[EXPIRED] ALERT!!!! Sagging Utility Lines Create Hazard at Entrance to Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor (3/21/12)
ALERT!!!!!! During the evening of 3/20/12, we received the e-mail below from Captain Edwin Spomer. We immediately began research and determined that the reported obstruction seemed to result from a set of sagging power line crossing the primary entrance to Boot Key Harbor! YIKES!!!!!!! Read on:
The entrance to Boot Key Harbor is blocked at the bridge to vessels with masts above 50′ + or – Notice to Mariners has been issued by the U.S. C.G @ 1800 hrs. Several boats have been damaged today & yesterday 3/19 & 3/20.
I reluctantly waited to post this message until early this morning (3/21/12), when I could personally speak with our very special Florida Keys Correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, and get all the facts. Charmaine CONFIRMED the sagging lines, which are apparently the result of a sailcraft with an unusually tall mast hitting the lines earlier.
Captain Charmaine said her vessel is anchored in a perfect position to see waterborne traffic, as it approaches the power line. No more than fifteen minutes before we talked, a sailboat came within less than 50 feet of hitting the lines, but was warned off at the last minute by a local fishing craft!!!
Charmaine reports that a repair crew is on the way to Marathon from Big Pine Key, and this problem will hopefully be short lived. She will report to the SSECN just as soon as repairs are completed, and we will update this posting immediately thereafter!!!!
And, in case anyone is thinking they can bypass the low hanging power lines by entering Boot Key Harbor by way of Sister Creek (from Hawk Channel), my own soundings and Captain Charmaine’s extensive experience with this channel causes us to warn off any cruisers whose craft draws more than 4 feet. This channel is just too tricky without very specific local knowledge for deeper draft vessels.
Stay tuned! The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net will bring you updated info here, on our Home Page, just as soon as it is available!
We came in contact with these lines Monday afternoon, on entering Boot Key, it took off our Anchor light, wind instruments and bending our VHF antenna, we are now hostages until the line is repaired, our mast height is 60′ 8’³. according to the tide board we should have had 66′ to 67′
Good morning Claiborne. My boat was one of the ones that had damage from the [utility lines] in Boot Key Harbor. My mast is 62 feet. The clearance showed 65 to 64 feet.
Good to hear the alert but Sister’s Creek is deeper than 4′. I have come in and out of Boot Key via Sister’s Creek and have never experienced less than 6′. Take your own chances ‘“ I’m just saying.
Always FOR SAIL too
Claiborne, thank you so much for posting this information regarding Boot Key Harbor. The service and information you provide to the cruising community is why so many of us visit your sites regularly.
I disagree about Sister Creek ‘“ large sportfishers and sailing craft enter the harbor from Sister Creek daily. There is a spot at the entrance that might preclude 6’ from entering at MLW, but half tide and rising there is no apparent problem. I am anchored on Sister Creek with two other craft as I write this.
Update from Captain Charmaine as of 3/23/12, including a reaction to the above postings about better depths on Sister Creek:
Greetings! Have not seen any repairs done to the line today. However, boats with mast heights of 55′ are getting through comfortably. One vessel said his mast height was close to 60′, but often times others don’t think of what they have on top of their masts. Bottom line: not repaired yet. The winds have subsided somewhat and I don’t think the utility line will sag any further. That was an issue of concern during the recent winds.
Regarding SISTER CREEK. Sister Creek at mean low tide is 4’1’³. That’s FOUR FEET ONE INCH. From that point, as usual, you have to do the math with the tides as far as one’s draft is concerned. Obviously if you have a two foot tide you’ll be fine if you draw less than six feet. With that said, whatever someone has experienced in their vessel is highly subjective and there are dangerously hard groundings that occur in Sister Creek because of this. Each Captain has to make his or her decision based on their particular situation.
This is why I am extremely cautious with suggesting using Sister Creek to others. Some don’t watch tides as closely as others. Therefore, I merely report its mean low tide depth. Those who traverse Sister Creek with 6′ drafts have done their homework’¦and that is all that is necessary in order to decide to use it or not. Just know that it is not quite a no-brainer unless you have a shallower draft vessel.
This Thursday afternoon, around low tide, a sailboat with a mast height reported to be 63.5′ plus whip antenna, made it out under the wire. They hugged one side of the bridge/channel opening to avoid the lowest part of the wire. Sorry, can’t provide better detail. Low tide was .10 below chart data.
Also, rumour has it that AT&T will not be out for at least 2 weeks!