Boater's resource to all the best boating in Pinellas County, Sun Coast, Tarpon Lake with upcoming boat events boating destinations.
15 ft Fiberglass boat with 25 electric start Johnson Motor 2000 Game Fisher Trailer Runs Great!!! Coquina Bayside ramp offers; Easy Gulf of Mexico access, parking for about 25-30 boat trailers, paved ramp, courtesy docks, port-o-let and fish cleaning ~ cutting station on the docks. Parking, paved ramp, courtesy docks on sides of ramp, picnic area, pavilion, grill, trash receptacles, playground and restrooms.
Emerson Point boat ramp offers; Unpaved ramp, port-o-lets, picnic pavilions, beautiful scenery of Tampa Bay, wildlife viewing and easy access to Tampa Bay and beyond. The Fort Hamer boat ramp is managed by Manatee County sits along the Manatee River and offers; a paved ramp, courtesy dock, parking for about 20 boat trailers and hand launching of canoes or kayaks. The Highland Shores boat ramp offers; Parking for about 10 boat trailers, port-o-lets, trash receptacles in a nice clean small facility.
The Palma Sola Causeway boat launch is a favorites for locals and offers; Courtesy dock at ramp, trash receptacles and parking for 17 vehicles with trailers. Warners Bayou ramp offers; Paved launching ramp, courtesy docks, hand launching, port-o-lets, picnic tables and trash receptacles.
The 63rd Street boat ramp sits along Bimini Bay in Holmes Beach and offers; Paved ramp, trash receptacles, parking for about 9 boat trailers, courtesy docks, picnic tables and restrooms which are at the tennis courts ( not 24 hrs ). Areas in Manatee County Florida include; Anna Maria, Bayshore Gardens, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Cortez, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Memphis, Palmetto, Samoset, South Bradenton, West Bradenton, West Samoset and Whitfield. Areas of Salt and Brackish Water Manatee County Florida include; Anna Maria Sound, Big Pass Inlet, Bimini Bay, Bishop Harbor, Braden River, Gulf of Mexico, Manatee River, Miguel Bay, Palma Sola Bay, Perico Bayou, Sarasota Bay, Terra Ceia Bay, Wares Cove, Warner East Bayou and Warner West Bayou. Left: A single ramp at the end of a narrow causeway slicing through the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve attracts boaters from Hillsborough, Polk and Manatee counties.
Bill Sargent, a scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, probably knows more about the problems facing boaters than anyone else in the state.
While frustrating for individual boat owners, the problems of saltwater boat access challenge a $14 billion industry that provides more than 180,000 jobs across the state - nearly twice the economic impact of the citrus industry. On the other hand, the number of boats in the state has skyrocketed, growing by 51.7% to 978,225 registered craft between 1987 and 2003 - nearly twice the rate of the state's population increase.
Then there&'s the issue of who's in charge and who should pay for new or expanded facilities. A single ramp at the end of a narrow causeway that slices through an aquatic preserve, Cockroach Bay provides the closest access to fishing spots near the mouth of Tampa Bay for boaters in south Hillsborough, Polk and other surrounding counties. On nice weekends, however, up to 200 trucks and trailers line the causeway and it may take more than an hour to launch a boat.
To take a careful look at alternatives, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's Agency on Bay Management created a recreational boat launch task force last year.
On the other hand, the DOT did give into public pressure when it tried to sell a piece of property near the Salty Sol Fleischman Boat Ramp in Tampa south of Gandy Bridge.
Further south, closer to the fish-rich waters near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the tide is still out on an option that might relieve the Cockroach Bay ramp: a privately owned parcel with easy access to a deep stretch of the Manatee River that is up for rezoning.
Calm Before The Storm: Just after dawn one cold and blustery morning, the boat ramps at Fort DeSoto Park are still empty.


