Gulf Intracoastal Waterway - Florida’s (West Coast)
Punta Rassa to Anclote Key
The Florida (West Coast) portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GICW) has its beginning near Punta Rassa, FL and the Sanibel Causeway. Starting at mile marker (MM "0.0") in San Carlos Bay at 26°30.6’N / 82°01.1’W, close to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River and its junction with Okeechobee Waterway.
From its starting point, this section of the GICW runs generally in a northerly direction ending at 28°10.4’N / 82°49.5’W (MM "150.0") located between the southern tip of Anclote Key and the approaches to the Anclote River leading into Tarpon Springs.
The GICW is marked the same as the AICW, where Aids to Navigation displaying yellow triangles are kept to starboard and those displaying yellow squares should be kept to port along the entire length of the waterway. While typically the yellow triangles will be found on red markers and yellow squares are found on green markers, caution should be exercised where the GICW intersects or coincides with a channel marked by the Lateral System.
NOAA chart coverage of this portion of the GICW beginning at mile marker "0.0" to mile marker "150.0" is provided by charts #11427, #11425, #11416, and #11411. These charts can be viewed by clicking on the links below:
Distances and Mileages
All distances along the Florida Gulf Intracoastal Waterway are given in statute miles unless otherwise noted. Statute miles are used in order to conform to the distances shown on the small craft charts typically used along this route.
Like the AICW, the portion of the GICW between Punta Rassa and Anclote Key is measured based on increasing mileage from MM "0.0."
The Federal project depth for this portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway provides for a channel depth of 9 feet and a channel width of 100 feet. Even though every effort is made to maintain the project depth, the actual controlling depths in the channels may vary due to shoaling reducing the available water depth until maintenance dredging can be accomplished.
- All operating bridges in Florida guard VHF Channel 09.
- The U.S. Coast Guard advises all vessels to exercise caution in any area where the GICW intersects major shipping channels. A "Security Call" on VHF channel 13 is requested prior to crossing any shipping channels, especially during periods of restricted visibility.
Bridges, Locks, and Overhead Power Lines
Florida’s West Coast GICW Bridge Schedule
At last count, a total of 25 bridges cross the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway between Punta Rassa and Anclote Key, FL. The fixed bridges along this route provide a minimum vertical clearances of 65’.
This list is believed to be accurate as of January 2017. If any errors or omissions are noted, please e-mail us at with any corrections or recommendations.
GICW - Florida West Coast Bridge Schedule
Florida (West Coast) Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Bridges
|* Please Note: Limiting Vertical Clearance for fixed bridges on the waterway is 65.0’ at the Skyway
Northern Span Bridge (MM "110.5") and the Pinellas Bayway C Span Bridge at (MM "114.0".)
|Mile Marker||Bridge||Charted Vert. Clear.||Schedule||Restrictions||VHF|
|34.3||Boca Grande Swing Bridge||22’||The draw shall open between 0700 - 1800 M-F on the hour and ½ hour except Federal holidays. On weekends and Federal holidays the draw shall open between 0700 - 1800 on the hour and every 15 minutes thereafter. Other times on demand.||09|
|43.5||Tom Adams Bascule Bridge||26’||Opens on Demand||09|
|50.0||Manasota Beach Bascule Bridge||26’||Opens on Demand.||09|
|55.0||Circus (Tamiami Trail) Bascule Bridge||25’||Opens on Demand.||09|
|56.6||Venice Avenue Bascule Bridge||30’||The draw shall open between 0700 - 1630 M-F at 10 min. past the hour and every 20 min, thereafter except Federal holidays. Other times on demand.||Closed from 1635 - 1735 M-F except Federal holidays.||09|
