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Old 29-09-2012, 15:26   #1
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Cruising the Florida Keys

My husband and I will be cruising from Fort Lauderdale through the Florida Keys this winter as we adjust to our new cruising life before any long jumps. We'd love to hear thoughts on must-sees or best day and overnight anchorages along the way. Keep in mind we are a mono-hull with a 4'11" draft and 63' high mast. We may also be traveling with a friend that has a deep draft (6'8") and know that will limit us a bit. So looking for some experienced Keys cruisers to point us to areas the guidebooks haven't covered.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 29-09-2012, 16:43   #2
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Re: Crusing the Florida Keys

We have our trip down Florida's west coast and over to Marathon and up the keys on the Gulf side here....

Macgregor Trips-1 Index

... the last trip at the bottom of the index.

We really liked the...



..... upper keys on the Gulf side from Shell north. Your draft is probably ok, but getting inside there with your mast height might make it impossible. I for sure wouldn't take your friend's boat on the Gulf side there.

Our next trip down we really want to explore from Marathon south towards Key West on the Gulf side taking our time. But before we get there we need more time in the 10,000 Islands.

As far as traveling with a friend....if you have done it with them before and liked the same type schedule it might be great. If not, it might not be so good for either of you. Ruth and I like people, but really can't see ourselves cruising with anyone else since we are so laid-back with our schedule time wise and location wise. I could see us making crossings with others possibly and/or meeting someone some place.

Anyway have a great trip,

Sum

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Old 29-09-2012, 17:20   #3
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You'll most likely be limited to the atlantic until you get to key west due ti your friends draft. You guys could manage crossing thru either Islamorada or marathon but not but friend
Key west is fun. Dry tortugas would be great bit lots of great stops I. The keys are great depending on what you like to do.
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Old 30-09-2012, 08:35   #4
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Thanks to both of you. We'd pretty much figured we'd be tied to the Atlantic side. And we appreciate the advice on cruising with a friend, but we're good - he's with us on the start of our journey, but long term we are on our own as well. So for now, we're trying to look out for all of us. I'm mostly wanting to find out if there are good anchorages on the Atlantic side along the way. Right now we definitely have Marathon's mooring field and Key West on our schedule, but are there any protected Atlantic side anchorages further north in the keys?
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Old 30-09-2012, 09:06   #5
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Re: Crusing the Florida Keys

There is not a great deal of protection on the Atlantic side, you can anchor on either side or Rodriguez, but still not great protection. Indian key has a few free moorings but I drop my anchor there as well. The bridge at Marathon is only 63 feet...so is your mast. We plan fair weather anchoring and any serious weather head for Boot key. Moorings are on first come basis and expensive. We have had to anchor out a night waiting for one so if a blow is coming don't wait too long. Oh, and if you anchor out (inside or out) in Boot key, the dinghy dock fee is about the same as the mooring, $25 or so.
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Old 30-09-2012, 09:09   #6
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Re: Crusing the Florida Keys

Rodriquez Key just off Key Largo.

Go through Angelfish Creek on the tide and anchor inside on a blow.

Just North of Caesar Creek Bank in settled weather.

Along Elliot Key with a good SE breeze to keep the mosquitos at bay.

John
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Old 30-09-2012, 09:18   #7
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Re: Crusing the Florida Keys

The best info we have found on the keys is, Claiborne Youngs, Salty Southeast Cruisers, Cruisers Net, and Capt. Charmaine Smith Ladd's site on Boot Key Harbor and Marathon.
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Old 30-09-2012, 09:25   #8
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Re: Crusing the Florida Keys

We went through Angelfish in March at high tide and a 6' 8 draft would have been aground on either side where we passed.
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Old 30-09-2012, 09:38   #9
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Re: Crusing the Florida Keys

Stay in the middle. I draw 6-1/2 and went through just fine last year and the year before an hour before high at Ocean Reef.

John
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Old 30-09-2012, 09:38   #10
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Re: Crusing the Florida Keys

http:/http://cruisersnet.net/
/www.septembersea.com/sunrises_to_sunsets.htm


Hope these come out as we are having computer issues.
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Old 30-09-2012, 09:54   #11
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Maybe a silly question and hopefully your friend has accounted for this but is his 6'8" draft fully laden (fuel, water, provisions, gear) for long distance cruising?
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Old 30-09-2012, 10:31   #12
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I must have found the only side of Rodriguez key with terrible holding. We were on the south west side and the entire area was 2" of silt over hard rock bottom with very little relief
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Old 30-09-2012, 11:01   #13
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Re: Crusing the Florida Keys

I've anchored several time at Rodriguez key with no issues. Protection is not amazing if it's blowing though. The Key Largo marina is a very decent but you won't be able to get in at low tide.

The main problem I have with that area is lack of anchorages. Basically from Miami until Rodriguez there is nothing unless there is no swell.

And then the next anchorage is like Bahia Honda.
As you approach Key West there are a few more options.

My draft is 5' 2" and there were so many places I did not feel comfortable going, I can't imagine what it would be like with a 6' 8" draft.

If you have a good dingy try to get out to some of the sand bars north east of Key West. North East of Jewfish basin. I loved it around there.

As well take a few days to go out to the dry Tortugas.

On the way down from miami, I would recommend going out past the reefs and staying in deep water and then coming in to see some of the reefs. They are some of the best I have ever seen in North America. Definitely worth the time to go snorkelling or diving on.

From Rodriguez key you can get to Molasses Reef in about an hour and spend the day there on the mooring if the swells are not bad.

Also many like to stop to see Jesus of the Abyss. Also a decent reef to dive or snorkel on.
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Old 30-09-2012, 11:23   #14
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I agree with the previous post. Great spots to dive in the park. I usually, if the wind dies off, cut in to Hawks channel just south of Fowey Rock.
If I have wind than all the way to Malasas reef, or onto Aligator reef. Both have moorings but can be rough at times. Channel 5 at Islemorada is the first bridge I can clear
And usually make this my first anchorage. Good holding, plenty of room. Your draft is ok, usually 9+ ft, but the bridge is 65'...... so your mast at 63' ? Don't hit the bridge lights DOH. have fun and enjoy. We anchor off in Hawks channel throughout the keys. I draw 6' with a 54' mast...
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Old 30-09-2012, 15:01   #15
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Re: Crusing the Florida Keys

Great snorkeling on Sombrero Reef, off Marathon. They have mooring balls and many people will stay overnight in settled weather (although it might not officially be "allowed.")
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