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The Salty Southeast
Cruisers' Net
Cruisers Helping Cruisers

Archive For: Keys8 – Marathon and Boot Key Harbor

  • Potential Problems With Florida Fish and Wildlife Service Patrols (FWC) in Marathon, Florida’s Boot Key Harbor

     On 12/9/13, it was brought to the attention of the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net that there was/is a lengthy thread of messages on the Cruisers Forum ( about what has been described as “heavy handed tactics” on the part of the FWC (formerly the Florida Marine Patrol) regarding boats anchored, and on the city provided mooring balls, in Marathon, Florida’s Boot Key Harbor. This lengthy chain of messages was begun by this article, posted by a local cruiser and employee of the Marathon City Marina, located in Boot Key Harbor:

    Every night for the past two weeks the boaters in Boot Key Harbor have been harassed by the FWC. I understand they need to do their job, however if the following is “doing their job” then I don’t even recognize the place I grew up.
    Shining lights in boat windows at 10:30PM, boarding boats when people are fast asleep. This is my home and my daughters bed is right by the window, what right do they have to shine lights in my house waking us up when not investigating anything, it’s become a nightly occurrence.
    Tonight they tried to tell a group of us on land to leave the area at the city marina. We stood fast and refused to leave since we were in no way interfering with their duties and we paid to be there. Dictating our actions on land when not on the water seems a slight overstep. The boaters of Boot Key Harbor are being harassed by the FWC, they have written unwarranted tickets to people just arriving and boats are leaving because of it. They even forced someone to FL register their boat, the person actually got a refund from the tax collectors because the FWC was absolutely wrong. A boat that was here 19 days received a ticket for not being FL registered, 19 days in the state and they wrote a ticket. The best one I’ve heard was them tell a person they were giving them a warning for having wet life jackets, apparently wet life jackets don’t float
    I understand Marathon is a training ground for the FWC, but if this is the training they are receiving it scares me to think what’s coming. The boaters in Marathon are sick of it and ready to take a stand, we need an attorney to stop the midnight searches, blinding spotlights and floating checkpoints that harass law abiding boaters, we are not the enemy. If anyone can suggest someone in the local area, it would be very much appreciated.
    S/V Thin Red Line

    Unfortunately, after this original, very thoughtful message was published, there followed a long string of submissions about America becoming a police state of some sort. That is certainly not the editorial view of the SSECN, and most of these postings added nothing to a substantive discussion about problems with the FWC in Boot Key Harbor.
    Then, more recently, the “Thin Red Line” recorded the following note:

    First of all I have no problem with the USCG and their authority, this strictly has to do with the FWC in Marathon please try to stay on topic.
    I am sorry I haven’t had a whole lot of time to respond but I have been actively organizing several things including a presence at the Marathon city council meeting this Thursday at 5:30pm. We have contacted the mayor, Keynoter newspaper as well as other media outlets. The harassment has been of ALL boats in Boot Key, both anchored and moored. The city marina is aware but has no pull, the local sheriff also has his hands tied and can do nothing to call them off. The harbormaster attempted to arrange a meeting with a FWC representative and was denied.
    We are encouraging everyone to record any and all interactions with FWC via smartphone, camera etc. People are not enjoying this wonderful community, afraid to simply dinghy to shore, even legally. They are writing “warning” tickets to people for things that do not exist, things they couldn’t actually cite or write an actual ticket for. They hover around the dinghy dock and point to people that aren’t even operating a vessel and shout “come here”. The roaming of the harbor past 11pm while randomly spotlighting vessels, shining their lights in ports and boarding boats without owners is where I draw the line. My 8 year old daughters bed is right at our port window, what right do they have to wake me, or my family for no reason?
    The other night we had a potluck and they hovered around stopping any and all dinghies they could. Once as they were leaving the canal at WELL over idle speed (idle speed in all manmade canals is posted right there) we told them to slow down and they did only to tell us “Hey guys, catch ya later” while laughing and resuming their harassment.
    A few nights ago I called FWC dispatch to report a manatee in distress entangled in crab traps, I was told they were busy and the dispatcher did not even take all of my information. They did call back the next afternoon to find out more, however they were there later that night to harass boaters. I thought they were the Florida Fish & Wildlife? Yet they have no concern when I call for that exact thing? They were too busy writing a ticket for someone having “wet lifejackets” Yep that’s right wet life jackets.. Did you know according to FWC if your lifejackets are wet they won’t float..
    We need help, we need to show them we know the limit of their power and will not accept abuse. I am in a unique position because I am a city employee, however I am also a resident here in Boot Key, but first and foremost I’m a boater and this is my neighborhood too.
    S/V Thin Line

