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Cruisers' Net
Cruisers Helping Cruisers
Regatta Pointe MarinaFULL MARINE SERVICE ON SITE TRANSIENT DOCKAGE WELCOMEThe Pilot House Marina is located on secluded Lake Largo just minutes from downtown Key Largo. This choice location borders on John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, an underwater park famous among snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.Punta Gorda, Florida - a GREAT cruising destinationRiviera Dunes Marina Just off Tampa Bay Owned and Operated by BoatersKey Lime Sailing Club in Key Largo, 305-451-3438, www.keylimesailingclub.com Welcome to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, your own paradise in the middle of the beautiful Exumas.
Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht ClubThe FROLI System, developed in Germany has made a big hit with the USA  recreation and leisure travel market. Nickle Atlantic will be at the Annapolis Sail Boat Show, October 8 - 12, in Booth Boca Grande Marina, Gasparilla Island, FloridaDockside Cafe - Marathon, Florida on Boot Key HarborFisherman's Village Marina and Resort, Punta Gorda, FLOn the Water Guidebooks

Archive For: Keys8 – Marathon and Boot Key Harbor

  • Good Stay at Banana Bay Resort and Marina, Marathon, FL, off Florida Keys Inside Route, St. M. 1191.5, on Marthon Peninsula’s North Shore

    Banana Bay Marina & Resort lies along the northern shores of the Marathon peninsula, east of the Marathon Yacht Club.

    BANANA BAY RESORT AND MARINA.
    We docked our 40 foot Carver at Banana Bay Resort and Marina for the month of July taking advantage of their summer monthly rates. Larry Wade the dock master did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable including personally checking with us on a daily basis. We used Banana Bay as our home base for cruising and fishing the Keys as we were centrally located with easy access to the ICW as well as the offshore reefs. While docked at the Marina we had full use of the resort facilities. We mainly used the pool and tiki bar. They have (4) nice clean showers, laundry room and boaters lounge. Free internet service was strong throughout marina. Home Depot, Publix, Walgreen, and good restaurants are within walking distance. West Marine and rental cars are within 2 miles. The Resort extends special room rates at the resort for Marina customers. We took advantage of this to have family visit with us. We plan on returning next summer.
    Marina not presently shown on map view but on North side of Marathon adjacent to pretty Joe rock.
    Fred and Linda

    Click Here To View An Earlier Article on Banana Bay Resort and Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Banana Bay Resort and Marina

  • Bio Diesel Now Available In the Florida Keys

    Another GREAT article authored by the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net Florida Keys Special Correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd. How great to hear the story of how Bio Diesel is now available in the Florida Keys!!

    July 16th, 2011
    Bio-Diesel Fuel Company in the FL Keys
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd
    My dear friend, Captain Jack Burnett, has lived in the Keys for nearly four decades. We have known one another and have been truly “family” for nearly nine years. He loves to talk of old times in the Keys and has been a plethora of local knowledge for me since first landing here. During all that time, I’ve only questioned one thing he’s ever shared with me: the recommendation of using discarded restaurant vegetable oil for running September Sea’s Yanmar diesel engine.
    Captain Jack has been running his 33-foot sailing vessel on the vegetable oil he obtains from local restaurant fryers for quite some time now. Vegetable oil from the fryers restaurants would otherwise discard is recycled by Captain Jack as he strains it and pours it into his boat’s fuel tank. He swears by it. He says his vessel actually has never run better!
    Well, Captain Jack was absolutely right! The proof is now making big news as Marathon fisherman, Jeff Lillie, has recently put his brainchild, Marathon Bio-Diesel, on the map as the first bio-diesel fuel company in the Keys. It took him seven years to do it, but he’s well on his way as the word spreads of the advantages of using recycled vegetable oil instead of diesel. Buyers use it not only to fuel their water crafts, but also as fuel for their automobiles and tiki torches! Some begin by using a 50% ratio of the bio-diesel with regular diesel. Many soon find, sometimes after some minor modifications, 100% bio-diesel is their fuel of choice! Captain Jack made no such modifications and uses 100% vegetable oil with no problems for years.
    It’s a different way to “Go Green,” that’s for sure. But Green is always a good thing when helping to preserve our natural resources.
    This writer must admit that the aroma of french fries while motoring is a remarkably refreshing improvement over the smell of burning diesel fuel. Besides…smelling french fries is almost as good as eating them; and inhaling involves no caloric content! Ha!

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/12/2315460_fill-it-up-with-biodiesel.html#storylink=addthis

    Charmaine Smith Ladd
    SSECN Special Correspondent, Florida Keys
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”
    Charmaine@SeptemberSea.com

    Thank you for mentioning us in the Cruisers Net. We look forward to fueling up those who make it to the Florida Keys.
    Nancy Kukkue
    http://www.marathonbiodiesel.com

  • Florida Keys Marine Port Advisory Meeting Announced – Considering Pilot Mooring Field Program Regulations

    Our thanks to Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net’s special Florida Key correspondent, for cluing us in on this important meeting. It would appear that at this meeting the process of formulating anchorage regulations for the Keys, as part of the new Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program, will begin, hopefully taking into account the cruiser input from the three public forums held earlier. As I understand it, the public can attend and perhaps even provide input at Marine Port Advisory meetings, so PLEASE ATTEND IF AT ALL POSSIBLE!!!

    Hi Claiborne,
    Just received this from Rich Jones. I just got back onto the boat, but wanted to get this to you right away. I would think the other Keys area meetings will be in the same time frame, probably as before…three days in a row. I’ll do more checking on it. I got this because I asked Mr. Jones to keep me informed, and he has stayed true to his word. These meetings are the meat and potatoes…should not be missed. You know I’ll be there.
    Charmaine

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    AGENDA
    MARINE AND PORT ADVISORY COMMITTEE
    PURSUANT TO Board of County Commission Resolution No. 057-1991 the Marine and Port Advisory Committee of Monroe County will conduct a meeting on July 27, 2011 beginning at 6:30 PM on the second floor of the Monroe County Office, located at the Marathon Government Center, 2798 Overseas Highway, Marathon, Florida.
    ADA ASSISTANCE: If you are a person with a disability who needs special accommodations in order to participate in this proceeding, please contact the County Administrator’s Office, by phoning (305) 292-4441, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., no later than ten (5) calendar days prior to the scheduled meeting; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call “711″.

