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Archive For: Keys8 – Marathon and Boot Key Harbor

  • A Quick Word About Sombrero Marina Dockside (Marathon – Boot Key Harbor)

    We kind of had to guess whether Captain Russell’s note below refers to Sombrero Marina Dockside or Sombrero Resort and Lighthouse Marina, both of which are located in Marathon on Boot Key Harbor. We guessed the former facility, but if anyone knows otherwise, based on the description below, PLEASE click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.

    Keep trying Sombrero Beach, too. Folks are in and out of there frequently. They always say they are full for the season…you just have to get used to Roy (the marina manager, if he’s still there). But we really liked it there and once on the good side of Roy, life smoothed out.
    PS Russell
    M/V Ocean Breeze

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Sombrero Marina Dockside

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Sombrero Marina Dockside

  • Boot Key Harbor Fee Increases Generate Letter from Fellow Nautical Writer, Captain John Kettlewell

    The note Captain Kettlewell has copied us on below, was inspired by the earlier article here on the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net by our very special Florida Keys Correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd (see /?p=79332). John’s words, as they usually do, speak eloquently for themselves!

    I sent the following message to the chamber of commerce in Marathon. Charmaine suggested I forward a copy to you in case you might want to use it on your website. I have no objections.

    Subject: Boot Key Harbor fees
    From: “John J. Kettlewell”
    Date: Sat, February 04, 2012 5:35 pm
    Dear Mr. Samess:
    You and your member businesses should be very concerned about the recently instituted dramatic increase in fees at the city mooring field and city dinghy dock. Snowbirding boaters in Boot Key Harbor spend lots of money in Marathon businesses on things like marine supplies, fuel, ice, groceries and shopping of all sorts, restaurants, and entertainment. The last time I was there on my boat I spent three weeks in the harbor, renting a space at the dinghy dock. In total I believe I spent several thousand dollars on refitting my boat, restaurants, and other supplies. However, as of February 1 the city has raised the daily rate for the dinghy dock by 69% to $22 per day! Imagine what it would do to business in Marathon if a parking fee of $22 per day was instituted on your streets. This fee seems particularly unfair when you note that the use of the two public boat ramps in Marathon is completely free, as is all day parking at the boat ramps. In addition, weekly and monthly fees also increased dramatically, while mooring fees also increased. In short, not many boaters will pay this extortionate fee just to tie up a dinghy and go ashore to be able to spend money–I certainly will take my business elsewhere.
    Boaters have a very well-established and efficient communication system that is spreading the word rapidly about these outrageous fees, and the unfriendly nature of Marathon. I know some boaters have already cancelled plans to visit Boot Key Harbor this winter. Marathon businesses should let the city know that the recent fee increases are bad for business.
    John J. Kettlewell

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Anchorage Directory Listing For the Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

  • Shuttle Bus Service in Marathon

    I knew about the Shuttle Bus in Key West, but I did not realize that this same excellent service was available in Marathon. You learn something new every day in this business!

    The shuttle Bus stops in Marathon a short walk away from Sombrero Dockside Marina. Right beside the Publix Market.
    It stops on the Highway in Big Pine and I do not think it is anywhere near a Marina. You can check the website and use Mapquest, Google maps to check.
    We are currently sitting at Sombrero Dockside and used the Shuttle Last Year, it is an easy walk.
    Mitch & Carole

  • Marathon Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field And Anchor Light Discussion

    There has been an interesting and wide ranging discussion underway on the MTOA List Serve, an organization that EVERYONE associated with the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net highly endorses, about picking up a mooring on Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor. Note that part of this discussion centers around the necessity of showing anchor lights. We’ve linked an article written on this very subject by our very special Florida Keys correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, at the end of this posting.

    We are planning on leaving Morehead City going south for the winter. We have been looking for a place in the Keys to spend a good portion of thewinter. This is our first trip south and we would appreicate some recommendations for good anchorages, moorings and less expensive marinas. We have been looking on line at the Marathon Mooring Field, but we are concerned that only 15 of their 216 moorings are big enough for our Defever 49 Cockpit Motor Yacht. We are afraid that we will get there and not have a mooring and not find suitable anchorage since they do not take reservations.
    Do any of you have experience with the mooring field? How quickly do it fill up? How quickly does it empty? Do you have any other recommendations?
    As always thank you for help.
    Shay and Elizabeth Glass
    49′ Defever CPMY

    You really take your chances with the Marathon mooring field. We were there in Feb 2011 and they were full and wouldn’t put us on a waiting list. The wind was from the north and we had to anchor outside of Boot Key and it was horrible. Other people have been there in May and they had openings.
    Mary Dixon

    And remember, you are on the border where the “International Rules” apply. In the mooring field or at anchor, turn on your anchor light.

    Shay and Elizabeth,
    The Marathon Mooring field begins to fill early in November and can stay full all season with only a few boats coming and going. You just don’t know what size boats will be departing. You can get
    marina reservations at several of the marinas and a few have transient slips but they fill up also.

    I spent many winter months on the Marathon town moorings and I don’t ever recall anyone leaving an anchor light on. Is this something new?
    Phil “TrawlerPhil” & Aven Rosch

    This has been the rule since the before mooring field was instituted. Sometimes FWC will come through and remind you and sometimes they will write citations. Sometimes you don’t see them at all depending on how busy they are elsewhere. Boot Key Harbor is not a designated anchorage by definition so an anchor light is required.