    Originally, the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net did not know the results of the Marathon City Council meeting referred to above. However, after including a reference to this entire situation in our “SSECN Alert” of 12/13/13, Captains David O’Neil and Sue Kennedy remedied that situation, and the meeting results are MOST ENCOURAGING. In fact, it is now known that local government in Marathon is very much on the side of the cruising community.
    Before sharing this encouraging news, we need to bring two other very important messages to light, which originally appeared before the local meeting in Marathon:

    This is the response from the FWC. If more of us contact them it may have an effect!!!
    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Deranek:
    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) received your email concerning FWC officers in Marathon, i.e. harassing boaters in Boot Key Harbor. We will look into the allegations and inform you of the outcome.
    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
    Office of Inspector General
    620 S. Meridian Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
    (850)488-6068 (office)
    (850)488-6414 (FAX)

    And, also posted on 12/10/13, there is this tantalizing message!

    The fwc has agreed to a meeting at the marina on the evening of the 18th. We will all be there. Should be an interesting night. I believe that a great deal of the problem is new young officers. They wrote one guy a warning for not having an anchor light on his dingy that was tied to his anchored boat with a six foot line. (His sailboat did have an anchor light) It really has reached the point of supidity. We are paid up till the 2nd, thinking of leaing then and spend the rest of the season in Islamarada.

    As alluded to above, after our “Alert” of 12/13/13, within a few hours, we heard from Captain David O’Neil who provided a link to a later “Thin Line” message giving the results of the Marathon City Council meeting, while Captain Sue Kennedy sent us the entire text. The note below proves there can still be GOOD NEWS when it comes to Florida cruising, AND that Marathon local government is as concerned about this situation as those of us in the cruising community. Read on!

    The city council meeting went better than anyone could have imagined. The city manager brought the issue to the attention of everyone before I even had a chance to speak, the mayor and the city council are extremely troubled by the actions of the FWC. I spoke in front of the largest attended meeting in the history of the city of Marathon, our presence was obvious and kudos to everyone that rallied together. The mayor and the city council will be attending our meeting with FWC here at city marina on Dec 18th at 6pm, along with the city manager.
    The FWC Sgt that is representing the FWC at the meeting used to be an officer here in Marathon and still lives here. When he was here the other day we discussed several of the issues at hand and both sides of the story were presented to each other. While I agreed most of the tickets were valid, he also stated that it wasn’t the right way to go about things. “just because officers can do something, doesn’t mean they should” We discussed the fact that while many of the tickets written were law, several of them were ones nobody would ever write. For instance there is a law that states your dinghy, if not tied up beside your boat needs to have it’s own anchorlight. However who writes that ticket? A new officer trying to make an impression that’s who .
    The Sgt will be helping us understand what they are looking for, discussing the legality of their boardings and what they can and can’t do, as well as acting as a point of contact if we have any further problems. On that note, we have not seen and FWC boat in the harbor in 4 to 5 days, maybe someone received a memo? Boot Key is worth stopping, it’s a wonderful place full of families and a strong sense of community. My twochildren are both surrounded by otherkids and right now the harbor has well over 15 kids. The problem appears to be on the mend and things seem to be on their way back to normal.
    Thank you CF and all those that are supporting our cause. Fair winds..
    Thin Red Line

    Clearly, the meeting between local cruisers, Marathon government officials, and the FWC on 12/18/13 will be the key element in hopefully solving this situation once and for all. We will report the results of that conference just as soon as possible.
    In the meantime, THE SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET CONTINUES TO URGE ALL CRUISERS WHO HAVE HAD DIRECT EXPERIENCE, GOOD, BAD OR INDIFFERENT, WITH THE FWC IN BOOT KEY HARBOR TO LET US HEAR FROM YOU. And, please do NOT send us submissions about how the USA has become a “police state.” This is not useful input, and will not be published on the SSECN.
    HOWEVER, to be repetitive, we DO need to hear from every possible cruiser who has first hand experience with the FWC in Boot Key Harbor. PLEASE follow the “Click Here to Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, or send us e-mail at Your fellow cruisers heading for the Florida Keys can’t wait to hear from you!

