The Sparkman Channel is located off Hillsborough Bay about five miles southeast of the Tampa International Airport and 30 miles northeast of the Tampa Bay Inlet at the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Now the center of a large building and development boom, the Sparkman Channel area was once a commercial port and shipping area, but more recently that has given way to the construction of hotels, marine basins and waterfront shopping developments.
The Sparkman Channel is bounded on the north by the Ybor Turning Basin and on the south by the Cut “D” Channel. There are a variety of marinas and accommodations just north of Sparkman Channel in Garrison Channel. In Garrison Channel itself are two marinas, one on each (north and south) shore of the channel. To the south is the Wyndham Harbor Hotel, which has limited space for transients. The Tampa Marriott is on the north side of the channel also has limited transient space and free tie ups for hotel guests.
Bayshore Marine is on the far east side of the Garrison Channel and may have some transient facilities available; call ahead for availability. The Marjorie Park Yacht Basin is located to the west off the Seddon Channel on the east side of Davis Islands in a protected basin.
Use NOAA Chart 11416.
To reach the Sparkman Channel area, you must first navigate up the eastern branch of Hillsborough Bay past a number of commercial ports, channels and approaches. This area is busy with all manner of ship traffic, from enormous cruise liners to small commercial barges in tow. Transiting the are requires a sharp lookout for large traffic that has difficulty maneuvering (i.e. cannot avoid you in the event of an imminent collision).
Once you have made your way up Gadsen Point Cut from the central portion of Tampa Bay, pick up the Cut “A” Range just west of Pine Key, and then head north into the Cut “C” Range that runs west past two large dredge spoil islands and deeper into Hillsborough Bay.
The Cut “C” Range runs north for about six miles until it reaches the Cut “D” Channel at flashing green buoy “31.” Once you have intercepted the flashing green buoy, you can head north for about 1.6 miles until you reach the beginning of the Sparkman Channel at quick flashing green “1.” The Sparkman Channel continues north to the Ybor Turning Basin where you can follow green can buoys “9,” “11,” and “13” to the channel’s terminus.