    MARINE AND PORT ADVISORY MEMBERS

    Pete Worthington, Chair
    Mimi Stafford, Vice-Chair
    Kent Edwards
    Phil Goodman
    William Hunter
    Paul Koisch
    Pam Martin
    Richard Tanner
    Sandy Walters
    Pat Wells

    STAFF
    Richard Jones, Sr. Administrator

    CALL TO ORDER
    PUBLIC MEETING
    1. Approval of Minutes from the March 1, 2011 MPAC Meeting
    2. Discussion of a US Customs Port of Entry at Marathon Airport
    3. Discussion of dredging needs in the Keys
    4. Discussion of Pilot Program for Anchoring & Mooring:
    a) Review of the June 7-9 Stakeholder Workshops
    b) Consensus building in addressing anchoring issues
    c) Prepare a report to the BOCC regarding ordinance development
    5. Committee Discussion
    6. Adjournement

    Update From Captain Charmaine As of 7/14/11
    Senior Administrator, Mr. Rich Jones, is truly a valuable asset to the cruising, boating, liveaboard and entire community of Marathon and the Keys as a whole. After speaking with him by phone yesterday, he assured me there will be no write up of ordinances at the time of the meeting on the 27th. The meeting will focus on a number of issues (see Agenda above) and open for feedback and discussions involving the public: including the Pilot Program. With regard to the Pilot Program, Rich Jones and others involved very much want to take their time on this particular issue and get as much input from the community as possible before proposing any type of ordinances.
    It was apparent when speaking with Mr. Jones, that the Keys should be viewed as “boater friendly” and the consensus with the Commission here is that they all very much desire that boater friendliness to be known. Florida has taken a lot of bad press with their unfriendliness towards cruisers and anchoring, with good reason. But the Keys are different!
    The main issues here in the Keys are how to address the problems associated with derelict boats and vessels anchored in dangerous proximity of dragging into the mooring field during Nor’easters. I certainly agree with those as problems and feel confident they can be remedied without hinderingothers who are not part of those problems. The anchorage areas in question are very small and should be manageable without much difficulty. Homemade moorings made of engine blocks and the like are indeed a detriment to the environment throughout the Keys and also need be addressed (especially in the Boca Chica area); and ensuring proper sanitation devices are used to keep our waters clean are also major concerns. All responsible boaters have the very same concerns.
    At this point, the powers that be in the Keys seem to be very aware of cruisers needing the right of navigation and the option to anchor. I am hoping the Keys will prove to be a model of how the Pilot Program sites can stay within the realm of sense rather than be used as a tool to create unnecessary nonsensical ordinances that ultimately will lead to hampering safe navigation and inconvenience cruisers and recreational boaters.
    However, the public has to play an active role in what happens down here. Please attend the meeting on the 27th if you possibly can. If you cannot, then write to Rich Jones so your voice can be heard. Let he and the Commission here know you are aware they have our best interest in mind when making decisions and it is appreciated. There are problems here that will be addressed, but as I see it from those on the panel I have had the pleasure to speak with at length, one-on-one…they are listening and have the best interest of cruisers and boaters in mind. Richard Tanner, at the helm overseeing Boot Key Harbor, has been very vocal with his firsthand knowledge as a former cruiser that anchoring must always be an option here in BKH to ensure safe navigation. With Jones and Tanner highly involved in the Pilot Program process, among other advocates on the panel who also do not want to overreach, Marathon has excellent Marine and Port Advisory members. We are very fortunate to have them on our watch as cruisers, recreational boaters and liveaboards, as they are quite determined to make sound decisions in the best interest of the entire community.
    Marathon will soon become a Port-of-Entry with lots of International travelers coming through to check-in. Boot Key Harbor is known all over as the friendliest Harbor in the Keys. I have a feeling it won’t be long before all of the Keys will be known as the friendliest boating destination in all of Florida.
    The other Pilot Program sites should be watched with diligence. Let your voice be heard. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Iowa or California, the beautiful waters of America’s Caribbean are here for all Americans as well as travelers of the world. It is not owned by us but put in our trust for all to be able to enjoy. Help us do just that.
    Hugs,
    Charmaine

    Thanks Charmaine for looking out for the interests of cruisers. The problem I see with all of these efforts to regulate anchoring is that they use the excuse that they just want to deal with the derelict boat problem, when in reality there are many other laws and regulations that could already be enforced to take care of those issues. What is needed is the will to enforce the existing statutes–sanitation, registration, etc.–while leaving cruisers free to go about their business. Requiring people to register, pay fees, undergo inspections, etc. in order to obtain some sort of permit to anchor is just as onerous as outlawing anchoring all together. Anchoring is about freedom to move about as one pleases, using one’s own resources, while treading lightly on our wonderful natural resources. Let’s keep it that way.
    John Kettlewell

    John,
    You and are on the same page. What you have stated is exactly why there is no real need for the Pilot Program. The problem issues in our Harbors and near shore waters can be dealt with by using laws which already existed prior to the enactment of the Pilot Program. The Pilot Program was put there specifically to open the door for local municipalities to regulate cruisers by way of ordinances. [The Pilot Program is exempt from the FL Statute which otherwise protects cruisers right of navigation and anchoring (FL Statute 327.60(2)].
    It is quite obvious the Pilot Program’s origin comes from a very few who want no anchoring (“visual intrusions” from their waterfront homes) in their Harbors (Sarasota Bay immediately comes to mind) and hide behind other sites to give them legitimacy. Using the public’s tax dollars to implement the Pilot Program to appease a few politically connected individuals is beyond ridiculous; as not only is it dishonest in its true objectives, but a misuse of public funds better spent for the benefit of a majority of taxpayers. It stinks to high heaven!
    Fortunately, I truly believe we down here in the Keys see the Pilot Program for what it is: a ruse for a very few to get what they want at the expense of the freedoms of others. We are cruiser friendly down here in the Keys, whether moored or anchored, and I do not see that changing.
    Perhaps as the ruse of the Pilot Program is unraveled and more understood by the general public (footing the bill), then those who have perpetuated it will realize there could be deeper investigations into whether or not the Pilot Program was ever a necessity to reach its stated objectives. If deemed not to be a necessity, then the question will be: What then is its actual purpose? That’s when those behind it with hidden agendas will scatter and run for cover.
    Charmaine

  • Where Anchor Lights Are Required in The Florida Keys – It May Surprise You

    I must admit to not knowing that even in Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field, display of a nighttime anchor light is required. Read on, and our Florida Keys correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, will explain why!

    April 19, 2011

    Where Anchor Lights are Required in the Keys – It May Surprise You!
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd

    Most cruisers feel well vamped on when it is required by law to display an anchor light. Ask and the answer will most often be, “It’s not necessary when in a designated anchorage at night.”

    However, particularly in the Florida Keys, there is a lot of confusion as to what constitutes a “designated anchorage.” It has nothing to do with whether or not an area is designed for anchoring or commonly perceived as an anchorage within an established harbor, but everything to do with whether or not the placement of the anchorage is within Inland Waters or International Waters. Even those designations cannot be determined by what one’s commonsense may indicate.

    One may surmise that Inland is within any Harbor. That would be an incorrect assumption, especially in the Florida Keys. Many a cruiser has been shocked when visited by Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC) or the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and handed a ticket (usually around $70.00) for not displaying an anchor light when anchored in what was perceived as a “designated anchorage.” Like last night in Boot Key Harbor, where Law Enforcement was out and about issuing warnings and citations for anchor light violations.

    “It’s a designated anchorage!” is the common protest, “One does not have to use an anchor light when in a designated anchorage, and I’m in one because I’m moored in a designated mooring field!” Surely this has been heard by many an Officer while enforcing the anchoring light regulation. Cruisers truly are serious when they protest, but ignorance of the Regulations is not an excuse. With that said, here’s the low down:

    It is all about the acronym COLREGS and its demarcation lines. “COLREGS” stands for “Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions.” Basically, regulations put in place to prevent collisions of vessels. On charts it is usually seen in lower case, written as “Colregs.”

