Cruising/Navigating - Florida’s (West Coast)

Sanibel Island to Anclote Key

The Florida (West Coast) portion of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GICW) has its beginning near Punta Rassa, FL and the Sanibel Island Causeway. The GICW begins 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 Gulf Intracoastal Waterway 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.

Navigation

Buoyage

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.

Charts

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:

Chart #11427 - Ft. Meyers to Charlotte Harbor
Chart #11425 - Charlotte Harbor to Tampa Bay
Chart #11416 - Tampa Bay ICW Extension
Chart #11411 - Tampa Bay to Port Richey

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."

Channels

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.

Communications

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’.

The lists below are believed to be accurate as of January 2019. If any errors or omissions are noted, please e-mail us at with any corrections or recommendations.

Open Down Arrow GICW - Florida West Coast Bridge Schedule
San Carlos Bay to Venice

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway - Florida (West Coast)


San Carlos Bay to Venice

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
 
34.3 Boca Grande Swing Bridge 22’ Shall open on signal; except that from 0700 to 1800, Mon. through Fri., except for Fed. holidays, the draw need open only on the hour and half hour. On Sat., Sun. and Fed. holidays, from 0700 to 1800, the draw need open only on the hour and every 15 minutes thereafter.   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’ Shall open on signal, except that from 0700 to 1630, Mon. through Fri. except Fed. holidays, the draw need open only at 10 minutes after the hour and every 20 minutes thereafter. Between 1635 and1735 the draw need not open. 09
56.9 Hatchett Creek Bascule Bridge 30’ Shall open on signal, except that, from 0700 to 1620, Mon. through Fri. except Fed. holidays, the draw need open only on the hour and every 20 minutes thereafter. On Sat., Sun., and Fed. holidays from 0730 to 1800 the draw need open only on the hour and every 15 minutes thereafter. Mon. - Fri. between 1625 - 1725 except Fed. holidays the draw need not open. On the 2nd Sunday of November, the bridge need not open between 0900 and 1700. 09

Open Down Arrow GICW - Florida West Coast Bridge Schedule
Venice to Anna Maria Island

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway - Florida (West Coast)


Venice Inlet to Anna Maria Sound

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
 
59.0 Albee Road Bascule Bridge 14’ Opens on Demand   09
63.0 Blackburn Swing Bridge 9’ Opens on Demand.   09
68.6 Stickney Point Bascule Bridge 18’ Shall open on signal, except that from 0600 to 1900 daily, the draw need only open on the hour and half hour. Twin Spans 09
71.6 Siesta Drive Bascule Bridge 25’ Shall open on signal, except that from 0600 to 1900 daily, the draw need only open on the hour and half hour.   09
73.5 Ringling (Gil Waters)Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge (Span "A")    
87.4 Cortez Bascule Bridge 22’ Shall open on signal, except that from 0600 to 1900 daily, the draw need only open on the ¼ hour and ¾ hour.   09
89.2 Anna Maria Island Bascule Bridge 24’ Shall open on signal, except that from 0600 to 1900 daily, the draw need only open on the ¼ hour and ¾ hour.   09

Open Down Arrow GICW - Florida West Coast Bridge Schedule
Tampa Bay to Dunedin

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway - Florida (West Coast)


Tampa Bay to St. Joseph Sound

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
 
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’ From 0700 - 2100 on the Hr. & 1/2 Hr. Other times on demand.   09
114.0 Pinellas Bayway C Span Bridge 65’ Fixed Bridge   09
117.7 Corey Causeway Bascule Bridge 23’ Shall open on signal; except that, from 0800 - 1900 Mon. through Fri., and 1000 to 1900 Sat., Sun., and Fed. holidays, the draw need be opened only on the hour and every 20 minutes thereafter. Twin Spans 09
119.0 Treasure Island Causeway Bascule Bridge 21’ Shall open on signal except that from 0700 - 1900 Mon. through Fri. the draw need only open on the hour and every 20 minutes thereafter. Sat., Sun., and Fed. holidays the draw need open on the on the ¼ hour and ¾ hour. Twin Spans 09
122.8 Welch Causeway Bascule Bridge 25’ Shall open on signal; except that, from 0930 - 1800 on Sat., Sun., and Fed. holidays, the draw need be opened only on the hour and every 20 minutes thereafter.   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

The tables above list 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.

