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    • Captain Jane Reports on Marathon, MM 50: Incredible Fruit (and vegetable) Stand

      Wow, Captain Jane has really made a find here!!! What an incredible Florida Keys resource to stock the galley with the freshest of fruits and vegetables!

      You’d think I was hired by the City of Marathon Public Relations Department, but the full disclosure is no, I’m not, there’s just a lot of really good things happening in Marathon here in the Middle Keys. Today’s prime example, which I type just as the First Annual Keys Traditional Music Festival opens for its second day a mile or so away and a week before the Pigeon Key Art Festival, is the weekly Farmers Market.
      Location: One mile walk from City Marina — turn right, walking past the Marathon Community Park, cross over the main road when you see a traffic signal, keep on walking. Starting at 10 AM (across the main road from K Mart) you’ll see cars pulling over to the side and a big truck dispensing free key limes and your box top that will serve as your shopping basket. On our visit this morning, egg plants, water chestnuts, water melons, exotic carrots in multi colors in ziploc bags (good for snacking and really fine!), kirby pickling size cucumbers, zucchini, sweet red peppers, bok choy and I’m sure I’m missing plenty in this recital…
      I spoke to Pete, one of the organizers who said the proceeds benefit the community in a variety of ways. The leaflet he gave me says the sponsor is the Educational Coalition for Monroe County (ECMC) and it supports Marathon Sk* Association, Collegiate Arts Magnet Program & Careers, Project Green environmental project, Youth leadership workshops and Dancing Classrooms. For more information, to volunteer, or give a donation, call (305) 743-6215.
      Why the free key limes? A volunteer said: Because we love you. Pete elaborated: After Hurricane Wilma, the fourth Cat 5 hurricane of the 2005 season and, from what I’ve read, the most intense, the key lime crops were destroyed and folks really missed this quintessential Florida Keys symbol and fruit. So, the Incredible Fruit Stand found a supplier and gave the limes away to make people feel good. The feel good continues to the tune of — I think he said 70 bushels a week.
      Get there early for best selection, advises Tina Belotti of the ECMC. Tina says the Incredible Fruit Stand gets about 250 customers every Saturday. Take a look at our haul and you’ll see why.
      Captain Jane
      S/V Lady Jane

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    • Captain Jane’s In-Depth Look at Boot Key Harbor (Marathon)

      Our fearless roving reporter, Captain Jane Tigar takes an in-depth look below at what may be the most popular port of call in the Florida Keys, Boot Key Harbor!

      We aboard S/V Lady Jane now understand why people heading for the Bahamas, Bimini and elsewhere just happen to get “stuck” in Boot Key. From all I have read of Marathon’s not so long ago history and attendant cruising quality (or lack thereof) life, this truly is an example of how people can make change in the world. This is one of those ICW stops that is now clean, welcoming, fun and a “real community.” If you love Vero Beach Municipal Marina, you may want to check out Boot Key for your next Keys adventure.

      Marathon City Marina, sea wall dockage

      First, getting into Boot Key harbor: We draw 5, so we did not even think of using the Sister’s Creek entrance and most folks we’ve heard from don’t suggest it without local knowledge or a really shoal draft vessel. We used the West entrance which, heading North takes you quite close to the 7-mile bridge.
      Once in the marked harbor entrance, we followed the clearly numbered markers. We have read some recommendations that you not follow the marked dog-legging channel into the harbor, past the open bascule bridge, however, we followed the City Marina’s live radio advice and kept inside that channel. We draw 5 and while I don’t remember the exact depths we found, there was no pitter patter of the heart as I did my periodic glances at the depth sounder. Perhaps the advice I’ve read to go through the mooring field is out of date — I’m not sure.
      The very friendly and capable staff, from what we’ve experienced and heard on the VHF to others, give very clear and good directions to your mooring ball, or to the sea wall if you are taking one of the along-side ties with connections to electricity and land.
      When you check in, be sure to take your included goodie bag — a sturdy thermal shopping bag with useful vendor contact numbers on the outside and a bunch of literature, coupons, and information about the marina and Marathon.
      Your first morning we recommend that at 9 AM you tune in to VHF Channel 68 for the daily morning Cruisers Net program. This is a moderated morning “VHF radio show” that begins with a call to new vessels to the harbor to introduce themselves and say where they came from and what their plans are. Next up a call to departing vessels. Then news announcements — and these are often really worth listening to as it can range from announcements about the closure of the dinghy dock folks used to use for Publix and West Marine to free yoga gatherings at 10 AM next to the tennis courts, a tennis court event, the weekly softball game (equipment provided!), music offerings, cruisers offering free presentations or workshops about something they do or love — this morning it was foot reflexology lessons, tomorrow I’m offering a Native American flute demonstration and talk, last week a couple offered a “concert” from their stern and dinghies from 30 vessels gathered round in late afternoon to enjoy it…
      After the announcements, there’s buy trade and sell; after that cruiser comments and questions about pretty much anything from hair cuts to medical care; then there is time for cruisers needing help or assistance. It ends with Trivia questions — cruisers offer trivia questions and sometimes West Marine posts the question and gives a prize to the first correct answer.
      Now that you’ve been introduced to the community, dinghy in, or if you’re at the sea wall, walk over to the marina office and the giant cruisers’ lounge. It is huge and open only during marina office hours. It’s where you can receive your mail and parcels, buy ice, swap books, sit at a table with your laptop and use the free wifi, work on quiet clean projects (there is a sewing circle going on since we’ve arrived). For big noisy, dirty boater’s projects, walk a little further down the dock to the project rooms. You will probably see someone repairing a dinghy or tinkering with some other boat project. There are lockers there to store your supplies…

