Posted by Claiborne | Posted on 09-29-2009
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Everglades City, accessed via the Indian Key – Barron River channel, south of Marco Island and Coon Key Pass, is a slice of OLD Florida. This is what the Sunshine State looked like as a boy when I was spending winters here in the 1950′s and early 60′s.
The only real place for cruising size craft to dock in Everglades City is the Rod and Gun Club. This historic structure features its own marina and on-site restaurant.
The channel leading from Indian Key to Everglades City gets rather shallow in places at low water. Captains piloting vessels drawing more than 4 feet or more may want to time their passage for mid to high tide.
We left Naples on Saturday the 26th, bypassed Marco Island and the Cape Romano Shoals, and then turned in through the Ten Thousand Islands to Everglades City and the famous Rod and Gun Club, where unbeknown to us a wedding was about to begin on the grounds. In fact, the father of the bride very graciously caught a line for us (since they don’t monitor VHF and didn’t answer the phone upon our approach). What a neat little town and a worthwhile stopover. We did hit bottom once (we draw 3.5 – 4 ft. depending on how much fuel and water is weighing us down) on our way back out the channel the next morning at low tide.
Sharon and Ken Vogel
M/V Docker’s Inn
As southwestern Florida cruising veterans will tell you, there is an UNOFFICIAL waterway which runs behind Marco Island, and eventually, all the way north to Gordon Pass and Naples. The “unofficial” part means that this passage is NOT part of the Western Florida ICW and is therefore not maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The shallowest spot on this unofficial Waterway lies near its southern terminus, hard by the southern tip of Marco Island, which is occupied by the fast developing (but still interesting) village of Goodland. Here, you can easily encounter 4 1/2 foot soundings right in the middle of the channel at low water.
Also, a bit farther to the north, where the channel passes under the (northern) Marco Island Bridge, there is an UNBELIEVABLE “L” turn in the channel, just southeast of the span. You MUST pass marker #26 to its eastern and southern sides, or your vessel’s keel WILL find the bottom!!!!!
The southernmost point of this “unofficial Waterway” is known as Coon Key Pass. Cruising craft must traverse the “shallow spot” near Goodland, and then cruise through Coon Key Pass, if they are southbound to Everglades City, Little Shark River or the Florida Keys via this “unofficial waterway route.” Of course, you can avoid all of this by staying offshore, being sure to stay well clear the vast Cape Romano Shoals, and then continuing south.
The messages below pertain to cruising south from Marco Island/Goodland, via Coon Key Pass.
What is the water depth? It looks very shallow. We are heading to Marco on Wednesday and could go to Goodland on our way to Everglades City…IF there is water!
We’ve been thru Marco to Goodland several times in our boat which drafts 4 ft and haven’t had a problem. The most challenging spots were just after leaving the Marco Bridge (toward Goodland) and when exiting from Goodland back to the Gulf at Coon Key. Pay attention to the tides and charts and it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s our preferred route to avoid Cape Romano Shoals.
Steve and Gina Smith
M/V Island Time
We draw 42″. Go at high tide, or close to it. It’s a soft bottom.
The moon is full, now. Even though the tidal amplitude isn’t much we discovered that inches count!. After poking around south of Cape Romano we decided that the charts were not accurate enough to go into some of the places that warn of 4 feet or less at MLW. Consequently, we headed directly to Marathon because we were in the area at full moon tide and the tide cycle was wrong for us to make a daylight entry into some of the places south of Goodland. We went into Goodland in a friend’s outboard runabout below half tide. At one point the channel was narrow and too shallow to get Sequel in and out, safely. We opted for the Little Marco River and Capri Pass and, at that, there is an uncharted bar on the right of the pass entering the Little Marco where an island blew away in the last hurricane.
Joe aboard M/V Sequel
Two great anchorages on the way to Marathon are Russel Pass outside of Everglades City and Little Shark River. We found them to be one of the nicest anchorages to be at for an overnight stop.
Have made the run from marco to everglades city outside many times, in both bad and good weather. if you trust your gps and the depth sounder you can pick your way through the shoals with no problem, once you have done it its a piece a cake. I draw 5.5 feet.
Don’t forget about the 55′ bridge from Marco to Goodland.
Russell Pass sits between Indian Key and Everglades City. The marked Indian Key Channel, which eventually leads to the Barron River and Everglades City, allows relatively easy access to Russell Pass. The southern anchorage is found on the waters of charted Russell Pass which opens into the northern flank of the Indian Key-Everglades City channel, southwest of marker #7.