    And, below are some additional messages from the cruising community:

    Time to contact the chamber of commerce and let them know you will not be spending any money there.

    I would love to hear all the facts from both sides on this issue. We were planning on visiting for a winter, but…..
    I hope the situation is not without repair. It would be nice to know all the facts and circumstances. I have been to Boot Key and the Keys many times without problem.
    Here is the harbor web cam
    Sonny Reeves

    Here is a link to the OP’s (Thin Line) update on the city council meeting and it’s results regarding the current situation in Boot Key Harbor.
    David ONeill

    There are several different issues here, widely misunderstood, and jumbled together. That is not helpful to reasoned thought and discussion. It amazes me how little cruisers know about this topic and how willing many seem to be to give up their rights and their privacy – and mine – so easily.
    First, the legal authority of the USCG comes directly from the United States Congress. There is an excellent article on USCG boarding authority, published in the USCG Summer, 2009, issues of “Proceedings” Magazine, page 29, here: Those that argue the extra-Constitutionality of USCG boardings would benefit from knowing that the same congress (1790) that gave us the 4th Amendment gave the predecessors of today’s Coast Guard the authority to board all vessels in US waters. That congress, I infer, UNDERSTOOD the meaning of the Constitution that they, themselves, had written. Note that other FEDERAL AGENCIES appear to have that same boarding authority, including the Navy and CBP. Now I grant you, in 1790, there weren’t many live-aboard long range cruisers. And probably none with innocent motives. Nevertheless, that USCG operates with full Congressional authority, and full governmental immunity, for better or for worse.
    Second, what is really at issue in Marathon is the LEGAL authority of state, municipal and “other,” miscellaneous agencies; the USCG has no role in that discussion. I don’t know if boardings by these state and lesser agencies has been litigated anywhere, but assuming the stories about what’s going on in Marathon are true and correct, I’d guess that FWC is far in excess of US Constitutional authority. Some “federal” authorities – USCG, CBP – may be exempt from the need to demonstrate probable cause, but state, county and local authorities most probably are not. It’s even possible that these agents are operating within their state’s adopted statutory authority, but if that’s so, the adopting state legislature would be unconstitutionally exceeding their authority. This is the same issue cruisers face in the Lower Hudson Valley with 30 +/- local police agencies all doing boardings. And we all remember the armed boarding done by the Volusia County, Florida, sheriff’s department. That got swept under the rug, but it was certainly excessive under the guise of a safety or MSD inspection, and it happened because these agencies operate beyond their authority in the first place.
    From our position as cruisers, the only way this can be stopped is for someone to litigate it through the courts, as Dave Dumas did in the Marco Island anchoring debacle. Until a judge issues a restraining order, jurisdictions and rogue officers can operate any way they wish. That appears to be what FWC is doing in Marathon, or at least, allowing a rogue officer to do. Until a judge issues a restraining order, the only tool we have as cruisers is public opinion and economic withdrawal.
    One last thing. Let me emphasize, I am NOT lobbying for people being allowed to pump overboard or for ignoring unsafe operation. But, I also do not approve of the excessive and inappropriate use of police power by states, counties, municipalities and agencies. There is NEVER a reason for “boating safety inspections” to take place after dark, and certainly not when people might reasonably be asleep aboard!
    Thank you.
    Jim Healy

  • New Name, New Owners and a New Attitude at Dockside Tropical Cafe’ (formerly Dockside Bar & Grill and Dockside Lounge), Boot Key Harbor, Marathon

     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!
    Kim Hess-Stone

    Click Here To View the Keys Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Sombrero Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Dockside Tropical Cafe’ and Sombrero Marina

  • Report on Boot Key Bridge, Statute Mile 1195, Marathon, FL

    Boot Key Bridge - Click for Chartview

    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.

    Click Here To View the n Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Bridge Directory Listing For Boot Key Bridge

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Boot Key Bridge

  • Update on Marathon Diver Recommended, Marathon, FL

    Boot Key Harbor

    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.
    Sue Ward

    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.
    Sue Ward

  • Report from Marathon Marina and Boat Yard, Boot Key, Marathon, FL

    Marathon Marina and Boatyard - Click for Chartview

    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.
    John Pholeric

    Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Marathon Marina and Boatyard

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Marathon Marina and Boatyard

  • Report from Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL,

    Boot Key Harbor - Click for Chartview

    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.