      The Tiki Hut, Marathon City Marina. View of the mooring field and one of the dinghy dock areas

      Your first Wednesday — don’t miss the Meet and Greet potluck at the marina’s Tiki hut, or in inclement weather, inside the marina office. It starts at 5:30.
      Good new land heads and showers and a big laundry facility are just a little further down the dock near the humongous floating and new dinghy docks.
      There are only two things I can criticize here and neither would keep me from staying here again. One is that the recycling doesn’t seem to get picked up as quickly as boaters can fill the bins. But I’m so thrilled that there are recycling bins and people are using them, that I feel curmudgeonly even mentioning that it can get a little unsightly near the garbage area in the far end of the parking lot. Could simply have been the glitch of a holiday weekend. The second is the problem of dinghies being a little more enthusiastic to get to land than they should. The marina staff is working on that in a characteristically kind but firm way.
      One of the great things about the City Marina is its location. You are literally adjacent to a great city park with the afore-mentioned tennis courts and soft ball field. We hear you can even borrow tennis rackets from the park. This is municipal service at its best.
      It’s a short walk from the marina to several restaurants — Annette’s Lobster and Steakhouse is right across the street and gets great reviews and a lot of cars in the parking lot for the modestly priced daily buffet lunch is a good sign. The Upper Crust Pizza, just a little to the right up the road from Annettes was also hopping when we passed by, and a Thai and Sushi place just next door. We can vouch for the Thai curries and pad thai — really good and authentic. Or walk left from Annettes to Key Fisheries; it’s a short walk and you can eat at the outdoor covered tables of the restaurant or buy smoked and uncooked fish from the attached fish market. So far, these are the best fish sandwiches we’ve had in the Keys and the spiny lobsters grilled outside to order are excellent and fairly priced. Have several movie titles in mind because you will need one to order your food and Casablanca and Avatar are usually taken. Or hop in your dinghy or kayak and scoot across the harbor to Burdines — they serve great seafood at reasonable prices and it’s a beautiful spot.
      Publix supermarket is only a mile away and for the aerobically hardy, West Marine donated several shopping carts you can wheel to Publix and back to the marina. For the less aerobically inclined, folks on the VHF Boot Key Cruisers Net recommend a taxi service that charges $5 to get you back with your groceries; there will be information in your welcome goodie bag
      Rental cars are available several miles up the road at the Marathon Airport. Budget and Enterprise have some good deals if you shop carefully and check the internet prices as well as the in-house prices — you never know which are better. As we discovered, it can be less expensive to rent a full week than a weekend. With wheels you are within 10 minutes of lots of great places to eat and provision.
      Stayed tuned for Part 2, for a glance at different marina options and maybe even a snorkeling review of Sombrero Reef. Can’t make any promises. We’re in the real Keys now.
      Jane Tigar
      S/V Lady Jane

      One quick correction! At Keys Fisheries ‘” it may not be a movie title you need to place your order; check the white board for the requirement du jour. Today, you needed the name of a cartoon character’¦
      And, while I’m at it ‘” I learned from experience that the City Marina Wednesday night Meet and Greet is an understatement; when they say bring a dish to pass, they mean major pot luck. Last night, the marina staff set out a big long table for the food in the huge cruisers lounge. First timers, like us, bring snacks, and anyone more than one week in residence, brings in real dinner food’¦ It was a big crowd!

