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Sailing Florida – Clearwater to Gulfport

Sailing Out of Clearwater, FL

We are on a race against hurricane season in our sailboat down the west coast of Florida – for this leg of the journey we stay inshore from Clearwater, FL to Gulfport, FL and pass under a few bridges, enjoy the Florida houses, and moor up to our first mooring ball.

And of course, we brace for another thunderstorm on our sailboat.

The locals tell us thunderstorms are a daily phenomenon for Florida summers. Needless to say, we’re learning that.

And we’re learning to pick when and where we sail and travel in the Florida west coast.

Leaving Clearwater, Florida on a Sailboat

Clearwater was a great stop for our first taste of the west coast of Florida. But leaving Clearwater, was an altogether different experience.

The canals, the bay, the houses, and all of the motorboats (just another day sailing the ICW).

It was really cool!

The Municipal Clearwater Marina Lies Just Under the Clearwater Bridge
The Municipal Clearwater Marina Lies Just Under the Clearwater Bridge

Bascule Bridges in Florida

This was new to us! In Texas, the bridges are big! That means tall boats such as sailboats just go right under them. In Florida, most bridges are small…like 12 feet tall.

That’s where a bascule bridge comes into play.

The bridge raises and lowers to make room for taller vessels.

And in Florida, the bridges are brightly colored and sometimes accompanied by ornately designed bridge towers.

How to go under a bascule bridge? It’s rather easy. You call them (hail them) on the vhf radio – usually channel 16. They’ll let you know how long to wait, and then they stop car traffic, raise the bridge and let you through.

Of course, you turn on a little Texas charm and wish them a great afternoon, and they respond back with some nicety or an anecdote about how much they prefer sailboats over cars!

In some cases, bridges open on a schedule, and you show up 5 minutes before and then go through the radio routine.

Gulfport – A Cool Little Town

Before we jump into the town itself, here are a few pics of the thunderstorm that blew through on our first day in Gulfport, Florida.

A Thunderstorm the Gulfport, FL Anchorage
A Thunderstorm the Gulfport, FL Anchorage
A Thunderstorm the Gulfport, FL Anchorage
A Thunderstorm the Gulfport, FL Anchorage
A Thunderstorm the Gulfport, FL Anchorage
A Thunderstorm the Gulfport, FL Anchorage

Now about the town.

Gulfport is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States, bordering St. Petersburg and Boca Ciega Bay. According to the 2021 census, the population of Gulfport was just over 12,000. The town is tucked nicely in the Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater metropolitan area.

The best part is the strip of taps and eateries right on the shore next to the dinghy docks!


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