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    • Important – Captain Charmaine Tells How to Correctly Navigate through the Channel 5 Bridge, Florida Keys

      Channel 5 is ,arguably the most important of the Inside Route to Hawk Channel, or the other way around, passages in the Florida Keys, north and east of Marathon and Moser Channel. And, Captain Charmaine has found a real possibility of dangerous navigational error in these well traveled waters. ALL Florida Keys cruisers need to read the article below CAREFULLY!!
      We would very much like to hear about your Channel 5 cruising experiences. Have you had a similar/dissimilar experience from Captain Charmaine. Please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.

      April 29th 2011
      “Channel 5 Bridge Passage – Chart 11449 Recommended Route in Error”
      24 50.281 N, 80 46.401 W
      by Charmaine Smith Ladd

      The Channel 5 bridge spans between Long Key and Lower Matacumbe Key. It has a fendered underpass for vessels needing clearance (65′). Being the first opportunity for boats coming down to the Keys from the West coast of Florida to cross over from Florida Bay into the Atlantic, Channel 5 is understandably heavily traversed. For those desiring a calm anchorage while traveling the Atlantic to those wanting to explore the backwaters of Florida Bay, crossing via the Channel 5 bridge underpass has its reward of a calm night in the shallower waters of Florida Bay and does not disappoint with its access to the serenity and beauty of its backwaters.
      September Sea and her crew have used Channel 5 for such purposes for nearly a decade. From the first time, it became apparent that the bridge underpass was marked incorrectly on my paper chart (#11449). There is a recommended route on that chart that is in error. The recommended route takes you between the wrong bridge pilings and dangerously close to a massive utility pole piling. I made note of it directly on my chart and drew a line to show the actual route.
      The next time we passed through Channel 5, we had a chartplotter and had plotted a course based on the recommended route of the vector charts in the chartplotter. Of course the vector charts had propagated the same error, and we once again had to adjust our course to pass between the correct fendered bridge pilings. This is when the reality of the true danger became much more apparent. Charting a course based on an erred recommended route could find one in a very confusing situation, especially in foul weather or at night. The intersection of the black tracks in the photo below show where to properly cross (24 50.281 N, 80 46.401 W).
      Each time we’ve come here, it never fails that we observe other boats attempting to follow the recommended route of the chart. Just the other day, s/v Restless (shown above) was spotted on the wrong course to cross beneath Channel 5 from the Atlantic, while September Sea (also shown) was on the correct course.

      I tried to hail the vessel on Channel 16 but the couple in the cockpit either could not hear me or did not have the VHF turned on. Their vessel continued and just as I thought the Captain would try to pass beneath between the wrong bridge pilings, the realization of a huge utility pole piling staring back at him from the other side proved to quickly change his mind. The vessel turned hard to port. That was when the fenders lining the proper bridge underpass were noticed by its Captain. I am sure the vessel’s Captain then noticed that the boat behind him (we aboard September Sea) were on the proper course.
      This is a dangerous situation. The huge concrete pilings (foundations for communication cables) run parallel to the bridge on Bay side and do not give a boat much room to maneuver if the bridge is crossed anywhere but at the proper fendered opening. Those pilings are very difficult to notice from the Atlantic side.
      Yesterday, checking online with NOAA’s most recent charts, I saw the error still exists (see photo below). I’ve added a red dot on the NOAA chart to indicate where the proper crossing is actually located.

      I have learned from this that navigational chart changes do not take place unless we as cruisers report potentially dangerous errors when we see them. In the meantime, please make note on your current chart (#11449) and manually update any pertinent routes in your chartplotter.
      Cruisers helping cruisers, it’s what we’re all about!
      Charmaine Smith Ladd, s/v September Sea
      SSECN Correspondent, Florida Keys
      “Bringing you the low down from down low!”