Granted, Captain Kydd’s info is a bit dated, but we suspect the same, strong currents are still very much present on these waters.
In February 1980, while my wife, Helen and I were cruising in our 26 foot Pearson sailboat, we were anchored in Russell Bay when the anchorage became very choppy and we moved to Russell Pass. During the night we dragged anchor and at 0300 were wakened by mangroves running both sides of the boat. I rowed the dinghy till I found the pass again, went back and motored out to re-anchor with two anchors. The current in these passes can be pretty strong.
What a beautiful cruising area.
Click Here To View the Western Florida Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Russell Pass Southern Anchorage
Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Russell Pass Southern Anchorage
I agree with everything that Captain Jim says below about cruising the anchorage rich waters of the Ten Thousand Island region. Just know there is also a LOT of shallow water here. We strongly recommend that you have a well functioning GPS chart plotter aboard and operating whenever you cruise the Ten Thousand Islands!
As you’re working your way south (or in the planning stages) you might want to take a closer look at the Everglades. If you like the beauty of unspoiled nature you could spend time anchoring out and or exploring the many Passes that work back into the Everglades and don’t forget the Rod and Gun Club in Everglades City.
Captain Chuck knows whereof he speaks when he cautions against shallow water in the Ten Thousand Islands region of the Western Florida coastline, south of Marco Island. There are VERY FEW aids to navigation in this region, and, with some notable exceptions, waters of less than 5-foot depths, are common. Check out our Western Florida Anchorage Directory for this region (linked below), to discover some places where cruising size and draft vessels can drop the hook safely, at least, that is, if you have a well functioning GPS chartplotter aboard!
We just came down to the Keys from Goodland after spending the last year in the Fort Myers, Naples, Marco Island area. What a great cruising area. The only thing I would ad is to watch your draft if cruising around the 10,000 Islands. It can get pretty skinny in spots,
including the channel up to Everglades City at low tide. It’s best to check with the Rod and Gun Club for the shallow spots coming in the channel.
If you have traversed the channel from Indian Key to Everglades City, south of Marco Island, in the recent past, and have an answer for Rusty’s question below, please follow the “Click Here to Contribute Cruising News” link found at the upper right of this, and all SSECN pages (except Chart View pages), and share your information!
Does anyone know if the 65 foot high power cables on the Barron River south of the Rod and Gun Club still exist? I have a 65 foot mast and am trying to figure out if I can get to the club. I’ve called the club a couple of times but for some reason they do not know the answer or whether the power cables still exist.
Using Google Earth and going into street view there are no wires above the channel. The wires further up the channel labeled 49ft can be seen going down the power pole to an underground cable route. I did not see any wires over the channel near the 65ft crossing.
Glad to hear that Captain Steve discovered good depths moving upstream on the Indian Key channel to Everglades City. Some other cruisers have reported thin soundings at low water along certain stretches of this channel.
And, while Steve did discover some self service gasoline to pump, that does not solve the problem of finding Diesel fuel in Everglades City. Has anyone found a place to purchase diesel here??????
I posted a question some time ago about finding Fuel in Everglades City. I had found a marina there just up the river from the Rod and Gun club online and they advertised fuel. You posted my question and no one had any experience at
that time. I just wanted to let you know, i did go back there and found the fuel. I had plenty of depth. It was a self surface pump (gasoline only) that takes credit cards. There was a very nice floating dock and ramp. It was very
convenient and offered us a nice stop on the way to Key Large for refueling.
Captain Jim Healy, author of the article below, is a frequent contributor here on the Cruisers’ Net, and many other nautical mailing lists/forums. This posting is excerpted from a long submission to the GL (Great Loop) mailing list!
Like Captain Jim, we love visiting Everglades City and the Rod and Gun Club. This is most certainly a place that time has forgotten, and it is still possible to catch a glimpse of what Florida was like in the days of Baron Collier. Don’t miss it, but do be aware that at low tide, the entrance channel from Indian Key to the Barron River can get as thin as 4 1/2 feet, possibly a little less, in places.
Definitely go up the Barron River to Everglades City. Stay at the Rod and Gun Club (aka, the Sportsman’s Club). No credit cards; cash or personal checks only! Great, if small, local heritage museum. Truly a glimpse of Old Florida. More great dinghy exploring.