    You are not on the border so to speak. Marathon is outside of the colregs so technically international waters even though it is part of the National Marine Sanctuary. But more importantly, no matter where it is located, unless it is an official designated anchorage, which Boot Key Harbor is NOT, an anchor light is required.

    Okay I agree . but for those anchoring in other locations in the Keys, it’s important to know.

    How can anyone sleep on a boat at a mooring field or an anchorage without at least an anchor lite??
    See you on the waterways!
    Capt. Sterling

    Click Here To View The Article Authored by Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, “Where Anchor Lights Are Required in The Florida Keys – It May Surprise You”

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

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Marathon and Book Key Harbor

  • Life Aboard in the Keys: Where Last Names Are Optional

    What a wonderful, wonderful story from our very special Florida Keys correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd. And who would have thought about such an intimate 9/11 connection in the Florida Keys!

    Monday, September 12th, 2011

    Life Aboard in the Keys: Where Last Names Are Optional
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd

    Down here in the Keys, boaters are very laid back and unassuming. Most never inquire about the past of others, nor do we often know last names. Nicknames such as “Diver Dave” and “Fiberglass Dave” serve to differentiate boaters and tout their trades. I am probably one of the very few boaters who doesn’t have a nickname. But Charmaine is a very unique name. My spouse, however, is known as “Charmaine’s Bill.” There are lots of guys named “Bill” in the boating community. LOL

    A gentleman I have known for many years, “Ed on Old Broad,” is a delightful man with a kind heart. He and his wife, Sally, are more known for their gigantic feline ‘boatcat’ than probably anything else. Or so I thought. Another boater came by yesterday and told me others were gathering to watch CNN’s feature “Footnotes of 9-11.” He told me, “Ed on Old Broad’s interview is gonna be on there.” Not imagining the connection, my friend then enlightened me that “Ed on Old Broad,” before his cruising life, was Ed Ballinger, a Dispatcher for United Airlines in Chicago. Ed Ballinger handled 16 flights for United Airlines on that tragic day ten years ago, 9-11. Two of the flights Dispatcher Ed Ballinger handled were Flight 175 and Flight 93. Both were hijacked.

    At the time of the interview, CNN came here to Boot Key Harbor (BKH) and filmed it while aboard Ed’s sailing vessel, Old Broad. Currently, Ed and Sally are just a few boats down from September Sea at a marina where we are enjoying the benefits of ample shore power for cooling off during the hot summer months here in the Keys. Last night, a number of us got together at the marina tikki hut bar, along with Ed and his wife Sally, to watch as planned. Ed was visibly shaken and cried during certain portions of the broadcast. We all cried along with him. We all consoled him. This was a real life truth to the adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” We who live aboard and/or cruise full-time come from all walks of life. Our life aboard and sailing give us a freedom much yearned for, and needed for many differing reasons.

    I hope many of you will share this with others, including landlubber friends and relatives. Just as there are those who live vicariously through we who cruise and sail, embracing the thought of such freedom; contrarily, many do not understand why anyone could give up a house or condo on land and opt to live aboard a boat. For my fellow cruiser and friend, “Ed on Old Broad,” who, for a brief time last night became Dispatcher Ed Balllinger once again, today he’s back to being “Ed on Old Broad.” I like it that way. I’m sure “Ed on Old Broad” does too.

    Click the link to view the interview:

    Charmaine Smith Ladd
    SSECN, Special Correspondent for the Florida Keys
    “Bringing you the low down from down low.”, or

    Shows you how even boat names aren’t that important down here in the Keys: Ed’s boat’s full name is “Good Old Broad.” Sorry about that, Ed, she is most certainly a ‘GOOD Old Broad’! Didn’t mean to hurt her feelings.

    Hi Charmaine:

    Thank you for the quick reply. What a moving story about Ed. You know – that reminds me at something my mother used to say. “Behind every window there is a light – there live people, just like me and you. You never know what they went through in life – they just try to make the best of it.”
    Ernst & Melinda

  • Good Stay at Banana Bay Resort and Marina, Marathon, FL, off Florida Keys Inside Route, St. M. 1191.5, on Marthon Peninsula’s North Shore

    Banana Bay Marina & Resort lies along the northern shores of the Marathon peninsula, east of the Marathon Yacht Club.

    We docked our 40 foot Carver at Banana Bay Resort and Marina for the month of July taking advantage of their summer monthly rates. Larry Wade the dock master did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable including personally checking with us on a daily basis. We used Banana Bay as our home base for cruising and fishing the Keys as we were centrally located with easy access to the ICW as well as the offshore reefs. While docked at the Marina we had full use of the resort facilities. We mainly used the pool and tiki bar. They have (4) nice clean showers, laundry room and boaters lounge. Free internet service was strong throughout marina. Home Depot, Publix, Walgreen, and good restaurants are within walking distance. West Marine and rental cars are within 2 miles. The Resort extends special room rates at the resort for Marina customers. We took advantage of this to have family visit with us. We plan on returning next summer.
    Marina not presently shown on map view but on North side of Marathon adjacent to pretty Joe rock.
    Fred and Linda

    Click Here To View An Earlier Article on Banana Bay Resort and Marina

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Banana Bay Resort and Marina

  • Bio Diesel Now Available In the Florida Keys

    Another GREAT article authored by the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net Florida Keys Special Correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd. How great to hear the story of how Bio Diesel is now available in the Florida Keys!!