      We are now on a mooring ball having not visited here since 7 yrs ago. What changes and all for the positive!
      I will ditto all of Capt Janes comments, plus add that a weekly pumpout is included in your mooring fee (they come by your boat on a schedule and you do not need to be on your boat), and water is modestly priced at just 5 cents/gal. This mooring field should be the model for others in FL to follow. The rules are not overbearing and they really cater to the cruising community’“a novelty sometimes in the state of FL.
      Kathy and Jim

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    • Dinghy Access Discontinued at Hurricane Hole Marina in Boot Key Harbbor (Marathon)

      Hopefully, as Captain Charmaine notes below, dinghy access will be restored within a few months at Hurricane Hold Marina. In the meantime, you can always dinghy ashore at the Boot Key Harbor City Marina and Sombrero Marina and Dockside Lounge.

      January 14, 2010
      FL KEYS – Boot Key Harbor
      Hurricane Hole Marina Dinghy Access
      No Longer Available due to Construction
      Wanted to let you know that in the Keys’ Boot Key Harbor dinghy access to shore via the Hurricane Hole Marina has been discontinued due construction at the Marina.
      I suspect construction will be ongoing for several months. I’ll be sure to send you an update in the future so your readers will know if and when access again becomes available.
      Big Hugs,
      Charmaine Smith Ladd
      Aboard s/v September Sea

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    • Marathon Marina and Mooring Field Discussion

      The discussion below originated on the AGLCA (American Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) mail list. There is soooo much good info here that I have copied the entire string below.

      We are thinking about a month in the Keys, Marathon or nearby for the month of February.
      Any information or marina recommendations would be appreciated. Vaughn would like a pool nearby and I just want to avoid the $50-60-rates, yikes!
      Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season
      Jim & Vaughn

      Last winter we spent a month at Sombrero Resort and Marina, and liked it. They have a pool, and restaurant on site. And, you are a short bike ride from anything you want. I think we paid a less than $40 a night, for the monthly rate.
      Also…I know you like to anchor…they have 200+ moorings at the Marathon Mooring field, and it is a community all itself. Each morning at 9 am everyone gets on the VHF (68) and try to help one another with what ever issues they have. They also have a huge dinghy area and you can walk to West Marine. Plus…awesome fishing in the area…I went fishing in my dinghy every day. You can catch your dinner every night.
      Merry Christmas.
      Bob Koerner
      M/V Headquarters

      ADIOS is currently in Marathon for a month. We are at the city marina on a mooring. It’s a great community lifestyle with a large lounge area with TVs &WIFI, separate building for showers and a huge project room. In fact John is building a Chesapeake Light Craft kit sailing dinghy (stitch & glue) in there; he’s getting lots of supervision. Staff is great; they’re hosting a huge Christmas dinner with 80 boats last count. Mooring cost is $275 + tax for the month. Walk/dinghy to West Marine (they have a dock) and also Publix (dock for $5 I’ve heard) but walkable; Home Depot in walking distance. There is a bus to Key West ($1.50 each way for seniors; $3 otherwise). Enterprise is at the airport and will pick you up; great weekend rates. Our 2nd time here and the improvements are impressive. Two years ago we came for a night and stayed 3 weeks. They do have limited dockspace.
      John & Ellie

      Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Sombrero Resort and Lighthouse Marina

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

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

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    • Harbor Cay Club (Marathon, North Shore, off the ICW/Inside Passage)

      The Harbor Cay Club is located on the norther shore of Marathon, a bit east of the old location of Faro Blanco, Bayside. While it is a private club, Captains Andrew, Sallyann and Tut, are quite correct that they will take visitors when slip owners’ vessels are absent. This is a nice facility, and worthy of every Florida Keys cruiser’s attention.

      We’ve been at Harbour Cay Club in Marathon for 4 days and feel like part of the community. This is a great location for those who like to be away from commercial marinas. It’s quiet and close to shopping. Publix,Kmart, Winn Dixie ,West Marine, Home Depot are within 2 miles. Daffy Dan’s Dollar store is less then a mile away.There are no hills so walking and biking to the stores and restaurants is easy.
      Free self serve pump-outs are at each slip. The club house, has a laundry room (2w2d, an ironing station and bins for your detergent – yeah no more lugging) and 2 unisex bathrooms with showers). All areas are well kept.
      Several owners are not using their slips this winter. They would be happy to rent slips to Loopers at a very competitive fee. Cats are allowed – Sorry no dogs.
      I asked Ed Skinner, fleet captain, to provide the info below.