These bridge operating schedules can be downloaded for your personal and private use as a ZIP file. The file contains the schedules in Adobe (.pdf) file format.

Florida (West Coast) GICW Bridge Schedule - Download

Open Down Arrow Florida’s West Coast Long Term Temporary Bridge Restrictions

Gulf Intracoastal Long Term Temporary Bridge Restrictions

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway - Florida West Coast

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Restrictions
 
122.8 Corey Causeway Bascule Bridge 23’ This bridge will operate on single-leaf operations with a six hour notice for a double-leaf opening through February 28, 2019. Requests for a double leaf opening should be made to 941-322-4552. This work will have floating equipment under the down span. Mariners are requested to proceed with caution
Locks

None.

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 crossing the waterway carry high voltage, an extra margin of safety should be allowed in the event of threatening weather.

Tides

Tidal ranges are fairly small along Florida’s west coast. Under normal conditions the mean range of tide averages 1’ at Ft. Myers and 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.

Entrances, Inlets, and Passes

There are numerous Entrances, Inlets, or Passes between the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the West Coast of Florida. Between Sanibel Island in the south and Port Richey to the north, there were 23 at last count. All provide access to sheltered inland waters with most providing access to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

While many of these are only suitable for shallow draft vessels and/or local knowledge, some can be considered navigable for most vessels. We have listed them below along with useful information on each to aid you in deciding if you wish to use a particular inlet.

Open Down Arrow GICW - Florida West Coast Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Sanibel Island to Venice

San Carlos Bay Entrance

Lying between Sanibel Island to the west and Estero Island to the east, this is the principal entrance from the Gulf of Mexico for Fort Myers Beach, the Caloosahatchee River, Sanibel, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Okeechobee Waterway, Cape Coral, and Ft. Myers, FL.

The most conspicuous landmark when approaching from seaward would be Sanibel Island Light (Fl (2) 6s 98ft 13M at 26°27’11"N / 82°00’51"W) standing 98 feet above the water. It is shown from a 102 foot brown square pyramidal skeleton tower enclosing a stair cylinder on Point Ybel at the SE tip of Sanibel Island.

San Carlos Bay Light ("SC" Mo (A) at 26°25’08"N / 81°57’33"W) marks the approach, located 1.0 NM SSE of the entrance channel and 3.6 NM SE of Sanibel Island Light.

The main channel proceeds in a generally northerly direction where it intersects the GICW at MM "0.0" and the Okeechobee Waterway at MM "156.4" approximately 1.8 NM above the Sanibel Causeway "A" Span Bridge with a vertical clearance of 70 feet. The channel then turns more easterly leading to Cape Coral and Fort Myers. You can also elect to continue on the Okeechobee Waterway until reaching the East Coast of Florida.

The secondary channel takes you just inside of Sanibel Island in a generally north-westerly direction until intersecting with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at MM "3.3" in upper San Carlos Bay. This channel is restricted by Sanibel Causeway Bridge "C" Span Bridge with a vertical clearance of 26 feet.

Lighted and unlighted buoys and beacons mark the limits of the natural and improved channels.

Dangers – Upper San Carlos Bay’s northwestern portion is largely filled with shoals on which the depths vary between 1 and 6 feet. The bay and adjacent waters are frequented mostly by small vessels and yachts.

Tides and Currents – The range of tide is around 1 foot between MLW and MHW at Fort Myers and Sanibel Island Light and about the same in Pine Island Sound. The average velocity of the current is 1.0 knot in San Carlos Bay off Point Ybel.