    July 16th, 2011
    Bio-Diesel Fuel Company in the FL Keys
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd
    My dear friend, Captain Jack Burnett, has lived in the Keys for nearly four decades. We have known one another and have been truly “family” for nearly nine years. He loves to talk of old times in the Keys and has been a plethora of local knowledge for me since first landing here. During all that time, I’ve only questioned one thing he’s ever shared with me: the recommendation of using discarded restaurant vegetable oil for running September Sea’s Yanmar diesel engine.
    Captain Jack has been running his 33-foot sailing vessel on the vegetable oil he obtains from local restaurant fryers for quite some time now. Vegetable oil from the fryers restaurants would otherwise discard is recycled by Captain Jack as he strains it and pours it into his boat’s fuel tank. He swears by it. He says his vessel actually has never run better!
    Well, Captain Jack was absolutely right! The proof is now making big news as Marathon fisherman, Jeff Lillie, has recently put his brainchild, Marathon Bio-Diesel, on the map as the first bio-diesel fuel company in the Keys. It took him seven years to do it, but he’s well on his way as the word spreads of the advantages of using recycled vegetable oil instead of diesel. Buyers use it not only to fuel their water crafts, but also as fuel for their automobiles and tiki torches! Some begin by using a 50% ratio of the bio-diesel with regular diesel. Many soon find, sometimes after some minor modifications, 100% bio-diesel is their fuel of choice! Captain Jack made no such modifications and uses 100% vegetable oil with no problems for years.
    It’s a different way to “Go Green,” that’s for sure. But Green is always a good thing when helping to preserve our natural resources.
    This writer must admit that the aroma of french fries while motoring is a remarkably refreshing improvement over the smell of burning diesel fuel. Besides…smelling french fries is almost as good as eating them; and inhaling involves no caloric content! Ha!

    Charmaine Smith Ladd
    SSECN Special Correspondent, Florida Keys
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”

    Thank you for mentioning us in the Cruisers Net. We look forward to fueling up those who make it to the Florida Keys.
    Nancy Kukkue

  • Florida Keys Marine Port Advisory Meeting Announced – Considering Pilot Mooring Field Program Regulations

    Our thanks to Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net’s special Florida Key correspondent, for cluing us in on this important meeting. It would appear that at this meeting the process of formulating anchorage regulations for the Keys, as part of the new Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program, will begin, hopefully taking into account the cruiser input from the three public forums held earlier. As I understand it, the public can attend and perhaps even provide input at Marine Port Advisory meetings, so PLEASE ATTEND IF AT ALL POSSIBLE!!!

    Hi Claiborne,
    Just received this from Rich Jones. I just got back onto the boat, but wanted to get this to you right away. I would think the other Keys area meetings will be in the same time frame, probably as before…three days in a row. I’ll do more checking on it. I got this because I asked Mr. Jones to keep me informed, and he has stayed true to his word. These meetings are the meat and potatoes…should not be missed. You know I’ll be there.


    PURSUANT TO Board of County Commission Resolution No. 057-1991 the Marine and Port Advisory Committee of Monroe County will conduct a meeting on July 27, 2011 beginning at 6:30 PM on the second floor of the Monroe County Office, located at the Marathon Government Center, 2798 Overseas Highway, Marathon, Florida.
    ADA ASSISTANCE: If you are a person with a disability who needs special accommodations in order to participate in this proceeding, please contact the County Administrator’s Office, by phoning (305) 292-4441, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., no later than ten (5) calendar days prior to the scheduled meeting; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call “711”.


    Pete Worthington, Chair
    Mimi Stafford, Vice-Chair
    Kent Edwards
    Phil Goodman
    William Hunter
    Paul Koisch
    Pam Martin
    Richard Tanner
    Sandy Walters
    Pat Wells

    Richard Jones, Sr. Administrator

    1. Approval of Minutes from the March 1, 2011 MPAC Meeting
    2. Discussion of a US Customs Port of Entry at Marathon Airport
    3. Discussion of dredging needs in the Keys
    4. Discussion of Pilot Program for Anchoring & Mooring:
    a) Review of the June 7-9 Stakeholder Workshops
    b) Consensus building in addressing anchoring issues
    c) Prepare a report to the BOCC regarding ordinance development
    5. Committee Discussion
    6. Adjournement

