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    • 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, http://www.SeptemberSea.com.
      WELCOME BACK ABOARD CAPTAIN CHARMAINE!

      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!!
      JD

      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

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    • Sarosota, FL Mooring Field Discussion (Statute Mile 73)

      Those of you who have been following the recent news concerning the selection of the first three Mooring Field Pilot Program sites in Florida, know that Sarasota has been chosen as one of the participants. This headline has prompted a very interesting discussion among a pro-cruiser group which has been wrestling with the Sarasota mooring field – anchoring issue for some time. I’ve copied some of their messages below. They make for interesting reading, no matter on which side of this issue one stands.

      We can make this work for us.
      It is my impression that we all (boaters, city, and FWC) want to encourage responsible boaters with seaworthy vessels while discouraging drunken, dumping, derelicts. To this end, I propose that, in addition to the common sense regulations I proposed in my alternative ordinance to the 500′ rule (see attachment), the city institute a free permit requirement for any anchoring beyond 72 hours contingent upon a Coast Guard Auxiliary safety inspection and regular trips to the pump out dock (to show that their boat is navigable and that their MSD is functional).
      This permitting system, with no limit on renewals, would ensure that only those responsible boaters with safe and functional boats could remain anchored in city waters for more than 3 days. It would allow for transients to pass through without hassle and a reasonable means for those who wish to stay anchored longer to do so.
      Jeff Bole

      This is the common sense approach which would have eliminated the proposed mooring field years ago, but the City has never been presented with authority to pass such requirements in the past. The Pilot Program now grants this as long as the FWC approves it. But take note only municipalities WITH a mooring field can participate in the Pilot Program. I wonder if the SSS’s mooring field would still allow Sarasota to participate if the Bayfront mooring field never came to fruition…
      Anyways it’s best to be prepared and I think we should draft a document with Jeff’s and others common sense suggestions, gather some signatures along with endorsements from the other local boating clubs, and sell the proposal to the City and FWC.
      This will be a topic at the next Harbor Assoc. meeting later this month.
      Thanks,
      Kens

      Sounds like a much preferred solution, previous discussions along this line were discounted because there was no authority to enforce the requirements.
      Kenneth

      Jeff’s proposal makes a whole lot of sense to me. If a boat can qualify for a CG Safety sticker, demonstrate it is navigable under its own propulsion and that it has a funtional holding tank and utilizes pump out, it should be permitted to anchor in our Bay. I think the boat should also be required to carry current registration.
      Harmon

      > and regular trips to the pump out dock (to show that their boat is navigable and that their MSD is functional).
      This is not a `common sense’ suggestion. My boat uses a composting system which does not require pump outs.
      Also, routinely requiring people to dislodge their anchor, move the boat and then re-anchor can cause safety issues. You’re taking boats that have their anchors `settled in’ and then forcing them to pull it up and plop it back down. Boats will drag due to this policy that otherwise wouldn’t have.
      Mark M.

      To me this is not a `common sense proposal.’ Three days is way too short in many cases, plus I also use a composting system and therefore don’t need a pumpout, and third I do not think submitting to a safety inspection should be required if one is legally registered/documented/etc. If these rules were in place I would simply bypass Sarasota if I was passing through or possibly I would just anchor overnight. As a transient boater I prefer to spend my money in harbors that welcome me, not ones that appear to not want me to be there. Things like a nice dinghy dock, or at least a place to tie up, trash receptacles, and a cruiser friendly attitude go a long way to making me want to spend my money there.
      John Kettlewell

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    • Another Grounding in Cumberland Dividings/Brickhill River Intersection, AICW Statute Mile 704)

      Cumberland Dividings has long been an “AICW Problem Stretch.” This portion of the Waterway lies between Brickhill River and Crooked River.

      Another southbound cruiser has gone aground at the infamous AICW/Brickhill River Intersection (M.704). And, Fl R 4s 12FT 3M “60” is missing again.
      Use caution at this mark. Southbound: after G”59″ stay on the green side and swing wide towards “60A” to avoid the shoal where “60” should be. DO NOT FOLLOW the magenta line and ignore the charts that show you on dry land. When all the day marks are in place it really isn’t hard to navigate.
      Pete Peterson

      It is important here to not look at your charts or chartplotter for clear guidance. Look to the marks themselves for a clear path and favor the green side if your draft 5 foot or more deep.
      My friend grounded just north of this spot where the Brickhill bends back to the south and the chart shows a depth in the bend of 33 feet. The bar extends northward into the inside of this bend further than the chart shows. Stay to the north side of this bend especially at low tide.
      David Burnham

      Click Here To View A Recent Article on the Cumberland Dividings Stretch of the AICW

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s “AICW Problem Stretches” Listing For the Cumberland Dividings

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To The AICW/Cumberland Dividings Problem Stretch

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    • Important – Florida Anchoring Rights Struggle Enters Next Phase

      Florida Anchoring Rights Struggle Enters Next Phase
      An Editorial
      By
      Claiborne S. Young

      Last Friday, February 25, 2011, stories began to appear in the Florida press heralding the next, evolutionary step in the Florida Anchoring Rights struggle. This development was not at all unexpected, but it does presage a call to arms for the cruising community. We MUST ALL heed this call if the Floridian anchoring rights which have been earned after so much blood, sweat and tears over the last decade are to be maintained.

