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Old 06-11-2010, 18:04   #1
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Anchoring on the Edge of Hawk Channel

My wife and I are in the final planning and provisioning stages for a December trip from NC to the Keys (our first major trip beyond NC). Weather conditions will dictate when we cruise outside or power down the ICW. However Florida poses a different situation. Because of really skinny water we really do not care to continue on the ICW past Miami. On the other hand night runs in strange waters having reefs just a mile or so on each side doesn't excite me either. I see some potential anchorages on the South side of Key Largo, appearing to be protected from all but an easterly wind. But, is anchoring on the north edge of Hawk Channel feasible?

Thanks for your comments,


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Old 06-11-2010, 19:18   #2
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Well, since the wind in the keys is commonly out of the east you need to plan anchoring with that in mind.

There are spots to anchor that are protected from the prevailing easterlies but as you are seeing, not real common and you have to plan your trips to take advantage of them. I've made the trip and found spots no more than an easy day sail apart all the way to Key West. Of course draft matters. At the time I had a 5 1/2 foot draft and did fine.

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Old 07-11-2010, 05:42   #3

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Without any question, Rodriguez Key will be your friend. We draw too much to go "inside" as well and have anchored on both sides of the Rodriguez at different times.

Rodriguez is a nice distance from Miami Beach/Government Cut - you can make that under most conditions.

After that, look around Boot Key - you can easily enter there and get a mooring or use one of the outside anchorage locations.

From there, Key West is an easy passage.

There are other places to go and other possibilities. We've been back behind Islamorada - that will support deeper draft vessels. There are some free moorings available around here.

Bahia Honda is another place although it has rather poor conditions - but it's good to know about.
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Old 07-11-2010, 08:45   #4
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Expanding on what Jeff said, No Name Harbor in the Key of Biscayne is a good first stop. You might want to stay there for a few days as it is a pretty state park, but preferably not on weekends.

Then Rodriquez Key is an easy next stop. Anchor on whichever side favors the wind.

Marathon and Boot Key Harbor is the next stop. You can stay there a day a week or a month. There is a huge cruiser community there and lots of shore activities.

Then on to Key West. Either get a mooring to the east of Flemming Key or anchor on either side of Wisteria Key. None of them are perfect and are subject to the prevailing northeast winds in the winter.

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Old 07-11-2010, 09:22   #5
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What is your draft on the IP40?
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:58   #6
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Bill, With our 6 foot draft our trips down Hawks Channel, we were based out of Marathon for ten years, was Key Biscayne, Rodriguez, Marathon, Key West. Now that is watching the weather and not planning to head down the channel in strong easterly winds. If half way and the forecast changes go into Boot Key Harbor and wait. Once you get past Marathon, easterly wind will be on your stern and it will be a quick trip. North winds will be a downhill run also from Key Biscayne. Keep in mind that the Keys take an East West orientation once you get about a third way along Hawks Channel. Have a great trip. Chuck
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Old 07-11-2010, 15:20   #7
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Wow, great information! I'm marking my charts now. Charbonneau draws only 4' 8" and could probably go inside....but why do that when Hawk Channel will provide so much more room to actually sail and enjoy the ride.

Thank you all!

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Old 08-11-2010, 03:35   #8
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I don't know how you feel about overnight sailing, but that's one way to get there without having to worry about finding suitable overnight anchorages. We turned south at at 9 am at Hollywood after a Gulf Stream crossing from the Bahamas, and arrived at Sombrero Key (off Marathon) at dawn the next day. We sailed outside the reefs, keeping roughly to the 100' depth contour, seeing. We saw northerly currents of 0.5 to 1 kt, and a southerly eddy every now and then. I happen to enjoy sailing at night.

You could stop at Boot Key Harbor and then carry on to Key West whenever the spirit moved you.

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