|56.9||Hatchett Creek Bascule Bridge||30’||The draw shall open between 0700 - 1620 M-F on the hour and every 20 min, thereafter except Federal holidays. Weekends and Federal holidays from 0730 - 1800 opens on the hour and every 15 minutes thereafter. Other times on demand.||Closed from 1625 - 1725 M-F except Federal holidays. Need not open the 2nd Saturday of November from 0900-1700.||09|
|59.0||Albee Road Bascule Bridge||14’||Opens on Demand||09|
|63.0||Blackburn Swing Bridge||9’||M-F Opens on Demand. Weekends opens on the hour.||09|
|68.6||Stickney Point Bascule Bridge||18’||The draw shall open between 0600 - 2200 M-F on the hour and every 20 min, thereafter except Federal holidays. Other times on demand.||Twin Spans||09|
|71.6||Siesta Drive Bascule Bridge||25’||The draw shall open between 0700 - 1800 M-F and on weekends between 1100 - 1800, except Federal holidays, on the hour and every 20 min. thereafter. Other times on demand.||09|
|73.5||Ringling (Gil Waters)Bridge||65’||Fixed Bridge (Span "A")|
|87.4||Cortez Bascule Bridge||22’||The draw shall open between 0600 - 1900 on the hour and every 20 min. thereafter. From 1/15 to 5/15, 0600 - 1900, on the hour and ½ hour. Other times on demand.||09|
|89.2||Anna Marie Island Bascule Bridge||24’||The draw shall open between 0600 - 1900 on the hour and every 20 min. thereafter. From 1/15 to 5/15, 0600 - 1900, on the hour and ½ hour. Other times on demand.||09|
|99.0||Sunshine Skyway Bridge||180’||Fixed Bridge|
|110.5||Skyway Northern Span Bridge||65’||Fixed Bridge||Twin Spans|
|113.0||Pinellas Bayway E Span Bascule Bridge||25’||On the Hr. & every 30 min, thereafter from 0900 - 1900. Other times on demand.||09|
|114.0||Pinellas Bayway C Span Bridge||65’||Fixed Bridge||09|
|117.7||Corey Causeway Bascule Bridge||23’||From 0800 - 1900 M-F, on the Hr. & every 20 min. thereafter. From 1000 - 1900 weekends & Fed. Holidays on the Hr. & every 20 min. thereafter. Other times on demand.||Twin Spans||09|
|119.0||Treasure Island Causeway Bascule Bridge||21’||From 0700 - 1900 on the Hr. & every 20 min, thereafter. Weekends & Fed. Holidays on ¼ and ¾ hour. Other times on demand.||Twin Spans||09|
|122.8||Welch Causeway Bascule Bridge||25’||On weekends & Fed. Holidays On the Hr. & every 20 min. thereafter from 0930 - 1800. Other times on demand.||09|
|126.0||Park Blvd. Bascule Bridge||20’||Opens on Demand||09|
|129.0||Indian Rocks Bascule Bridge||25’/21’||Opens on Demand||Twin Spans||09|
|131.8||Belleair Causeway Bridge||75’||Fixed Bridge|
|136.0||Clearwater Memorial Bridge||74’||Fixed Bridge|
|142.0||Dunedin / Honeymoon Bascule Bridge||24’||Opens on Demand||09|
Gulf Intracoastal Long Term Temporary Bridge Restrictions
Gulf Intracoastal Waterway - Florida West Coast
|Mile Marker||Bridge||Charted Vert. Clear.||Restrictions|
|43.5||Tom Adams Bascule Bridge||26’||Temporary until 31 May 2017 - Single leaf operation only.|
The table above lists the bridges, their schedules, and restrictions along Florida’s Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from its intersection with the Okeechobee Waterway in Ft. Myers, FL north to Dunedin, FL.
This bridge operating schedule can be downloaded for your personal and private use as a ZIP file. The file contains the schedule in Adobe (.pdf) file format.
Overhead Cable and Power Lines
The minimum authorized clearance of overhead cables crossing this section of the GICW is 88 feet and is found at the Manasota Beach Bascule Bridge (MM "49.9".)
Caution - Many of the overhead cables over the waterway carry high voltage, and an extra margin of safety should be allowed when the weather is threatening.
Tidal ranges are fairly small along Florida’s west coast. Under normal conditions the mean range of tide averages Slightly more than 1’ at Ft. Myers and around 2.4’ at Punta Rassa and increasing to a little more than 2½’ at Anclote Key.
The type of tide experienced in this area is commonly referred to as a "Mixed Tide" - exhibiting (2) unequal high tides and (2) unequal low tides each day.
