Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 09-29-2009
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Big changes are taking place at what used to be Sombrero Marina Dockside in Boot Key Harbor. This facility resides near the western end of BKH, just west of marker #5A. This long popular establishment has, heretofore, consisted a very well patronized, semi-open air bar, and a marina, which consists of wet slips and dinghy docks set around the “L” shaped curve in the harbor west of #5A.
The bar/restaurant part of the operation has now been split apart, and been renamed Dockside Tropical Cafe’ (formerly Dockside Bar & Grill and Dockside Lounge) It will open in two week (mid-November, 2013). Under new owners, Eric Stone (singer/songwriter) and Kim Hess-Stone (creator Yoga Onboard), we get the feeling that Tropical Cafe may very well become “the” spot for cruisers to gather in Marathon and Boot Key Harbor.
Here is Dockside Tropical Cafe’s new contact and location information:
Dockside Tropical Cafe’ (formerly Dockside Bar & Grill and Dockside Lounge)
35 Sombrero Blvd
Marathon Fl 33050
Sounds like a GOOD time will be had by all. See you there!
Wow we have been waiting for this!!! Will be down mid December on our trawler with a gang of Canadian friends on their boats too. Good luck to,the new owners as it has always been popular.
Sounds like a great upgrade. Wonder if the head/shower facilities have been upgraded too.
Has Royer s/v Skye
Speaking for both Eric and myself, we are like two kids waiting for Christmas to come! The place is going to ROCK!
Concerning facilities…. we will be upgrading the restrooms as soon as possible, and there will be a new accessible restroom near the laundry.
See ya in the Keys!
Before its removal, Boot Key Bridge, at Statute Mile 1195, spanned the western entrance to Boot Key Harbor, east of unlighted daybeacon #14.
The bridge is still there, but the drawbridge part has been removed. Still is a small opening where the span used to be which must be navigated. There also is a hanging powerline which limits boats with masts higher than 62 feet in height. the rest of the bridge is still there.
Captain Ward does not have contact information for Bobby the Viking, but she says that everyone in Marathon knows Bobby, because of his dinghy decorated as a Viking ship that he sails around the waters of Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. Captain Ward promises a phone number when she and crew return home.
We used Bobby the Viking last winter to dive and scrub the bottom of our trawler and he did a great job. I have not got his phone number at the moment but if you call on the net he will get straight back to you.
October 22, 2013 [numbers confirmed]
I have now found Viking Bobby’s cell number from last year. It’s 303-887-7712. I also found a cell number for the Key Hopper Taxi service in Marathon which is 305-393-0146. Hope this is of some help.
Marathon Marina and Boat Yard lines the northern banks of the western Boot Key Harbor approach channel, west of the now permanently open Boot Key bascule bridge.
We stayed here a week-rate $613 with tax et all for a 40 ft cat. The staff was very friendly and fuel prices excellant. The residents are extremely friendly and the internet works well both at the dock and the captains lounge for non-wifi connection. Pump outs are tueday, wednesday, and thursday. The resteraunt is also excellent go for happy hour and appetizers(inexpensive). Would like to stay a month at another time(warning they book as far as a year in advance for a month dockage). Not as centrally located as the city marina, but with bikes, you can get anywhere.Publix(3 miles) and cabs are $5 for a trip on the island.
Boot Key Harbor on the southside of Marathon, near statute mile 1195, is accessible from Hawk Channel and from the Inside Route via Moser Channel.
The next day, we returned via the Florida Bay side from our overnight in Boot Key Harbor. Staying on the Magenta line on the ICW was without incident. The only tough part was to keep watch and steer around the numerous lobster/crab traps inundating the ICW route.
I’ve often said, but it bears repeating, recommendations of this ilk from fellow cruisers are invaluable!
Call Mike the diver, I have been using him here in Marathon for years. 305-360-2012.
As part of the discussion of new Florida Keys Anchorage regulations (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=96458), we noted:
“3. In Marathon and Keys West, “no anchorage buffer zones” have been established around the city mooring fields.”
This factoid prompted the following, well considered question from Captain Peter TenHaagen:
Curious about the status of Sister Creek south of Boot Key Harbor as a legal anchorage spot?