Blind Pass

Located between Captiva Island to the north and Sanibel Island to the south about 12.6 NM from San Carlos Bay Entrance. It provides access to the southern end of Pine Island Sound and St. James City, FL.

The channel follows a generally NNE direction with a fixed bridge inside the pass with a 7 foot vertical clearance. The continually shifting shoals and lack of navigation marks make the use of this pass useful to only the smallest of vessels. However, it does intersect the GICW 2.4 NM above the entrance around MM "9.3" in Pine Island Sound. This pass is not recommended for other than shallow draft vessels with local knowledge.

Redfish Pass

Found 4.3 NM NNW of Blind Pass, it provides a passage between North Captiva Island to the north and Captiva Island to the south, into Pine Island Sound and is frequently used by fishing vessels.

The approach is marked by a buoy (G "1" Fl G 2.5s), this buoy as well as all entrance and channel buoys and beacons are privately maintained. The channel is winding and difficult, with strong currents and frequent changes in depth and position. The channel intercepts the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway 1.6 NM above the entrance at MM "14.0" in Pine Island Sound.

A partially submerged groin is on the south side of the pass. This pass should not be attempted without local knowledge.

Captiva Pass

Lying between North Captiva Island and Cayo Costa about 3.5 NM north of Redfish Pass, it leads from the Gulf of Mexico into Pine Island Sound. It allows passage into the upper portion of Pine Island Sound.

The channel is unmarked and subject to change, local knowledge is required to carry the best water. A visible wreck was reported in the entrance channel in about 26°35’00"N / 82°13’30"W. It intersects the GICW 1.3 NM above the entrance at approximately MM "17.5" in Pine Island Sound.

Boca Grande Pass/Charlotte Harbor Inlet

Located 26.5 NM SSE of Venice Inlet, Charlotte Harbor Inlet separates Gasparilla Island to the north and Cayo Costa to the south. It is the principal inlet to Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, and the Peace River.

Conspicuous landmarks when approaching from seaward would be Port Boca Grande Light (Oc 4s 41ft 12M at 26°43’02"N / 82°15’39"W), standing 41 feet above the water, shown from a white frame dwelling on the south end of the island. A second light, Gasparilla Island Light (Iso 6s 105ft 10M at 26°44’31"N / 82°15’48"W), is located 1.7 miles from the S end of Gasparilla Island. This light stands, 105 feet above the water, is shown from a white hexagonal pyramidal skeleton tower, enclosing a stair cylinder. A red sector in the light from 001° to 045° covers the shoals west of the inlet.

The approach is marked by a pair of green and red lighted buoys (G "1" Fl G 2.5s and R "2" Fl R 2.5s). Vessels should make their approach through the Charlotte Harbor Safety Fairway.

The entrance channel is marked by lighted and unlighted buoys with deep water (30 feet+) to just inside the entrance. The Federal project depth calls for 32 feet from deep water in the Gulf of Mexico to Port Boca Grande. Any deviation from the marked channel should only be attempted with local knowledge as this area is subject to continual change.

Once inside the inlet, a natural channel, marked by lighted and unlighted beacons, leads from Port Boca Grande to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, less than 1 NM from the entrance at approximately MM "26.2" in Charlotte Harbor. From this point to the upper harbor a controlling depth of 9 feet will be found

Dangers – Numerous floating piles have been reported in Boca Grande Channel and its approaches, Charlotte Harbor, and adjacent waterways. Shoals with depths of 2’ also border the entrance channel.

Tides and Currents – While the Tidal Range is only about 1’, the tidal currents in the entrance channel average 2.2 knots on the flood and 1.8 knots on the ebb. The ebb current is said to attain occasional velocities of 3 to 4 knots, depending upon the force and direction of the wind.

Gasparilla Pass

Located 6.3 NM north of Boca Grande Pass and 20.5 NM SSE of Venice Inlet, it separates Gasparilla Island to the south and Little Gasparilla Island to the north. Gasparilla Pass affords an entrance from the Gulf of Mexico into Gasparilla Sound, Placida Harbor, and the Intracoastal Waterway.

