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Dragging Anchor Problems at Tarpon Bellys Keys Anchorage (“Back Route” from Marathon to Key West)

Posted by Claiborne Young | Posted on 05-16-2012

The small collection of islands known as the Tarpon Belly Keys flank the northeastern side of the Cudjoe Key Channel. This latter cut makes into the so-called, “Back Route” from Marathon to Key West, west of the turn at Harbor Key Bank Light. It’s a great spot, and we have never had a problem getting the anchor to hold. Then again, we do not usually undertake the anchor setting procedure described below by Captains Chas and Bev.
Has anyone else had a similar or dissimilar experience anchorage hard by Tarpon Belly Keys. If so, please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.

We are in the Keys and tried to anchor at Tarpon Belly Key, a pretty remote place. We have a 43 Mainship with 75′ of chain and 250′ with a 75 lb. Rocna, 8 feet of water and 7 feet of pulpit. Our usual procedure is to drop about 20′, let it settle while slowly reversing and add in about 20′ segments until we feel a good grip, then bump reverse multiple times to deepen the set and eventually increase
reverse a few hundred rpm’s to set. When we did the set, the anchor released. A few efforts to set and we finally pulled up. Holy cow! A massive ball of grey clay (looked and acted like cement) and grass. Could have been a small planet. Boat hooks, dunking and dragging thru the water finally got it off. We tried 3 other locations at the same anchorages with the same, but smaller ball, result. At 5PM, we finally went to a marina. Just beat sundown by 15 minutes.
Our question is should we not done the finally set, as we usually do, on this type of bottom? Would the anchor, with time and gentler prodding by the wind and tide, eventually buried deeper? (I wouldn’t have been able to sleep)
The Rocna has been great for us and we love it.
We also have a 45 lb. Bruce and a Fortress. Would it have made sense to try them?
Chas & Bev
…and Everywhere

That “grey clay” you pulled up usually provides great holding- after all, it stuck to your anchor! I suggest you change your anchoring technique: let out full scope, or even more, before you pull back on the anchor to set. You want to give the anchor the best geometry to dig in, not the worst angle. I know there are some “authorities” who advocate setting on short scope, but there is defective logic in that. Cruise on!

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

Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Tarpon Bellys Keys Anchorage


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