      Question for Captain Charmaine:
      Is water always deeper in the middle of a channel when crossing? And when approaching a bridge to cross, how far in advance do you choose which pilars or opening to go thro? Maybe questions a rookie sail person might ask like me. Thank You
      Skipper Burr Bault

      Captain Charmaine replies:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my article, Burr. Local knowledge is often handy when navigating channels. Over time, areas of a channel can be silted in (due to hurricanes, usually) and not have the minimum depth as shown on charts. So the answer to whether or not the middle of a channel is always where the deepest waters are is: not always. Most of the time, especially in wide channels, you will find deeper water in the middle. The narrower the channel, the more local knowledge one should seek.
      On the charts, the opening beneath bridge spans for boats needing height clearance is well indicated. At that area, in most cases, boats with a mast height of up to 65′ can clear safely. In the case of Channel 5, I believe that the chart is still showing where a drawbridge of the old bridge span opened and allowed boats to pass through. When the new elevated bridge span was built, it was done so that boats could pass beneath without the need of a drawbridge and bridge tender to raise it. Therefore, the recommended route for Channel 5 shown on the charts is outdated, as it is in line with a drawbridge which no longer exists.
      At Channel 5, the placement of the new fendered opening for vessels is on the opposite end of where the old drawbridge used to be. Pilings are shown incorrectly. It is therefore very important to pass through where height clearance is optimal and the opening is clear of obstructions. Such areas are well marked on the charts and usually correct. However, in this particular case the recommended route is in error because it has not been updated since the new bridge span was built.
      Hope this helps!! Hugs!

      Very informative article. Your knowledge of the 5 Channel Bridge, of the Florida Keys, is awesome!
      Linda Honore-Pitts

      I have read many of your articles and appreciate your advice and warnings. My husband and I are bringing our s/v, draft 4’8’³ from Tampa Bay to Ft. Lauderdale the last week in November. What passage would you recommend from Marathon to Miami? We have limited sailing experience on the Atlantic but we like the greater depths. We do like to anchor and are not overly excited about visitng any towns or marinas unless necessary. And as always we are under some time constraints. Thank you for any suggestions!
      Beth Falkenhagen

      Comments from Cruisers (2)

      1. Bob -  August 10, 2019 - 5:05 pm

        Captain Charmaine, we are moving our Beneteau 381 (5.5 draft) from Virginia to our new homeport in Alabama. We are making the transit through the Keys for the first time and are looking for the best place to safely transit from the Atlantic side to the Gulf. Based on what I've read from other experienced Captains, I take it that Channel 5 requires spot on navigation getting to the Gulf. The other option appears to be Moser Channel as we do not desire to sail all the way around KW. We're seeking advice for our transit from Miami and then through the Keys until we're in good open water in the Gulf, and based on your post with pictures of Channel 5 we'd love to hear from you your recommendations.

        Thanks in advance.

        Reply to Bob
        • JAKE MYNIER -  May 10, 2020 - 8:45 am

          Hi Capt Bob I am trying to get an answer to the same question you had. Did you make the crossing? If so what route did you end up taking? Im in a 60 Bertram Sportfish. Sounds like we have the same draft, about 5.5'. It looks pretty staright forward getting to the bridge from the Atlantic side, just wondering how tricky it is once you get under to navigate to open water on the gulf side to make our way up the gulf coast. . Any input or experience is appreciated.

          Reply to JAKE
    • Seeking Deep Water Channel Marina off Northern Hawk Channel

      If you have local knowledge of marina entrance channels that can accommodate a 5’5″ draft, let us hear from you. August is asking about Hawk Channel from Biscayne Bay to Marathon.

      Our sailboat draws 5’5″. I can’t seem to find ANY marinas on the ocean side We can get in about halfway on the trip. Any suggestions?
      August Trometer,  email:



      Comments from Cruisers (2)

      1. Michael Moorehead -  November 25, 2016 - 3:34 pm

        We too draw 5.5 feet. Best solution I have is to anchor overnight at Rodriguez Key, about half way to Marathon. Marathon and Key West will offer you marina options.

        Reply to Michael
      2. Mike Curreri -  November 25, 2016 - 2:55 pm

        Anchoring by Rodriguez Key is the best alternative. Ocean Reef claims to have an 8′ approach at MLW, but I have been told there is a 5′ bump. No personal knowledge yet (going to try it in a few days.

        Reply to Mike
    • Praise for Key Largo Harbor Marina, Hawk Channel, Key Largo, FL

      Key Largo Harbor Marina overlooks the northern banks of Port Largo Canal, hard by this stream’s 90 degree turn to the west.