The approach and the pass are unmarked. Local knowledge is needed to carry the best water. In 2003, the reported depth over the bar through the unmarked channel was 3.5 feet. A fixed bridge with a clearance of 26 feet, 0.6 NM above the entrance, restricts access. The GICW intersects at MM "34.1" approximately 1.2 NM above the entrance.

Dangers – Hydrography and the shorelines are subject to continual change with shifting shoals.

Tides and Currents – Tidal Range is about 1.1 feet with an average current velocity of 1.0 knots on the flood and 1.1 knots on the ebb.

Stump Pass

6 NM NNW of Gasparilla Pass and 14.7 NM SSE of Venice Inlet, is located between Knight Island to the south and Manasota Key to the north. It provides a passage from the Gulf of Mexico into the south end of Lemon Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway.

The approach is marked by a private light with a daymark reading "Danger Navigate with Local Knowledge Only. " The inlet channel is subject to frequent change and should not be attempted without local knowledge.

Dangers – The natural channel location through Stump Pass is subject to contentious change in alignment and depth. Do Not Navigate in or through the area without absolute knowledge of the channel location and depth. Hydrography and the shorelines are subject to continual change with shifting shoals.

Tides and Currents – Tidal Range is about 1.2 feet.

Venice Inlet

Found 11.4 NM SSE of Big Sarasota Pass, Venice Inlet separating Casey Key to the north with what the locals refer to as Venice Island to the south. It allows entrance from the Gulf to Venice, FL and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The approach is marked by Venice Inlet Light (FL G 6s 20ft 5M "1" and Fl R 2.5s 19ft 5M "2" lying close to 27°06’46"N / 82°28’13"W) just off the outer end of parallel jetties.

The inlet is a dredged channel, with a reported depth of 7.8 feet mid-channel, leading east between parallel jetties. Unlighted beacons mark the channel for about 0.4 NM above the entrance where it intersects the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at MM "58.3" near Snake Island.

Tides and Currents – The Tidal Range is 1.3 feet and the tidal currents in the entrance channel average 1.1 knots on the flood and 0.9 knots on the ebb.

Open Down Arrow GICW - Florida West Coast Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Venice to Tampa

Big Sarasota Pass

Located 12 miles NNW from Venice Inlet and 21 NM SSE of Tampa Bay entrance, Big Sarasota Pass leads from the Gulf of Mexico to the southern end of Sarasota Bay, The GICW, and Sarasota, FL. The pass lies between Lido Key to the north and Siesta Key to the south.

The approach is marked by a lighted beacon (Fl 4s 16ft 5M) lying 0.5 NM SSE of the channel entrance. The approach channel over the bar, with wrecks and depths of 2 to 5 feet reported, is subject to continual changes Mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution and local knowledge is strongly advised.

The inlet channel is deep and marked by unlighted private beacons. Shoals exist on the northern side of the pass. Once inside the pass, the channel is well marked with unlighted private beacons until intersecting the GICW approximately 1.4 NM above the entrance at approx. MM "73.0" near the Ringling Causeway Bridge.

Tides and Currents – The tidal range in the vicinity of Big Sarasota Pass averages about 1.3 feet, the same as Venice Inlet. The flood current sets north with an average velocity of 1.5 knots, and the ebb sets south with an average velocity of 1 knot. .

New Pass

Found 2.7 NM NNW from Big Sarasota Pass, the pass enters between Lido Key to the south and Longboat Key to the north. It affords a passage from the Gulf of Mexico to the southern end Sarasota Bay, the GICW and Sarasota, FL.

The approach is marked by a lighted beacon (Q 16ft 4M "NP") found 0.7 NM west of the entrance near (27°19’N / 82°36’W).

It has a marked and dredged channel with the buoys not charted as they are frequently shifted in position to mark the best water. A controlling depth of 7 feet from lighted beacon (Q 16ft 4M "7") to the bascule bridge (23 feet closed), crossing the eastern end of the pass. From there 4 feet to the intersection with the GICW 1.2 NM above the bridge at MM "74.5" just SSE of the Ringling Causeway Bridge.