That got us to thinking that we really should research the location and size of all the “no anchorage buffer zones” established by the new Florida Keys anchorage regulations. So, after some digging, below we have reproduced the wording from the actual ordinance:
So, to answer Captain TenHaagen’s question directly, it looks as if the waters of Sister Creek, are NOT included in the “No Anchor Buffer Zones,” as these are more than fifty feet from the Boot Key Harbor mooring fields.
And, finally, here is a very hard to read map, which, if you can see them, shows where the official mooring fields are located in Boot Key Harbor. This map does NOT show the “no anchorage buffer zones,” but clearly the waters of Sister Creek are more than 50 feet from the fields.
Notice, HOWEVER, the map does show that Sister Creek IS PART OF THE MANAGED ANCHORAGE AREA, so, conceivably, the creek’s waters could be further regulated in the future!
Not an expert on the area, but my recollection of Sister Creek is one of VERY limited swing room.
We anchor in Sister Creek Regularly to let the Boy Scouts on our Eco Adventure trips with Florida Seabase Kayak the amazing loop trail through Whiskey Creek. For a temporary anchorage it is fine, however you must be careful not to block the channel, there is a lot of boat traffic. There is also a strong tidal current.
Captain Harold Ochstein
On Wednesday, September 5, 2012 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the Monroe County anchorage regulations associated with the Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program. While the final version must still be approved by the Monroe County Board of Commissioners, that final nod would seem to be a mere formality. We conclude that, after all the many public forums, voluminous comments published here on the Cruisers’ Net and on other nautical forums, and a lot of GOOD work by our very special Florida Keys correspondent (and founder of BARR – Boaters’ Action Rights and Responsibilities), Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, we have a new set of Florida Keys anchorage regulations which will almost certainly be in effect by the winter 2012 – 2013 cruising season! HOWEVER, as you will see, this is not nearly as onerous as it initially sounds!
Burdine’s Waterfront Marina overlooks the Boot Key westerly approach channel’s northerly banks, just a quick hop east from Pancho’s Fuel Dock.
Burdine’s Marina in Marathon is nice, friendly people, and a great Tiki Bar/Restaurant.
The reef just outside Marathon has mooring balls and is great snorkeling.
Ken & Pat Goewey
Below, Captain Brian, in a message copied from the Cruisers’ Forum gives some good advice on where to satisfy a healthy appetite in Marathon, Florida. Only wish he could have recalled some of the name, but, hey, we cruisers take advice wherever we can get it!
Marathon. Well, most people grab a ball and go from there. That is what I would suggest. THere is a great beer and burger joint as you come in on the port side (I cannot remember the name) but it is the first 2 story restaurant when you enter after Marathon Marina. They sell gas too. On the canal right before that is a really good sea food restaurant if you take that first canal and it is at the corner. Also, at Marathon Marina (first marina on your left) they have a awesome happy hour and as they look west, good place to watch the sun set over the water.
The gas place is Burdines Marina. Top of that building is Chiki Tiki Bar and Grill. Had a nice taco salad there few days ago. We walked there after being at West Marine by going down 15th St. off A1A. Was a little scary due to neighborhood. Asked couple of people at restaurant if it was a crime neighborhood and they said you should be o.k. during the day but don’t walk it at night. Best to come by boat or dinghy.
Two story restaurant is Burdines.
Lazy Days at Marathon Marna.
Make sure to check out Hurricane, across from Home Depot (east end).
“Salty’s” Restaurant near Marathon Marina. “Castaways” Rest. near Panchos & Burdines.
My impression of Sombrero Marina Dockside has always been that a good time is had by all. More than a few glasses of my personal favorite, Mount Gay Rum, have been hoisted here from time to time!
Currently at Sombrero. I like it, sort of a 50s flavor. Slips are big for a 2665 Regal but well set up. First marina I have been to with no tie down cleats. Lots of poles to tie to. Dockside Restaurant is good. Lots of locals. Menu somewhat limited, no steaks for example. Drinks good and beer cold. Frequent live entertainment. PUMP-OUTs on Thursdays. I think you could talk Roy into other days if needed. He will get you POUT if you are gone sight seeing. Showers, laundry are 50′s but you have everything you need and is clean. Restrooms are shared with Dockside and you get a key for after hours. Publix is walking distance and most everything else, West Marine, stores could be walked or biked or a $5 cab ride.