      Just had our 42′ sailboat, Pura Vida, hauled out and the bottom painted and topsides detailed. We can’t say enough good things about the staff at this marina. The owners are there everyday and very active in the operation of the yard. Highly recommend their services, very meticulous and thorough. Very secure 24/7. They are making improvements to the facilities and getting better everyday. It’s never fun to live “on the hard,” but the staff here made us feel at home. Pictures of the haul out and work on or FB page at
      John-Michael on s/v Pura Vida

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

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

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    • Report from Rodriguez Key Anchorage, Hawk Channel – Key Largo, FL

      Rodriguez Key Anchorage lies to the north of Rodriguez Key, off Hawk Channel, and northwest of marker #37. This is one of the only anchor down spots on the Hawk Channel side of the Florida Keys north and east of Channel Five. Our thanks to Capt. Pozun for this report.

      I have anchored at rodriguexz at least ten times in my trips to from keys and mollasses reef. Best holding anchorage is in back on nw side but any side in a blow can be done. Hawk side in nw ti n winds// west bay side in all s winds. Its an easy run to Marathon or dinner key its minutes from fuel in key largo great spot.
      R Tony Pozun c400 catalina Mystical Paradise 6 ft draft

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

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Rodriguez Key Anchorage

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    • Report from Hawk’s Cay Resort Marina, Hawk Channel, Florida Keys

      Hawk’s Cay Resort Marina entrance canal system lies off the southerly banks of Duck Key, at the southern end of Long Key Viaduct, some 2.7 nautical miles north-northeast of Hawk Channel’s marker #45.

      This has been my 4th time, first time without children, need tq be see [sic], the only bad things the showers are not really clean, but the place have every thing, pools, lake, this is a quiet place not to party, a little expensive but that the price to pay.

      Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Hawk’s Cay Resort Marina

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Hawk’s Cay Resort Marina

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    • Recent Passage through Snake Creek Bridge and Overhead Powerline Clearance

      Snake Creek Bridge - Click for Chartview

      Snake Creek is the northernmost (and easternmost) channel in the Florida Keys that provides reasonably reliable access from the Florida Keys Inside (Florida Bay) Route to Hawk Channel, or the other way around. Several earlier articles here on the Cruisers’ Net, as well as my own soundings, indicate that MLW soundings on the extreme Hawk Channel end of the Snake Creek channel, have risen to 5-foot levels.
      Snake Creek, is one of only three passages (the other two being Channel Five and Moser Channel) between Miami and Big Pine Key that cruisers can (reliably) use to cruise between the inside and outside Florida Keys routes.
      So, timely operation of the bascule bridge crossing Snake Creek is an important consideration for cruisers. Below, Captain Dennis found the bridge tender a bit balky, and he also comments on some nearby powerlines.

      I just went through Snake Creek bridge yesterday in a Hunter 285. They publish that they open on demand other then restricted hours. They have change the restricted hours a couple times in the recent past so I won’t quote those hours now, but during the restricted hours they still open on the hour and on the half hour when requested. After just missing the 10:00 am opening, when we could not get a response on the VHF radio from the bridge attendant, we whistled for passing at 1030 at 11 and again at 1130 before we finally got an opening. The bridge attendant’s phone number is 305-664-3632. the mast on our hunter is 44 and a half feet above the water. I estimate that we cleared the power lines by 6-10′ so your 70′ stick is way too high. I tried to call just to see for cities reference, but all I got was a recording.
      Capt Dennis with Sailshare

      We went through the snake creek channel twice in a leopard 46 with a 70′ mast without incident. The lower wires are telephone and data cables. This was done in Feb 2011.
      T. Macpherson

      We have taken a 50′ Prout 3 1/2′ draft with 70′ bridge clearance under the Snake creek bridge wires at low tide. The bridge tenders said we were pretty close to the lowest wires, maybe within a foot or two.
      Captain Harold Ochstein

      January 14, 2014
      We took 42ft cat through Snake Creek 12/30/13 ‘“ Took it on rising tide with no issues, except ‘“ bridge tender would not respond. After waiting 15min and requesting response again, then waiting another 15min requesting response, another captain came on and said he was waiting also and that bridge would open at 4. It did open at 4pm, however no response what so ever from bridge tender. I asked some of the locals at fuel dock, and they indicated this was pretty common complaint.
      Brenda & George Lindberg

      Don’t know why they have not replaced that bridge yet. I lived in the Keys in the 80’s and 90’s and that bridge was stuck in the up position more than twice that I can remember. Great for the boaters, but once it was stuck for over 24 hours. Hundreds of people south were stuck, missed flights and also the nearest hospital was in Marathon. Monroe County needs to hire more friendly people as bridge tenders.
      Frank Collins