      Harbour Cay Club is a private, non-commercial, marina located bayside in Marathon, Florida Keys. We are a not-for-profit corporation and our members have the option of renting their assigned dock space. This year we have several members not in attendance so we have some space available on a monthly and weekly basis. Please refer to our website at for additional information and send me an email to Leave me a phone number and I will be glad to call and answer any questions.
      Thank You Very Much,
      Ed Skinner
      HCC Fleet Captain

      We have no association with Harbour Cay Club . We’re just sharing info on a great place to stay.
      Andrew, Sallyann and Tut (Cats Rule, Dogs Drool)
      Looping Aboard: Freedom – American Tug 34

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

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    • Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

      Below Captain Haeseker gives a good account of the facilities, including those just added, avaiable to those who make use of the city of Marathon owned, Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field. Hank also make a pretty good case for staying here!
      More on this facility at:

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

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

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    • Marathon Marina and Boatyard

      Marathon Marina is the first facility you will encounter, as you cruise from the Moser Channel towards Boot Key Harbor. There was a much earlier posting here on the Net’s “Florida Keys” section about this facility changing its name to “Marathon Cay Club.” Before posting Captains Joe and Sarah’s message below, I called, and found that the name, “Marathon Cay Club” is now defunct, and the name Marathon Marina has been, for the moment, re-instituted. I was also informed that a change in ownership may be in the works for the near future. Stay tuned!

      We spent 11 days at the Marathon Marina at the entrance to Boot Key Harbor between 24 February and 5 March. The marina is pricey at $2.50 per foot and the monthly rate would have been a better arrangement for a stay of more than 10 days. The facilities are a bit run down and in need of some maintenance. For example, nearest power pedestal to our slip didn’t work…shower doors didn’t close…hole in the wall in one shower…rusty nails to hang towels and clothes on instead of clothes hooks…paper towel holders in heads went unfilled for a couple of days, etc.
      The showers, laundry, and heads were closed one day for plumbing problems and there was water backing up from a drain in the floor. We were told the parts for the water pump were back ordered. On the other hand, except for the one day, we didn’t have to wait in line for a shower like the folks on the moorings in Boot Key Harbor.
      There were no trash receptacles near the slips. Trash overflowed the one dumpster in the adjacent boatyard before it was picked up.
      The marina staff was very friendly and helpful…lent us two 30 amp power cords since the nearest working power pedestal was more than 50 feet away…had answers or a recommendation to most of our questions. Free, good quality coffee in the office was a nice plus every morning at eight. The unobstructed view to the west was appreciated and we enjoyed the benefits of the west wind and a personal “sunset celebration” each evening.
      Joe Machado and Sarah Eichler
      S/V Windreka
      Whitby 42 #309

      Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Marathon Marina and Boatyard

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    • Anchoring In Boot Key Harbor

      Another GREAT report from our Florida Keys correspondent, Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd!

      Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
      Boot Key Harbor Anchorage

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

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

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    • Places To Eat And Things to Do In Marathon

      Marathon does have a LOT to offer. In addition to what Sue and Bob talk about below, don't miss the Wooden Spoon for breakfast!

      We love Marathon. We spent about a month there every year. If you like crab, try the all-you-can-eat Golden Crab at Keys Fisheries. It is located on the Gulf side, across the street from the City Marina
      and down the street aside the Pink Pig. If you like movies, try the local theater; it is different (in a good way) than any theater we have ever been in.
      Great lay-back little town with a lot of cruises.
      Sue and Bob
      Our Independence

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    • Good Times in Marathon/Book Key Harbor Mooring Field (and city marina)

      Even more GOOD reasons to reserved a mooring in Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor!

