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    • 74. Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

      74. Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field
      Lat/Lon: near 24 42.486 North/081 05.301 West
      Location: lies in the heart of Boot Key Harbor, east of Sister Creek’s northerly mouth
      Minimum depth: 8-feet but entrance channel has a few tricks and unexpected turns
      Special Comment: Call Boot Key Harbor City Marina at 305-289-8877 to secure a mooring
      Swing Room: sufficient room for vessels as large as 50 feet (restricted only by nearby presence of other vessels)
      Foul Weather Shelter: Excellent
      Waste Pump-out Availability: A pump-out boat serves the Marathon mooring field in Boot Key Harbor and is included in the mooring fee. Call (305)743-6575 or Ch-16. For more information, go to
      Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field


      Click on Chartlet Below to Open a Chart View Window,
      Centered on the Location of This Anchorage:

      Comments from Cruisers (12)

      1. Rick -  February 24, 2014 - 9:20 am

        Boot Key harbor in Marathon has a few hundred mooring balls at a reasonable rate that includes dinghy dockage, showers, car parking and laundry access. The harbor has better breezes than on the mainland or in canals.
        There are many restaurants nearby, Sunset Grill facing west adjacent to the 7 Mile Bridge being our favorite. There are many other favorites too with great Happy Hour specials such as Lazy Days. The popular Salty’s however recently burned to the ground. There is a local theatrical group and movie theatre plus Publix, Winn-Dixie and Kmart are nearby. Next door is the city park with ball fields, tennis courts and amphitheater. During the winter months there are numerous flea markets, festivals and other special event.
        Its 50 miles to Key West by city bus, inexpensive.
        Rick aboard “Dark Star”, 44′ Marine Trader DC

        Reply to Rick
      2. John Kettlewell -  February 17, 2014 - 10:47 am

        Jim, Dinghy dockage and mooring balls from the city rent for $22 per day, with lower rates for longer terms. Basically it costs as much to anchor as to moor, unless you don’t go ashore much. Anchoring itself is free, if you can find a spot in the small remaining area.
        John Kettlewell

        Reply to John
      3. Jim Upfold -  February 12, 2014 - 1:27 pm

        What are the fees for mooring balls and anchoring in Marathon?

        Reply to Jim
      4. PS Russell -  February 16, 2012 - 10:59 am

        At Boot Key the dockmaster generally will have you anchor out until a mooring becomes available. Depending on weather and the number of folks staging to go to the Bahamas, your wait can be hours to a few days. Just remember to look at the tide charts (especially now, coming off of full moon) and gage where you anchor with
        your draft.
        PS Russell
        M/V Ocean Breeze

        Reply to PS
      5. Kathy and Jim & Peter TenHaagen -  January 27, 2010 - 3:15 pm

        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

        Two comments about Boot Key Harbor from my experience there last year. Firstly, humongous floating and new dinghy docks.though they may be, they can in no way accommodate the masses of dinghies when the moorings are all rented out. Secondly, the moorings are frequently all rented out leaving you to try and find a spot to drop the hook amid illegal local regulations regarding distances from seawalls etc … I spent two weeks there with nary a ball becoming available. I’m glad to read that the new heads/showers are open – they were completed but not open last year because of a snafu with the city and the sanitary connections – odd bit of planning in a city owned marina. Peter … M/V Transition
        Peter TenHaagen

        Reply to Kathy
      6. Dick Mills -  August 17, 2009 - 11:26 am

        We spent two weeks at Boot Key Harbor and loved it and Marathon. We were there in March and it was not too crowded. Others said that you did have to anchor out and waite for a ball to open in January and Feb. Keep in mind that the pump-outs are MANDATORY. Even the dirt bags in the derelic boats must be pumped out once per week.

        We only draw 50 inches and had no problems with debth but we ran aground off of Largo when we left the channell but were fine when we followed Skippers Bobs direction.. There is some grass that has to be avoided. Not much to do there and had to hunt for a place to land the dinghy for our dogs.