    Update From Captain Charmaine As of 7/14/11
    Senior Administrator, Mr. Rich Jones, is truly a valuable asset to the cruising, boating, liveaboard and entire community of Marathon and the Keys as a whole. After speaking with him by phone yesterday, he assured me there will be no write up of ordinances at the time of the meeting on the 27th. The meeting will focus on a number of issues (see Agenda above) and open for feedback and discussions involving the public: including the Pilot Program. With regard to the Pilot Program, Rich Jones and others involved very much want to take their time on this particular issue and get as much input from the community as possible before proposing any type of ordinances.
    It was apparent when speaking with Mr. Jones, that the Keys should be viewed as “boater friendly” and the consensus with the Commission here is that they all very much desire that boater friendliness to be known. Florida has taken a lot of bad press with their unfriendliness towards cruisers and anchoring, with good reason. But the Keys are different!
    The main issues here in the Keys are how to address the problems associated with derelict boats and vessels anchored in dangerous proximity of dragging into the mooring field during Nor’easters. I certainly agree with those as problems and feel confident they can be remedied without hinderingothers who are not part of those problems. The anchorage areas in question are very small and should be manageable without much difficulty. Homemade moorings made of engine blocks and the like are indeed a detriment to the environment throughout the Keys and also need be addressed (especially in the Boca Chica area); and ensuring proper sanitation devices are used to keep our waters clean are also major concerns. All responsible boaters have the very same concerns.
    At this point, the powers that be in the Keys seem to be very aware of cruisers needing the right of navigation and the option to anchor. I am hoping the Keys will prove to be a model of how the Pilot Program sites can stay within the realm of sense rather than be used as a tool to create unnecessary nonsensical ordinances that ultimately will lead to hampering safe navigation and inconvenience cruisers and recreational boaters.
    However, the public has to play an active role in what happens down here. Please attend the meeting on the 27th if you possibly can. If you cannot, then write to Rich Jones so your voice can be heard. Let he and the Commission here know you are aware they have our best interest in mind when making decisions and it is appreciated. There are problems here that will be addressed, but as I see it from those on the panel I have had the pleasure to speak with at length, one-on-one…they are listening and have the best interest of cruisers and boaters in mind. Richard Tanner, at the helm overseeing Boot Key Harbor, has been very vocal with his firsthand knowledge as a former cruiser that anchoring must always be an option here in BKH to ensure safe navigation. With Jones and Tanner highly involved in the Pilot Program process, among other advocates on the panel who also do not want to overreach, Marathon has excellent Marine and Port Advisory members. We are very fortunate to have them on our watch as cruisers, recreational boaters and liveaboards, as they are quite determined to make sound decisions in the best interest of the entire community.
    Marathon will soon become a Port-of-Entry with lots of International travelers coming through to check-in. Boot Key Harbor is known all over as the friendliest Harbor in the Keys. I have a feeling it won’t be long before all of the Keys will be known as the friendliest boating destination in all of Florida.
    The other Pilot Program sites should be watched with diligence. Let your voice be heard. It doesn’t matter whether you live in Iowa or California, the beautiful waters of America’s Caribbean are here for all Americans as well as travelers of the world. It is not owned by us but put in our trust for all to be able to enjoy. Help us do just that.

    Thanks Charmaine for looking out for the interests of cruisers. The problem I see with all of these efforts to regulate anchoring is that they use the excuse that they just want to deal with the derelict boat problem, when in reality there are many other laws and regulations that could already be enforced to take care of those issues. What is needed is the will to enforce the existing statutes–sanitation, registration, etc.–while leaving cruisers free to go about their business. Requiring people to register, pay fees, undergo inspections, etc. in order to obtain some sort of permit to anchor is just as onerous as outlawing anchoring all together. Anchoring is about freedom to move about as one pleases, using one’s own resources, while treading lightly on our wonderful natural resources. Let’s keep it that way.
    John Kettlewell

    You and are on the same page. What you have stated is exactly why there is no real need for the Pilot Program. The problem issues in our Harbors and near shore waters can be dealt with by using laws which already existed prior to the enactment of the Pilot Program. The Pilot Program was put there specifically to open the door for local municipalities to regulate cruisers by way of ordinances. [The Pilot Program is exempt from the FL Statute which otherwise protects cruisers right of navigation and anchoring (FL Statute 327.60(2)].
    It is quite obvious the Pilot Program’s origin comes from a very few who want no anchoring (“visual intrusions” from their waterfront homes) in their Harbors (Sarasota Bay immediately comes to mind) and hide behind other sites to give them legitimacy. Using the public’s tax dollars to implement the Pilot Program to appease a few politically connected individuals is beyond ridiculous; as not only is it dishonest in its true objectives, but a misuse of public funds better spent for the benefit of a majority of taxpayers. It stinks to high heaven!
    Fortunately, I truly believe we down here in the Keys see the Pilot Program for what it is: a ruse for a very few to get what they want at the expense of the freedoms of others. We are cruiser friendly down here in the Keys, whether moored or anchored, and I do not see that changing.
    Perhaps as the ruse of the Pilot Program is unraveled and more understood by the general public (footing the bill), then those who have perpetuated it will realize there could be deeper investigations into whether or not the Pilot Program was ever a necessity to reach its stated objectives. If deemed not to be a necessity, then the question will be: What then is its actual purpose? That’s when those behind it with hidden agendas will scatter and run for cover.

  • Where Anchor Lights Are Required in The Florida Keys – It May Surprise You

    I must admit to not knowing that even in Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field, display of a nighttime anchor light is required. Read on, and our Florida Keys correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, will explain why!

    April 19, 2011

    Where Anchor Lights are Required in the Keys – It May Surprise You!
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd

    Most cruisers feel well vamped on when it is required by law to display an anchor light. Ask and the answer will most often be, “It’s not necessary when in a designated anchorage at night.”

    However, particularly in the Florida Keys, there is a lot of confusion as to what constitutes a “designated anchorage.” It has nothing to do with whether or not an area is designed for anchoring or commonly perceived as an anchorage within an established harbor, but everything to do with whether or not the placement of the anchorage is within Inland Waters or International Waters. Even those designations cannot be determined by what one’s commonsense may indicate.

    One may surmise that Inland is within any Harbor. That would be an incorrect assumption, especially in the Florida Keys. Many a cruiser has been shocked when visited by Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC) or the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and handed a ticket (usually around $70.00) for not displaying an anchor light when anchored in what was perceived as a “designated anchorage.” Like last night in Boot Key Harbor, where Law Enforcement was out and about issuing warnings and citations for anchor light violations.