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Snake Creek

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    • Shallow Water Confirmed at Entrance to Snake Creek From Hawk Channel, Florida Keys, near Islamorada

      Snake Creek - Click for Chartview

      For several years now, there’s been a concern about MLW depths on the Hawk Channel side of the Snake Creek Channel. (See /?p=105412) The shallow water is a real problem, as Snake Creek is the only really reliable route for cruising sized craft to cruise from the Florida Keys Inside Route to Hawk Channel, or the other way around, between Angelfish Creek and Channel Five. Captain Robinson’s observations confirm that shallow depths reported earlier are still present.

      Went out with a handheld depthsounder yesterday Oct. 6, 2013 at 3:00 pm, one hour before low tide and measured 4.5′ on the hawk channel side just before the channel where the chart reads 4′. Measured 6′ on the bayside next to each of the red markers at 3:30 PM.
      Jules Robinson

      Snake Creek has been this shallow for years. Any sailing cruisers should be using Channel Five and never attempt Snake Creek.

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Snake Creek

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    • Anchoring in Rodriguez Key Anchorage (Hawk Channel – Key Largo)

      Rodriguez Key Anchorage lies to the north of Rodriguez Key, off Hawk Channel, and northwest of marker #37. This is one of the only anchor down spots on the Hawk Channel side of the Florida Keys north and east of Channel Five.

      My wife and I have spent 6 nights at anchor behind Rodriquez Key over the last 4 cruising seasons as we moved from and to Marathon in the Keys. The main issue for us was the sea grass and how it made anchoring difficult. We learned from experience that the best practice was to find a large area of sand drop the anchor and pay out the chain to the desired amount. Once done we backed down and set the anchor. Our usual practice in other anchorages was to begin backing down as the anchor touched bottom. At Rodriquez, that technique only gathered a large amount of grass and an anchor not setting. We had more than a few nights with 15kn of wind and we never dragged.
      If you have a dog to walk, It is a long ride to the NW for a place for puppy relief.

      what an informative post -. thank you
      s/v ZIG-ZAG

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

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Rodriguez Key Anchorage

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    • A Pleasant Night at Rodriguez Key Anchorage (Hawk Channel – Key Largo)

      Rodriguez Key Anchorage lies to the north of Rodriguez Key, off Hawk Channel, and northwest of marker #37. This is one of the only anchor down spots on the Hawk Channel side of the Florida Keys north and east of Channel Five.

      On 6/4/2012, we spent the night behind Rodriguez Key. It was a pleasant experience, we found plenty of water getting in there, you just have to pay attention to your chart and the shoaling off the southeastern tip of the island. The shoals are actually very well marked with floating buoys, but be careful because they extend out quite a bit further. It’s easy to see the color change in the water if you come in during daylight hours. We got there just before dark and found several boats already on the anchor, but there was still plenty of room and we dropped the hook in about 7′ of water. The wind kicked up out of the southwest during the night, but we were reasonably well protected. Not sure I’d want to be there in a howling northeaster!
      David Ogle
      S/V Double Decker
      35′ Cheoy Lee Robert Perry Sloop

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

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Rodriguez Key Anchorage

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    • Rodriguez Key Anchorage (Hawk Channel – Key Largo)

      Captain Jane’s observations on this anchorage mirror my own experiences. It’s fine if you must anchor near to Hawk Channel, as long as the weather does not get to agitated. Give me a well sheltered Florida Key Anchorage on the inside route very time, but, with the draft of Captain Jane’s vessel, that would be an iffy proposition at best.