    When in Inland Waters inside of the Colregs demarcation lines {shown on coastal charts as magenta colored dashed lines} a vessel does not have to display an anchor light from dusk until dawn if it is in a “Special Anchorage” (clearly marked on the chart as such). However, there are no “Special Anchorages” in International Waters (outside of the Colregs demarcation lines) International Rules clearly state an anchored vessel MUST display an approved anchor light from dusk until dawn while anchored or moored.

    In the Florida Keys, heading southwest, the Colregs demarcation line crosses just prior to nearing waters of Lower Matecumbe Key. From there throughout the remainder of the Keys and beyond, a vessel is outside of the Colregs and therefore in International Waters: regulated to display an anchor light from dusk until dawn. Yes! This means that even while in the most protected anchorage area of the Keys, Marathon’s famous Boot Key Harbor, whether on a mooring ball or at anchor . . . one must display a USCG approved anchor light in order to be in compliance with Regulations.

    To some it seems silly. However, regulations are regulations. Once it is understood that a “designated anchorage” is deemed by its placement strictly in reference to Colregs demarcation lines on the charts, rather than being simply viewed as “any common inland place of anchorage,” it begins to make sense. When in the Keys, look for the Colregs on your charts and see where you are in relation. It will show whether or not an anchor light is required when anchoring at night.

    This writer hopes to add clarity to this issue and help prevent others who come down to the Keys thinking the displaying of an anchor light in Boot Key Harbor is debatable or voluntary. It is not. It is mandatory and enforced as per the Colregs. When outside the Colregs demarcation lines, please make sure your vessel is shining from dusk ’til dawn with an approved USCG approved anchor light (white light visible up to 2 miles in all directions).

    Besides, enjoying a nice dinner for two with the $70.00 saved from not receiving a ticket of violation leaves no bitter aftertaste! LOL

    For more information on this topic, consult USCG Regulations.

    Charmaine Smith Ladd, s/v September Sea
    SSECN Correspondent for the Florida Keys
    “Bringing You the Low Down from Down Low!”

    And, from a fellow cruiser:

    In addition, the USCG has issued an “Interpretive Rule” (33 CFR 90.5) which states that “A vessel at anchor includes a vessel made fast to one or more mooring buoys or other similar devices attached to the ocean floor. Such vessels may be lighted as a vessel at anchor in accordance with Rule 30, or may be lighted on the corners in accordance with 33 CFR 88.13.”
    I’m not aware of an exemption from displaying anchor lights in Inland Waters. I’ve been unable to find any reference to such in my copy of COLREGS.
    Sorry, I could have been clearer.
    I should have written, “I’m not aware of an exemption from displaying anchor lights STRICTLY BECAUSE ONE IS in Inland Waters.” Of course, there are “Special Anchorage” areas, but in my experience they’re very rare, and are clearly outlined on the charts and the CFR’s.
    Let me try again. Unless you see a clear outlined area on your chart about a “Special Anchorage,” with a reference to the CFR number authorizing it, you need to show a USCG approved anchor light (not a solar-powered porch light), whether anchored or on a mooring.
    Larry Shick

    And, Captain Charmaine responds:

    Very true, Larry. It was not my intention to be unclear and give the impression that as long as one is in Inland Waters no anchor light is required. A practice such as that certainly would not help prevent collisions at sea.
    Rather that such “Special Anchorages” are found in U.S. Inland Waters, not International Waters – and clearly marked on the charts. To many a cruiser, a Harbor with anchorage is a ’special anchorage.’ Your comment is perfect to bring the entire point to light that a designated or special anchorage is not what we may think it is, but what the charts dictate it is. Many thanks!
    Charmaine Smith Ladd, s/v September Sea
    SSECN Correspondent for the Florida Keys
    “Bringing You the Low Down from Down Low!”

    I believe the above article is inaccurate and confusing. Captain Charmaine seems to use the terms “designated anchorage” and “Special Anchorage” interchangeably, as if they meant the same. They do not. And she states that designated anchorages do not exist outside the COLREGS lines. They do.
    A designated anchorage is simply an attempt to establish order in a area where vessels are likely to anchor, or to safely anchor dangerous cargoes. Many designated anchorages exist along the east coast outside major ports like Beaufort, Charleston, Jacksonville, Port Everglages, Miami, etc. All of these are outside the COLREGS lines, and all require anchor lights.
    Special Anchorages do not require anchor lights. Special Anchorages are all inside the COLREGS lines simply because the federal government has no authority to alter the International COLREGS rules. As Larry Shick points out, Special Anchorages are very rare. They are listed in the Coast Pilot Chapter 2 and clearly labeled on charts. There are only six Special Anchorages from Cape Henry, VA, to Key West, FL. It is very unlikely that the average boater will ever anchor in a Special Anchorage.
    The fact that the USCG only occasionally enforces anchor lights adds to the confusion and misconception.
    Bottom line: Show an anchor light whenever you anchor or moor.
    Bruce Marschall

    Thank you for your comments, Bruce.
    I agree it is all quite confusing. My article was not meant to add further confusion but to hone in on the ever asked question as to why boats in Boot Key Harbor are required to display an anchor light — as some see it as being a “designated anchorage” and assume no anchor light is required when moored.
    Thus my conclusion in the article:
    “This writer hopes to add clarity to this issue and help prevent others who come down to the Keys thinking the displaying of an anchor light in Boot Key Harbor is debatable or voluntary. It is not. It is mandatory and enforced as per the Colregs. When outside the Colregs demarcation lines, please make sure your vessel is shining from dusk ’til dawn with an approved USCG approved anchor light (white light visible up to 2 miles in all directions).”
    I do hope that much of my article is crystal clear, as that is the intent of the article. With that said, if you feel otherwise, please let me know. I certainly do not want to mislead or confuse, but the parameters of my article were more akin to the problems we have in the Keys and BKH regarding the requirement of having an anchor light on whether in the mooring field or anchored within the boundaries of the Harbor. That has caused considerable confusion down here (and the shock of a ticket to those who thought it was okay to not display their anchor light).
    Many thanks for your comments. No doubt I have much more to learn on this subject as a whole.
    Hugs,
    Charmaine

    Change your anchor light to an LED light which draws less than 20% of what your incandescent lamp does and makes it a non issue to turn on the anchor light at dusk as the load on the battery bank is now so small…
    Marinebeam dot com has an excellent selection of high quality LED lamps that do not put noise in your VHF radio… I have not used the Dr Led bulbs so I cannot comment there…
    Dennis O’Connor

  • Anchoring in Boot Key Harbor (Florida Keys – Marathon, FL) – Captain Charmaine Reports

    The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net is proud and honored to welcome back Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, as our regular Florida Keys SSECN Correspondent. Some two years ago, Charmaine did some sterling work for us, but then health and other factors caused us to part company for awhile. Now. SHE’S BACK, and we could not be happier.
    Few know more about Florida Keys waters and ports of call than Captain Charmaine. Look for her reports here on the Cruisers’ Net several times a month.
    On a personal note, Captain Charmaine is just one of the “neatest” members of the cruising community I’ve ever come across. She is witty, lovable, and, on the other hand, her life has been tempered by more than its share of tragedy. Take a look at her web site, http://www.SeptemberSea.com.
    WELCOME BACK ABOARD CAPTAIN CHARMAINE!