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

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

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

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    • Goodbye Boot Key Harbor Bridge (Marathon)

      March 9th 2009
      Goodbye Boot Key Bridge
      Boot Key Harbor
      Marathon, FL Keys
      by Charmaine Smith Ladd
      Say a long goodbye to the bascule bridge of Boot Key Harbor. The Bridge, which used to facilitate car traffic from Vaca Key to Boot Key, has seen its better days and traffic was prohibited upon it nearly one year ago.  As of tomorrow, the bridge will be pinned into the upright position and will remain permanently open.
      For sailboats and tall fishing trawlers, the permanent opening allows the freedom to come and go outside of what used to be the bridge's normal opening hours (7am-7pm). This now affords a convenient flexibility that is no doubt more to the liking of those deeper draft vessels which cannot navigate the open route of Sister's creek to enter or depart Boot Key Harbor (BKH).
      The Bridgetenders of Boot Key Harbor (BKH) were arguably the absolute best anywhere.  Friendly, informative, and helpful, those who sailed into BKH were often remembered and welcomed back upon their return.  No doubt the caring, calm and familiar voices of these great bridgetenders will be missed on VHF Channel 9 for many, many years to come.
      To Boot Key Harbor's former bridgetenders, and in particular to its most endearing trio consisting of Lee, Howard, and Wayne: On behalf of all who have been first welcomed by one of you upon arrival and lastly wished fair winds upon their departure: 'Thank You and Fair Winds to You All.'
      Charmaine Smith Ladd, SSECN's Regional Correspondent for the Florida Keys, bringing you "The Low Down from Down Low."

      Subject: End of an Era – Boot Key
      Cruising News: This morning the harbor witnessed the end of an era.  The Boot Key Harbor bascule bridge was \"pinned\" open, and cruisers heard the last of the bridgetenders on CH 09.  It was commonly stated that they were the best bridgetenders on the East and Gulf Coasts, and I know that I believed it.  I always seemed to come in when Lee on s/v Orion was working and anchored next to him the first year.  After that, he always remembered who I was, and welcomed me personally!  Granted, without any vehicle traffic on the bridge, their job made it easier to focus on the vessel traffic in and out of the harbor, but they were still the best.  Tonight at sunset, there will be a \"last sunset\" at the bridge, and if the camera and my brain works, maybe even pictures.
      Peace and Fair Winds, Bill Watson s/v Kittiwake

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    • How The Florida Keys Potty Inspections Impacted Boot Key Harbor (Marathon)

      Another great article by Captain Charmina Smith Ladd, our regular Florida Keys correspondent!

      March 2, 2009
      FWC Operation Livaboard in the FL Keys:
      An Update
      by Charmaine Smith Ladd
      It appears to be over.  Gone is the mad rush, hustle and bustle of hundreds of boaters from Key Biscayne to Key West, all busy with last minute preparations for the pre-announced arrival of the FWC performing inspections throughout the Keys.
      The FWC, through various media, announced there would be a 3-day period in late February, from approximately 4-9 p.m, when they would perform vessels inspections. At requirements were listed as to boat size.
      Within a few days of the announcement, no one could fine an LED anchor light anywhere.
      People were climbing masts all over the Harbor.  Bought off the shelves in record numbers, the FWC's announcement alone did the trick. The anchor lights are alive and ON in Boot Key Harbor!
      The little infractions were found stopping people in their dinghies (tenders).  One person had tied his dinghy to his mooring ball while out sailing.  His neighbor saw an FWC officer preparing to write a ticket.  The neighbor went over and said he would move the dinghy to the protection of his own boat until his neighbor returned.
      The infraction was that there was a vessel on the mooring ball, but the vessel (in this case a small dinghy) had no visible all around light. 
      Most Harbors of the United States do not require a moored vessel to display an anchor light.  Boot Key Harbor is not within the same legal designation as those areas.  Therefore there is no anchor light exemption here.  So when in BKH, whether at anchor or at mooring, let your USCG-certified anchor light shine from dusk 'til dawn.
      All in all, it is a happy ending. In Boot Key Harbor, only one boat (that I know of) was boarded for toilet inspection.  The owner of one vessel reports his boat's Y-valve configuration was not one that could be locked.  The FWC Officer put red dye into the boat's head, flushed, and affirmed the head had not recently been flushing overboard.  Though the officer could have issued the vessel's owner (you should be able to lock the Y-valve) a citation, he did not.
      I want to let you know that the FWC Officer was great in this particular instance.  I truly believe this particular boat was boarded because its owner was overhead, after identifying himself and his boat name, calling FWC officers derogatory names.  So guess who was #1 on their list to board? 
      And rightfully so!  Saying such publically is like extending an invitation!  Don't ASK for trouble.  Even so, the officer on that scene was reported as being quite cordial and professional.  My captain's hat is off to the FWC on that one!
      There was also the report via the media when derelict boats were found in various areas in the Keys (not BKH) while the FWC did their thing.  It's interesting that the majority of the pictures shown in the papers were of burned out fishing boats and sunken open type fishing boats that could not be used as liveaboards.  Yet the article's focus was FWC Officer Bobby Dube saying abandoned boats are a problem caused by liveaboards. 
      And the crowd goes "Hmmmm."
      The overwhelming majority of boaters never saw the FWC at all.  This writer feels that the every-blue-moon simple announcement of imminent enforcement does more to produce compliance than any number of routine patrols could ever do. Take that from one who was here as it happened!
      The FWC handled it well.  Kudos on a job well done.
      Charmaine Smith Ladd, SSECN's Regional Correspondent for the Florida Keys, bringing you "The Low Down from Down Low."