Dangers – The channels are subject to shoaling and continual change.

Tides and Currents – Tidal range at New Pass is approximately 1.4 feet. The flood current sets northeast with an average velocity of 1.6 knots, and the ebb sets southwest with an average velocity of 1 knot.

Longboat Pass

Located about 10.4 NM SSE of the Tampa Bay entrance, Longboat Pass allows entrance from the Gulf to Cortez, FL and the northern end of Sarasota Bay. It passes between Anna Maria Island to the north and Longboat Key to the south.

The approach is marked by a buoy (RW “LP” Mo (A) located about 0.8NM NW of the entrance.

A dredged channel with a controlling depth of 9 feet, to the bascule bridge (17 feet in the closed position), is marked by buoys. Buoys in the entrance channel are not charted due to the channel being subject to continual changes. Greater depths may be available with local knowledge. The channel intersects the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway 0.9 NM above the entrance at MM “86.2” near marker (Fl G 2.5s 5M “47”).

Dangers – Shoaling extends west and south in an arc from the south end of Anna Maria Island and also west from the northwest end of Longboat Key.

Tides and Currents – Tidal range in Longboat Pass averages 1.5’. The flood current sets east with an average velocity of 1.8 knots, and ebb sets west with an average velocity of 1.6 knots.

Passage Key Inlet

Found just off the northern tip of Anna Maria Island and south of Passage Key, the inlet provides access to the southeastern portion of Tampa Bay and the GICW.

The pass has a controlling depth of about 9 feet in an unmarked and shifting channel that is not recommended without local knowledge. Once inside the pass, depths of 14 to 32 feet can be found.

It intersects the GICW about 3.3 NM above the entrance at MM "94.2" if you are northbound. If southbound, 2.5 NM above the entrance at MM "92.7. "

Dangers – Shoals with depths of 2 feet or less are found on either side of the entrance.

Tides and Currents – Tidal range in Passage Key Inlet averages 1.5 feet. The flood current sets east with an average velocity of 0.9 knots, and ebb sets west with an average velocity of 1.1 knots.

Southwest Channel

A natural passage lying between Egmont Key to the north and Passage Key to the south. It gives access to the Lower portion of Tampa Bay and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The approach is marked by a lighted bell buoy (G “1” Fl G 2.5s BELL) located 3.9 NM SW of Egmont Key. Egmont Key Light (Fl 15s 85ft 13M) lying 2.4 NM north of the entrance should be visible well offshore.

The entrance channel itself is marked by a lighted beacon (Fl R 2.5s 16ft 5M) on the seaward side and a lighted bell buoy (G “3” QG BELL) on the bay side. The channel has a controlling depth of about 14 feet, but is subject to shoaling.

It intersects the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, at MM “96.8” 4.6 NM ENE above the entrance if northbound or if bound for Tampa, if southbound you can choose to intersect the GICW at MM “93.2” 3.3 NM ESE of the entrance.

Tides and Currents – Tidal range in Southwest Channel averages 1.5feet. The flood current sets east with an average velocity of 0.9 knots, and ebb sets west with an average velocity of 1.1 knots.

Tampa Bay Entrance

From Mullet Key on the north to Anna Maria Key on the south, the entire entrance into Tampa Bay is 4.4 NM wide. It provides access to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Bradenton, Port Manatee, Teco Big Bend, Alafia River, Tampa, Port Tampa, and St. Petersburgh, FL.

The approach to the main entrance channel (Egmont Channel) is marked by the Tampa Sea Buoy (RW "T" Mo (A) at 27°35’19"N / 83°00’42"W), 13.4 NM west of Egmont Key. It is equipped with AIS and a RACON transponder displaying the Morse code equivalent of the letter "T" (a dash). Prominent on the approach is Egmont Key Light (Fl 15s 85ft 13M) located on the north end of Egmont Key at (27°36’03"N / 82°45’38"W).