    March 7, 2011
    Boot Key Harbor Anchorage, Marathon FL Keys (N24 42.228 W81 06.172)
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd

    A lot has changed in Boot Key Harbor (BKH) since last season. The bridge is now permanently open, as the drawbridge was removed, allowing cruisers to come and go as they please. This is a wonderful thing as it expands the very freedom we cruisers love to enjoy. However, it also means some cruisers attempt to enter after dark, which is not a wise decision if needing to anchor. Many boats in the anchorage have two or more anchors set in various directions and one cannot clearly see the many anchor rodes. It is therefore highly recommended to anchor outside BKH and come inside to anchor only during good light. Nuzzling up to the west side of Boot Key (South of the main channel entrance markers) offers great protection from East or NE weather.

    Winter to early Spring it is season in Boot Key Harbor (BKH). Which means lots of cruisers arriving to enjoy what has proven to be “the friendliest Harbor in the Keys.” Though there are 224 moorings, during
    season you will often find they are all taken. Hail Marathon City Marina (all spiffied up with a new bathhouse and improved commons area) on channel 16 once you are East of the bridge span to inquire about moorings. If there are none available, you can anchor outside the yellow buoys marking the perimeter of the mooring field. Then get on the waiting list by visiting the City Marina office (very friendly and helpful staff!) by dinghy. Unfortunately, BKH no longer has a water taxi service.

    Most find it prudent to anchor on the South side (off the main channel located immediately starboard as you pass through the bridge opening). The anchorage area stretches from there Eastward {to red marker 18}). Be wary of the far south side as that is the backside of Boot Key. Some boats are on their own moorings and do not swing much, so they can be much closer to Boot Key than someone with 40 ft. or more of anchor rode! There are also a few pockets of deeper water with shallows around them. Just because you see other boats in an area near Boot Key doesn’t mean you can anchor there. “Brown, brown, run aground” is the saying in the Keys. Steer clear of brown water. Near the grass beds off Boot Key the deep water drops off and the bottom comes up remarkably. From 9 ft. to inches in a flash! Many a catamaran owner has insisted he’s safe there after being warned. A change in wind direction puts him aground and he has Crow Pie for dinner! Local knowledge being offered by someone should always be heeded; not taken as a challenge to one’s anchoring skills.

    If you do anchor, please take note that when winds are light and variable in BKH…so can become the positions of the boats: quite variable! Make sure to leave room for neighboring boats to swing in all directions. This doesn’t happen too often during season when the winds are usually plentiful; but it can and does happen. When it does, boats can turn completely contrary to each other and the circus of fenders and fending off occurs. Staying apprised of wind conditions will keep you out of trouble. You may be just fine anchored where you are as long as the wind stays out of the East or West, but be too close to a neighbor if the wind shifts to the South or North. You get the idea. If you are waiting for a mooring, this information can open more options for anchoring. Listen to the weather and what may appear to be a full anchorage will have room for you if the winds remain in your favor for the duration of the time you need to anchor.

    The holding here is excellent but you still have to set your hook. Many a cruiser has merely dropped the anchor and expected it to hold. This writer suggests setting an anchor with no more than 30 ft. of rode out. This way you can feel when it bites. After it bites, rev up your engine and back down to allow your anchor to truly set. When your bow swings you know you’re dug in. Then pay out the remainder of your rode. If possible, ask others around you how much rode they have out. Noticing whether boats near you are on a single or multiple anchors is also very helpful in knowing how much room you have to swing.

    Boot Key Harbor is a wonderful place with friendly locals and cruisers. The changes mostly have been good ones and the City Marina is looking much improved. Hopefully, the information offered here will help to quell any apprehension one may have about anchoring during season. We’re ready for you! So come on down and see us!
    Charmaine Smith Ladd, s/v September Sea
    SSECN Correspondent
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”

    With the price increases this is a place to avoid by a retired minimalist cruiser as myself..the city is much too greedy..let the “yachties” have the place..refuse paying to anchor..will get the word out to other cruisers as well!!
    JD

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

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

  • Harbour Cay Club (Marathon, northern shore, near St. M. 1192.5)

    Habour Cay Club is actually a private marina/condo association, located on the northern shores of the Marathon peninsula. However, these good people do take transients when space is available.
    Captain Wade’s laudatory report below is not the first time we have heard good things about this facility here on the Cruisers’ Net. If any of you have stayed here, please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your experience.

    After going under the Seven Mile Bridge to the bay side we only had to travel about 5 miles in calm conditions until we were abeam of the Fanny Keys, where we then turned to starboard and headed between them. A short time later we docked at Harbour Cay Club. The slip that we are in is a little shallow, but the view from our dock is “awesome!” It’s a small place with a great group of people.
    Wade Ehlen
    MT36 Shady Lady

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Harbour Cay Club

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Harbour Cay Club

  • Good Time at Harbor Cay Club (Marathon)

    The Harbor Cay Club is located along the northern shores of the Marathon peninsula, south of the Fanny Keys. As Captains Jeff and Chen note, this is a private club, BUT they regularly rent open slips to passing cruisers. This facility is a real FIND in Marathon.

    We have discovered an unbelievable “secret paradise” here in marathon called Harbour Cay Club. They are a private club owned by the boat/slip owners but they rent any absent owner slips to [cruisers] etc. by the week or longer. The facilities and grounds are excellent. every slip is a lay along with W-E-Cable TV & pumpout. Laundromat, clubhouse, bike rack, tiki hut and the most fantastic unobstructed sunsets you can imagine.Very quiet and relaxing Short walk to many restaurants & bars (mm47.5) super markets and K-mart about 2 miles, easy bike ride.Very friendly and helpful liveaboard boat/slip owners.they usually have slips for rent.When we arrived we found 6 other loopers here. we like it so well we have decided to stay an extra week!
    Call Dock Captain ED SKINNER 410-570-5089 for reservations.
    Jeff & Cheri Conniff
    aboard Annie Lee III.

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Harbor Cay Club

  • Banana Bay Marina & Resort, Marathon

    Banana Bay Marina & Resort lies along the northern shores of the Marathon peninsula, east of the Marathon Yacht Club. The marina here was heavily damaged during the memorable 2005 hurricane season, but, judging from Rich and Lynne’s message below, it would appear as full repairs are now in place.

    Subject: Banana Bay Marina & Resort, Marathon
    Cruising News: We spent two nights at the newly-renovated Banana Bay Marina & Resort. There are 34 slips of various lengths. The showers and bathrooms are clean but not air conditioned. Rates are average. We paid $93 for a 38 footer. Included are cable, electric, pump out, pool and wi-fi (although you must walk to the pool area for reception). The docks are all new and the dockmaster is most accommodating and helpful. We had a nice slip facing the bay and enjoyed the breeze and sunsets. There is no restaurant on site at this time. Home Depot is directly across the street for emergency repairs!!
    Rich & Lynne

  • Fanny Keys Anchorage (Marathon – North Shore – off Inside/ICW Florida Keys Route)

    Well, I agree with Captain Ron’s comments below, and I don’t CLEARLY this is a fair weather only anchorage, and should not even be considered if there is hint of foul weather in the forecast. However, weather conditions permitting, we have dropped the hook here, and spent a few very happy evenings.