      Anchored on north side of Rodriguez Key

      Sometimes you don’t want to stop and savor the swells of Hawk Channel and just want to get to Marathon — especially if your vessel draws 5 feet or more. With Pennekamp State Park now off limits to boats drawing more than 4 1/2 feet, according to the ranger who answered the phone the two times we have asked, that leaves safe harbors few and far between for many cruising boats.
      Rodriguez Key anchorage took good care of us during a small craft advisory one December night. Yes, we rocked enthusiastically when the front came in but we didn’t drag. We chose a spot in the charted anchorage on the island’s north side, close enough to be in her lee. Another vessel was quite a distance north of the island. She was there in the morning in apparently the same position as at sunset.
      We experienced excellent holding in 8 1/2 feet of water– winds were gusting at 20. North swells made it not my favorite experience but tolerable. I’ve experienced far less comfortable southern swells at Indian Key and similar conditions at Pumpkin Key. We set two anchors, a Fortress and a plow.
      It might have been more comfortable on the south side of the island, where another sailboat anchored that night, but I’m not sure as the swells in Hawk Channel are difficult to hide from. The NOAA predictions had been so wrong that day, it was difficult to know which side to choose.
      We met some experienced skippers who use this anchorage every crossing. It certainly makes possible a two-day trip between Dinner Key and Marathon which can be useful in a period of frequent cold fronts when three-day weather windows can be hard to find.
      In short, Rodriguez Key is a swell anchorage (pun intended) with excellent holding. The charted shoal on the eastern point appears to be marked by small floats. In a blow, set two anchors and bring plenty of ginger snaps.
      Captain Jane
      S/V Lady Jane

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

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Rodriguez Key Anchorage

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    • Caloosa Cove Marina (Hawk Channel, off Channel 2)

      I checked, and we actually list 4-feet of MLW depth for Caloosa Cove Marina in our “Florida Keys Marina Directory.” However, sounds like depths here may have shoaled even more.

      Just spoke with a very nice lady from Caloosa Cove Marina. She remarked and we discussed the depth for their marina, which is maximum 5 feet at high tide. Repeat; MAXIMUM 5 feet at hight tide. This is very different from the 5.5 foot depth reported here.
      Hope this helps

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Caloosa Cove Marina

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    • Pumpkin Key Anchorage, Indian Key Anchroage and Angelfish Creek – Captain Jane Reports

      Is there anything better than an article authored by our fearless roving reporter, Captain Jane. We don’t think so! Not only is

      At anchor at Pumpkin Key.

      Jane a very keen observer, she’s also a marvelous writer and we feel very privileged to have her as a regular Net reporter.
      Below, Captain Jane does her usual sterling job of presenting information on two Florida anchorages, with a quick blurb concerning depths on Angelfish Creek.
      Her first anchor down spot, Pumpkin Key, is located off the Florida Keys Inside/ICW/Florida Bay route, near the eastern shores of Card Sound. We provide links below to these waters’ entries in the Net’s “Florida Keys Anchorage Directory” listings.
      Indian Key lies on the Hawk Channel side of the Keys, abeam of the gap between Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys. We all collectively think SO LITTLE of this so-called anchorage that we have chosen NOT to list it in our directory. Captain Jane lays bare the reason for our low opinion of these waters as an overnight haven below.
      Thanks for another wonderful job Captain Jane!!!!

      Captain Jane Reports on Two Anchorages between Miami and Marathon: Pumpkin Key and Indian Key with a bonus comment on Angelfish Creek
      First, look at these two peaceful photographs. Don’t they conjure up the ideal idyll of the cruising life? But you and I know better, right? This season, we experienced both the “why are we heeling if we are at anchor” feeling and the epiphany that mooring balls don’t necessarily make you feel secure and comfy.
      So here is a current report on two popular places to swing on the hook or a ball while making your way to or from the Keys.
      Keys-bound, first up is Pumpkin Key. Depths of 8 to 11 feet, shelter from all but a western blow. Caveat: we are two for two for dragging here; watch yourself carefully when you first drop the hook. It’s easy to hook up with a clump of seagrass and drag at an impressive speed. One afternoon in January it took us and another vessel four tries each to get set in actual bottom. The other vessel switched from a plow to a Fortress style anchor, and we found security doing the exact opposite, same day, same time, same channel. Go figure. That’s the science of anchoring. The good news is, once we were set, the holding was great.

      Perfect sunset for a nauseating rocking rolling night on a mooring at Indian Key; historic site on shore.