Regular visitors to the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net will remember that about four weeks ago, we published an article authored by our very special Florida Keys correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, which warned of possible new anchoring restrictions in Boot Key Harbor (BKH) outside the mooring field. The reaction from the cruising community was swift and vocal, and the Marathon City Council seems to have heeded that outcry. As Captain Charmine reports anew below, it looks as if anchoring on most of BKH will not be impeded.
On an even broader scale, Charmaine also provides a link to Monroe County’s (all of the Florida Keys) plan on how they will implement their participation in the Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program. This is MUST reading for any who cherish the idea of anchoring anywhere in the Florida Keys, and, trust me, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of idyllic anchorages in this region. So, follow the link below, and let us know what you think!
April 10th 2012
Florida Pilot Program UPDATE: Monroe County Proposed PP Ordinance
by Charmaine Smith Ladd
The most recent draft of proposed ordinances for Monroe County (including the municipalities of Marathon and Key West) are now online for your perusal and comment. Please read thoroughly and let your concerns be heard. There will be a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on April 18th where the final draft of proposed ordinances will be on the table for approval to go forward through the protocol of the FWC administered Pilot Program.
All boaters and cruisers will be happy to know that anchoring in the most protected Harbor in all of the Florida Keys, Boot Key Harbor, will remain available.
Please download the proposed ordinances from the following link: http://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/agendacenter
With the city charging $22 plus tax for 1 days dinghy dockage, NO one in their right mind is going to anchor there! It is so sad Marathon insists on a exorbadant dinghy dockage when other Florida comunities provide FREE dinghy dockage. Miami Beach is building a free dinghy dock, Ft Myers Beach has a free dinghy dock, Cape Coral has free dinghy dockage. LaBelle has free dockage. Marathon has to get with it or loose out!
We are very pleased to report that as of this morning, 3/27/12, the once sagging utility lines crossing the primary entrance to Boot Key Harbor have been repaired, and returned to their normal vertical clearance of 65 feet. Our sincere thanks to Captain Peter F. TenHaagen for this report, and for the dramatic photo attached to this message. To see more of Captain Peter’s utility line repair photos, click the “Photo Gallery” icon/link below!
The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net would also like to express a sincere thanks to the cruising community for their help and cooperation in getting the word out about this formerly dangerous situation over the past several days. Working together, there is little the combined forces of the SSECN and the Cruising Community cannot achieve!
Just wanted to let you know they finished making the wires the correct height again today (ribbon hanging down is their measuring device!) at the Knights Key Channel entrance to Boot Key Harbor and sailboats are now coming and going freely.
THE WIRE IS FIXED to 65′ Clear M.H.W.
The sagging lines appeared to be fixed about 3 PM Monday afternoon. We were heading back from lunch and passed under the bridge/cables while the barge with two men up in the crane finished. There is a new yellow/red circle attached to the middle of the cable, I guess to show it’s been fixed? Anyway, as we watched, the barge lowered the two men in the crane back to deck, so hopefully all is well again in Marathon.
I witnessed the incident [that originally caused the utility lines to sag]. It was Sunday, March 18. I was in my dinghy heading toward the bridge. A big catamaran with a 75 foot rig was trying to enter the harbor. Suddenly she reared back like a motorcycle doing a wheelie. If she had been going any faster, she would have flipped herself onto her back.
Unfortunately I didn’t get the vessel name, but I did talk to the people on board. They were 6 teenagers there for the sailing regatta. They tied off at the old abandoned marina next to Burdines.
Has anyone noticed if they put a tide reading scale [ 24-25-26 ] on the EAST , mooring field side of the bridge ? Am I missing it. I dont think I have seen one on that side.
As part of the recent string of messages concerning the sagging utility lines over the primary entrance to Boot Key Harbor (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=84015), a side discussion has come about concerning depths on Sister Creek. The “primary” entrance to Boot Key Harbor (“BKH”) is a more or less straight shot from Moser Channel. This is the passage over which the sagging utility lines cross.
Sister Creek is an alternate entrance to BKH, which runs, more or less, north from Hawk Channel. In the “sagging utility lines posting,” both yours truly and our very special Florida Keys correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, cautioned that boats drawing more than 4 feet should not attempt to use Sister Creek to access BKH. This admonition resulted in some dissenting points of view:
Good to hear the alert but Sister’s Creek is deeper than 4′. I have come in and out of Boot Key via Sister’s Creek and have never experienced less than 6′. Take your own chances – I’m just saying.