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary
Currently at Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda, FL
Monk 36 Hull #132
Chuck Baier, former Waterway Guide General Manager, and now cruising consultant for MarinaLife, is the author of the brief note below. We ALWAYS pay attention to what Captain Chuck has to say, so those of you bound for Everglades City should indeed call the Rod and Gun Club (see below), before attempting this passage.
The last time we sounded the Indian Key channel,no depths shallower than 5 1/2 feet MLW showed up, but that was a good 3 years ago.
The SSECN would WELCOME some additional reports on depths in the Indian Key Channel from those of you who have visited Everglades City recently. If this describes you, PLEASE click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.
You might want to check with the Rod and Gun Club [239-695-2101] to get the latest on the channel depths into Everglade City. There are some pretty shallow spots. Have a great trip.
And, as requested both above and in a recent “SSECN Alert,” here is some additional data from fellow cruiser, Capt. David. Looks like there really are low-mid tide depth issues on the Indian Key Channel. ALL Western Florida mariners, TAKE NOTE!
Last February when I went through the channel to the R&G club, I rubbed a couple of times bottom at 4’6″ at mid tide. Going out I was careful to plan my departure to coincide with high tide to get me by the bad parts.
In February of 2010, we had a posting here on the Cruisers’ Net concerning a “new” marina in Everglades City, knows as Everglades Isle Marina (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=27196). Since that time, no other input has been received concerning this facility, and my own travels have not taken me to this pleasant backwater. If anyone has recent knowledge concerning this facility, PLEASE respond to Captain Steve’s request for information below by clicking the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below.
Has anyone stayed at the Everglades Isle Marina? Is there enough depth to get in there and refuel with 39″ draw?
I want to stop at the Rod and Gun club on my way down from FMB to Key Largo and would love topped off tanks before heading south. I don’t see any other marinas in the area with gas.
There is a wealth of good cruising tips in Captain Lloyd’s note below. His description of the “inside” passage navigational challenges, behind Marco Island, is spot on, as is his description of Little Shark River’s shoreline.
I might also add that as of a few months ago, the entrance channel into Flamingo was still quite shallow!
You can take the inside route behind Marco Island with a 4′ draft but avoid low tide. Charted depth is 4′ but depth increases by 3′ at high tide. Pay attention after Bear Point bridge as daymark colors switch sides. A red daymark appears to be out of position but it is not!
Definitely stop at Goodland, an old-time fishing village that is a marked contrast to the rest of Marco Island. Calusa Island Marina is within walking distance of restaurants.
Some boaters recommend Everglades City but I usually go directly from Goodland to Little Shark River in Everglades National Park. This area of the park consists of mangrove Islands and hardwood hammocks, not acres of sawgrass that one usually associates with the Everglades. There is a very protected anchorage about 1.5 miles up river.
I have not been to Flamingo since it was rebuilt after the hurricane. The approach was shallow at that time. I recommend a direct route from Little Shark River to Seven Mile Bridge and stop at Marathon.
There has been an interesting, ongoing discussion on the AGLA (American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) about the best route to cruise from the Florida Keys to the southwestern Florida mainland coastline, Marco Island in particular. Anyone who plans of making this passage will want to check out the string of messages below with a proverbial fine toothed comb.
We are sitting in the Keys for a month before getting ready to head north to Marco Island and points north.
I know there are several routes that are mapped but I was hoping that those who have done this trip could help with suggestions on the most recommended route from Key West to Marco Island.
Thanks in advance
Cheri and Gerald Wallace
Cheri and Gerald:
There are as many ways to make the trip from Key West to Marco as there are folks who have done it. I’ll give you a straightforward way we did it.
Your route will depend on how much time you have and how much water you draw, but we had moderate time and drew about 4 ft. 4 in. Also, watch for good weather. There is a lot of open water on your trip.
Leave Key West and move into the Hawk Channel, then eastward to Marathon. Spend some fun time in Marathon and watch the weather. When the wind is light from the south, head under the Seven Mile Bridge cut and take up a northly course to put you just off Little Shark River. It can be a bit shallow south of Little Shark and you will have to stay off perhaps 6-8 miles to avoid frequent furtive glances at the depthfinder. Spend the night at anchor a peaceful, primitive environment. If you have time, dinghy up the river a ways, taking a handheld GPS with you. Lots of fun.