      And, from another fellow cruiser:

      Subject: Thru-hull check
      Cruising News: I was visited by a Marathon uniform in Boot Key Hbr checking thru-hull \'seal\'.  All very polite.  I have holding tank but no t-h connection and had a pump-out on entry at B / K. 
      s/v EUROA

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    • Sister Creek – Boot Key Harbor (Marathon) Depths

      I copied Captain Sam’s question below from the Net’s “Ask Your Neighbor” page. I thought he might get a quicker answer if I put his text here as well.

      Subject: Entering Boot Dey Harbor with 6′ draft Cruising News:
      I have been told that Boot Key Harbor can be entered through Sister Creek at high tide with 6′ draft. (mast is too high for main channel passage under 65′ power cable clearance) Has anyone had that experience with 6′ draft?
      Catalina 50

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

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

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    • Marathon – Book Key Harbor – Still Cruiser Friendly

      On 1/9/09, as part of a Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net Alert, I asked for info about an ordinance which was proposed some months ago in Marathon, to address the very real problem of abandoned vessels. The trouble was that, as originally written, it would have been a technical violation to leave your boat at all.
      Fortunately, as you will see below this entire proposal was dropped, or perhaps was never a real issue in the first place. Clearly, Marathon and the Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field are still VERY cruiser friendly!

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

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

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

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

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    • Marathon Marina Recommendations

      I copied the question and answer below from the AGLCA list. As usal, Captain Alan gives superb advice!

      Does anyone have a favorite marina in Marathon to stay for 2 or 3 days?
      Bob Koerner

      My favorite is Marathon Marina. This is the first marina entering on Boot Key Channel. It is before the bridge. Best views of the sunset. Stayed here a couple of times. The bus to Key West stops at the end of the road. I have also used the bus to go to Boaters World, etc. Its only two stops but for $1 its cheaper than a taxi. Bus runs on a 1.5 hour schedule.
      Alan Lloyd

      Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Marathon Marina & Boatyard

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    • Boot Key Harbor and Boot Key Harbor City Marina (a.k.a. Marathon City Marina)

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

      39. The conversion of Boot Key Harbor from an anchorage to a mooring field, has been one of the great success stories of the Florida Keys. Most of the sunken and semi-sunken vessels have been removed, and the water is much cleaner. Also, the city of Marathon has built a nice shoreside support facility (Marathon City Marina), with good dinghy dockage, wet slip dockage, showers and Laundromat. Will someone who has picked up a mooring at Boot Key Harbor lately please comment on the mooring field, and Marathon City Marina. Did you have to get on a waiting list to secure a mooring?

      Responses follow:

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

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

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

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

      Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Boot Key Harbor City Marina (a. k.a. Marathon City Marina)

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

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    • Panchos Fuel Dock – Burdines Marina (Marathon – Boot Key Harbor)

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

      38. Closer to the Boot Key Harbor bridge, cruisers will find both Panchos Fuel Dock and Burdines Marina. Someone please give us reports on these two facilities.

      Responses follow:

      We obtained fuel at the Panchos Fuel Dock. It is what it is, a fuel stop. It was fine, easy to dock and leave.
      Ron Hollander

      Fueled and got water at both places. I liked Burdines, mostly because of the tattooed chick operating the fuel dock.