On the other side of the bay - and the opposite end of the spectrum — Fort DeSoto Park features 24 brand-new, extra wide ramps to speed launching times. A $5 parking fee, originally implemented on a voluntary basis to help cover the costs of maintaining the county's largest ramps, isn't working as well as expected, said Joe Lupardus, operations manager for the county's parks and recreation department. Recognizing that continued boat access is critical, particularly in the state's most densely populated county, Assistant County Administrator Jake Stowers has created a task force composed of fishermen, marina owners and other boat industry representatives as well as environmentalists and developers.
A separate group of county employees representing planning, parks and environmental management departments already has begun reviewing opportunities to expand existing boat ramps as part of Pinellas County's updated comprehensive plan. Along with environmental restrictions, the county will likely be challenged by residents fearful that expanded ramps near their neighborhoods will impinge upon their privacy.
Another concern is the potential loss of boat storage in unincorporated areas of the county if proposed rules that would limit boats and trailers to 38 feet and require that they are parked on concrete pads in side or rear yards are adopted. Meeting the challenge of providing adequate boat ramps is particularly important in Manatee County where several major boat manufacturers are headquartered, including Wellcraft, Chris-Craft and Donzi, an industry that employs about 1200 workers in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Negotiations are currently underway with the owner and McClash hopes to bring back a firm proposal by mid-summer with enough land to accommodate parking for 150 vehicles and trailers, restrooms, a fish cleaning station and a small playground. Two state-funded programs - the Florida Boating Improvement Program and the West Coast Inland Navigation District - provide grants to local governments for new or improved boat ramps.
As a group, boaters actually support increased fees if they are targeted toward improved ramp access, notes Senate Community Affairs Chair Michael Bennett, R-Bradenton, who sponsored a bill to increase boat access. While most local governments haven't done everything they could to improve access, the state absolutely must take more responsibility, he adds.
It also would require that all properties owned by the state or local water management districts be surveyed to see if boat ramps would be appropriate and then to fast-track permitting.
Boat ramps also could be addressed from a regional issue, perhaps as part of the chair's coordinating council that brings leadership of seven Metropolitan Planning Organizations together, adds Ken Hoyt, a gubernatorial appointee to the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. In any event, boaters as a group will need to stand up and be counted when governments look at improving boat access, adds Darryl Ogden, a Pinellas environmental engineer who writes an electronic newsletter. The ramp gives easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, northern sections of Sarasota Bay, Palma Sola Bay and the southern sections of Tampa Bay.
An additional ramp is also across the road, although this ramp requires a boat to go under the low clearance bridge for Riverview Boulevard to access the bay. The ramp gives easy access to Anna Maria Sound, southern sections of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. And while Tampa Bay boaters still have it good compared to some urban counties on the state's east coast, bay managers say now is the time to act, particularly in Hillsborough and Manatee counties where some waterfront land still remains.
Retiring baby boomers have pushed the price of waterfront real estate to an all-time high so developers are transforming long-time marinas into upscale condominiums. During that same period, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates that 200 saltwater marinas were closed and dry storage slips declined by 1620 slots.
Most - but not all - boaters agree that mangroves and seagrass beds near popular launch spots like Cockroach Bay or Honeymoon Island preclude expansion of those sites. Although local ramps typically are partially funded with state moneys, boaters don't recognize city or county boundaries when they're looking for a place to launch. It's part of a hard-won corridor of nature preserves that stretch 20 miles north from the county's boundary to protect the shoreline from development.


While some local boaters have lobbied for expanded facilities, including double ramps, more parking, picnic areas and restrooms, bay managers are resisting, saying that the ramp is already overused by overly large boats.
A series of meetings and site reviews resulted in a firm "no" for potential sites near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Although the two-acre site is currently vacant, fishermen argued that the ramp's parking lot - which holds about 120 cars and trailers - already is overflowing on weekends. Citizen complaints about plans to build hundreds of housing units prompted the owner to postpone hearings originally scheduled for early this year, but the county has made no overtures toward purchasing the 167-acre parcel. Previous owners had indicated they did not want to participate in the county&'s environmental lands program, and current owners have not approached the county about buying the land. Simmons Park in Ruskin will attract deeper-draft boats and help alleviate both congestion and damage to seagrass beds in Cockroach Bay. Pinellas County, for instance, had funds to expand the boat ramp at Honeymoon Island, but the site was deemed to be too environmentally sensitive to accommodate more boaters. The bill pending in the Florida Senate would raise an additional $4.5 million from boat registration fees, about $5 increases for boats less than 26 feet long. The ethanol that pushed its way into Ozona Shores Marine Center Angler and skeeter fishing boats, pontoon boats, and Yamaha engines, Yamaha service center, and parts; Coastal Boat Sales, Inc. In his free time, however, he trailers a boat to one of Pinellas County's busy launch sites. More than 140 lanes at saltwater ramps were added, but that did not offset the loss of access in other areas when combined with the increased number of boats. Purchasing land for new boat ramps raises other issues, including how they are financed and how much influence neighbors should have on potential public use. Boaters at ramps as different as Fort DeSoto Park and Cockroach Bay, for instance, may travel 50 to 90 miles to launch their boats from a preferred location. The Hillsborough County Commission unanimously agreed to ask DOT for a chance to buy the property, and DOT decided to allow the county to continue to lease the land for free. Still, the parking lot fills up early on weekends when the weather is nice, with some boaters coming from as far away as Lake City or Okeechobee, including a large percentage from Hillsborough, Polk and Manatee counties.
This facility offers easy access to Palma Sola Bay, Anna Maria Sound, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Enhanced environmental regulations also restrict development of boat ramps on both public and private properties. Between half and two-thirds of the boat owners in Florida trailer their boats to public access launch sites, causing crowds at even large ramps like Fort DeSoto Park. Small ramps in good locations may attract boaters from multiple counties, jeopardizing surrounding seagrasses and mangrove forests.



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