Next day, head for any of a dozen good anchorages off Everglades City, or go in to Everglades City for some “old Florida.” Visit the Rod and Gun Club. Next day, go in to Marco. Depending on your draft, you can go inland at Gullivan Bay, but be careful getting around Coon Key and into the Big Marco River. It is easier to go outside if weather permits to Capri Pass leading to Marco.
By the way, watch carefully for crab pots all throughout the route — particularly the Florida Bay area.
Hope this helps. It is a very nice trip if your weather holds.
Cheri and Gerald,
I agree with Bill Donovan. We love the Sportsman’s Club in Everglade City. I would add to what Bill posted with the following: if you draw 5′ or less, you can go inside at Coon Key Pass and north through Goodland to Marco. It’s pretty, and not too bad in the afternoon hours. If you do stay at Everglades City or Indian Key, you’ll hit Coon Key Pass in the afternoon, on a rising tide. You must be careful to stay in the marked channel, particularly in Goodland, but you’ll make it with no trouble.
Yes, Gullivan Bay is shallow, generally charted at 5′, but the charting is accurate, and in the afternoons on a rising tide, you’ll have good water. The gulf route around the Romano Shoals will take you way offshore, so if you need cover for high seas or weather, the inside route is doable.
In Goodland, stop at Stan’s for an adult beverage and a fun afternoon. Very “old” Florida. If you stay at a marina in Goodland, get local
knowledge on approaches. As you approach the high rise bridge in Marco from the south, there are two things you need to watch. One is that there is a Red Marker immediately south (east) of that bridge that you MUST clear, but at an approach distance of a mile or so, lies with the shoreline behind it and is very hard to pick out. Approaching from the south, it will be to the left of the bridge. Find it and honor it, or you will get to meet the local Tow Boat operator. DO NOT head straight for the bridge channel.
The other thing is that the marker colors change sides at that same bridge. Approaching from the south (east), it’s kinda obvious, because the water gets wider and less confined on the Marco side, but if approaching from the north (west), it can be very confusing, and it’s again easy to miss that Red marker, or take it on the wrong side.
Finally, the inside route north of Marco is also shallow. There is a great anchorage at Rookery Bay; it does have a correctly charted shoal on the north. The stretch from Rookery Bay north to Naples is very shallow, and should be done at or near high tide (afternoon) for a 5′ draft boat.
On the West Coast of Florida, there is generally only one high tide per day, and it’s always in the afternoon. Exceptions are spring tides, when there is one tide that is much higher and one tide that is much lower than the other.
The other way is to go from Key West direct to Marco. It is not much farther from KW to Marco than Marathon to Marco, about 90NM I believe, including all the twists & turns of both routes. We have done this with no problem during daylight hours (running 9 to 10 knots) with average wave height of about 3 ft. No problems.
Watch the charts carefully and follow the channels. Go North around the Navy base and then follow channels and deeper water into the Gulf. Once into deeper water you can set your autopilot for the channel at Marco, again following the charts carefully.
If you have not been to Marathon and want to take longer to enjoy the trip, do that, taking the Hawk Channel on the South side of the Keys. Stop to anchor at Newfound Harbor halfway between Key West and Marathon (at Little Torch Key), where you can dinghy under the highway bridge to the dinghy dock at Parrotdise Grill for their excellent lobster reuben sandwich. Yum! After staying in Marathon, follow Moser Channel under the “hump” in the Keys bridge there and follow the channel and clear water to Marco.
The options already posted are good ones. We have done the direct route winter and spring as well as the Marathon route, and the choice can depend on your circumstances and vessel. If you are short on time and you have a couple of good days for sailing (or flat seas for motoring), suggest the direct route Key West to Marco. Monitor the WX for several days as part of your planning.
Shark River is indeed a terrific anchorage, but beginning usually in mid April be prepared for bugs. Suggest not using the Rod & Gun Club for an overnight. You would be better served continuing on around the island just off the Rod & Gun and motor a short distance to the fairly new Everglade Isle Motorcoach Park. They have terrific floating docks, power, water, great club house, and a friendly and helpful staff. I have seen a 46 footer tied there, but most of their slips are for smaller vessels. Great river restaurant nearby and golf carts may be available for your use.