      When looking at Panchos from Burdines it seems that the remodeling work has been completed. There are a few boats in the slips but in general there is not much activity, at least not during the early November period. We’ll know more when we get back end of this month.
      Burdines is doing fine. All slips are taken. The Chiki Tiki seems busy, although in general we have noticed activities quieting down. The economy is no doubt taking its toll. For instance, last year Burdines and Ponchos were swamped with boats returning from the Ft. Lauderdale boat show. This year we saw one. A really big one. I am not sure that one big one makes up for the lack of many smaller ones

      Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Panchos Fuel Dock

      Click Here To View the Florida Keys Cruisers’ Net Marina Directory Listing For Burdines Marina

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    • Important – Proposed Marathon Regulations For Unoccupied Vessels

      Everyone should know up front that the proposed regulations (see below) concerning vessels left unoccupied on a mooring in Boot Key Harbor or at anchor in Marathon jurisdictional waters, is a complex issue, which has brought about some warm feelings, particulary on the part of local cruisers.
      I am going to take on a bit more of an editorial role in this discussion than usual, as I don't think it serves anyone's purpose to bandy about inflammatory language. So, I am going to excerpt portions of a letter written by Captain Marti Brown of Marathon, and mix this text with some of my own comments and those of my "Cruising the Florida Keys" co-author, Morgan Stinemetz.
      So, to begin. please peruse excerpts from Catain Marti's letter to the Marathon City Council below, which she forwarded to me:

      The intent of this proposed ordinance as I have learned by speaking with Richard Tanner at the City Marina is to provide the harbormaster with legal recourse to prevent wet storage boats from being left in the harbor. This ordinance came about as a result of the lack of contractual authority on the part of the City to manage those vessels that anchor on either the City bay bottom or the State Bay bottom that is leased by the City. Please note that the City Marina already has a contract and recourse for those of us that are living in the mooring field. While the intent of this ordinance appears sound, the wording and the implementation of this plan fall far short of common sense . . .
      Point One:
      “The registered owner of any vessel anchored or moored in the anchorage areas or mooring field must be present and available and is responsible to attend his/her vessel at all times.”
      This could be legally interpreted as; “It’s okay for you to liveaboard your boat but you just can’t get off your vessel.”
      Point Two:
      “No liveaboard vessel anchored in the anchorage areas or moored in the mooring field may be rented or leased to another party by its registered owner for the purpose of habitation.”
      . . . It penalizes and forbids charter vessels from anchoring in Boot Key Harbor or from using the mooring field. . . .
      Point Three:
      Here’s another interesting statement in 2008-27 ordinance . . .  “Should the owner of a live-aboard vessel utilizing the City of Marathon designated anchorage areas or mooring field wish to leave his or her vessel un-attended for any period of time greater than twenty four (24) hours, the owner must notify City marina staff in writing.”
      . . . I attended the Near Shore Waters Committee last Thursday. After hearing my and other law abiding liveaboards’ comments, they agreed to look into changing the wording of the ordinance.
      This is serious, folks. If you as the City Council approve an ordinance, it should be one that has been well thought out and presented with a great deal of thought about how it will affect all the citizens of Marathon.
      All of the voting boaters in Marathon are now watching to see what the next draft will look like.
      Respectfully submitted;
      Capt Marti Brown, RN, MSN

      Here are some thoughts from my "Cruising the Florida Keys" co-author, Morgan Stinemetz::

       Overall, I think that the proposed ordinance is over-reaching in its scope and that the people who drafted it were not thinking of the all the variables at hand.
      #1. If they changed the wording from "at all times" to "reasonable intervals" they would have a win-win option. If they need to define "reasonable intervals" then they could do that, but reasonable and unreasonable would often be defined by the vagaries of the weather. It's a sticky wicket.
      #2. I don't see a problem with this one. If the boat is up for charter then it needs to move out and move on for the duration of the charter. This point seems to be aimed at sublets only. I can't find fault with it. But it probably needs better definition.
      #3. This is probably just badly written. The owners of moored/anchored boats are not being required to notify marina authorities of their whereabouts, as the writer states. They are being asked to notify the marina authorities that they are not around. It may allow marina staff to more closely monitor the vessel as a favor to the owner.

      And, other thoughts from fellow cruisers:

      As is the case with most new boating ordinances, they punish the masses for the evils of a very few.  Last time we were in Boot Key Harbor we were quite impressed with how cleaned up it was.  Yes, there were still a very very few derelict boats but I just don't think you can reasonably expect to get rid of all of them.  I think the City does need  reasonably stated ordinances that give them the right to address this issue but if the regs are stated too strictly it gives all the non-boater, vigilantes a loaded gun!
      Mike & Harriet
      m/v Dual Dreams

