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Old 27-02-2020, 05:39   #1
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Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

My wife and I are planning to cruise the FL Keys. We have heard that there are pick pockets in Key West and other touristy areas down there? Tell me it isn't so!
Is there a resource out there that will tell about crime in different areas. Any suggestions from folks with experience cruising down there? Any suggestions for boat and dingy security? I'm not uptight about it, but my wife is, which means I now am. I am looking for general practice suggestions for the area. Nothing extravagant. I guess better safe than sorry, just more to think about though. Ugh.
Any info is appreciated.
Thanks,
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Old 27-02-2020, 06:06   #2
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

We live in Marathon FL, we came from a small town in the midwest and I'd say I feel just as safe here as I did in the midwest. Here we rarely if ever worry about theft, we don't lock our boat when we leave and we don't lock our dinghy up either at the dock or to the boat. Should we, probably so that we aren't tempting someone, but we don't.

Before we got here we spent a little over a month in Garrison Bight on the Mooring balls in Key West, there we did lock our dinghy to the dock and we locked the boat, more because it's a long dinghy ride to the dock and you can't see your boat from shore. Also, we had heard rumors about theft, but we didn't have any first hand experiences. I will say that there is a vast difference between the vibe of Key West and Marathon. Marathon is a bunch of cruisers waiting for a weather window to jump over to the Bahamas everyone is laid back and friendly, Key West is just way too touristy for me.

As for sites to look at, both Marathon and Key West have cruisers facebook groups. Join them and you'll be able to talk to a whole group of people that are currently in either location. Another site is noonsite.com there you can get a bunch of information about a lot of different locations.

Hope this helps.
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Old 27-02-2020, 06:23   #3
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

Florida is full of thieves. Anything that isn't chained down is going to be stolen eventually. The whole state is like this.

From my boat, I've had stolen:

Primary Anchor (right off the bow!)
Bicycle
Kayak
Dinghy
Break in and Stolen Valuables

This happened at different times from Jacksonville to Miami to Tampa. No part of this state is safe. Expect people to steal from you at every opportunity. It's the worst place in the east coast for it.

Don't worry about pickpockets even in NYC or Paris. . Just keep valuables in your front pocket, be aware of your personal space and you'll be fine. Have the wife hold her purse properly, although that's not something I've seen in Florida. Have not seen purse snatching or pickpockets.
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Old 27-02-2020, 07:06   #4
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

The good news: violent crime is pretty rare.

The bad news: yes, if you don't lock it down, someone may steal it.

I also had an anchor stolen - by the person whose boat was right beside mine! This was 100% because I was an absentee owner at the time, and left for extended periods. He left me his old anchor, which was the same type, only 10 pounds lighter and a different material. He probably thought I didn't notice, but the chain of the smaller anchor didn't even reach the windlass, so it wasn't connected. Bastard!

And no, I didn't report him because I couldn't be there to protect the boat. It was the cost of leaving it unprotected for multiple months at a time. I could have paid someone to watch it, but it would have cost more than the anchor was worth.

People will know if you are there, and also if your stuff is locked down.

I never worried about pickpockets, but I didn't spend a lot of time in the really touristic parts. If your wallet is locked down sufficiently (i.e., not in your back pocket), nobody is stealing it.
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Old 27-02-2020, 07:11   #5
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

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Florida is full of thieves. Anything that isn't chained down is going to be stolen eventually. The whole state is like this.

.
Nonsense!

We’ve sailed extensively on both coasts and the Keys for years without incident as has everyone we know. One isolated experience doesn’t serve as a basis for such a wild generality.
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Old 27-02-2020, 07:32   #6
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

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Originally Posted by sguerrero1971 View Post
We live in Marathon FL, we came from a small town in the midwest and I'd say I feel just as safe here as I did in the midwest. Here we rarely if ever worry about theft, we don't lock our boat when we leave and we don't lock our dinghy up either at the dock or to the boat. Should we, probably so that we aren't tempting someone, but we don't.

Before we got here we spent a little over a month in Garrison Bight on the Mooring balls in Key West, there we did lock our dinghy to the dock and we locked the boat, more because it's a long dinghy ride to the dock and you can't see your boat from shore. Also, we had heard rumors about theft, but we didn't have any first hand experiences. I will say that there is a vast difference between the vibe of Key West and Marathon. Marathon is a bunch of cruisers waiting for a weather window to jump over to the Bahamas everyone is laid back and friendly, Key West is just way too touristy for me.

As for sites to look at, both Marathon and Key West have cruisers facebook groups. Join them and you'll be able to talk to a whole group of people that are currently in either location. Another site is noonsite.com there you can get a bunch of information about a lot of different locations.