From the approach buoy, a natural channel with a depth more than 40 feet leads in a generally easterly direction for 7.7 NM where it enters the dredged portion of the channel leading through nearly 6 NM of shoals to Egmont Key. The entire entrance channel from the sea buoy to Tampa at the head of the bay is well marked with lighted buoys and ranges. Egmont Channel displays a high intensity range; showing fixed white lights by day and fixed green lights at night which can normally be seen from the approach buoy. The Federal project depth provides for a main channel with 45 feet in the entrance from the Gulf of Mexico, thence 43 feet to Tampa and 34 feet to Port Tampa.

Using the Egmont Channel Entrance, the GICW will be intercepted 4.4 NM above the entrance at MM "98.0"; approximately 1 NM below the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Dangers – Shoal areas extend seaward between 4 and 6 NM from Egmont and Mullet Key. Depths of as little as 2’ can be found on these shoals.

Tides and Currents – The range of tide in Tampa Bay is about 1.5 feet. A strong offshore wind sometimes lowers the water surface at Tampa and in the dredged channels as much as 4 feet. A continued SW wind raises the water by nearly an equal amount.

There is a large daily inequality in the ebb currents. Velocities of 2 knots or more may be expected at the greater ebb of the day in Egmont Channel, Passage Key Inlet, and off Port Tampa. Flood velocities seldom exceed 2 knots.

Crossing Tampa Bay

When crossing Tampa Bay, the Gulf Intracoastal 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.

Open Down Arrow GICW - Florida West Coast Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Tampa to Port Richey

Bunces Pass

Located 3 NM north of Tampa Bay’s main entrance, Bunces Pass provides a passage between the north end of Mullet Key and the south end of Cabbage Key, into the southern part of Boca Ciega Bay, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and Tampa Bay.

The approach and the pass is unmarked with shoaling reported of less than 1 foot over the bar at the entrance. Greater depths can be found once over the bar. Local knowledge is necessary to use the pass. In addition to the shoals, the passage has a fixed bridge spanning the channel with a vertical clearance of 20’ approximately 1.7 NM above the entrance.

Access to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is via the Sunshine Skyway Channel (3.5 NM above the entrance), if northbound you can intercept the GICW at MM "110.8," if southbound you can intercept at MM "98.0" just south of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

North Channel/Pass-a-Grille

North Channel, often referred to as Pass-a-Grille Channel, lies immediately south of Long Key and north of Shell Key. About 4.4 NM north of the Tampa Bay Entrance. It affords access to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Gulfport, St. Petersburg Beach, and St. Petersburgh, FL.

The approach to North Channel is marked by a lighted beacon (Mo (A) 16ft 5M "PG") lying about 1.5 NM west of the entrance.

From the outermost channel markers, the channel leads over the bar and connects immediately with Pass-a-Grille Channel which separates the south part of Long Key from Tierra Verde. North Channel and Pass-a-Grille Channel are well marked by lighted and unlighted beacons. The controlling depth in North Channel was 7.5 feet at mid-channel but actual depths on the approach are rarely less than 8 feet. Once inside the entrance the depths increase to 15 feet and more.

After the entrance, it joins the main channel of the Intracoastal Waterway at MM "113.3" less than 1.6 NM above the entrance.

Tides and Currents – Tidal range at North Channel averages around 1.5 feet. In Pass-a-Grille Channel with the flood current setting north with an average velocity of 1.2 knots and ebb south with an average velocity of 1.4 knots.

Blind Pass

Found about 3.7 NM north of North Channel Pass, Blind Pass is shallow, leading from the Gulf to Boca Ciega Bay between the north end of Long Key and Treasure Island. The pass is used by local fishing boats and other small craft. A highway bridge crossing the pass near the inner end has a clearance of 11 feet blocking access to the GICW by most vessels. Blind Pass channel is unimproved, unmarked, and local knowledge is required.