      PLEASE Click Here To Continue Reading Claiborne’s Florida Anchoring Rights Next Phase Editorial

      As of today, March 2, 2011, there has already been a firestorm of responses from the cruising community concerning our editorial linked above. If you have ALREADY read the editorial, click the link below to check out the many messages we have received from fellow cruisers on this subject. If you have NOT read our editorial, please do that FIRST, and then follow the link at the end of that article to check out the response:

      PLEASE Click Here To Read the Voluminous Reaction to Our Anchoring Rights Editorial Of 3/1/11

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    • Markel American Insurance Company Announces “Huge Reductions”

      International Marine Insurance Services is the source of choice for insurance coverage for your watercraft. After nineteen years of incomparable service to our clientele, we'd like to welcome you aAl Golden, author of the note below, is the owner of International Marine Insurance Services. These good people are a much valued SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR!
      Wow, sounds like we are all finally going to get a break in the Marine Insurance game. It’s about time!!! Give Al a call, or click on his sponsorship banner below to learn more!

      I’ve tried over the years to keep my posts entirely generic, but yesterday’s announcement from Markel American Insurance Company is too important . . . to ignore!
      They have announced huge reductions in their rates for both hull and P&I and that, coupled with equally large reductions in their Atlantic coast, inland, and Pacific NW rates, means that there may be great opportunities for you.
      Obviously, we’re not the only Markel agent, but you really should get a quote from one of us….
      Al Golden
      International Marine Insurance Services
      1-800-541-4647

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    • Captain Jane Eats at Garbo’s Grill – Key West

      If you are in Key West, or plan to visit this vibrant community during the 2011 winter season, run, don’t walk, to Captain Jane’s find, Garbo’s Grill!!!!!!

      Garbo’s Grill Talks!
      Recipe for good food: fresh, top quality ingredients, imagination and love. That may be the reason that regulars flock to Garbo’s Grill food stand in Key West on Greene Street, with over 80 of them receiving daily emails of today’s specials.
      Just across from the pepper store, there she is, Heidi Garbo herself, a legend in the minds of anyone who has eaten one of her justly famous mahi (with a slice of mango!) burritos.
      We chowed down the hefty fresh Mahi burrito and, because we like you, tried that day’s special of conch seviche. The burrito, which is a burrito despite internet posts that it is a taco, is substantial and made from freshly grilled Mahi, mango, cilantro, cabbage and a mayonnaise-based Caribbean sauce — you can add fresh jalapeno too if you’d like a little extra kick. Delicious and a good deal at $8. The seviche at $9 was a hefty portion of conch and chopped vegetables served in a clear plastic drinking cup; very spicy (Heidi says it depends on the particular jalapeno, so the heat varies), bracing hit of lime juice and I forgot what else that she says tenderizes the conch. Maybe it was papaya juice. No matter, bottom line, the glass that had been half full of ceviche, was quickly empty.
      Other menu items that day were black and blue burgers, angus hot dog and chicken quesadilla. Heidi knows real food, as in foodie-level food, so even if the label is ordinary, I think you can count on it being worth eating.
      Garbo’s food talks and it says: a restaurant doesn’t need walls, it doesn’t even need chairs. Wander by hungry for breakfast or lunch. We can’t guarantee the hours and I don’t remember the exact address — do road stands have addresses? In Key West, probably. Oops, just looked it up: 603 Greene Street. The hours? I’m not sure, but it’s often. Check the photo of the posted hours and you’ll know as much as I do.
      Extra bonus — if you want to know where else to eat in town, ask Heidi or check out her restaurant reviews. We’ll be posting two reviews of Heidi’s top pick restaurants — they were both superb. Thank you, Heidi!
      Captain Jane
      S/V Lady Jane

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    • Rock Creek Anchorage (Statute Mile 516)

      We have finally been able to confirm the Rock Creek soundings reported by Captain Ted Jones below, and many earlier contributors to the Cruisers’ Net. Once deep Rock Creek has shoaled badly, south of the stream’s first turn to the northeast, north of the it’s intersection with the AICW. Favor the eastern banks in order to stay clear of the correctly charted shoal making out from lower Rock Creek’s westerly banks.

