top of page

Florida 120 Guidelines

Must Read and Agree to
  1. While the FL120 is a group event, it must be understood that you should consider your preparation as if you were planning to do the entire course ON YOUR OWN. Participants are strongly encouraged to assist and advise each other as they are able as long as such assistance is voluntary and does not put the assisting party in danger.

  2. The most important thing any participant should do is file a FLOAT PLAN with a shore contact person NOT ON THE CHALLENGE who will report to the US Coast Guard and/or the Florida Marine Patrol if a participant does not report in a time or manner pre-agreed with the shore contact.

  3. It is suggested that participants agree among themselves to buddy-up with one or more other participants. These ad-hoc groups should agree to either stay within sight of each other or to communicate their status with each other on a prearranged schedule via VHF or cell communication. No one is under any obligation to join a group if they do want to, but once committed to a group they should make every effort to maintain the group’s integrity.

  4. Each participant must conclude for themselves whether or not their own person, crew, boat and other gear is up to the challenges of the FL120 route. The challenges include:

    1. Long passages of 30 miles or more to be covered in a single day. There is a big difference between a 30 mile upwind passage and a 30 mile downwind passage. In order to cover 30 miles to windward, it may require you to sail 45 miles or more depending on your boat and other conditions. Also consider your speed: if your boat typically sails at 3 knots to windward, it could take 15 hours to cover that 45 miles. Conversely, covering 30 miles on a reach where your boat might average 5 knots that same distance would only take 6 hours.

    2. Navigation in unfamiliar waters. Be prepared to find your own way around shallows, shipping channels, tidal currents, and arcane navigational aids. While the course looks like protected water on a map, understand the bays are often many miles wide. It can be confusing referencing charts with the view from your cockpit.

    3. The possibility of strong winds from any direction. Each previous challenge has experienced periods of strong wind. You WILL have to cover significant distances to windward.

    4. The possibility of no wind at all. It may be necessary for you to row, paddle, or motor to the night’s destination. It may not be possible to reach the group’s destination at all. You will need to determine how you will reach a safe location in case you cannot make an a particular stop.

    5. Large waves that could make your boat hard to control and result in swamping, capsize, broach, seasickness, or the inability to proceed along your desired course.

    6. Foul currents that slow your speed or even stop you as you make your way toward your objective.

    7. Dangerous sea life that can sting, bite, pinch, amputate limbs or cause evisceration and life-threatening blood loss.

    8. Large fast-moving barge and ship traffic who have the right of way because they are constrained in their ability to maneuver. If you get in front of them, they WILL run over you and it will be your fault.

    9. Thunderstorms and squalls that can develop in a matter of minutes with frequent lightning, heavy rain and hail, and winds in excess of 60 miles per hour.

    10. The possibility of it taking in excess of 12 hours to complete a leg of the course and the fatigue that develops from sailing the boat in adverse conditions and the despair you might feel from not reaching your objective as quickly as you anticipated.

    11. The possibility of night sailing which adds an additional level of difficulty to all the other challenges enumerated in this document.

    12. Extreme heat and unrelenting sun leading to dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.

    13. Injuries ranging from cuts from oyster shells or broken glass to blisters, torn or pulled muscles, concussion, lost teeth, etc.

    14. Unseasonable cold weather and biting winds leading to hypothermia and even death.

    15. The possibility of exsanguination by vicious swarms of voracious biting insects.

    16. Equipment failure e.g. broken and stuck centerboards, broken rudders, broken rigging fittings, leaks, torn sails, etc.

    17. Capsize or sinking

    18. Death from any of the above circumstances or a combination thereof or circumstances not even contemplated by organizers.

    19. Etc, etc, etc.

  5. In light of the incomplete list of challenges described above, each participant must have the necessary knowledge, skills, or experience to deal with these contingencies on his own.

  6. Having the proper safety equipment aboard is critical to mitigate these risks. Some equipment, such as wearable and throwable PFDs, visual and audible signaling devices for both day and night, and fire extinguishers for boats with engines are required by law. It is up to the participants to learn the relevant law and abide by it.

  7. A prudent mariner will add to this list some or all of these items, as well as know how to use them:

    1. Marine charts for the local area

    2. Compass

    3. GPS with waypoints pre-entered

    4. Flashlight

    5. First Aid kit

    6. Waterproof VHF radio

    7. EPIRB, PLB, or SPOT

    8. Foul weather gear

    9. Sunscreen

    10. Repair kit for their boat including extra hardware and necessary tools and other spares.

    11. Cell phone in water proof container

    12. Extra food and water

    13. Extra line

    14. Sail repair kit

    15. Some way to quickly and effectively shorten sail in case of strong winds.

    16. Anchor, chain and 100’ rode.

    17. Oars or paddles

    18. Bailing bucket and sponge

  8. This is not an all-inclusive list, you may need all of this equipment and more or you may find you need less. It is purely up to your good judgment.

bottom of page