      We had the same experience in early February but it only took three tries. Once we got the anchor in, we were secure even while we took a strong blow on our unprotected side.
      Next stop on your way to Marathon is Indian Key. It’s a wonderful place to visit, featuring historical sites and a dinghy dock and three free mooring balls. Signs at the dinghy dock say this ungated park is open from 8 AM to 6 PM and we hear it is worth a stroll. We confess that your fearless roving reporter was neither fearless nor roving. Intimidated by rolling and nauseating sea swells, described below, neither of us kayaked ashore to provide you with an up to date site visit report.
      For all the poetic appeal of visiting Indian Key, if there has recently been an extended blow, especially from the South is our theory, you can expect large sea swells to be a feature of your stay. But perhaps you enjoy a quiet night swinging — and we mean swinging — on the hook or mooring, with your nose not just in a book but literally slamming into it every 11 seconds.
      We made the mistake of thinking that when the wind clocked to something other than south, “rock-a-bye baby the cradle will fall” sensation would stop. We were wrong and, as a result, on top of our own physical discomfort, we had to endure 16 hours of intense guilt-demanding glares from the more sensitive of our two boat cats.
      Our advice — visit Indian Key in calm weather. There is no protection from any wind but north and the swells can be quease-inducing. Also, the tackle on the mooring we chose was quite frayed, something to consider if you are looking for shelter in heavy weather. Matecumbe Bight nearby might be a better choice.
      Captain Jane
      S/V Lady Jane
      PS: My most excellent first mate thinks I would be remiss if I did not mention that on our winter 2010 passages through Angelfish Creek to and from Hawk Channel, we found no less than 8 feet. We favored the red marker side of the channel. Now I’m not remiss.

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

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

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

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

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

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    • Shallow Depths on Snake Creek Channel/Inlet

      Snake Creek is an important passage that allows Florida Keys cruisers to easily pass from the Inside/ICW/Florida Bay route to the offshore Hawk Channel route, or the other way around. A couple of years ago, I began to hear reports that the Snake Creek channel was shoaling on its extreme Hawk Channel side tip. However, the report from Captain Brad below is the most alarming I’ve seen. Looks like vessels drawing 5 1/2 feet or better may have trouble in Snake Creek, even at high tide.
      It would be very helpful to one and all if some other cruisers would chime in, and share their experiences and soundings observed while running Snake Creek within the last several months. Just click on the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below.

      I had a slip in Islamora for a month (October). [My] boat draws 5’7′. [I] ran aground in Snake Creek on the way in on a mid tide, then bumped twice in the channel.
      Tried to day sail bumped twice on the way out and wound up hard aground on a falling tide and was stuck for 7 hours, 150 feet from open water.
      When I left there the final time on an almost high tide. bumped once in the middle but was ok after that. Even on a +2 tide lots of places set of my shallow water alarm (6ft)

      I went through here with a 53′ trawler drawing 5 feet with tides starting to go out. Jan. 13, 2010, 2:00 PM
      Very low depths but no touching going east into the Hawk Channel. Worst point, according to my dephtfinder, was just east of the last markers where the depth was showing right at 5 feet. My keel did touch coming in to the creek on the western end.
      Andrew Scallan

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    • Good Food at Hungry Tarpon – Robbie’s Marina

      Robbies Marina is located on the western side of the long causeway/bridge, joining Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys, in Islanmorada. It’s not the easiest place to get to by water, but you can always anchor up around Lignumvitae Key, and then dinghy into Robbies.
      For years, the attraction at Robbies has been to purchase a bucket of bait fish, and then feed the beautiful tarpon which hang around the docks, waiting for a free meal. Now, it looks as if there’s a reason for famished cruisers to pay a call at this facility.

      Subject: Robbie’s marina
      Cruising News: We just came back from a week’s trip to the upper keys. We sailed down from Miami and had a great time. Your latest cruising guide was a big help. We had now issues with water depth, we draw 4.5′. One thing I would like to mention is that after taking the dinghy out to Indian Key we stopped in to visit Robbie’s for some beer and a little gas. We decided to stay a while and eat dinner at the Hungry Tarpon. I was not expecting too much based on the write-up in the current cruising guide, but we were very pleased with our dinners and the experience. The recently new chef, Joseph Sassine is delightful and a master chef. I would highly recommend it for food and atmosphere.
      Bill R.

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    • Visiting Lignumvitae Key

      Lignumvitae Key sits just off the Inside/ICW route, between Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys, north of the long Indian Key bridge and causeway. This historic and ecologizal attraction makes for a great visit, but, as you will see, the state park operatings here are being cut back at the moment, and only three moorings are available.