Johns Pass

Located 3 miles north of Blind Pass between Treasure Island and Sand Key, Johns Pass allows access for small craft from the Gulf of Mexico to the northern part of Boca Ciega Bay and St. Petersburgh.

The approach to the dredged inlet is marked by a lighted beacon (Mo (A) 16ft 6M "JP") located 0.9 NM WSW of the entrance.

A channel leads from the Gulf through Johns Pass then north to intersect the GICW 1.3 NM above the entrance at MM "121.5" near Turtlecrawl Point. The channel is well marked by lighted and unlighted beacons and buoys with 8+ feet of water mid-channel being reported. A highway bascule bridge crosses the pass with a vertical clearance of 28 feet in the closed position.

Dangers – Considerable shoaling has been reported in the inlet so caution and local knowledge is advised.

Tides and Currents – Tidal range for Johns Pass averages 1.5 feet. The flood current sets northeast at an average velocity of 2.0 knots and ebbs southwest at an average velocity of 1.5 knots.

Clearwater Pass

Located 12.0 NM north of Johns Pass, it leads in from the Gulf of Mexico between the north end of Sand Key and the south end of Clearwater Beach Island. It gives access to Clearwater Beach Island, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and Clearwater, FL

The approach to the pass is marked by a lighted beacon (Fl G 2.5s 18ft 3M "1" at 27°58’16"N / 82°50’51"W) lying about 0.7 NM west of the entrance.

The pass is a dredged channel over the bar. It is well marked with lighted and unlighted beacons with a controlling depth of 8.5 feet on the channel’s centerline from the Gulf t the fixed bridge (clearance 74 feet) at the head of the pass. More than 7 feet is then available until intersecting the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at MM "135.5" about 1.5 NM above the pass.

Dangers – Shoaling to less than 3 feet is found on both the north and south side of the dredged channel.

Tides and Currents – The mean range of tide at Clearwater is 1.8 feet with the tidal current in Clearwater Pass averaging about 1.2 knots.

Dunedin Pass

Found 3 miles north of Clearwater Pass at the opposite end of Clearwater Beach Island, it is marked by private daybeacons. In 1984, the pass was reported shoaled to 1 foot and closed to navigation.

Hurricane Pass

Hurricane Pass, between Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island, affords access to the GICW, Dunedin, and Palm Harbor, FL.

The entrance is marked by a lighted beacon (Fl R 4s 16ft “2”). The dredged channel leads in over the bar and shoals. It is marked by unlighted beacons but is subject to change from shoaling. It has been reported that with local knowledge 3 to 5 feet could be carried through the pass. Hurricane Pass intersects the GICW MM "142.0" 1.5 NM above the entrance.

Dangers – The area west and north of Honeymoon Island was reportedly shoaled to bare and passage between Honeymoon Island and Three Rooker Bar to the north should only be made with caution.

Tides and Currents – The mean range of tide at Dunedin and St. Joseph Sound is 1.9 feet.

Anclote Key Pass

Found between the north end of Three Rooker Bar to the south and Anclote Key to the north provides access from the Gulf of Mexico to St. Joseph Sound, the Anclote River, and Tarpon Springs, FL.

A combination of natural and dredged channel marked on it approach end with a lighted beacon (Fl G 2.5s 16ft 5M "1" at 28°08’30"N / 82°51’59"W), about 1 NM west the pass. A minimum depth of 8 feet has been reported until it intersects the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at MM "148.5" a little more than 1 NM above the entrance. A private light (Fl (4) 30s 110ft) is shown from the southern end of Anclote Key to aid in the approach to Anclote Key Pass.

Dangers – A partially sunken wreck located about half way through the pass; easily seen and 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 feet on the approach from deep water.

Heading North

After leaving Anclote Key, it is a 132 NM open water passage to East Pass and the vicinity of Carrabelle, FL where you can again rejoin the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) at (MM "376.5 EHL").

Next Page LogoNEXT - GIWW (Florida Panhandle)

^ Scroll to Top