Regards, Tom & Sue
By the postings I have read, there seems to be a sort of the “lets get past this”. Years ago for 3 years I spent the winter going from Ft Meyer down to the Keys, up to Miami and then back to Ft Meyer. My favorite part was from Key West to New Found Harbor to Marathon, then to Shark River, then to Indian Key and then either around Romano Light to Naples or to Coon Key to Marco and then to Naples.
Spectacular anchorages and good safe boating.
For 99% of us, we will never be back to the Everglades again and to speed by it is a mistake.
A potential danger is going straight across from Key West to Marco, especially in the winter. Northers come in very fast and often unannounced. 15 years ago there was a major unannounced all night squall that hit the Keys and Gulf side. The Coast Guard was asking all mariners to help: fishing boats were swamping. The coast Guard could not keep up with calls. I had 4 friends who had left Key West that morning in glorious sun and they got caught in it, boat damaged and almost lost one of them and they never went out in that boat again. Used it for a winter condo for 1 year and then sold it. They later told me how they had wished that they do what I do.
I do day hops and always have the ability to run for cover. I also try to be near anchorage or tie up, especially if I have never been there by 2 to 3 PM in the winter. That is what I am proposing.
After leaving the 7 mile bridge (Marathon) and heading towards East Cape you are in crab trap heaven. However when you are within 1 mile of the Everglades, crab trapping is illegal and the water is deep enough that you can run the coast out of crab traps.
Shark River is a very special place. You are in a jungle: thousands of birds and thru the night the sounds of the jungle. Go up the river a 1/4 mile and it is a hurricane hole. Wind cannot get to you and in the winter no bugs,
Up the coast to Indian Key to either anchor for the night in protected water or up to Everglade city.
Then to Marco by either going to Coon key or around Romano Shoals (R16) and then to Marco.
If you leave Marco out to the Gulf, years ago very uncertain markings and a strong southerly rip current across the bar. i was not aware of rip current and I did it at night and it cost $2000. in repairs
This is what it is about, as opposed to a fast open water run and then a landing in the dark where you have never been.
We’ve been reading the discussion, and are looking for some advice. We are heading South from Marco Island to the Everglades, and would like to take the inside route, but are wary of what sounds like quite shallow waters. We draw 4′6″ and are looking for some local knowledge of the area.
Mark and Marlene
Calusa Island Marina sits at the southern tip of Marco Island, in the old village of Goodland. This facility’s entrance channel departs the Coon Key to Naples unofficial waterway near marker #6. Watch out from some depths as thin as 4 1/2 feet at MLW in the “waterway” channel along this stretch.
And, while I certainly second Captain Moran’s mention of Stan’s Idle Hour bar/restaurant below, where a good time is always had by one and all, also don’t dare miss Little Bar and Restaurant, less than a block away. The seafood here is awesome!
We ended up staying at Calusa Island Yacht Club (just a marina) at Goodland, just south of Marco Is. for a month last year. Laid back and beautiful setting and Stan’s Idle Hour Bar (http://www.stansidlehour.net/) is just up the street!! Anchorages are also available around the Goodland area if you decide to stay for a shorter time.
Wish you warm breeze and calm seas.
If you visit the still backwater (but very charming) community of Everglades City by water, THE place to coil your lines is the old Rod and Gun Club. They have good services and a restaurant on-site, though there are other places to eat in town that I prefer.
I hope one day the entire Rod and Gun Club can be restored to its former glory, including all the guest rooms, but, for now, it’s still very much a fascinating picture of “old Florida.”
To reach Everglades City, you must traverse the marked channel from Indian Key to the Barron River. While I have never found shallow depths along this passage, others have reported that soundings are marginal at MLW. If any of you have cruised this channel recently, please share the depths you encountered by clicking the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below
A trip up the west coast can be enjoyable. Remote anchorages and beautiful beaches.
Check with the Rod and Gun Club in Everglade City (http://www.evergladesrodandgun.com/) about the Seafood festival. I believe it is usually held in early Feb and it is great fun. Also a good place to hop on an Airboat ride thru the Everglades.
just spent two days at the Rod & Gun Club with a small group of boats from Pine Island. I would most definitely return here – docks were OK, view was great, the Club a place you have to experience at least once. Food was absolutely great! Showers were clean and had plenty of hot water. There are several other spots for breakfast or dinner within an easy walk. We carried 4′6″ all the way up to the Club with NO problems, even at a very low tide.
Captain Mike Smith
Russell Pass sits between Indian Key and Everglades City. The marked channel which eventually leads to the Barron River and Everglades City allows relatively easy access to Russell Pass. There are a multitude of good, sheltered spots to drop the hook on these waters. Captain describes one haven below.