    I wonder who calls Fanny Keys an anchorage? It’s just a spot on the bayside intercoastal to drop your hook like any other basically open anchorage. Plenty of current, boat traffic from Faro Blanco Marina, no protection from Florida Bay/Gulf winds. You really can’t anchor between the two little nubs/keys(?). Looks good on the chart, but don’t be disappointed if you arrive late after a long sail. The joke will be on you!
    Ron

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Anchorage Directory Listing For Fanny Keys Anchorage

  • Marathon Turtle Hospital – Captain Jane Reports

    No Ordinary Motel: A visit to the Turtle Hospital, only a fifteen minute walk from Marathon City Marina.

    The former Hidden Harbor motel rooms housed guests again during the recent cold snaps -- 178 cold stunned sea turtles received a warm welcome

    If it looks like a motel, that’s because it was and sort of still is… The Turtle Hospital is located in the former Hidden Harbor motel, but the residents now are mostly rescued sea turtles. During this winter’s record cold snaps, during three of the coldest days, the Turtle Hospital admitted 178 cold stunned turtles (Loggerheads, Greens and Hawksbills). Eight of the cold stunned sea turtles stayed in kiddy pools in the motel rooms. Rescue, rehab and release is the motto of the Turtle Hospital, a one of a kind institution and the largest sea turtle rescue operation in the United States.
    The tour we took with a veterinary technician who works for the hospital was fascinating, eye opening, mind opening and touching. The normal patient load of over 50 sea turtles makes this the largest such facility in the United States. Come fifteen minutes before your tour to sign in and go through the informative displays. I recommend the trivia questions. My favorite question was how long can a sea turtle hold its breath? Another question revealed that sea turtles, which are reptiles, were originally land-based creatures that evolved into sea-based creatures.
    The Hidden Harbor motel’s former glory, if it had any, is now dim and its swimming pool, thanks to a healthy crack is now a tidal pool and houses a variety of rescued sea turtles and minnows that come in and out with the tide. Until recently, some tarpon lived in the pool as permanent residents, but they died from the recent cold weather.
    This is a great opportunity to learn about sea turtles, ecology and be reminded just how our human carelessness with waste can harm creatures we do not often see. Many of the turtles are

    A current guest at the motel.

    wounded by boat propellers that gash them as the boat runs them over at excessive speed in the grassy flats, by fishing line, by swallowing children’s balloons, fish hooks, plastic gloves, and other bits of our trash that make it into the water.
    Sea turtles, all five varieties that can be found in US waters, are endangered creatures. If you find one floating at the surface and it doesn’t skitter away from your boat or dive down quickly, call the Turtle hospital and tell them what you see and where. WIthout their instructions to do so, it is against the law to touch the sea turtles.
    The tour costs $15 for adult

    s, $7.50 for children and is worth every penny, if not more. The tours and gift shop sales (they have great T shirts in a large variety of colors with the hospital logo on the back) are the principal means of support. When

    the motel was still viable, the motel provided a significant portion of the funding, but several years ago, a hurricane damaged the motel beyond the organization’s means to return it to motel condition standards. The veterinarians volunteer their time and the paid staff is skeletal. By the way, the T-shirts have a a striking graphic of the hospital logo — they make great gifts that support a worthy Keys organization.
    Tours are offered seven days a week, except holidays. Call (305) 743-2442 for tour reservations. Log on at http://turtlehospital.org for more information.
    The Turtle Hospital, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is only a fifteen minute walk from City Marina. You won’t be sorry, except for the state of turtles world wide, but you will feel good knowing people are helping the turtles and that you, by your very presence and interest, helped, too.

  • Harbour Cay Club (Marathon, Northern Shore)

    The Harbor Cay Club is a great find in Marathon. Having been here, I know this is actually a private club, but one that choose to accept visiting cruisers, an unusual but welcome arrangement. Harbor Cay Club is located on the northern shores of Marathon. Click the link below to our Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing for this facility to check out its exact location. See you there!

    We have discovered an unbelievable “secret paradise” here in marathon called Harbour Cay Club. They are a private club owned by the boat/slip owners but they rent any absent owner slips to loopers etc. by the week or longer. The facilities and grounds are excellent. every slip is a lay along with W-E-Cable TV & pumpout, Laundromat,clubhouse, bike rack, tiki hut and the most fantastic unobstructed sunsets you can imagine.Very quiet and relaxing Short walk to many restaurants & bars (mm47.5) super markets and K-mart about 2 miles, easy bike ride.Very friendly and helpful liveaboard boat/slip owners.they usually have slips for rent.When we arrived we found 6 other loopers here. we like it so well we have decided to stay an extra week!
    Call Dock Captain ED SKINNER 410-570-5089 for reservations.
    Jeff & Cheri Conniff
    aboard Annie Lee III.

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Harbour Cay Club

  • Southwestern Florida Crab Pot Discussion

    For the last week or so, there has been a lively discussion on the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) list about crab pots and fish traps as navigational hazards while navigating the waters of southwestern Florida, between Marco Island and the Florida Keys. I’ve copied some of this discussion below.
    As usual, with a copied discussion with this many contributions, it is impractical to obtain individual permissions, so I’ve just used first names.

    Sunday we arrived Marathon, FL from Little Shark River after navigating the minefield of crab trap floats through much of Florida Bay There was even a string right down Moser Channel to the Seven Mile Bridge. After a couple of hours of dodging traps I remembered a land clearing project I visited in Africa in the 70s. They were clearing light trees and shrub growth using a piece of ship anchor chain about 100 feet long with a Caterpillar D-8 ate each end. The Cats would move along in the same direction and the chain stretched out between them would knock down anything standing between them. How about a couple of trawlers with a chain between them clearing the way through the traps?
    Please no flames, I know the crabbers are out there working hard making a living for their families while we are just playing. I wouldn’t do this and am not advocating anyone doing it either, just recounting a memory and one the evil thoughts that came to mind as I dodged the traps for a couple of hours. Driving around Marathon I see several storage areas where I’d guess many thousands of traps are neatly stacked. Like an old Cajun friend of mine used to say “A crab don’t stand a chance around here!”
    It was a beautiful day, sunny, light winds, maybe 2′ seas and finally warm, and that made it all well worth while.We found water depths at least 8′ leaving Little Shark and most of the way down to Marathon where we are at Marathon Marina and Boatyard which is quite nice.
    Steve

    Serious question with probably an easy and obvious answer that I don’t know:
    If crab pots are in a charted channel, can they be moved/removed by a pleasure cruiser because they constitute a “hazard to navigation?”
    Wade

    I don’t know the legal answer but I suspect that an angry waterman, who thinks you are intruding on his source of income, could be a real problem that might be more difficult to deal with than the “authorities”.
    Frank