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Boot Key Harbor

  • Florida Keys “No Anchorage Buffer Zones” Identified

    As part of the discussion of new Florida Keys Anchorage regulations (see, 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?
    Peter TenHaagen

    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.
    Bill Dixon

    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

  • VERY IMPORTANT – New Florida Keys Anchoring Regulations Approved

    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!

    Click Here To Learn MUCH MORE About the New Florida Keys Anchorage Regulations

  • Good Words for Burdine’s Waterfront Marina, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL

    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

    Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Burdines Waterfront Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Burdine’s Waterfront Marina

  • Marathon Dining Recommendations

    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.
    Mary Dixon

    Two story restaurant is Burdines.
    Lazy Days at Marathon Marna.
    Make sure to check out Hurricane, across from Home Depot (east end).
    Deborah Streeter

    “Salty’s” Restaurant near Marathon Marina. “Castaways” Rest. near Panchos & Burdines.
    Bruce Franz

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Marathon, Florida

  • Sombrero Marina Dockside (Marathon – Boot Key Harbor)

    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.
    M&M Rhett

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Sombrero Marina Dockside

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Sombrero Marina Dockside

  • GOOD NEWS – Marathon, Fl Abandons Plans to Prohibit Anchoring Outside of Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

    Click This Chartlet to Open a Chart View Page Centered on Boot Key Harbor

    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:

    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!

  • GOOD NEWS – Utility Lines Crossing Boot Key Harbor Primary Entrance Repaired

    Click This Chartlet to Open a Chart View Page Centered on the Entrance to Boot Key Harbor

    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.

    Cruising News:
    THE WIRE IS FIXED to 65′ Clear M.H.W.
    Edwin Spomer

    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.
    sv Winterlude

    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.
    Dick Mills

    Hello All,
    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.

  • Depths on Sister Creek (Marathon, Alternate Passage from Hawk Channel to Boot Key Harbor)

    As part of the recent string of messages concerning the sagging utility lines over the primary entrance to Boot Key Harbor (see, 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:

    Click Chartlet Above to Open a Chart View Page Centered on the Entrance to Boot Key Harbor

    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.
    Peter TenHaagen

    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.
    Joe Curley

    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.
    James Angel

    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
    Capt. Mike

    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.
    Peter TenHaagen

    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.
    Joe Hamrick

    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.
    Ed Loke

  • GREAT Fuel Price Strategy in the Florida Keys

    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!

  • Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field Advice (Marathon)

    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
    your draft.
    PS Russell
    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.
    Good Luck
    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.
    Chuck Baier

    Cruising News:
    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.
    Patrick Carter

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For the Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

  • A Quick Word About Sombrero Marina Dockside (Marathon – Boot Key Harbor)

    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.
    PS Russell
    M/V Ocean Breeze

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Sombrero Marina Dockside

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Sombrero Marina Dockside

  • Boot Key Harbor Fee Increases Generate Letter from Fellow Nautical Writer, Captain John Kettlewell

    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 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
    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

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Anchorage Directory Listing For the Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

  • City of Marathon Mooring Field and Wet Slip Fees Increase on Boot Key Harbor

    January 28th 2012
    Boot Key Harbor City Marina Increases Fees
    Marathon, FL
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd

    Tuesday of this week, the City of Marathon approved an increase in the fees for mooring and dinghy dockage at their public City Marina. An increase has been expected, as the City is challenged to keep their books in the black. However expected the increase in fees, unexpected is the enormous rise in costs for those who choose to merely anchor and access the amenities of the City Marina.
    Mooring rates include dinghy dockage, one weekly sewage pump out (additional pump outs are available at $5 each), parking for one motor vehicle, and access to the marina commons (including laundry and shower facilities).
    Dingy dockage rates include all of the above except one is at anchor and not assigned the use of a mooring.
    Daily mooring increased from $21 to $22.
    Daily dinghy dockage increased from $13 to $22.
    Weekly mooring increased from $105 to $110.
    Weekly dinghy dockage increased from $45 to $85.
    Monthly mooring increased from $275 to $300.
    Monthy dinghy dockage increased from $135 to $225.
    Most transient boaters have no need for a parking space. Laundry is carded and one pays separately for use. Many cruisers shower aboard and do not use the marina for that purpose. Perhaps the City of Marathon should consider lowering fees for those who wish to simply access the City Marina for dinghy dockage. Having amenities listed and paid for on as “as needed” basis would be much more agreeable to those who have no use for many of the services included with dinghy dockage. It is the opinion of this writer that $225 per month to dock a dinghy at a City Marina facility is far too much.
    Charmaine Smith Ladd, SEECN Special Correspondent & Representative
    Executive Director, Mariner’s Barr (Boaters’ Anchoring Rights & Responsibilities)