        In the [Boot Key] harbor today (Dec 7) we found maybe 50 moorings still vacant so the waiting list is not active yet.
        Sadly, Smorgasboat no longer provides the water taxi service. They do however, still do harbor tours.
        I can’t say too much good about Marathon City Marina. They seem to set the gold standard for everything having to do with running a mooring field and marina. I just learned today that they even have a TV camera to inspect the mooring tackle on the bottom for maintenance purposes. Who else does that? The pump-out boat, the handling of dinghies, and bikes, and parked cars, and mooring maintenance, and hazmat disposal. The bathrooms, showers and laundry are the only sucky things. But wait, they’re about to open a brand new bathroom/shower/laundry building any day now.
        Dick Mills
        SV Tarwathie

        Prior to the opening of 60 or so additional moorings there was often a wait list. That hasnʼt happened to us since.
        Bob & Toni Dorman

        Reply to Dick
      7. Charmaine Smith Ladd -  August 14, 2009 - 10:16 am

        Marathon does not have any regulation regarding leaving your boat. I am currently on a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor and the marina staff is doing everything possible to make everyone feel welcome. There was a proposal last fall about leaving your boat but it was quickly dropped and there is no discussion about a new ordinance.
        Captain Harv
        S/V Camelot

        Hi Claiborne,
        We were just in marathon for a weekend jaunt, they have really cleaned up the mooring field, alot! Saw very few “junker” boats,, even in the anchoring area.
        Happy new year!
        See you on the Waterways!
        Capt. Sterling

        Hey there,
        There never was anything on the table here in Boot Key Habor that proposed to make it a crime to simply leave your boat. The confusion is that there are two different entities making revisions on separate matters: 1) the City of Marathon, and 2) the FWC.
        The FWC revisions are to make it easier for municipalities to prevent and control the problem of derelict boats. Any city or municipality can choose to enforce those prohibitions (if and when passed) or decline and/or set up their own set of rules to use.
        All the powers that be in Marathon do not want to prohibit anchoring inside Boot Key Harbor. They have stressed this time and again that liveaboards are not in threat of losing their right to anchor here. They have made that CRYSTAL CLEAR in every way.
        What they do want to control is the problem with boats left unattended and literally abandoned. This Harbor had plenty of those years ago and I’ve watched those pests be towed off, put in the queue, and then destroyed. What a breath of fresh air that has been!
        To keep that problem from occuring again, the City Marina wants boaters to let them know IN WRITING when they are leaving their boats for longer than x” period of time (quite reasonable) and who to contact in case of emergency. That has previously been an unwritten courtesy that any sensible boater has done in the past without urging.
        One must admit that it does make it pretty apparent who is aboard and who is not. The Harbor was never intended to be wet storage for absentee owners who come here very eight
        months. There have been owners who rent boats and are never here and then abandon them when they end up in the mangroves after a big blow. It’s how the icky stuff gets started.
        Too, boats that do not navigate do not have to register with the State of Florida. Makes no sense to me. That is exactly the true origin of the derelict boat problem. Anyone can tow whatever in here and plunk it down anchored to an engine block and leave to never return. There is no way of bringing that owner to court for costs incurred due to his vessel because there is no registration to track. That’s LEGAL. Unreal.
        The derelict boat problem for Boot Key Harbor is not even really inside the Harbor at all (at least not as of today). The problem lies in the specific area immediately west of the bascule bridge.
        So the bad press Marathon has been getting is all for naught. There is no truth to it at all. You will not find more compassionate and caring advocates for boaters, liveaboards, and full-time cruisers than those in the employ of the City of Marathon Marina and Boot Key Harbor.
        Hope this clears up the matter for ya.
        Big Hugs,
        Charmaine Smith Ladd
        Aboard s/v September Sea

        Reply to Charmaine
      8. Charmaine -  August 14, 2009 - 10:09 am

        Perusing your website saw the question about Sister’s Creek with a 6′ draft. I draw 5’8 and would not dare try to navigate Sister’s Creek even at high tide. You COULD but I wouldn’t recommend it unless with the benefit of an unusually super lunar tide.
        Sam didn’t say what his mast height is, but this may be of help: What a number of sailors do to remedy the problem of the often drooping communications line (not a power line) is to have someone
        up the mast who can push it up out of the way as your vessel passes beneath it. It’s worked for dozens of taller masts over the years. We have very large
        schooners that come in here for the Boy Scout trips… tall masts.
        I’d also suggest he call the bridgetender, particularly “Lee of s/v Mariah,” who is forever gracious and quite knowledgeable. He would know the mast heights that have used the method I mention successfully.
        Aboard s/v September Sea

        Reply to Charmaine
      9. David -  August 13, 2009 - 3:36 pm

        I moored at Marathon for two weeks a month or so ago. Marathon’s mooring field is a tribute to what can be done with dedicated people and supportive politicians (well except for the bath house!!!).
        I anchored there ten years ago and it was a much, much different story. The anchorage was filled with derilect boats and liveaboards who didn’t know what a pump out was.
        Now the derilects are gone (well mostly- if you pay your mooring fees, you can keep any kind of boat there) and the harbor water quality almost sparkles. The City Marina sponsors weekly get togethers and the morning vhf net is helpful and full of activities.
        Interestingly, perhaps 1/3 of the boats there are full time long term Marathon liveaboards and many have jobs that they dinghy and bicycle to. Another third or so are cruisers there for the winter as a destination. They take their boats back home (or put them on the hard) at the end of the season and head back north. And another third (maybe much less) were like me- just passing through.
        Marathon is a very cruiser friendly place. The only other place that comes close is Vero Beach.