    “It’s a designated anchorage!” is the common protest, “One does not have to use an anchor light when in a designated anchorage, and I’m in one because I’m moored in a designated mooring field!” Surely this has been heard by many an Officer while enforcing the anchoring light regulation. Cruisers truly are serious when they protest, but ignorance of the Regulations is not an excuse. With that said, here’s the low down:

    It is all about the acronym COLREGS and its demarcation lines. “COLREGS” stands for “Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions.” Basically, regulations put in place to prevent collisions of vessels. On charts it is usually seen in lower case, written as “Colregs.”

    When in Inland Waters inside of the Colregs demarcation lines {shown on coastal charts as magenta colored dashed lines} a vessel does not have to display an anchor light from dusk until dawn if it is in a “Special Anchorage” (clearly marked on the chart as such). However, there are no “Special Anchorages” in International Waters (outside of the Colregs demarcation lines) International Rules clearly state an anchored vessel MUST display an approved anchor light from dusk until dawn while anchored or moored.

    In the Florida Keys, heading southwest, the Colregs demarcation line crosses just prior to nearing waters of Lower Matecumbe Key. From there throughout the remainder of the Keys and beyond, a vessel is outside of the Colregs and therefore in International Waters: regulated to display an anchor light from dusk until dawn. Yes! This means that even while in the most protected anchorage area of the Keys, Marathon’s famous Boot Key Harbor, whether on a mooring ball or at anchor . . . one must display a USCG approved anchor light in order to be in compliance with Regulations.

    To some it seems silly. However, regulations are regulations. Once it is understood that a “designated anchorage” is deemed by its placement strictly in reference to Colregs demarcation lines on the charts, rather than being simply viewed as “any common inland place of anchorage,” it begins to make sense. When in the Keys, look for the Colregs on your charts and see where you are in relation. It will show whether or not an anchor light is required when anchoring at night.

    This writer hopes to add clarity to this issue and help prevent others who come down to the Keys thinking the displaying of an anchor light in Boot Key Harbor is debatable or voluntary. It is not. It is mandatory and enforced as per the Colregs. When outside the Colregs demarcation lines, please make sure your vessel is shining from dusk ’til dawn with an approved USCG approved anchor light (white light visible up to 2 miles in all directions).

    Besides, enjoying a nice dinner for two with the $70.00 saved from not receiving a ticket of violation leaves no bitter aftertaste! LOL

    For more information on this topic, consult USCG Regulations.

    Charmaine Smith Ladd, s/v September Sea
    SSECN Correspondent for the Florida Keys
    “Bringing You the Low Down from Down Low!”

    And, from a fellow cruiser:

    In addition, the USCG has issued an “Interpretive Rule” (33 CFR 90.5) which states that “A vessel at anchor includes a vessel made fast to one or more mooring buoys or other similar devices attached to the ocean floor. Such vessels may be lighted as a vessel at anchor in accordance with Rule 30, or may be lighted on the corners in accordance with 33 CFR 88.13.”
    I’m not aware of an exemption from displaying anchor lights in Inland Waters. I’ve been unable to find any reference to such in my copy of COLREGS.
    Sorry, I could have been clearer.
    I should have written, “I’m not aware of an exemption from displaying anchor lights STRICTLY BECAUSE ONE IS in Inland Waters.” Of course, there are “Special Anchorage” areas, but in my experience they’re very rare, and are clearly outlined on the charts and the CFR’s.
    Let me try again. Unless you see a clear outlined area on your chart about a “Special Anchorage,” with a reference to the CFR number authorizing it, you need to show a USCG approved anchor light (not a solar-powered porch light), whether anchored or on a mooring.
    Larry Shick

    And, Captain Charmaine responds:

    Very true, Larry. It was not my intention to be unclear and give the impression that as long as one is in Inland Waters no anchor light is required. A practice such as that certainly would not help prevent collisions at sea.
    Rather that such “Special Anchorages” are found in U.S. Inland Waters, not International Waters – and clearly marked on the charts. To many a cruiser, a Harbor with anchorage is a ’special anchorage.’ Your comment is perfect to bring the entire point to light that a designated or special anchorage is not what we may think it is, but what the charts dictate it is. Many thanks!
    Charmaine Smith Ladd, s/v September Sea
    SSECN Correspondent for the Florida Keys
    “Bringing You the Low Down from Down Low!”

    I believe the above article is inaccurate and confusing. Captain Charmaine seems to use the terms “designated anchorage” and “Special Anchorage” interchangeably, as if they meant the same. They do not. And she states that designated anchorages do not exist outside the COLREGS lines. They do.
    A designated anchorage is simply an attempt to establish order in a area where vessels are likely to anchor, or to safely anchor dangerous cargoes. Many designated anchorages exist along the east coast outside major ports like Beaufort, Charleston, Jacksonville, Port Everglages, Miami, etc. All of these are outside the COLREGS lines, and all require anchor lights.
    Special Anchorages do not require anchor lights. Special Anchorages are all inside the COLREGS lines simply because the federal government has no authority to alter the International COLREGS rules. As Larry Shick points out, Special Anchorages are very rare. They are listed in the Coast Pilot Chapter 2 and clearly labeled on charts. There are only six Special Anchorages from Cape Henry, VA, to Key West, FL. It is very unlikely that the average boater will ever anchor in a Special Anchorage.
    The fact that the USCG only occasionally enforces anchor lights adds to the confusion and misconception.
    Bottom line: Show an anchor light whenever you anchor or moor.
    Bruce Marschall