    You could probably legally move them but:
    1. There are so many of them that it would become your life’s work…at least until the season closes in May.
    2. You’d likely get shot at.
    Regards,
    Randy

    On my trips down the gulf past Flamingo, I usually run inside the Park boundary, it’s shallower but doable, and less traps
    It is illegal to trap in the Everglades National park, but on SEVERAL of these occasions, I was inside the park boundary south bound, watching trappers working their line inside the park boundary.
    Guess those park rangers have better things to do.
    See you in Paradise!
    Capt Sterling

    I had a fin keeled sailboat with completely exposed prop that twice got a pot line wrapped on it.
    When I changed boats I knew I needed a full keel boat with a protected propeller.
    We bought the boat in Charlotte Harbor and motor sailed it non stop to Marathon. And I was so happy watching the pots go by under the moon light at 3:00 am in Florida Bay. I didn’t try to avoid a single one.
    That problem is solved, for me anyway.
    Jules Robinson

    Coming to Marathon from the East, we observed hundreds of traps and every trap was right in the charted channel. The water depth is the same north of the channel so we dodged the traps by moving a hundred yards north where no waterman bothered to drop a trap. Needless to say, I couldn’t set the autohelm.
    I hope that prudent mariners will resist the temptation to mount spurs on their prop shafts. The spurs cut any lines that might wrap the prop but these spurs also might leave behind un-bouyed traps that will roam the waters for years attracting and killing thousands of crabs as they move.
    The watermen of Florida don’t capture and kill the stone crab; they just remove one claw and return the creature to the sea to grow another claw. (am I correct?)
    Let’s do all we can to preserve these tasty little critters and let the watermen continue to make a living even if they can’t tell a channel from open water.
    Foxglove

  • Marathon Marina and Boatyard (on entrance to Boot Key Harbor)

    Marathon Marina and Boatyard is the first facility cruisers will encounter as they begin their approach to Boot Key Harbor from Moser and Knight Channels. Don’t confuse this marina with Marathon Boatyard, which lies east of the now permanently open Boot Key Bridge. Marathon Marina and Boatyard lies west of the span.

    We brought Cabana to Marathon Marina and Boat Yard on 03/01/2010. We have made a monthly lease arrangement since we plan on using Marathon as our base for a month or so.
    The Marina is a bit run down but many repair and upkeep efforts are underway. The staff is very friendly, professional and helpful.
    The open views to the west come with a bit of vulnerability against west winds, so tenants have advised us to really secure the boat against strong western blows.
    There is a nice restaurant right on the premises, some kind of transportation (bikes in our case) is highly recommended to reach other restaurants or stores.
    Reinhold and Sabine Probst
    M/V Cabana
    Mainship Trawler 40

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Marathon Marina and Boatyard

  • Boot Key Harbor City Marina (Marathon – Boot Key Harbor)

    Excellent info about one of the premiere facilities in the Florida Keys.

    We have spent 2 1/2 months in the City Marina. We were lucky to get a mooring right away although there are good places to anchor if the moorings are full when you arrive.
    The marina staff couldn’t be nicer and are very helpful. Laundry facilities are frequently very busy but it’s a good way to met fellow cruisers while waiting your turn at the 6 washers and 6 dryers (when all are working). There are plenty of activities like yoga, tennis, softball, crafts, games and music. Two large areas for dinghy parking are provided. It’s a mile walk to grocery shopping but West Marine has donated several shopping carts that you can take from the marina to the store and back for those larger shopping trips.
    We would definitely return here another year.
    Larry and Suzi

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Boot Key Harbor City Marina

  • Captain Jane’s Marathon Marina Roundup

    Wow, what a great in-depth look at the marina facilities in Marthon. As usual, our fearless roving reporter, Captain Jane Tigar, does a superb job!!!!!!

    Dockside, from the road. What you see is what you get. Joe Mama sings here on Thursdays

    Captain Jane’s Report on Marathon, Part 2: Marathon Marina Roundup
    There’s no accounting for taste in the Keys, and I mean that in almost any way you want to read that phrase. As one CIty Marina employee said — you either love it here in Marathon or you hate it.
    I think the same goes for taste in Marathon Marinas. I give up even trying to rate the choices. I passed by one Marathon marina and shrunk in horror at its roadside visuals and amenities or lack thereof, but a credible liveaboard said people love it there. I visited another with clearly happy community minded people, put it near the bottom of my list — but I have to say, it’s at the top of their list and they are all repeaters. So, I’m going to do my neutral best, which won’t be neutral, but please know I’m trying.
    I focused on the Hawk Channel, sometimes known as “ocean side” side of Marathon, because we’re sailors and there’s only so much I could look at. We went by kayak and we went by car, nosing around, talking to people.
    I’ve already reported on our probably apparent love affair with the City Marina. It is the happening place, seems to have the greatest diversity in median boater age with a healthy number of children around and their parents in addition to the retiree group of which I’m a partial member. Adjacent to the municipal park, within walking distance of plenty of restaurants and food shopping — it’s a superb choice. It’s a less than superb choice if you must have a slip and electricity. It’s short on slips and very long on mooring balls and that probably has a lot to do with the demographics. For our non-neutral taste, there’s nothing like its huge cruisers and activity lounges. Just walking through the lounge a few minutes ago, I saw two tables of people playing some kind of domino game that had been announced on the morning cruisers net on VHF 68. The Marathon City Marina is its own thing — we happen to love the life style and sense of community. I didn’t mention in my earlier report that in addition to the Wednesday potluck “meet and greet”, Saturday night’s at the Tiki Bar has an often unannounced but regular music gathering. If you’re a musician, or like listening to your talented fellow cruisers, this may be a great place for you.
    Next, Dockside Marina. It’s got slips for sale, but from what we hear on the cruisers net and from chatting with people, you can get transient dockage and people who love it love it. The restaurant and bar were smoke filled when we passed by. I tried to talk to a dock master but no one knew if one was around. Oh well, there are boats there. From what I could see, amenities are slim to none with minimalist and rusty looking laundry set up. I did not find the land heads, if any.
    Not to be confused with the city marina is Marathon Marina. Judy, who was on duty when we passed by, said it is home of the best sunsets in Marathon. This looks likely given the unobstructed Western exposure on one side of the marina (the other side offers slips in a more protected canal.) My first mate queried a liveaboard whose boat is docked on the open water Western side of the marina who said yes, the sunsets are unsurpassed, and that he loves the community spirit at the marina. The liveaboard said the open fetch West was not much of a problem even in a blow. Good to know. Judy says approach depths are 9 feet all round and that major upgrades are underway. Brand new laundry machines went in a few weeks ago and she says the new restaurant LazyDays is superb and has a great chef. We checked out the LazyDays lunch menu — a touch more expensive than the usual Keys shacks, but I think you get real plates and there were references to Japanese panko bread crumbs… That should give you the idea. Judy also said that a pool should be in by next winter and the slips are being upgraded. Dockage includes water, wifi, cable and electric and you can reserve ahead. While it doesn’t feel as central as City Marina, we noted it’s an easy walk to Porky’s Bayside restaurant in one direction and Burdines and its ChikiTiki Bar & Grille in another. Not a bad walk to a used bookstore and you’re near what looks like the local Keys bus stop.
    Burdines, features the afore-mentioned ChikiTiki Bar & Grille, slips, fuel and cute little grass huts by the docks with picnic tables. People seem to really move into these little huts for socializing and meals. Looks like a nice place to us if you require and don’t mind paying for a slip.
    Sombrero Marina is a completely different look. Parking lot, low-rise apartments and slips; a cementy-looking affair. Folks staying there seem to be predominantly power boaters and every night at 5 PM it’s happy hour on the dock, bring your own glass/mug. It’s a smaller community than City Marina and judging purely from visuals on one visit, an older crowd. I spoke to several people who love the place