Always FOR SAIL too
I disagree about Sister Creek – large sportfishers and sailing craft enter the harbor from Sister Creek daily. There is a spot at the entrance that might preclude 6′ from entering at MLW, but half tide and rising there is no apparent problem. I am anchored on Sister Creek with two other craft as I write this.
So, I asked Captain Charmine to comment further on the soundings to be expected in Sister Creek. Here is her reply:
Regarding SISTER CREEK. Sister Creek at mean low tide is 4’1″. That’s FOUR FEET ONE INCH. From that point, as usual, you have to do the math with the tides as far as one’s draft is concerned. Obviously if you have a two foot tide you’ll be fine if you draw less than six feet. With that said, whatever someone has experienced in their vessel is highly subjective and there are dangerously hard groundings that occur in Sister Creek because of this. Each Captain has to make his or her decision based on their particular situation.
This is why I am extremely cautious with suggesting using Sister Creek to others. Some don’t watch tides as closely as others. Therefore, I merely report its mean low tide depth. Those who traverse Sister Creek with 6′ drafts have done their homework…and that is all that is necessary in order to decide to use it or not. Just know that it is not quite a no-brainer unless you have a shallower draft vessel.
Remember if you enter Sister Creek from Hawk Channel, it’s a normal red-right-returning as you enter Boot Key Harbor.But the channel colors “reverse” where Sister Creek meets Boot Key Harbor. That’s because the markers near that entrance are really a continuation of the markers from the main entrance channel at Seven Mile Bridge, and thus are “reverse-colors” from the Sister Creek entrance. That can cause confusion and potential grounding if the skipper is on the “wrong” side of the markers as they enter Boot Key Harbor where the water at that intersection is shallow.
I agree with Captain Charmaine. Our boat draws 4 feet and our depth sounder is accurate to within 2 inches. We departed Sister Creek in February of 2012 at dead low tide and our depth reading was 4 feet. Sister Creek itself is deep enough. The shallow area is east of the entrance to Sister Creek between the Red and Green marks.
We recently entered Boot Key via Sister’screek in our sailboat. It was at mid tide. Our dept sounder is set for actual water depth and is accurate. We saw readings or 4.1 on the sounder. The draft on our boat is 5 foot but we never even felt a bump let alone run hard aground. I wonder if there is a heavy grass growth that may be bouncing the echoe sound up from the tall grass. This occurred just off the beach in the channel. The rest of the way was all over 5 foot or better
I just returned in my dinghy from the marked channel entering Sister Creek from Hawk Channel – I found at dead low tide some 4.5′ spots between markers 2 and 3/4, nothing under 5′ after that and nothing under 7′ once past the marked channel. I don’t know the exact tide range but it is well over 2′ – I would say 3-4′ depending on winds and other conditions that affect the tide. I did this for friends in a 5′ draft sailboat planning to meet me here over the weekend.
Boat using sister creek this morning reported at least 6′ at near high tide. Local knowledge is needed as there are shallow rocks reported to be inside one of the red markers. Local boat US will charge $400 to escort you thru.
For the past 12 years I have lived on Sombrero Blvd. For the first 5ive years I had a Shannon 43 drawing when cruising 5′ 2″ that I took in and out of Sisters Creek. I have read the warnings and looked at the charts but have yet to run aground. My neighbor had a Gulfstar 50 that he took in and out numerous times. He did bump once or twice but never ran aground. I took my boat in and out regardless of the tide level although never at a low low tide.
Re Sisters Creek: I lived in Marathon for 11 years, and always used the Sisters channel coming and going on my 50′ Gulfstar with 5.5′ draft. I recall a light bumping once or twice during very low tides, but most locals consider the channel good for 6′ in normal high tides.
The old charts do say 4′ at MLT, but local knowledge is pretty well established on this one.
Recently, my good friend and host at last fall’s MTOA Rendezvous in Chesapeake Bay, Captain Ken Chumley, arranged for a Florida fuel wholesaler to bring an entire truckload of diesel fuel to Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor. Here, he and a number of other MTOA members, took on 4,200 gallons of diesel, at a really good price! Another fellow cruiser chimed in, and said they had made arrangements with the same company for a truckload delivery to Duck Key, to the tune of about 900 gallons.
