We just completed a 6 week dive cruise
to the keys and I have so much info to pass along I don't know where to begin. I guess I will start by trying to improve the bad reputation that a few cities have garnered in the past few years.
Marco Island - stamped as cruiser unfriendly due to the court battle over anchoring
rights started when a sherrif marine
unit cited a local for anchoring
to long in one place. However, we found Marco Island to be very plesant and cruiser friendly. We stayed for 5 days waiting for a window of opportunity to cross Floriday Bay in good weather
. We anchored in Factory Bay and used the dingy dock
at the Marco River Marina. The sheriff did drive by every morning and afternoon but did not give us a second glance. Also, from the Marco Rive marina it is a short walk (5min) on Bald Eagle Drive to Collier Blvd where there is anything a cruiser could want. Publix, Walgreens, west marine
, ice cream shops, restaurants, car rental, a night club(etc). Marco Island is very scenic and I recommend a dingy excursion to Coconut island for a "day at the beach."
Boot Key Harbor - Stamped as cruiser unfriendly when they put in a mooring
field and put the city in charge of managing the mooring
field with strick rules. I heard/read stories of marine enforcement boarding boats in the middle of the night to hassle cruisers and boats being "kicked-out" of the harbor because they were unkempt. However, we found Boot Key Harbor and Marathon City Marina to be very cruiser friendly and the mooring worth every penny. They actually went above and beyond the call of duty to accomodate us with a couple special requests.
I have been making trips to the keys for over 20 years and now that there is a moring field managed by the city the harbor water
is significantly cleaner. The people who complained, i feel, probably were the ones pooping in the water
and discharging oily bilge
sludge. Now, if only we could find a way to bring the reefs
back to life.
Within walking distance, of the dingy dock
, there is a west marine and free wifi
at the local library. We also found out there is a bus to Key West
that is only a dollar. We really had a blast in Marathon and felt welcome. It is a shame that the area is depressed and many businesses are closed or closing.