      Subject: Proposed Marathon Regulations
      Message: It seems to me that Marathon, as well as many waterfront municipalities, are trying hard to address the issue of derelict boats…and that is a wonderful thing.  As a cruiser, I too, have concerns about those vessels left to rot in an anchorage.  Besides being a danger to other vessels, they are unsightly, cast a bad light on the rest of us who are conscientious about our impact on our surroundings and take up valuable anchorage space.  What worries me about Marathon's efforts, as well as those of others dealing with this and related issues, is that it seems that this type of language comes from committees which have NO boaters as members!!  WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?!  If rule-making bodies, especially those along the waterfront, are going to make rules impacting that waterfront, there should be representatives of the populations being affected present on the committee and involved in drafting the language.  This whole rule-making juggernaut is getting out of hand everywhere and not just in Florida.  If these ill-conceived rules are put into play, the economic impact will be felt rapidly…just ask the marina and marine service owners in the Ft. Myers area who were heavily impacted by the drought and low water in Lake Okeechobee.  They were desperate for business without the snowbirds coming through.  The same will happen around the state and it won't be pretty.  My husband and I are natives here and love cruising the state, but this is not a rosy future.
      Carolyn Frazier
      "Double Dragon"

      And, now, "Ta-Da" here are some of my own comments:
      I deeply suspect, without really knowing, that what has led the city of Marathon to consider such a set of regulations, are a very small minority of so-called "mariners" who leave their vessels unattended for weeks, or even months, at a time in Marathon waters (Boot Key Harbor in particular). Such an interval of abandonment can truly lead to all sorts of problems, not the least of which is what happens in really foul weather, or, perhaps, if a hose or thru-hull gives way. NOT a pretty picture.
      On the other hand, as reported by Captain Marti, the proposed regulations have a real disconnect from on-the-water reality. The wording was obviously ginned up by someone who does not seem to know that the bow is the pointy end of the boat.
      If the city of Marathon was using me as a consultant (which they are not – DARN), I would advise them that the goal of discouraging long term abandonment of vessels in their waters is a not unworthy consideration, BUT the wording of their proposal needs to be SERIOUSLY changed and modified so as not to discourage the 98% of all cruisers who would never even consider abandoning their boats in this fashion.
      Clearly, we want to hear as many other points of view on this subject as possible. PLEASE click the "Contribute Cruising News" link near the top, center of this, and most Cruisers' Net pages, or e-mail me at I am looking foward to hearing from many of you!

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    • Sombrero Marina (Marathon)

      There is a problem with the posting below. The contributor does not identify whether he is speaking about Sombrero Marina and Dockside Lounge, or Sombrero Resort and Lighthouse Marina. Both are located in (or just off) Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor, with the latter facility lying farther to the east. I suspect this note concerns Sombrero Resort and Lighthouse Marina, but there is no knowing!

      We spent last winter in Marathon at Sombrero, It’s a nice place. We had friends that moved there boat from Sombrero to a mooring for a week, while they were gone home. They got in trouble with the marina for leaving their boat unattended. How will your batteries get charged, or are you willing to trust them for a month?

      Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Sombrero Marina and Dockside Lounge

      Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Sombrero Resort and Lighthouse Marina

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    • Marathon to Key West Marina And Anchoring Advice

      There’s some real meat in Captain Doug’s message below. If you plan to cruise from Marathon to Key West anytime within the next year, don’t miss these ideas.

      We stayed at The Galleon in Key West and loved it for 4 days (@ $3.75 per ft.) and then switched to a mooring ball in the Key West mooring field, for $15 per day. What a difference! You can dinghy from the mooring field to the downtown dinghy docks easily, so if you don’t mind mooring instead of marinas, it’s fine. The only problem is if you get a NW wind, which will make the mooring field roll a lot.
      On Marathon, we loved the Marathon Cay Club because we had a slip at the end of the dock where you can watch the sun go down into the Atlantic every evening from your aft deck. It’s the first marina in from the ocean on the channel to Boot Key Harbor.
      Between Marathon and Key West, anchor in Newfound Harbor. It’s huge and well protected from all waves. If you scuba, go to Looe Key Reef there. It is really nice, and there’s a dive boat that goes through Newfound Harbor to the reef that’ll pick you up and drop you off at your anchored boat. Or just go out to the gov’t. mooring balls on the reef (carefully) in your own boat.

      Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Galleon Marina

      Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Anchorage Directory Listing For the Flemng Key West City Mooring Field

      Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Marina Directory Listing For Marathon Cay Club

      Click Here For The Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Anchorage Directory Listing For the Newfound Harbor Mid Anchorage

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