    Marathon Marina's inside slips

    and have been coming there for five years. One told me that the reason no one answered our hail when we came to Boot Key Harbor and were looking for dockage because there is no dock master right
    now. She said the place was full anyway, not a slip available for the rest of the season. She went on in some detail about the financial history of Sombrero and what it’s name might really be. Since I have no idea what’s true and what isn’t, in summary she said the place was her favorite in Marathon and in an “ahem” state of transition and things were looking up. Facilities are “adequate” my informant said and there is a pool and a restaurant on site. Another liveaboard there said the onsite restaurant won’t win any awards but it’s nice to have it so close.
    Sombrero and Dockside are adjacent to each other and are the closest to Publix supermarket of all the marinas I’ve mentioned. This takes on some significance for car-free cruisers as the former dinghy dock at Publix is closed and under construction. I’ve yet to hear from anyone what is being constructed and the visuals there do not give any hints.
    To get a good sense of the lay of the land and water here and all these marinas, go to: http://www.bootkeyharbor.com/boot_key_harbor.htm
    I hope this helps. We landed at City Marina partly because they answered our hail and also because we liked what Ann said — this is a real community, you’ll love it. We have no regrets.
    Jane Tigar
    S/V Lady Jane

  • Captain Jane Reports on Marathon, MM 50: Incredible Fruit (and vegetable) Stand

    Wow, Captain Jane has really made a find here!!! What an incredible Florida Keys resource to stock the galley with the freshest of fruits and vegetables!

    You’d think I was hired by the City of Marathon Public Relations Department, but the full disclosure is no, I’m not, there’s just a lot of really good things happening in Marathon here in the Middle Keys. Today’s prime example, which I type just as the First Annual Keys Traditional Music Festival opens for its second day a mile or so away and a week before the Pigeon Key Art Festival, is the weekly Farmers Market.
    Location: One mile walk from City Marina — turn right, walking past the Marathon Community Park, cross over the main road when you see a traffic signal, keep on walking. Starting at 10 AM (across the main road from K Mart) you’ll see cars pulling over to the side and a big truck dispensing free key limes and your box top that will serve as your shopping basket. On our visit this morning, egg plants, water chestnuts, water melons, exotic carrots in multi colors in ziploc bags (good for snacking and really fine!), kirby pickling size cucumbers, zucchini, sweet red peppers, bok choy and I’m sure I’m missing plenty in this recital…
    I spoke to Pete, one of the organizers who said the proceeds benefit the community in a variety of ways. The leaflet he gave me says the sponsor is the Educational Coalition for Monroe County (ECMC) and it supports Marathon Sk* Association, Collegiate Arts Magnet Program & Careers, Project Green environmental project, Youth leadership workshops and Dancing Classrooms. For more information, to volunteer, or give a donation, call (305) 743-6215.
    Why the free key limes? A volunteer said: Because we love you. Pete elaborated: After Hurricane Wilma, the fourth Cat 5 hurricane of the 2005 season and, from what I’ve read, the most intense, the key lime crops were destroyed and folks really missed this quintessential Florida Keys symbol and fruit. So, the Incredible Fruit Stand found a supplier and gave the limes away to make people feel good. The feel good continues to the tune of — I think he said 70 bushels a week.
    Get there early for best selection, advises Tina Belotti of the ECMC. Tina says the Incredible Fruit Stand gets about 250 customers every Saturday. Take a look at our haul and you’ll see why.
    Captain Jane
    S/V Lady Jane

  • Captain Jane’s In-Depth Look at Boot Key Harbor (Marathon)

    Our fearless roving reporter, Captain Jane Tigar takes an in-depth look below at what may be the most popular port of call in the Florida Keys, Boot Key Harbor!

    We aboard S/V Lady Jane now understand why people heading for the Bahamas, Bimini and elsewhere just happen to get “stuck” in Boot Key. From all I have read of Marathon’s not so long ago history and attendant cruising quality (or lack thereof) life, this truly is an example of how people can make change in the world. This is one of those ICW stops that is now clean, welcoming, fun and a “real community.” If you love Vero Beach Municipal Marina, you may want to check out Boot Key for your next Keys adventure.

    Marathon City Marina, sea wall dockage

    First, getting into Boot Key harbor: We draw 5, so we did not even think of using the Sister’s Creek entrance and most folks we’ve heard from don’t suggest it without local knowledge or a really shoal draft vessel. We used the West entrance which, heading North takes you quite close to the 7-mile bridge.
    Once in the marked harbor entrance, we followed the clearly numbered markers. We have read some recommendations that you not follow the marked dog-legging channel into the harbor, past the open bascule bridge, however, we followed the City Marina’s live radio advice and kept inside that channel. We draw 5 and while I don’t remember the exact depths we found, there was no pitter patter of the heart as I did my periodic glances at the depth sounder. Perhaps the advice I’ve read to go through the mooring field is out of date — I’m not sure.
    The very friendly and capable staff, from what we’ve experienced and heard on the VHF to others, give very clear and good directions to your mooring ball, or to the sea wall if you are taking one of the along-side ties with connections to electricity and land.
    When you check in, be sure to take your included goodie bag — a sturdy thermal shopping bag with useful vendor contact numbers on the outside and a bunch of literature, coupons, and information about the marina and Marathon.
    Your first morning we recommend that at 9 AM you tune in to VHF Channel 68 for the daily morning Cruisers Net program. This is a moderated morning “VHF radio show” that begins with a call to new vessels to the harbor to introduce themselves and say where they came from and what their plans are. Next up a call to departing vessels. Then news announcements — and these are often really worth listening to as it can range from announcements about the closure of the dinghy dock folks used to use for Publix and West Marine to free yoga gatherings at 10 AM next to the tennis courts, a tennis court event, the weekly softball game (equipment provided!), music offerings, cruisers offering free presentations or workshops about something they do or love — this morning it was foot reflexology lessons, tomorrow I’m offering a Native American flute demonstration and talk, last week a couple offered a “concert” from their stern and dinghies from 30 vessels gathered round in late afternoon to enjoy it…
    After the announcements, there’s buy trade and sell; after that cruiser comments and questions about pretty much anything from hair cuts to medical care; then there is time for cruisers needing help or assistance. It ends with Trivia questions — cruisers offer trivia questions and sometimes West Marine posts the question and gives a prize to the first correct answer.
    Now that you’ve been introduced to the community, dinghy in, or if you’re at the sea wall, walk over to the marina office and the giant cruisers’ lounge. It is huge and open only during marina office hours. It’s where you can receive your mail and parcels, buy ice, swap books, sit at a table with your laptop and use the free wifi, work on quiet clean projects (there is a sewing circle going on since we’ve arrived). For big noisy, dirty boater’s projects, walk a little further down the dock to the project rooms. You will probably see someone repairing a dinghy or tinkering with some other boat project. There are lockers there to store your supplies…