Of course, for anyone to take advantage of this service, they will have to put together a group of fuel thirsty vessels, at a Florida Keys marina where a tanker truck can back close enough to the wet slips so that a hose can be easily snaked to the waiting boats.
If you can overcome these hurtles, give Urbieta Oil at 305-884-0008 a call, and stand by to save a significant chunk of change!
Isn’t it encouraging to find a city owned and operated mooring field that ENCOURAGES cruisers to anchor just outside of the field until a mooring become available. Other municipalities in Florida would be well advised to take note!
At Boot Key the dockmaster generally will have you anchor out until a mooring becomes available. Depending on weather and the number of folks staging to go to the Bahamas, your wait can be hours to a few days. Just remember to look at the tide charts (especially now, coming off of full moon) and gage where you anchor with
M/V Ocean Breeze
We are in Marathon and while the mooring field is busy there are openings. A number of boats just headed out for the Bahamas and that makes for available openings. With your mooring you get pumped out once a week and you can pull into the Marathon City Marina and get water. You can also check with the City Marina for dockage.
Marty and Jerry Richardson
onboard M/V Monarch
The boats in Boot Key Harbor come and go all the time. They might be full today and have a half dozen moorings open by weeks end if a good weather window opens up. There is usually someplace to anchor in Boot Key Harbor. Depending on your boats draft, you can anchor in Newfound Harbor on the way to Key West, and depending on the weather, if the southerlies are not blowing too bad, you can anchor just outside Boot Key Harbor. There is also the anchorage in Key West. Marina availability will be a different story this time of year.
City of Marathon is in the process of passing Resolution 2012-21 which will restrict all anchoring in Boot Key Harbor to one small area. This Resolution can be viewed on City of Marathon website.
We kind of had to guess whether Captain Russell’s note below refers to Sombrero Marina Dockside or Sombrero Resort and Lighthouse Marina, both of which are located in Marathon on Boot Key Harbor. We guessed the former facility, but if anyone knows otherwise, based on the description below, PLEASE click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.
Keep trying Sombrero Beach, too. Folks are in and out of there frequently. They always say they are full for the season…you just have to get used to Roy (the marina manager, if he’s still there). But we really liked it there and once on the good side of Roy, life smoothed out.
M/V Ocean Breeze
The note Captain Kettlewell has copied us on below, was inspired by the earlier article here on the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net by our very special Florida Keys Correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=79332). John’s words, as they usually do, speak eloquently for themselves!
I sent the following message to the chamber of commerce in Marathon. Charmaine suggested I forward a copy to you in case you might want to use it on your website. I have no objections.
Subject: Boot Key Harbor fees
From: “John J. Kettlewell”
Date: Sat, February 04, 2012 5:35 pm
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Dear Mr. Samess:
You and your member businesses should be very concerned about the recently instituted dramatic increase in fees at the city mooring field and city dinghy dock. Snowbirding boaters in Boot Key Harbor spend lots of money in Marathon businesses on things like marine supplies, fuel, ice, groceries and shopping of all sorts, restaurants, and entertainment. The last time I was there on my boat I spent three weeks in the harbor, renting a space at the dinghy dock. In total I believe I spent several thousand dollars on refitting my boat, restaurants, and other supplies. However, as of February 1 the city has raised the daily rate for the dinghy dock by 69% to $22 per day! Imagine what it would do to business in Marathon if a parking fee of $22 per day was instituted on your streets. This fee seems particularly unfair when you note that the use of the two public boat ramps in Marathon is completely free, as is all day parking at the boat ramps. In addition, weekly and monthly fees also increased dramatically, while mooring fees also increased. In short, not many boaters will pay this extortionate fee just to tie up a dinghy and go ashore to be able to spend money–I certainly will take my business elsewhere.
Boaters have a very well-established and efficient communication system that is spreading the word rapidly about these outrageous fees, and the unfriendly nature of Marathon. I know some boaters have already cancelled plans to visit Boot Key Harbor this winter. Marathon businesses should let the city know that the recent fee increases are bad for business.
John J. Kettlewell