 at 6:36 AM
    Data Entry says:

    A ‘heads up’ for any ‘third-country nationals’ planning on visiting the US (including Hawaii) from Mexico. I have just been through a protracted email exchange with the US Embassy in Mexico, trying to clarify the situation about me, as an Australian, applying for a B1/B2 visitor visa so that I could call in at Hawaii on my way home.

    The US State Department website says that I CAN apply in Mexico. The US Embassy (Mexico) website says that I CAN NOT. The outcome of the email exchange is that the embassy insists that I because I am not resident in Mexico I cannot apply here, and it is, therefore, illegal for me to call at Hawaii. The embassy advised me to “apply in Australia”, even after I reminded them that I am already in Mexico. Sure, why not?

  10. November 5, 2018 at 6:34 AM
    Data Entry says:

    A little correction on the above. After sailed from Havana to Key West and called the toll free number in the US, we were kindly told that we were in violation of the US law. The Cruising License was canceled by the Key West CBP officer in charge.

    All very friendly but not helpful. Obviously, we should have known that we might end up in trouble. We will need to leave the country and, upon entry of the US, reapply for the Cruising License. The main issue is that, for now, it is illegal to sail directly to and from Cuba to the USA. Key West station is strictly enforcing this particular law with NO leeway.

    1. November 5, 2018 at 6:35 AM
      Data Entry says:

      The above cruising boat is Dutch. We are currently waiting for an official reply from the authorities in Key West to clarify the exact rules are. cruising between Cuba and Key West.

  11. November 5, 2018 at 6:29 AM
    Data Entry says:

    We found the official process to clear into the US extremely easy and straightforward. We sailed into Ensenada Honda in Culebra Spanish Virgin Islands (part of Puerto Rico) and cleared at the airport. You have to call the toll free number first to register your arrival before you are allowed to come onshore and visit the CBP official.

    After the usual paperwork (the US loves paperwork) we were issued a one-year cruising permit for free and a six month period to remain in the US. For the latter, we were charged USD 19. Although leaving US waters (visit to Cuba) there is no need to fill out new paperwork once we arrive in Key West. As for all foreign vessels, we will need to call the toll free number of CBP in KW to notify our arrival. It is required to call in every time one arrives in a new CBP area. Toll-free numbers on the CBP website. As said, all straightforward and quick.

  12. November 5, 2018 at 6:28 AM
    Data Entry says:

    A Summer Wilderness Cruise in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

    Read this great report by SY Seal (August 2014) at SAIL Magazine.

  13. November 5, 2018 at 6:28 AM
    Data Entry says:

    Posted on behalf of Ann Lange

    This is for Canadian cruisers wanting to enter the U.S. from the Caribbean. We sailed up from Brazil – Trinidad – north through the Caribbean to BVI’s. We had no problems what so ever getting into the USVI’s, just the normal paper work. We asked if we could purchase a U.S. cruising permit in the USVI’s, the answer was no but we could obtain it in Puerto Rico. We sailed into San Juan without phoning or anything and once we found the Customs and Border Protection office on the south side of the main harbour they issued us a one year cruising permit. It cost us $37.00 USD in April of 2014, this allows us to cruise anywhere in the U.S. including any protectorates. We found this process very simple and easy compared with all the rumours we had heard.

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