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Old 09-12-2009, 04:44   #1
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Marquesas Key Anchoring Question

can anyone give me advice on using Marquesas Key at a stop off to and from the The Dry Tortugas from Key West? Some of my readings do not recommend it due to shallow water & rocks. The charts look pretty straight forward as long as I stay west of the island. My wife, 2young boys & I will be attempting this trip right before christmas. Not sure if this question should've been posted under Meets & Greets. still getting to know the site. thanks
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Old 09-12-2009, 05:10   #2
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Ask around about the Quicksands. They're strong currants over shallow water.
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Old 09-12-2009, 05:45   #3
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Have sailed past but never stopped. I was advised and would agree that you should approach only in settled weather and conditions of good light and visibility. Looks like you would some protection anchoring on the west side with winds from the due east but with any sea running at all bet the anchorage would be a bit rolly.
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Old 09-12-2009, 05:55   #4
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We often, in the Keys and off the Bahamas, sneak in and anchor in places without a little anchor on the chart. It needs to be done with a high sun behind you and the wind direction needs to be blowing you into safe water if you pull.

Holding is often poor, wave surge can be a problem and if you go hard aground nobody will come and tow you off or even hear your VHF call for help.

Not sure I woud do it with a couple of small children aboard.
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Old 09-12-2009, 06:11   #5
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I have anchored on the west side and actually got pretty close from the shore under very strong easterly winds. We went ashore and found some pretty spots on the south east side.
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Old 09-12-2009, 06:29   #6
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I'm not real excited about doing 70nm in one day but if the winds are blowing any direction by out of the east, it sounds like we should go all the way to Garden Key. How difficult is it to get into Garden Key achorage after dark?
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Old 09-12-2009, 06:36   #7
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This depends entirely on the weather. We have anchored at the "X" here, on the East side of the island. It was one of my all time best sailing experiences. The weather was settled, the wind was around 5 knots, and we took the dingy up the little partially marked channel you can see just to the left of the X to explore the interior of the island. Dont do it with children? Good Lord, it is one of their best memories of the cruise! That night after dinner we lay out on the trampolin and looked up at the STARS. Wait 'til you see them...you'll know what I mean. Around 10 o'clock a pod of dolphins came by for a vist, and although it was pitch dark, you could hear them blow all around us...magical. I slept on deck. Just watch the weather, and anchor in the lee of the island. Take your time and you can nose in pretty close...standard island cruising stuff. We anchored in sand and mud in around 8 feet. Hope this helps, Chris
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Old 09-12-2009, 06:58   #8
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We've gone up inside using one of the natural channels (from the South IIRC). Used two anchors and were were very comfortable. Leave room for the small commercial fishing boats that come in at dusk, or used to anyway. We draw 3&1/2 feet and it was shallow getting in, deeper inside.
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Old 10-12-2009, 21:13   #9
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I've anchored at Marquesas 2 or 3 times when we make the Garden Key to Key West run. Each time the wind was east so we anchored on the west side just north of the entrance to the middle. We tiptoed as close as possible and stayed in ~8 feet of water. The bottom is all grass, but holding wasn't a problem for a Delta plow. I do remember getting in there was a lot easier from the north, if you come in from the south you'll be dancing around a few shallow areas. It helps if it's high tide. There isn't much there to see unless there are some fresh Cuban chugs. It's a good stop if the wind cooperates.

I wouldn't suggest arriving at Garden Key after dark if you aren't completely familar with it. I've been there at least 12 times and won't arrive after dark. If the anchorage is full, it'll take a while to find a spot and darkness is not your friend when that happens. I know where I like to drop the hook and I'm always afraid 'my spot' will be taken if I arrive at night. Arrive during the day and look for the bright colored water to get a good sandy bottom to drop the hook. Watch out for the shallows on the south side of the harbor, they come up fast. West of the fort is good holding also, be sure to stay far away from the swim area. Enjoy it, it's a fantastic place.
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:42   #10
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Marquesas is a good spot to anchor, we have a cat so we like to get inside and out of the swell if there is one. Great island to dingy explore and some nice sandy beach areas. It's said the Marquesas are where many a Spanish treasure ship met their doom so if you find anything I saw it first. One night we were having a fermented beverage in the cockpit, marveling at the stars, the quiet, and the inky darkness when a (sounded like a huge) Manta ray gave us the double splash dive.

The park is OK, the anchorage is calm in anything but not too exciting. I ask this - who builds a fort on an island AND builds a moat around it?! Go to the far side of lighthouse key for good snorkeling if the wind allows it.
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:50   #11
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DotDun, What are Cuban chugs?
"There isn't much there to see unless there are some fresh Cuban chugs."
Steve
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Old 11-12-2009, 07:32   #12
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DotDun, What are Cuban chugs?
"There isn't much there to see unless there are some fresh Cuban chugs."
Steve
Chugs - The homemade boats the Cubans craft to make the trip to the US. I don't have the latest numbers, but I remember the park officials stating that over 800 Cubans landed in the DT National Park I think in 2005. We found fresh Cuban chugs on Marquesas. Obviously the Border Patrol or CG pulled the people a few days prior to our arrival as all their supplies/food/clothes/etc. were still fresh and laying around their boat.

(2) chugs from the west side of Marquesas in May 2008:
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Old 11-12-2009, 08:52   #13
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Thanks, They must be desperate people to head out to sea in something like that.
Maybe there is a lesson there.
Steve
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:48   #14
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Chugs - The homemade boats the Cubans craft to make the trip to the US. I don't have the latest numbers, but I remember the park officials stating that over 800 Cubans landed in the DT National Park I think in 2005...
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, improved enforcement and the economic downturn have sharply cut the number of Cuban migrants trying to reach the United States this year by sea across the Florida Straits.
Coast Guard figures, for the 2009 fiscal year (ended on Sept. 30) showed that 799 Cubans were intercepted, compared to 2,199 for 2008, and 2,868 for 2007.

Troubled waters | GlobalPost

Cuban migrants trying to reach Florida riding on a 1951 Chevrolet truck, converted into a marine vessel with air-filled drums for flotation and a propeller, July 16, 2003. (U.S. Coast Guard-Handout/Reuters)
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Old 11-12-2009, 14:23   #15
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Coast Guard figures, for the 2009 fiscal year (ended on Sept. 30) showed that 799 Cubans were intercepted, compared to 2,199 for 2008, and 2,868 for 2007.
The question then is: How many made it?

We've watched the USCG play around DT during the day and head south at sunset. We assumed they went off patrolling.

We've also seen a group of 13 Cubans inside the fort. The park rangers gave all a purple jumpsuits and they were waiting for (I assume) Border Patrol to pick them up. If you talk to the volunteers on Loggerhead Key, they've told of multiple chugs per night when the weather is calm.

I've often wondered what I would do if I ran across a chug off shore full of people heading north. Should you allow them on your US registered boat? Is that considered 'wet foot, dry foot'? I certainly would protect any human from danger, but one must also protect himself. Something to think about, interesting puzzle.
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