I admire your courage and fortitude to make the journey in such a small and open boat and understand the need to stay in protected waters as much as possible not just for comfort, but for safety. Read More
If such publications exist, I am not aware of them. Assuming you are transiting Lake Okeechobee, and not going around to the Keys to get to the east coast of Florida, you will miss the longest no-wake, slow speed, minimal wake zone in Florida. It is basically most all of the ICW water south of Palm Beach all the way to Biscayne Bay in Miami. Florida has a confusing mix of speed zones and it is hard to precisely define what they mean. Sometimes they will give you a speed limit in the channel and a different one out of the channel. “Slow speed” (not sure what that means) and “minimal wake” (same imprecise definition) are just two posted restrictions that are hard to define. “No wake” is much easier to define – it means you do not put out a bow wave or a stern wave as you move through the water – a much more precise definition. In Florida, you will have “Manatee Zones” with different speeds during different calendar months. All in all – very confusing to track all of this.
Anytime we were near an inlet, a bridge, a boat ramp, or a marina, we reduced speed to minimal or no wake speed depending on how narrow the channel or proximity to other boats or to structures. Not always was this required with posted signs, but we do this out of courtesy for others and for an additional margin of safety. Remember that you are responsible for damage to other boats, persons, or structures caused by your wake. Far too many skippers have no idea how much wake they put out and how disruptive and damaging it can be. Having said that, your 15 foot dinghy won’t move a lot of water making a big wake, but you may run into speed issues from place to place. My only advice is to look out for signage that tells you about restrictions.
Sorry for a less than satisfactory answer to find a resource to help you plan. Best of luck with your adventure – be safe and have fun.
Dave & Nan Ellen Fuller
I actually quite like the Florida system, especially when compared to other East Coast states where the system is either not marked at all, or not at all well. Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia…
Florida’s definition of ” Idle Speed, No Wake” is: “… proceed at a speed no greater than that which will maintain steerage and headway. At no time is any vessel required to proceed so slowly that the operator is unable to maintain control over the vessel or any other vessel or object that it has under tow (Rules 68C-22.002(1) and 68C-23.103(2)(a), FAC).
“Slow Speed, Minimum Wake” is not about sailboats and trawlers. It’s about Sea Rays and Sportfish. Florida’s definition of ” Slow Speed, Minimum Wake” is actually VERY HELPFUL TO ME:
“… [the] vessel be fully off plane and completely settled into the water. The vessel must proceed at a speed that is reasonable and prudent under the prevailing circumstances so as to avoid the creation of an excessive wake or other hazardous condition that endangers or is likely to endanger other vessels or persons using the waterway. Due to the varying speeds at which vessels of different sizes and configurations may travel while in compliance, there is no specific numeric speed assigned to “SLOW SPEED” (Rules 68C-22.002(4) and 68C-23.103(2)(b), FAC).”
As I say, this not about sailboats and trawlers. For me on our boat, what it means is that I slow enough so that my wake does not visibly break or foam. There is still a wake, but not a hazard to anyone. For me on my boat that only amounts to about 1-1/2 mph. Even over the huge six-mile long run south of New Smyrna to Mosquito Lagoon, it only adds about 1/2 hour to the transit time over that distance.
NOW THAT SAID, the locals will yell at you that you’re in a “No Wake” zone. It’s on you to understand that you are not. NOT! Even the bridge tender at Haulover Canal will yell at you. I just remind the bridge tender – on VHF 13 with the world listening – that the canal is marked as “Slow Speed, Minimum Wake,” not “Idle Speed, No Wake.” That immediately shuts him up, because he does not want others to actually understand the difference.
And that same phenomena applies south of West Palm, in the concrete canyon. The locals and some bridge tenders will yell at you. But even the signage there says “Slow Speed – Fully Settled in the Water.” And speaking of the concrete canyon, some of that distance is NOT “Idle Speed, No Wake.” Even at “Slow Speed, Minimum Wake,” it can be very choppy and difficult for truly small vessels.
And if a LEO objects to my view of “Slow Speed” and flags me to slow, well certainly I comply. I’m not looking for trouble. Anyway, it definitely does help to understand what the signs actually mean!
Hope this helps!
Adagio received a ticket in a minimum wake zone last year, Broward County Sheriff.
Their definition for minimum wake was more strict than you could reasonably expect, but we didn’t argue. Probably going about 8~9 mph, barely above hull speed, friend was driving. We have been boarded several times over the years by both USCG and locals, this was the only stop where officials were actually rude.
Ron & Jan Matuska
Of course it applies to trawlers; it applies to all boats; even kayaks and canoes. But it wasn’t kayaks and canoes, or sailboats or trawlers, that caused the legislature to craft this jewel…
At my top SOG, even the Manatees laugh at me!