        Reply to David
      10. Ben and Barbara Falmlen -  August 13, 2009 - 3:22 pm

        Today we are moored at the Marathon City Marina? (along with about 200 other boats). Mooring balls are $20.00 per night and $100.00 per week.? They had a pot luck tonight and we met lots of other boaters. Some live here and lots are on their way to/from the Bahamas. We plan to stay here several days. Restock the boat and get ready to head up to Pelican Bay and then on to the [MTOA]rendezvous. There is a dingy dock farther into the harbor (not the one here at the marina) which is $5.00, but it is right next to Publix, WalMart, CVS, etc. I am in WalMart withdrawel!
        Ben and Barbara Falmlen
        Two Cats Too

        Reply to Ben
      11. Charmaine Smith Ladd -  August 13, 2009 - 3:13 pm

        Boot Key Harbor
        24°42′23.58″ N 81°5′33.05″
        Marathon, FL Keys
        by Charmaine Smith Ladd
        Boot Key Harbor (BKH) offers the very best protection in all of the Florida Keys for boats looking to get out of weather. The Harbor is accessed from the Atlantic by way of two inlets. The west inlet has a controlling depth of 6 feet. The south inlet, Sister’s Creek, has a controlling depth of just a couple of inches over four feet.
        Since the completion of the 226-ball mooring field in
        Boot Key Harbor, many have erroneously made the conclusion that anchorage is no longer available.
        Nothing could be further from the truth.
        As you pass the permanently upright bascule bridge and enter the Harbor, you will find the anchorage area begins immediately to your right (south). The water is relatively much shallower prior to reaching red marker 16. Deeper water (minimum 7-8+ ft.) is found just south of the western inlet channel between red markers 16 and 18. The anchorage here is approximately 350 yards in length (west to east) and about 100 yards wide (south to north). Shallower draft vessels can anchor beyond the 100 yards nearer to the southern line of mangroves.
        There is also a much smaller, much shallower anchorage located at the opposite (east) end of Boot Key Harbor. This anchorage is ideal for multihull vessels and drafts of no more than 3-1/2 feet. There are some deeper spots in the area, but those are usually taken.
        Dinghy dockage is offered by the Marathon City Marina at $13/day, $43/week, or $127.50/month.
        The dinghy fees include trash disposal, the use of the new bathhouse and adjoining laundry facilities, access to potable water (.05 cents/gallon), and weekly pumpout.
        If you are anchoring and don’t need shore access often enough to warrant the City Marina dinghy fees,
        you can dinghy to the far eastern end of the Harbor to Hurricane Hole Marina. There they offer a daily dinghy dockage rate of only $5.00 and are in close proximity to Publix grocery and other frequented stores. This is strictly a daily rate and offered as a courtesy as their closeness to stores is unsurpassed.
        So come on down to beautiful Boot Key Harbor where the protection from winds is as good as it gets, the atmosphere relaxed and laid back, and the people (boaters and landlubbers alike) are arguably the friendliest in all of mainland Florida and the Florida Keys.
        Charmaine Smith Ladd,
        SSECN’s Regional Correspondent for the Florida Keys,
        bringing you “The Low Down from Down Low.”

        Reply to Charmaine
      12. Hank Haeseker -  July 17, 2009 - 8:29 pm

        June 2009, found city-run mooring field to be well operated by very friendly people. Near new showers and restrooms. Laundry facilities ok. Good dinghy dock. Water available at the city dock. You can dinghy to the ENE in long canal to a private dock next to the Publix. Owner will charge $5 to tie up. Otherwise it is a long walk or a short taxi ride. You can also dinghy to the West Marine via canal near bridge that leads to boat yard. No charge to land at designated dock in the boat yard. Good place to be in a blow as moorings are sturdy and well spaced. Pump-out boat is included in price of mooring.

        Reply to Hank

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