      ICW mile 515 ~ Rock Creek. The chart shows a narrow creek well protected from the NW by tall trees and deep water (except on the west side at the entrance) for much further than we wanted to go. However, the depth sounder indicated otherwise, and as we were turning around we grounded. It was near low tide, and we were able to back off easily and find deeper water (but nothing like the soundings of 22 feet) closer to the entrance, where we dropped anchor for the night.
      Buttoned up to conserve what heat we had left, we heard the sound of an engine nearby, and I stuck my head out of the hatch in time to see a Pearson yawl go steaming by headed for the spot where we grounded. I yelled, but he didn’t hear me. I watched unable to affect the inevitable outcome as I Gotta Go ground to a halt 50 yards astern of us. We talked on VHF, and I told him where the deeper water was. The skipper, who appeared to be along, said he was not concerned as the tide was flooding. Later, we could see that he had gotten off and anchored south of us closer to the ICW where the chart indicated — and we had confirmed — 7.5 feet.
      Ted Jones

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s South Carolina Anchorage Directory Listing For the Rock Creek Anchorage

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

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    • Okeechobee Waterway Minimum Depth Calculator

      Thanks to Captain Ted Guy, we can present below one of the niftiest graphics I’ve seen in quite a while. What this chart shows is the MINIMUM depths cruisers can expect for a particular “Lake Depth.” Of course, they are referring to depths on Lake Okeechobee. With this handy graphic in hand, now you can get the Lake Depth off the ACOE site (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Divisions/Operations/Branches/Navigation/NavNotices.htm), and then, with a quick look, check to see whether the minimum soundings will keep your craft off the bottom.

      Ted/All – The District and the Corps of Engineers have put together a handy dandy depth/vessel draft charts for Lake Okeechobee which can be found on our respective web sites. I have gone ahead and attached them to this e-mail. The District is currently in the process of publishing these charts as a 2-sided handout so they can be handed out at the Okeechobee waterway locks and other locations around the lake.
      David

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    • Another Disturbing Report of Cruisers “Hasseled” in Boca Grande Basin Anchorage

      This is the second report, albeit a second hand one, about cruisers possibly being hassled when trying to anchor on the basin in Boca Grande Bayou, just behind the Pink Elephant restaurant. Follow the link below to check out an earlier article.
      In mid-January, I had the good fortune to address the Boca Grande Yacht Club at Gasparilla Inn. A good time was had by all, particularly yours truly. I raised the topic of anchorage restrictions in Boca Grand Bayou, and no-one there seemed to know anything about it. One must wonder who is really causing trouble for boaters in Boca Grande??????

      Boaters have reported being hassled when anchoring in Boca Grande Bayou. Anyone know which authority has jurisdiction in these waters?
      Jo Mogle

      Click Here To View An Earlier SSECN Posting About Cruisers’ Anchoring on Boca Grande Bayou

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Boca Grande ‘“ Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Boca Grande ‘“ Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage

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    • Captain Jane Finds More Healthy Eating in Key West — But with Beer on Tap!

      Well, I’m glad to hear that some of my earlier comments inspired Captain Jane to discover more healthy eating in Key West, BUT with alcohol also on the premises!

      Claiborne “complained” in his introduction to my recent review of the organic health food restaurant “help yourself” that it doesn’t offer Mount Gay Rum…
      Well, Claiborne, since you mentioned it…. It just so happens that the human crew of Lady Jane just ate at a Key West health food restaurant where you don’t have to bring your own. The sign in the window says it all: Beer, Vegan, Vegetarian, BBQ Unwing Dings.
      How Key West loves internal contradiction! Tawdry bars, fried fish, restaurants with no complete walls and some with none at all… boozing until the wee hours and then somewhere else, not so much in full view are the health food folks, classical music concerts in the Episcopal church and yoga on the beach… We present to you, on the health food side, complete with internal contradiction, The Cafe.
      Its specialty? Organic food and organic microbrews and wine. Here you can sin — organically. The perfect place for a mixed marriage — where one partner needs beer and one needs to eat organic and vegan.
      Vegan items are clearly marked with asterisks; for those who need animal protein, there is fresh tuna and mussels, and if I’m remembering correctly the specials when I was there included local shrimp. Gorgonzola, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, feta cheddar are among the cheeses that can be added to sandwiches.
      If you are vegetarian, or even hardcore vegan, this is a find. The Cafe makes its own seitan (an Asian-style high-protein wheat gluten that is often used as a “mock” meat) and it’s chewy and the best I’ve tasted — it bears no relationship to the packaged kind I’ve bought in supermarkets. The veggie burger is made with legumes, carrots, broccoli, mushroom, scallions and sunflower seeds — this is no skinny pre-packaged Boca Burger. Crisp outside and yummy on garlic Ciabatta bread. Falafel is excellent and the salad elements fresh. The stir fry is huge, especially if you add a protein, the brown rice perfectly done and the peanut sauce we tried was excellent, not too sweet and not overpowering — it had just the right hint of peanut to make it unctuous, not deadly. There are vegetable stir fry dishes, sandwiches, salads, pizzas and a category called “Food Food” that includes BBQ tofu, kung pao tofu, polenta cakes, seared yellowfin tuna, udon bowl, mussels, quiche, lasagna and a pasta of the day.
      Everything we tried was first rate, cooked with care and good fresh ingredients. We’ve been here three times and still like it.
      The Cafe is located at 509 Southard Street, just off Duval. It is open Monday through Saturday, 11 to 10 PM. http://theCafeKW.com
      Captain Jane
      S/V Lady Jane

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