Crossing Tampa Bay
When crossing Tampa Bay, the waterway continues north-northeast across the lower portion of the bay where it intersects the main shipping channel at mile marker "97.8," in the vicinity of Buoy R "26" Q R. It then turns to the northeast following the channel to mile marker "102.8," just past buoy G "3B" Fl G 4s. From there the GICW turns north to the St. Petersburg Channel to mile marker "106.0" just past the daybeacon "3" Q G where it then turns west into the dredged channel.
Small craft can also use the dredged Sunshine Skyway Channel, which extends parallel with and about 600 yards west of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge between mile marker "97.8" and Mile "110.8." The Sunshine Skyway Channel is marked by lights and daybeacons.
Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
There are numerous Entrances, Inlets, or Passes between the Gulf of Mexico and this section of Florida’s Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Many of these are only suitable for the smallest of vessels with shallow draft and local knowledge, but some can be considered navigable for many vessels.
San Carlos Bay Entrance
In the vicinity of (MM "0.0") and separates the southern part of Sanibel Island from Punta Rassa, FL. This entrance is marked by Sanibel Island Light, buoys, and daybeacons. A fixed span causeway crosses the entrance and has a vertical clearance of 70 feet.
Boca Grande Pass
Boca Grande Pass lies near (MM "27.0") and separates Cayo Costa to the south and Gasparilla Island to the north. The reported controlling depth in the channel was 9 feet. A break in the shoal on the north side of the channel near the south end of Gasparilla Island forms a swash channel which was reported to have a controlling depth of 8 feet. Any deviation from the marked channel should only be attempted with local knowledge as this area is subject to continual change.
Venice Inlet, near (MM "57.0") is approximately 26 miles NW from Port Boca Grande. It provides a passage from the Gulf to the Intracoastal Waterway. A dredged channel leads east from the Gulf between parallel jetties for about ½ mile to the Intracoastal Waterway. The controlling depth in the channel was 5.7 feet. Daybeacons mark the channel. Venice Inlet Light "1", 20 feet above the water, is shown from a pile with a square green daymark.
Longboat Pass is located between Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island, about 9½ miles southeast of Tampa Bay Entrance Channel. Longboat Pass provides a passage from the Gulf of Mexico to the northern end of Sarasota Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. A dredged channel, marked by a light and daybeacons, leads to the Intracoastal Waterway. In 2014 the controlling depth was 5 feet to the bascule bridge (charted vertical clearance of 17 feet) then 3 feet to the junction with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Greater depths may be available with local knowledge. The channel is subject to changes at the entrance. Shoaling extends approximately 1 mile from the pass entrance.
Tampa Bay Entrance
Tampa Bay Entrance between Mullet Key on the north and Anna Maria Island to the south, is 4½ miles wide. Egmont Channel, the main deep water ship channel, has been dredged through shoals that extend about 6 miles W of the entrance. Tampa Bay Lighted Buoy "T", 13½ miles west of Egmont Key, is equipped with a RACON and marks the approach to the bay. Egmont channel is marked by high-intensity range lights showing fixed white lights by day and fixed green lights by night, which are normally visible approaching Tampa Bay from the sea.
North Channel often referred to as Pass-a-Grille Channel lies west of mile marker 110.0 and separates Long Key and Shell Key to the south. It is an improved channel that crosses the bar from the Gulf of Mexico and connects with the main channel of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Near (MM "111.0." North Channel is well marked by lights and daybeacons. Recently, the controlling depth in North Channel was 4.6 feet (7.5 feet at mid-channel) to the main channel of the Intracoastal Waterway. Tidal currents in the area flood with an average velocity of 1.2 knots and ebb with an average velocity of 1.4 knots.
Anclote Key Pass
Anclote Key Pass lies west of (MM "148.5") between Anclote Key to the north and Three Rooker Bar to the south. It is a combination of natural inlet and dredged channel with a minimum depth of 8’ It is marked by lighted daybeacons and has a partially sunken wreck in the pass which can be easily avoided.
Port Richey Entrance
Port Richey Entrance lies just north of Anclote Key and to the west of Port Richey; approximately 5.2 miles north of the GICW. It has a wide open approach with depths of 7’ to 12’ until reaching deep water.
After leaving Anclote Key, it is a 140 NM open water passage to the vicinity of Carrabelle, FL where you again rejoin the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at (MM "376.5 EHL".)