Florida: the new Eldorado for multihulls?

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A simple glance at Google Maps allows two points to be appreciated: Florida is the southernmost state of the USA, and this territory-peninsula is logically rich in coastline. Indeed, the south of California, Texas and New Orleans are also close to the latitude of the Tropic of Cancer, but their coasts don’t offer perfect lagoons…and they have very little infrastructure dedicated to leisure sailing.

In Florida, the water is everywhere! Although the coast stretches over nearly 2,000 km (over 1,000 nm) as the crow flies, the actual coastline measures 13,600 km (7,300 nautical miles). Not counting the thousands of islands, the 30,000 lakes and the 1,700 waterways. Indeed, most of the towns are very built-up and can discourage – on first sight – lovers of wild nature…but the mangrove and deserted beaches also appear in the catalogue: you just have to get away from the biggest of the marinas. Florida is therefore unsurprisingly the state where most sailing takes place in the USA – each day, 100,000 vessels leave their usual berths.

We must point out however that the real Florida paradise is nevertheless reserved for the south of the state. In the north, at Jacksonville, the average temperature in January is 12.3°C (54.1°F). The average minimum is 6.3°C (43.3°F), the average maximum, 18.3° C (64.9°F) – it can even freeze and/or snow. Nothing like Miami, which is only 527 km (327 miles) away: in the same month of January, the gateway to the Americas has almost tropical temperatures: 16°C is the average minimum, 25°C (77°F), the maximum. This climatic exception alone justifies the infatuation with the south of the peninsula – even though the winter can be considered relatively mild from Beaufort, in the south of South Carolina. In addition to particularly pleasant temperatures – in any case, from October to the end of April, as the summer is very hot and stifling – the south of Florida has an exceptional number of hours of sunshine: with 3,150 hours per year, Miami is therefore bathed in sunshine for almost ¾ of the day, all the year round, as the theoretical maximum sunshine is 4,380 hours. Add to this the water at 21°C (70°F) at its coldest and 30 (86°F) at its best, and you already have an idea about the appeal of southern Florida. 

In addition to its strong cultural activity, Miami has a very practical advantage. Its airport is actually very well served: the fortieth busiest airport in the world (44 million passengers in 2017), it’s the twelfth American airport…but is also the privileged connection with the Atlanta hub, which is the biggest airport in the world.

On a more maritime note, the area is swept more often than not by an easterly wind averaging 8 knots during the summer, against 12 in winter, giving particularly pleasant sailing conditions, combined with a rather calm sea.

In addition to its coasts, Florida offers numerous perfectly protected stretches of water, linked to the sea. Its lagoons and giant marinas are connected by the waterways, which are like interior maritime ‘roads’. There are few problems with draft – unlike North Carolina, where there is a multitude of sandbanks…but on the other hand there are bridges which sometimes prohibit boats with a large air draft. Most 40-foot catamarans pass safely. It’s more difficult for the 45-footers. The reason why many Americans order shortened rigs. Note: these waterways represent no less than 40,000 km or 25,000 miles of navigable routes in the USA, for the most part concentrated in the eastern third of the country. Canada, as well as all the big lakes, are connected. The maritime route which directly concerns Florida, follows the east coast from Chesapeake Bay. An excellent way to head south with no weather constraints.

Florida, even more so than the rest of the east coast, equipped itself very early on with infrastructure capable of welcoming superyachts – and therefore multihulls. At Miami, as well as West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa and many other cities, the mooring possibilities are infinite. Sometimes private – very many houses and towns have their own dock – but also public. It is therefore possible to find a mooring for your multihull almost everywhere in Florida. Yearly, the prices vary enormously depending on the location: behind a house on the ‘non-liveable’ canals, reckon on $10/foot/month. For a real public marina where you can live aboard: $30 – 40/foot/month. In an up-market marina, you will be asked for $70/foot/month.

Florida’s appeal is also the possibility of exceptional cruising very close by: the Keys archipelago starts just south of Miami, and the closest islands of the Bahamas – the Bimini Islands – are 40 miles to the east of Miami. About a day’s sailing to windward – in principle, the wind is from the east – and a few hours for the return trip.

The white sand beaches, the turquoise lagoons and the coconut trees are yours for the taking!

And of course it is on these shallow waters that multihulls prove to be the perfect supports: a keel boat with a 2.5 m (8’) draft will be excluded from almost all the best anchorages.

Florida therefore has some good selling points: multihull enthusiasts will find a perfect playground there – or a very welcoming place to spend the winter… It’s not surprising that the main boat show in the United States takes place in Miami. And that here, multihulls have the wind in their sails!

Miami International Boat Show

THE US boat show not to be missed!

 For more than 70 years now, the Miami International Boat Show has been the essential meeting for the American nautical industry. For years, the show was split up into different spots, which could complicate the access to the various sites – easy by boat, much more complicated by car. The much-appreciated and intimate Strictly Sail, which brought together just the sailing boats at Bayside, is finished: for two years now, the show has been concentrated in just one gigantic block, at the Marine Stadium Park & Basin. And unlike Annapolis, where sail and motor are alternated, here everything is present at the same time. The Miami Boat Show, with 100,000 visitors, 3,000 boats exhibited and 2,000 professionals present has become an absolute must. The multihull builders have made no mistake, and most of them are usually present. One of the show’s ‘plus’ points, in addition to particularly fine weather at this time of year: the possibility of trying out the multihulls in excellent conditions.

The equipment and accessory manufacturers and - clothing, fishing, SUP, kayak, diving, etc. will also be exhibiting at Miami.

The multihulls – around 40 of them – will be situated on quays 8 and 9. Amongst the best represented are the Lagoons, of course! The world leader will be exhibiting the 40, 42, 46, 50, 52 F and the Seventy 7. Amongst the motor catamarans, the 630 MY will be present. From Fountaine Pajot, we can count on the Lucia 40, the Astréa 42, as well as the Saona 47 and the Alegria 67 for its US premiere. For the motor cats: MY 37 and MY 44 will be exhibited. The South African Leopards will not be outdone, with the Leopard 40, the 45, the 50 and the 58. Two motor models: the Leopard 43 PC and the 51 PC. Other builders present: Antares Yachts, Aquila Power Catamarans, Balance Catamarans, Bali Catamarans, Corsair Trimarans, Hudson Catamarans, Nautitech/Bavaria Catamarans, Outremer Yachting, Privilège Marine, Royal Cape Catamarans, Seawind Catamarans, St Francis, Sunreef Yachts, Xquisite Yachts…

Ashore, all the sport multihull manufacturers, led by Hobie Cat, will be present…which seems to make the trip worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Practical Miami:

Dates: 14th to 19th February

Opening times: 10 am to 6 pm

Tariffs: $40 First Day, Thursday 14th February. $25 the other days. $45 Two-Day Pass (two days from Friday to Monday). $100 Five-Day Pass (from Thursday 14th to Monday 19th). Free for children under 13, accompanied by a paying adult.

Address: Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin

3501 Rickenbacker Causeway

Miami, FL 33149


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