    The Tiki Hut, Marathon City Marina. View of the mooring field and one of the dinghy dock areas

    Your first Wednesday — don’t miss the Meet and Greet potluck at the marina’s Tiki hut, or in inclement weather, inside the marina office. It starts at 5:30.
    Good new land heads and showers and a big laundry facility are just a little further down the dock near the humongous floating and new dinghy docks.
    There are only two things I can criticize here and neither would keep me from staying here again. One is that the recycling doesn’t seem to get picked up as quickly as boaters can fill the bins. But I’m so thrilled that there are recycling bins and people are using them, that I feel curmudgeonly even mentioning that it can get a little unsightly near the garbage area in the far end of the parking lot. Could simply have been the glitch of a holiday weekend. The second is the problem of dinghies being a little more enthusiastic to get to land than they should. The marina staff is working on that in a characteristically kind but firm way.
    One of the great things about the City Marina is its location. You are literally adjacent to a great city park with the afore-mentioned tennis courts and soft ball field. We hear you can even borrow tennis rackets from the park. This is municipal service at its best.
    It’s a short walk from the marina to several restaurants — Annette’s Lobster and Steakhouse is right across the street and gets great reviews and a lot of cars in the parking lot for the modestly priced daily buffet lunch is a good sign. The Upper Crust Pizza, just a little to the right up the road from Annettes was also hopping when we passed by, and a Thai and Sushi place just next door. We can vouch for the Thai curries and pad thai — really good and authentic. Or walk left from Annettes to Key Fisheries; it’s a short walk and you can eat at the outdoor covered tables of the restaurant or buy smoked and uncooked fish from the attached fish market. So far, these are the best fish sandwiches we’ve had in the Keys and the spiny lobsters grilled outside to order are excellent and fairly priced. Have several movie titles in mind because you will need one to order your food and Casablanca and Avatar are usually taken. Or hop in your dinghy or kayak and scoot across the harbor to Burdines — they serve great seafood at reasonable prices and it’s a beautiful spot.
    Publix supermarket is only a mile away and for the aerobically hardy, West Marine donated several shopping carts you can wheel to Publix and back to the marina. For the less aerobically inclined, folks on the VHF Boot Key Cruisers Net recommend a taxi service that charges $5 to get you back with your groceries; there will be information in your welcome goodie bag
    Rental cars are available several miles up the road at the Marathon Airport. Budget and Enterprise have some good deals if you shop carefully and check the internet prices as well as the in-house prices — you never know which are better. As we discovered, it can be less expensive to rent a full week than a weekend. With wheels you are within 10 minutes of lots of great places to eat and provision.
    Stayed tuned for Part 2, for a glance at different marina options and maybe even a snorkeling review of Sombrero Reef. Can’t make any promises. We’re in the real Keys now.
    Jane Tigar
    S/V Lady Jane

    One quick correction! At Keys Fisheries — it may not be a movie title you need to place your order; check the white board for the requirement du jour. Today, you needed the name of a cartoon character…
    And, while I’m at it — I learned from experience that the City Marina Wednesday night Meet and Greet is an understatement; when they say bring a dish to pass, they mean major pot luck. Last night, the marina staff set out a big long table for the food in the huge cruisers lounge. First timers, like us, bring snacks, and anyone more than one week in residence, brings in real dinner food… It was a big crowd!
    Jane

    We are now on a mooring ball having not visited here since 7 yrs ago. What changes and all for the positive!
    I will ditto all of Capt Janes comments, plus add that a weekly pumpout is included in your mooring fee (they come by your boat on a schedule and you do not need to be on your boat), and water is modestly priced at just 5 cents/gal. This mooring field should be the model for others in FL to follow. The rules are not overbearing and they really cater to the cruising community–a novelty sometimes in the state of FL.
    Kathy and Jim

  • Dinghy Access Discontinued at Hurricane Hole Marina in Boot Key Harbbor (Marathon)

    Hopefully, as Captain Charmaine notes below, dinghy access will be restored within a few months at Hurricane Hold Marina. In the meantime, you can always dinghy ashore at the Boot Key Harbor City Marina and Sombrero Marina and Dockside Lounge.

    January 14, 2010
    FL KEYS – Boot Key Harbor
    Hurricane Hole Marina Dinghy Access
    No Longer Available due to Construction
    Wanted to let you know that in the Keys’ Boot Key Harbor dinghy access to shore via the Hurricane Hole Marina has been discontinued due construction at the Marina.
    I suspect construction will be ongoing for several months. I’ll be sure to send you an update in the future so your readers will know if and when access again becomes available.
    Big Hugs,
    Charmaine Smith Ladd
    Aboard s/v September Sea
    SeptemberSea.com

  • Marathon Marina and Mooring Field Discussion

    The discussion below originated on the AGLCA (American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) mail list. There is soooo much good info here that I have copied the entire string below.

    We are thinking about a month in the Keys, Marathon or nearby for the month of February.
    Any information or marina recommendations would be appreciated. Vaughn would like a pool nearby and I just want to avoid the $50-60-rates, yikes!
    Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season
    Jim & Vaughn

    Jim,
    Last winter we spent a month at Sombrero Resort and Marina, and liked it. They have a pool, and restaurant on site. And, you are a short bike ride from anything you want. I think we paid a less than $40 a night, for the monthly rate.
    Also…I know you like to anchor…they have 200+ moorings at the Marathon Mooring field, and it is a community all itself. Each morning at 9 am everyone gets on the VHF (68) and try to help one another with what ever issues they have. They also have a huge dinghy area and you can walk to West Marine. Plus…awesome fishing in the area…I went fishing in my dinghy every day. You can catch your dinner every night.
    Merry Christmas.
    Bob Koerner
    M/V Headquarters

    ADIOS is currently in Marathon for a month. We are at the city marina on a mooring. It’s a great community lifestyle with a large lounge area with TVs &WIFI, separate building for showers and a huge project room. In fact John is building a Chesapeake Light Craft kit sailing dinghy (stitch & glue) in there; he’s getting lots of supervision. Staff is great; they’re hosting a huge Christmas dinner with 80 boats last count. Mooring cost is $275 + tax for the month. Walk/dinghy to West Marine (they have a dock) and also Publix (dock for $5 I’ve heard) but walkable; Home Depot in walking distance. There is a bus to Key West ($1.50 each way for seniors; $3 otherwise). Enterprise is at the airport and will pick you up; great weekend rates. Our 2nd time here and the improvements are impressive. Two years ago we came for a night and stayed 3 weeks. They do have limited dockspace.
    John & Ellie
    ADIOS

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

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

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

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