3-19-2010. This is the second time we have anchored just a tad south of the anchorage shown on the chart above [follow link below to check out the chartlet Captain Jean is referring to]. It is well protected with good depths. We aren’t going anywhere in the dinghy, just kicking back and catching up on email etc.
Jean Thomason (DOVEKIE)
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.
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?”
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”.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I love the backwater feeling of visting Everglades City by water. There is a true feeling of OLD Florida here. Just don’t try this on a still summer night!
Heretofore, waterborne visitors to Everglades City had only choice for overnight dockage, the old Rod and Gun Club. Well, that’s still a possibility, but, according to Captain Jan’s note below, there is now a new “luxury marina” in town known as Everglades Isle.
We would like to know more bout Everglade Isle. Anyone else berthed here. What were your experiences. Please share by clicking the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below!
Onward to Everglades City, there’s a new luxury marina just before the bridge: Everglades Isle. Actually an upscale RV park, it has 30 or so floating docks, only 6 with 30 amp power, the remainder 15 amp, pool, showers, laundry, bar. On the downside, the docks are narrow; I’ll measure them when we arrive; the strong tidal current makes for challenging docking and the airboats run non-stop until 5pm.
Rod & Gun is okay, except a little rocky with the current and boat traffic, tie-up wall is in disrepair and had
cold water only showers when we visited last New Years Eve.
Below is a very informative and interesting string of messages copied from the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) list about cruising from Marco Island in southwestern Florida, to either Marathon or Key West, then north to Miami or possibly even the Okeechobee Waterway. There’s tons of useful cruising tips here, over a wide ranging swath of waters.
I am interested in information related to leaving Marco Island and rounding the bottom of Florida, possible crossing over to the Hawk Channel at Seven Mile bridge. Anyone with experience, ideas, help? Thanks.
“Cavalier” Island Packet SP Cruiser
We did just that about 2 years ago. It seems like yesterday but unfortunately that is a long time ago in cruising days. Our boat draws 4.5 feet and I would love to leave again tomorrow and do it in the same boat.
We made our way from Marco to Little Shark River, anchored there and left for 7 mile bridge. The water is skinny but you will get used to 9-10 feet and you will make it. Picking good weather is important. Many crab traps but just work your way through them. Go slow in places where dodging them is difficult and faster in open areas. Uneventful in crossing under 7 mile bridge. We had no tidal problems but I have heard of significant tidal flow so you probably should check the tidal flow times before leaving.
We did Hawk Channel to and from Key West. Plenty of water, of course, but we experienced extraordinarily rough water. When the wind direction is from off shore the long fetch can make things uncomfortable. Hawk Channel provides easy access to the Key West area but in my opinion, it is not worth it if the water is rough. Hawk channel is not close enough to land to say you saw any local color of the keys.
Now, if I had it to do again, I would take the bay side to key west. I have never been that way so do not have any direct experience but have heard many good things. Also have traveled by car to many places on the bay side and easily see why others rave about the “local color”.
You didn’t say what your draft is and that can be a factor in this part of the world. Also, you didn’t say how long you plan to be gone or when you want to leave.
Morning Star only draws 3-1/2 ft and we regularly leave Marco via Coon Key Pass. That makes a stop at Everglades City a short hop. Or you can continue on to Little Shark River for an overnight. The run from Little Shark to Marathon is not long and we have never found it to be particularly shallow. There are a few “banks” to avoid but they are well marked and if you are paying attention there won’t be a problem.
From Marathon, you can pass under the Seven-Mile Bridge at Moser Channel or you can go east up the ICW on the Florida Bay side or you can head west to Key West via Big Spanish Channel.
If you are contemplating Florida Bay, know that a strong northerly will blow a lot of water out of the Bay.
Finally, if your goal is to do the “South Florida Loop”, a trip we highly recommend, I would do the Okeechobee leg first and head south from Stuart. That way when you leave Miami and head down the Keys the prevailing wind will be at your back.
We traveled directly from Naples to Key West on the Gulf. It was 122nm dock to dock and an easy run, although we did travel at a faster speed than usual. We left Naples at 7AM, navigated the crab pots and then never saw another pot nor another boat until we neared Key West! Took the Hawk Channel from Key West to Marathon.
ONE OLIVER II