    Thank you for your comments, Bruce.
    I agree it is all quite confusing. My article was not meant to add further confusion but to hone in on the ever asked question as to why boats in Boot Key Harbor are required to display an anchor light — as some see it as being a “designated anchorage” and assume no anchor light is required when moored.
    Thus my conclusion in the article:
    “This writer hopes to add clarity to this issue and help prevent others who come down to the Keys thinking the displaying of an anchor light in Boot Key Harbor is debatable or voluntary. It is not. It is mandatory and enforced as per the Colregs. When outside the Colregs demarcation lines, please make sure your vessel is shining from dusk ’til dawn with an approved USCG approved anchor light (white light visible up to 2 miles in all directions).”
    I do hope that much of my article is crystal clear, as that is the intent of the article. With that said, if you feel otherwise, please let me know. I certainly do not want to mislead or confuse, but the parameters of my article were more akin to the problems we have in the Keys and BKH regarding the requirement of having an anchor light on whether in the mooring field or anchored within the boundaries of the Harbor. That has caused considerable confusion down here (and the shock of a ticket to those who thought it was okay to not display their anchor light).
    Many thanks for your comments. No doubt I have much more to learn on this subject as a whole.

    Change your anchor light to an LED light which draws less than 20% of what your incandescent lamp does and makes it a non issue to turn on the anchor light at dusk as the load on the battery bank is now so small…
    Marinebeam dot com has an excellent selection of high quality LED lamps that do not put noise in your VHF radio… I have not used the Dr Led bulbs so I cannot comment there…
    Dennis O’Connor

  • Anchoring in Boot Key Harbor (Florida Keys – Marathon, FL) – Captain Charmaine Reports

    The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net is proud and honored to welcome back Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, as our regular Florida Keys SSECN Correspondent. Some two years ago, Charmaine did some sterling work for us, but then health and other factors caused us to part company for awhile. Now. SHE’S BACK, and we could not be happier.
    Few know more about Florida Keys waters and ports of call than Captain Charmaine. Look for her reports here on the Cruisers’ Net several times a month.
    On a personal note, Captain Charmaine is just one of the “neatest” members of the cruising community I’ve ever come across. She is witty, lovable, and, on the other hand, her life has been tempered by more than its share of tragedy. Take a look at her web site,

    March 7, 2011
    Boot Key Harbor Anchorage, Marathon FL Keys (N24 42.228 W81 06.172)
    by Charmaine Smith Ladd

    A lot has changed in Boot Key Harbor (BKH) since last season. The bridge is now permanently open, as the drawbridge was removed, allowing cruisers to come and go as they please. This is a wonderful thing as it expands the very freedom we cruisers love to enjoy. However, it also means some cruisers attempt to enter after dark, which is not a wise decision if needing to anchor. Many boats in the anchorage have two or more anchors set in various directions and one cannot clearly see the many anchor rodes. It is therefore highly recommended to anchor outside BKH and come inside to anchor only during good light. Nuzzling up to the west side of Boot Key (South of the main channel entrance markers) offers great protection from East or NE weather.

    Winter to early Spring it is season in Boot Key Harbor (BKH). Which means lots of cruisers arriving to enjoy what has proven to be “the friendliest Harbor in the Keys.” Though there are 224 moorings, during
    season you will often find they are all taken. Hail Marathon City Marina (all spiffied up with a new bathhouse and improved commons area) on channel 16 once you are East of the bridge span to inquire about moorings. If there are none available, you can anchor outside the yellow buoys marking the perimeter of the mooring field. Then get on the waiting list by visiting the City Marina office (very friendly and helpful staff!) by dinghy. Unfortunately, BKH no longer has a water taxi service.

    Most find it prudent to anchor on the South side (off the main channel located immediately starboard as you pass through the bridge opening). The anchorage area stretches from there Eastward {to red marker 18}). Be wary of the far south side as that is the backside of Boot Key. Some boats are on their own moorings and do not swing much, so they can be much closer to Boot Key than someone with 40 ft. or more of anchor rode! There are also a few pockets of deeper water with shallows around them. Just because you see other boats in an area near Boot Key doesn’t mean you can anchor there. “Brown, brown, run aground” is the saying in the Keys. Steer clear of brown water. Near the grass beds off Boot Key the deep water drops off and the bottom comes up remarkably. From 9 ft. to inches in a flash! Many a catamaran owner has insisted he’s safe there after being warned. A change in wind direction puts him aground and he has Crow Pie for dinner! Local knowledge being offered by someone should always be heeded; not taken as a challenge to one’s anchoring skills.

    If you do anchor, please take note that when winds are light and variable in BKH…so can become the positions of the boats: quite variable! Make sure to leave room for neighboring boats to swing in all directions. This doesn’t happen too often during season when the winds are usually plentiful; but it can and does happen. When it does, boats can turn completely contrary to each other and the circus of fenders and fending off occurs. Staying apprised of wind conditions will keep you out of trouble. You may be just fine anchored where you are as long as the wind stays out of the East or West, but be too close to a neighbor if the wind shifts to the South or North. You get the idea. If you are waiting for a mooring, this information can open more options for anchoring. Listen to the weather and what may appear to be a full anchorage will have room for you if the winds remain in your favor for the duration of the time you need to anchor.

