On May 1st 2020 I navigated Buckley’s Pass and took depth soundings for sail boaters, time measurements to streets in Punta Gorda Isles and photos along the way. I will be adding a new section onto my website within 2 weeks with all this information so be sure to check back in. You will be pleased with the boat ride times!
What I did learn is that there are some areas to be aware of that are either dangerous or require caution that I did not expect. When entering Alligator Creek from the harbor you proceed ahead until you see the day-marker 23 which is Green over Red (photo is below). You make a left heading into Buckleys Pass at this day marker. Coming from Charlotte Harbor and making this turn is not terribly difficult but you have boats on full plane at any speed passing to your starboard without consideration to you slowing to idle speed to make the turn. Of course, you can and will likely receive quite a wave off starboard with potential to hit a piling on the turn if boats are running past you.
The biggest concern I discovered on the way out is that your idle out of Punta Gorda Isles from Buckley’s Pass brings you to the same day-marker 23. At this point you are idling cautiously because you may have a stream of boats passing in front of you as you make the right turn at Marker 23 to enter the Alligator Creek with the harbor straight ahead. Joyce and I were relaxed and enjoying the ride out of Punta Gorda Isles but just as we made the turn at 23 two boats running at maybe 35 miles per hour blew right pass us and on top of us! The waves were sudden and unexpected and we nearly got thrown out of our 24’ center console! I grabbed a picture of the boats as I hung on and you can see the wave as it was settling down (picture below). Unreal! This situation is dangerous and quite ridiculous….please read on.
The boats that passed me are accountable for their wake and the results thereof and were disrespectful for sure. But they were entitled to be on plane at that intersection because only 500 yards further up the creek is the off plane marker! Why has the county not moved the off-plane marker 100 yards before the entrance to Buckley’s Pass? Such an easy fix. Please be careful folks!
Ok, so there is one other location that requires a good bit of caution. Once you have gone through the pass or “cut” which is pretty easy even with two boats passing at the same time you will quickly come to a very tight neckdown point where there is a boat lift sticking way out into the channel from the right and the other side is a mangrove shoreline. Two big boats could stand a chance of collision so one boat would have to give-way to the other. Two smaller vessels will probably be ok but again exercise extreme caution. This area of caution will be easy to recognize.
I will share depth soundings and boat ride times along with pictures as a permanent section on my website for Buckley’s Pass expected to be complete about May 20. The pass was being used very heavily on the Friday I did my research. Of course, it was perfect weather, sunny with low humidity and bright sun but it was easy to navigate even with heavy usage.