Hope this helps.
We're also from the Midwest. A very small town. About 700 population. We want to see Key West just because you have to do it once, right? Other than that, we want to do a lot of snorkeling, fishing and general cruising throughout the keys. Marathon looks like a great place. We'll definitely have to stop there. It's our first time coastal cruising so we're trying to get all the ducks in a row as best as we can.
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Old 27-02-2020, 07:38   #7
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

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Nonsense!

We’ve sailed extensively on both coasts and the Keys for years without incident as has everyone we know. One isolated experience doesn’t serve as a basis for such a wild generality.
Nonsense. I'm robbed on an annual basis from my boat in Florida.

These are nowhere near "one isolated experience"
Plus, other posters are posting similar experiences.

Your experience is more of an isolated and lucky one. Don't leave your boat for a second in this state.

Anchor theft off my bow: Jacksonville
Dinghy theft from dinghy dock: Miami
Kayak theft from boat: Titusville
Bicycle theft off my boat: Jacksonville
Break in and valuables stolen: Fort Myers

Over a few years and all over Florida. Hardly an isolated event. Oh yeah. Honda EU2000 stolen in another separate incident.
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Old 27-02-2020, 07:53   #8
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

If you want to boat to key west stay on Stock Island. Good marinas with security and excellent facilities. Duval St is nothing but tourist clip joints for the cruise ships, but the rest of the town is just fine. Stay away from places filled with day trippers and look for places that appeal to locals. Find places with live music that start after the cruise ship pax go back aboard, off Duval is better than on Duval. Like Hogfish bar and grill, Roostica, Azure, Better Than Sex, that little Vegan place whose name I forget, etc.
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Old 27-02-2020, 07:56   #9
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

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Originally Posted by mjgill1 View Post
We're also from the Midwest. A very small town. About 700 population. We want to see Key West just because you have to do it once, right? Other than that, we want to do a lot of snorkeling, fishing and general cruising throughout the keys. Marathon looks like a great place. We'll definitely have to stop there. It's our first time coastal cruising so we're trying to get all the ducks in a row as best as we can.
If you really want the full-on Key West experience, unlike anything in the Mid West, then go during "Fantasy Fest".

Kind of like being in NOLA for Mardi Gras, but with a Key West twist.
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Old 27-02-2020, 08:00   #10
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

Marathon very safe however I would lock my campanionway when not aboard especially when gone at night. If anchored/mooring ball in Key West I would keep a closer eye on stuff. Biggest danger in key west is getting hit by a drunk on a scooter.
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Old 27-02-2020, 08:00   #11
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

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Originally Posted by mjgill1 View Post
We're also from the Midwest. A very small town. About 700 population. We want to see Key West just because you have to do it once, right? Other than that, we want to do a lot of snorkeling, fishing and general cruising throughout the keys. Marathon looks like a great place. We'll definitely have to stop there. It's our first time coastal cruising so we're trying to get all the ducks in a row as best as we can.
If you’re going to stay in Marathon for more than a week or so, you’ll need transportation. The town is strung out along the highway and things can be a long way apart. Uber is not cheap: try $15 one way to Home Depot for a $5 part. It adds up if you get tired of eating or shopping within walking distance.
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Old 27-02-2020, 08:03   #12
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

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Marathon very safe however I would lock my campanionway when not aboard especially when gone at night. If anchored/mooring ball in Key West I would keep a closer eye on stuff. Biggest danger in key west is getting hit by a drunk on a scooter.
Or getting hurt on your rental scooter if you are not an experienced rider.
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Old 27-02-2020, 08:08   #13
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

the safest thing is just to avoid Key West .. Marathon is the furthest south in FL where I would be interested in going ashore
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Old 27-02-2020, 08:36   #14
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

Some of the alarmism here is a bit overblown.

You have to keep things locked down. Like you should in any touristy area.

That said, Key West has it's charms, and though it's spendy it has a unique charm that you shouldn't miss if you're that close. There are some great places to eat and drink. There are some touristy places where you can spend as much or as little as you want. You'll never find more oddballs in one place outside of California.

Knowing everything I know, and having spent a lot of time there, I'd recommend that you visit for a while, depending on your schedule. Think of it as a vacation from your vacation. You're doing yourself a disservice if you skip it.

The folks in mooring fields or marinas are like boat people are anywhere else. They look after each other and you. There is the occasional bad apple, but they're pretty rare.
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Old 27-02-2020, 08:54   #15
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Re: Boat and Personal Security in FL Keys

There are pick-pockets in every touristy area of the entire world. Key West is no better in that regard, nor is it any worse.


Don't know what part of Iowa you are in, but I used to live in Clive, just west of Des Moines. Downtown Des Moines had petty theft, like every city in the world. Key West might be just a little bit worse, but only a little bit. Be as cautious as you would be walking through Des Moines at night and you will be fine.


Good luck, and have fun.
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