    The holding here is excellent but you still have to set your hook. Many a cruiser has merely dropped the anchor and expected it to hold. This writer suggests setting an anchor with no more than 30 ft. of rode out. This way you can feel when it bites. After it bites, rev up your engine and back down to allow your anchor to truly set. When your bow swings you know you’re dug in. Then pay out the remainder of your rode. If possible, ask others around you how much rode they have out. Noticing whether boats near you are on a single or multiple anchors is also very helpful in knowing how much room you have to swing.

    Boot Key Harbor is a wonderful place with friendly locals and cruisers. The changes mostly have been good ones and the City Marina is looking much improved. Hopefully, the information offered here will help to quell any apprehension one may have about anchoring during season. We’re ready for you! So come on down and see us!
    Charmaine Smith Ladd, s/v September Sea
    SSECN Correspondent
    “Bringing you the low down from down low!”

    With the price increases this is a place to avoid by a retired minimalist cruiser as myself..the city is much too greedy..let the “yachties” have the place..refuse paying to anchor..will get the word out to other cruisers as well!!

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

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

  • Harbour Cay Club (Marathon, northern shore, near St. M. 1192.5)

    Habour Cay Club is actually a private marina/condo association, located on the northern shores of the Marathon peninsula. However, these good people do take transients when space is available.
    Captain Wade’s laudatory report below is not the first time we have heard good things about this facility here on the Cruisers’ Net. If any of you have stayed here, please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your experience.

    After going under the Seven Mile Bridge to the bay side we only had to travel about 5 miles in calm conditions until we were abeam of the Fanny Keys, where we then turned to starboard and headed between them. A short time later we docked at Harbour Cay Club. The slip that we are in is a little shallow, but the view from our dock is “awesome!” It’s a small place with a great group of people.
    Wade Ehlen
    MT36 Shady Lady

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Harbour Cay Club

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Harbour Cay Club

  • Good Time at Harbor Cay Club (Marathon)

    The Harbor Cay Club is located along the northern shores of the Marathon peninsula, south of the Fanny Keys. As Captains Jeff and Chen note, this is a private club, BUT they regularly rent open slips to passing cruisers. This facility is a real FIND in Marathon.

    We have discovered an unbelievable “secret paradise” here in marathon called Harbour Cay Club. They are a private club owned by the boat/slip owners but they rent any absent owner slips to [cruisers] etc. by the week or longer. The facilities and grounds are excellent. every slip is a lay along with W-E-Cable TV & pumpout. Laundromat, clubhouse, bike rack, tiki hut and the most fantastic unobstructed sunsets you can imagine.Very quiet and relaxing Short walk to many restaurants & bars (mm47.5) super markets and K-mart about 2 miles, easy bike ride.Very friendly and helpful liveaboard boat/slip owners.they usually have slips for rent.When we arrived we found 6 other loopers here. we like it so well we have decided to stay an extra week!
    Call Dock Captain ED SKINNER 410-570-5089 for reservations.
    Jeff & Cheri Conniff
    aboard Annie Lee III.

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Harbor Cay Club

  • Banana Bay Marina & Resort, Marathon

    Banana Bay Marina & Resort lies along the northern shores of the Marathon peninsula, east of the Marathon Yacht Club. The marina here was heavily damaged during the memorable 2005 hurricane season, but, judging from Rich and Lynne’s message below, it would appear as full repairs are now in place.

    Subject: Banana Bay Marina & Resort, Marathon
    Cruising News: We spent two nights at the newly-renovated Banana Bay Marina & Resort. There are 34 slips of various lengths. The showers and bathrooms are clean but not air conditioned. Rates are average. We paid $93 for a 38 footer. Included are cable, electric, pump out, pool and wi-fi (although you must walk to the pool area for reception). The docks are all new and the dockmaster is most accommodating and helpful. We had a nice slip facing the bay and enjoyed the breeze and sunsets. There is no restaurant on site at this time. Home Depot is directly across the street for emergency repairs!!
    Rich & Lynne

  • Fanny Keys Anchorage (Marathon – North Shore – off Inside/ICW Florida Keys Route)

    Well, I agree with Captain Ron’s comments below, and I don’t CLEARLY this is a fair weather only anchorage, and should not even be considered if there is hint of foul weather in the forecast. However, weather conditions permitting, we have dropped the hook here, and spent a few very happy evenings.

    I wonder who calls Fanny Keys an anchorage? It’s just a spot on the bayside intercoastal to drop your hook like any other basically open anchorage. Plenty of current, boat traffic from Faro Blanco Marina, no protection from Florida Bay/Gulf winds. You really can’t anchor between the two little nubs/keys(?). Looks good on the chart, but don’t be disappointed if you arrive late after a long sail. The joke will be on you!

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

  • Marathon Turtle Hospital – Captain Jane Reports

    No Ordinary Motel: A visit to the Turtle Hospital, only a fifteen minute walk from Marathon City Marina.