      Subject: Lignumvitae Key
      Cruising News: Today we enjoyed an interesting and informative tour at Lignumvitae Key and would like to update you on the current status of this park. Tours have been cut back from 5 to 3 days a week – now only Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10am and 2pm. We were told this is due to current economic conditions, that many of the Florida state parks are being cut back or closed, and to contact our legislators to help keep our parks open. We also noted only 3 moorings where there used to be 5 (there is also plenty of room to anchor). This is a great stop for anyone cruising through the Keys. We came up from Marathon on the bay side and never saw less than 6 feet.
      Pam and Frank
      aboard s/v Blackfoot

      Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Lignumvitae Key Mooring Field

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    • Channel 5 Depths

      I think Captain ran into some unusually low water levels (see below), due to wind tides. However, caution is advised in the areas he notes.

      Your keys guide is being put to good use on my trip. The wind is howling and it's nice to have a reference to figure out where we can hide.
      FYI, we touched the bottom (5' 1" draft) in the middle of the channel approaching Channel 5 from Hawk. We were probably 100-150 left of the first red, right on the line on my chartplotter. The tide was -0.2' at  the time.
      Then, in on the way to Matecumbe Bight, we were in 5.4' to 5.9' of water most of the way, where the chart said 7'. Combination of the low tide and 25 knot winds I suppose, so didn't surprise me as much as the Channel 5 depth did.
      S/V Mayari

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    • Mooring Field at Lignumvitae Key State Park (Islamorado)

      I was wondering how many moorings there now were in this small field. Captains RL and & Karen answer that question below.
      Notice also that this cruising duo discussed the current shallow water depths on the Florida Keys Inside/ICW route. This is the subject of a string of messages posted just below this one.

      Cruising News: Question 31 We stayed 2 nights on the state mooring off Lignumvitae Key (2/1 – 2/2/09). There were 4 moorings available. Took the dinghy to Robbie\’s Marina to feed the tarpons. We came through Channel 5 with no problem, but weren\’t as lucky when we went through Bowlegs…very shallow water. We left on high tide 2 days later and had no problem.
      RL & Karen
      s/v Last Call
      45′ Island Trader 5 1/2′ draft

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

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    • Lignumvitae Key State Park Mooring Field

      On 12/4/08, as part of a “Florida Keys Wish List,” I posed the following question:

      Does anyone know if the mooring field off the northwestern side of Lignumvitae Key (off the Inside/ICW route, near #91A) has been re-established since the 2005 hurricane season? If so, have you moored here? Did you find enough shelter for a comfortable overnight stay? Did you go ashore and take a tour of the Florida state park on Lignumvitae Key? Did you enjoy your visit ashore?

      Responses follow:

      Lingumvitae Mooring. Weʼve stopped here twice. With a south wind it was peaceful, with a north east it was very bouncy. A few moorings are sheltered around the south west side but theyʼve always been taken.
      Bob and Toni Dorman

      Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Lignumvitae Key State Park Mooring Field

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    • Rodriguez Key Anchorage (off Hawk Channel, near Key Largo)

      On 12/4/08, as part of a “Florida Keys Wish List,” I posed the following question:

      21. Has anyone anchored off Rodriguez Key (west, northwest of Hawk Channel’s marker #37)? Did you find enough shelter here for a comfortable overnight stay?

      Responses follow:

      Anchored there in 2004 prior to jumping off to the Bahamas (South Riding Rock). Stayed there a couple days waiting for 22 to 25 kt ESE winds to settle. They never did so we bit the bullet and went anyway. My memory has faded but to my recollection the north side anchorage was surprisingly calm, even to these winds, when staying over to the west side of the anchorage area. Anchored there on the return trip too, but there were only zephyrs then.
      Bob Hanners

      I’ve anchored on both sides of Rodriguez Key. It’s a very convenient jumping off place to cross to the Bahamas. Anchoring was good but you are very exposed if the wind clocks around on you. We also found it hard to find sandy patches to anchor legally. You can get fined if you anchor in sea grass. The good part, is that the water around the island is as clear as Bahamas water. Great for scouting the bottom.
      Dick Mills
      SV Tarwathie

      Anchored on N side of Rodriguez in a max 10 kt breeze from the the NW and was happy with it. Departing on December 5 AM into Hawk Channel, saw two boats anchored on the S side. (Beneteau 343/drawing 4’9″)
      Appreciate your online info.
      SV Move
      Boot Key Harbor

      Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Anchorage Directory Listing For Rodriguez Key Anchorage

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