Thursday, 14 February 2013

February 10, 2013

We left Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Monday morning.  The ICW heads south between Florida’s mainland and the Keys, but is so shallow, it is not recommended for any boat that draws more than 4 feet.  The alternative route is called Hawk Channel, not really part of the ICW but the only option for deeper draft vessels, such as ours.  It runs south on the east side of the Keys, between the Keys and the barrier reef.  This is our first time back on the Atlantic since we went down the coast of New Jersey and probably the most we’ve used the sails since our time on the Chesapeake Bay.  It was a beautiful day and we had great sailing.  The water is different here from what we’ve seen - it has beautiful shades of aqua  and is very clear.  Forty-nine statute miles later we dropped the anchor on the north side of Rodriguez Key.  This is the closest we’ve been able to get to any of the Keys as the water in and around the Keys and harbours is too shallow for our 5 and a half foot draft.  When people with boats like ours head south, they can only use this anchorage and just pick the side of the Key that gives you the best protection from the wind.

Tuesday morning started out as another good sailing day with 10 knot winds pushing us farther south.  However, around 12:00 noon the winds died and we started seeing more crab pots.  The afternoon was spent dodging crab pots, while trying to maintain our course to Boot Key, Marathon.  Our goal had been to pick up a mooring ball in Boot Key, Marathon, but when we arrived, there was a waiting list, so we anchored near the mooring field.  People we had spoken to in Coconut Grove mentioned that they got a really good deal on a dock at the Coral Lagoon Resort The Boat House Marina.  So Dave contacted them and the price was about the same as the mooring field at Boot Key Harbor.  The Marina sounded good but due to shoaling, the channel would require local knowledge to get us into it so the harbor master put us in touch with the only other sailboater in the marina.  

After speaking to Jay (the other sailboater) the following morning, we decided to wait until high tide at 5 pm, before trying to enter the channel to the harbour.  We left Boot Key Harbor around 2:30 pm to give us enough time to cover the 5 miles (wind right on the nose and dodging crab pots all the way) back north to the channel.  When we arrived, we contacted Jay and he guided us in by driving to different points in his truck, where he could watch us as we followed the channel in.  He was a great help, we couldn’t have got in without his help. 

We have spent the rest of this week trying to get oriented to the area.  Shopping and laundromat are a taxi ride away... Key West does not look like it would be worth 2 days sailing to go to and back.  Our plan is to stay here and use this marina as a base to site see up and down the Keys.  

Lighthouse at Bill Baggs State Park
Houses built on stilts near No Name Harbor known as Stiltsville
No longer allowed to build like this in the Keys

Sunset at Rodriguez Key

Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field and anchorage.
Busy spot!

Our dock at Coral Lagoon Resort Boat House Marina.
Quiet spot!

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