    The former Hidden Harbor motel rooms housed guests again during the recent cold snaps -- 178 cold stunned sea turtles received a warm welcome

    If it looks like a motel, that’s because it was and sort of still is… The Turtle Hospital is located in the former Hidden Harbor motel, but the residents now are mostly rescued sea turtles. During this winter’s record cold snaps, during three of the coldest days, the Turtle Hospital admitted 178 cold stunned turtles (Loggerheads, Greens and Hawksbills). Eight of the cold stunned sea turtles stayed in kiddy pools in the motel rooms. Rescue, rehab and release is the motto of the Turtle Hospital, a one of a kind institution and the largest sea turtle rescue operation in the United States.
    The tour we took with a veterinary technician who works for the hospital was fascinating, eye opening, mind opening and touching. The normal patient load of over 50 sea turtles makes this the largest such facility in the United States. Come fifteen minutes before your tour to sign in and go through the informative displays. I recommend the trivia questions. My favorite question was how long can a sea turtle hold its breath? Another question revealed that sea turtles, which are reptiles, were originally land-based creatures that evolved into sea-based creatures.
    The Hidden Harbor motel’s former glory, if it had any, is now dim and its swimming pool, thanks to a healthy crack is now a tidal pool and houses a variety of rescued sea turtles and minnows that come in and out with the tide. Until recently, some tarpon lived in the pool as permanent residents, but they died from the recent cold weather.
    This is a great opportunity to learn about sea turtles, ecology and be reminded just how our human carelessness with waste can harm creatures we do not often see. Many of the turtles are

    A current guest at the motel.

    wounded by boat propellers that gash them as the boat runs them over at excessive speed in the grassy flats, by fishing line, by swallowing children’s balloons, fish hooks, plastic gloves, and other bits of our trash that make it into the water.
    Sea turtles, all five varieties that can be found in US waters, are endangered creatures. If you find one floating at the surface and it doesn’t skitter away from your boat or dive down quickly, call the Turtle hospital and tell them what you see and where. WIthout their instructions to do so, it is against the law to touch the sea turtles.
    The tour costs $15 for adult

    s, $7.50 for children and is worth every penny, if not more. The tours and gift shop sales (they have great T shirts in a large variety of colors with the hospital logo on the back) are the principal means of support. When

    the motel was still viable, the motel provided a significant portion of the funding, but several years ago, a hurricane damaged the motel beyond the organization’s means to return it to motel condition standards. The veterinarians volunteer their time and the paid staff is skeletal. By the way, the T-shirts have a a striking graphic of the hospital logo — they make great gifts that support a worthy Keys organization.
    Tours are offered seven days a week, except holidays. Call (305) 743-2442 for tour reservations. Log on at for more information.
    The Turtle Hospital, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is only a fifteen minute walk from City Marina. You won’t be sorry, except for the state of turtles world wide, but you will feel good knowing people are helping the turtles and that you, by your very presence and interest, helped, too.

  • Harbour Cay Club (Marathon, Northern Shore)

    The Harbor Cay Club is a great find in Marathon. Having been here, I know this is actually a private club, but one that choose to accept visiting cruisers, an unusual but welcome arrangement. Harbor Cay Club is located on the northern shores of Marathon. Click the link below to our Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing for this facility to check out its exact location. See you there!

    We have discovered an unbelievable “secret paradise” here in marathon called Harbour Cay Club. They are a private club owned by the boat/slip owners but they rent any absent owner slips to loopers etc. by the week or longer. The facilities and grounds are excellent. every slip is a lay along with W-E-Cable TV & pumpout, Laundromat,clubhouse, bike rack, tiki hut and the most fantastic unobstructed sunsets you can imagine.Very quiet and relaxing Short walk to many restaurants & bars (mm47.5) super markets and K-mart about 2 miles, easy bike ride.Very friendly and helpful liveaboard boat/slip owners.they usually have slips for rent.When we arrived we found 6 other loopers here. we like it so well we have decided to stay an extra week!
    Call Dock Captain ED SKINNER 410-570-5089 for reservations.
    Jeff & Cheri Conniff
    aboard Annie Lee III.

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Harbour Cay Club

  • Southwestern Florida Crab Pot Discussion

    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!
    Capt Sterling

    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.
    Jules Robinson

    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.

  • Marathon Marina and Boatyard (on entrance to Boot Key Harbor)

    Marathon Marina and Boatyard is the first facility cruisers will encounter as they begin their approach to Boot Key Harbor from Moser and Knight Channels. Don’t confuse this marina with Marathon Boatyard, which lies east of the now permanently open Boot Key Bridge. Marathon Marina and Boatyard lies west of the span.

    We brought Cabana to Marathon Marina and Boat Yard on 03/01/2010. We have made a monthly lease arrangement since we plan on using Marathon as our base for a month or so.
    The Marina is a bit run down but many repair and upkeep efforts are underway. The staff is very friendly, professional and helpful.
    The open views to the west come with a bit of vulnerability against west winds, so tenants have advised us to really secure the boat against strong western blows.
    There is a nice restaurant right on the premises, some kind of transportation (bikes in our case) is highly recommended to reach other restaurants or stores.
    Reinhold and Sabine Probst
    M/V Cabana
    Mainship Trawler 40

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Marathon Marina and Boatyard

  • Boot Key Harbor City Marina (Marathon – Boot Key Harbor)

    Excellent info about one of the premiere facilities in the Florida Keys.

    We have spent 2 1/2 months in the City Marina. We were lucky to get a mooring right away although there are good places to anchor if the moorings are full when you arrive.
    The marina staff couldn’t be nicer and are very helpful. Laundry facilities are frequently very busy but it’s a good way to met fellow cruisers while waiting your turn at the 6 washers and 6 dryers (when all are working). There are plenty of activities like yoga, tennis, softball, crafts, games and music. Two large areas for dinghy parking are provided. It’s a mile walk to grocery shopping but West Marine has donated several shopping carts that you can take from the marina to the store and back for those larger shopping trips.
    We would definitely return here another year.
    Larry and Suzi

    Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Boot Key Harbor City Marina

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