    Sorry Charmaine, I would love to visit you there, but I don’t willingly submit to extortion. Those prices are ludicrous for the dinghy dock. I guess that’s a good way to chase away those at anchor, if that is their intention.
    John Kettlewell

    And water is 5 cents per gallon.
    Does anyone know if the mooring field is staying full this winter?

    That is INCREDIBLE!!! We were waiting for a weather window and intending to visit Marathon on our way from Key West to Bimini, but your article just changed our plans. Charging the same for a dinghy tie-up as for a mooring is simply insane, what were they thinking? We’d have taken a mooring if we could get one, but we are not about to pay the same if there are no mooring balls available. How very unwelcoming.
    Heather and Derek

    Maybe dockside could reopen a dinghy dock for $50 a month for those at anchor. Bring in business they lost over the years.
    Philip (formerly “Winds of Change”)

    There is no question that the city of Marathon is trying to NOT service the sailing community on a fair and non discriminatory basis. The fee now charged to anchor and use the dingy dock and showers is $225 per month for being on the anchor. The only people that can afford those rates are in general are the snow birds and a few sailors with deep pockets. For a live aboard that works every day he or she cannot afford those rates thus eliminating the less fortunate the opportunity to anchor in Boot Key Harbor within there means. Marathon City Marina is a public marina therefor any rate increases should have been equally charged to the moorings as well as the dingy dock and wet slips.
    However it appears that discrimination against the working class or less fortunate citizen continues in all forms of our government. The lucrative mooring balls were increased by 10% so why were the people who anchor there boats charged a 70% increase with no additional services?
    Ed & Bonnie Spomer S/V Almost Heaven

    Mooring Ball increase 8% / Dingy Dock increase 40% / Slip Rental under 36′ 100% over 36′ $1.00 per foot increase
    The boating community needs help to stop economic discrimination against those who choose to have small boats (Don Street for one) or want to anchor there vessels.
    Ed & Bonnie Spomer S/V Almost Heaven

    Ed & Bonnie: I agree with what you wrote, but the increase in the daily dinghy dock fee from $13 to $22 is actually about 69%! Obviously they are trying to force everyone onto the moorings, but there are times of the year when all the moorings are full, and there are also many of us that just prefer to anchor. If someone just wants to go ashore for dinner or to buy some groceries, add $22 to your bill. Imagine the uproar if a parking fee of $22 per day was put in place ashore.
    John Kettlewell

    The boating community in Boot Key Harbor is outraged to say the least. There is an effort to protest the unfair increases beginning with a first meeting on Friday February 10th @ 11:15 est. The meeting will be at the Marathon City Marina TiKi Hut.
    Ed & Bonnie Spomer S/V Almost Heaven

    Cruising News:
    Mooring Ball increase 8% / Dingy Dock increase 40% / Slip Rental under 36′ 100% over 36′ $1.00 per foot increase The boating community needs help to stop economic discrimination against those who choose to have small boats (Don Street for one) or want to anchor there vessels.
    Edwin Spomer

    We have not been to Marathon in a while. However it does hold a special place for us.
    Anyway I was just having a look at the increase in prices. Nothing really seems out of place. However my personal take on the drastic increase in Dinghy Dockage, is that the city wants people to take a mooring rather than just anchor and use the facilities. This may be over the top just a little as if the anchorage is reduced in size and people are foreced to anchor out side (during our past visits we had no choice but to anchor outside due to limited swing room) while waiting for a mooring. A suggestion would be to have a reduced Dinghy Dockage Rate while on the waiting list for the mooring field…. Otherwise yes if people want to use the shore side facilites then the demand on Water usage, Laundry, etc is exactly the same whether or not someone is on a mooring ball. You could also reduce the dinghy dockage rates a little if there was a way to control what part of the facility the person/cruiser was using…. IE – no laundry & no showers, then all they are doing is tieing up thus a less of a load on the system.
    Just a thought…
    Capt. Cameron Murray

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