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    • The Beauty and Danger of Bahia Honda Anchorage (Florida Keys)

      Bahia Honda Anchorage

      The Bahia Honda Channel/State Park anchorage, which is the subject of Captain Charmaine’s article below. lies west of Marathon, and can only be entered from the Hawk Channel side, as a low level bridge prevents access from the Inside/ICW route. Even vessels approaching from Hawk Channel must cruise through a narrow section of the old Bahia Honda Bridge, where a short section of the span has been removed to facilitate navigation. We already have a “Navigation Alert” set at this old span, due to an entry in the Local Notice to Mariners about the bridge deteriorating.
      Now, Captain Charmaine gives us even more to think about in regards to this anchorage. Follow the second link below Charmaine’s article to view this anchorage in Chart View!

      March 29th 2011

      The Beauty and Dangers of Bahia Honda Anchorage
      by Charmaine Smith Ladd

      Bahia Honda Key is gorgeous. There’s something there for everyone at this incredible State Park. There is an RV Park, Marina (albeit for shallower drafted vessels), lots of nature trails, nearly 3-1/2 miles of paved road for jogging, biking, and walking. There are steps set between lush palms where you can walk atop the old railroad bridge and see captivating views for miles! Bahia Honda also boasts 2-1/2 miles of natural white sand making several beautiful beaches that are hard to best. The crescent beach of the anchorage is lovely. There is a comfy beach house for changing and outdoor showers to rinse off the saltwater after a relaxing swim. The Keys has never been known for its beaches. Bahia Honda puts us on the “beach” map!

      The ample anchorage is set between the remains of the old Henry Flagler Railroad (destroyed by the famous 1935 Labor Day Hurricane) and highway U.S. 1. In fair weather, this anchorage is ideal with its plethora of breathtaking foliage and million-dollar views of the beach. Once you’ve anchored, remember the current can be swift between the bridges, so don’t be too quick to jump into the water and swim to the nearby beach until you know it is safe to do so. You can also dinghy over to the friendly marina and tie up there. It is a short and enjoyable walk to the beach.

      In the anchorage, there is great protection from the east. However, any foul weather from the North or South can blow inadequately secured boats into one of the bridges. This has occurred many times in the past. But it does not have to happen.

      Last night (March 28th), it was reported that a sailing vessel was dismasted while anchored in Bahia Honda. A squall of weather blowing NNE hit the Keys around 22:30 with sustained winds of 25 knots, gusts up to 40. Before going to Bahia Honda to anchor, one must realize that even though the weather forecast may be for sunshine and lollipops; sudden and fast moving squalls do begin to occur this time of year. Bahia Honda anchorage, in the opinion of this writer, is fabulous if limited to a day sail as the month of March ends and the squally weather and winds begin.

      Opening into Bahia Honda Anchorage From Hawk Channel

      The report on the VHF from the Coast Guard said the boat was was taking on water and possibly sinking. With the wind direction, the vessel must have blown from south to north and hit the old Flager bridge. The old pilings there are quite substantial, a fiberglass hull is simply no match for those mammoth pilings. It was later stated that two passengers were soon rescued from the vessel in peril. At this time it is not known whether or not the vessel sank. It is great to know no one was hurt in what undoubtedly was a life-threatening situation.

      It is not clear whether or not the vessel had a working engine. On that note, it is unwise for any vessel without motor capability to anchor in the Bahia Honda anchorage. In the past, many a vessel without engines have sailed into Bahia Honda to wait for more favorable winds. As my mother used to say, “Be careful what you wish for…you just might get it…and all that comes with it.” That adage is a good one. This time of year one may very well get far more winds than wished for. Without a working engine one would be at the mercy of the winds. There is no mercy when anchored in between two bridge spans with no means to otherwise maneuver.

      The bottom line here is that this is just another one of the many horror stories people have read or heard about Bahia Honda’s Anchorage. Truly, there is a time for everything. With knowledge and attention, one can anchor there with no problems at all. September Sea has been there at least ten times staying as long as a week to ten days and we have never had a problem with holding. And yes, we have encountered a few storms before realizing there is a time of year not to anchor there! But we never dragged there–however, lots of other boats certainly did while we were there! We always anchor close to the beach where the sand and grass are plentiful and the difficult rocky bottom as far behind us as possible. We do not anchor in Bahia Honda overnight this time of year as hurricane season grows nearer.

      Be informed. Bahia Honda is wonderful!! One must use their head so their vessel and passengers will stay safe. You will love Bahia Honda’s anchorage, but at the right time of year and for the proper length of stay. In the Keys during this time of year one must watch the weather many times a day. If you don’t have radar, use NOAA weather on the VHF. In any anchorage in the Keys one can usually hail another vessel on either VHF 16 or 68 to inquire about weather. And don’t forget to use your instincts. Last night I noticed the breeze had cooled significantly. That was all the notice needed to turn on the VHF NOAA weather forecast and check radar.

      Bahia Honda. Beautiful, captivating, and wonderful for the entire family…but anchoring there can indeed be dangerous when not fully informed.

      Charmaine Smith Ladd, s/v September Sea
      SSECN Correspondent – Florida Keys
      “Bringing you the low down from down low!”

      Great article on one of our absolute favorite anchorages. No trip to the Keys is complete without a log entry for Bahia Honda, even if it is just for lunch!

      Captain Charmaine's Vessel ("September Sea") Anchored in Bahia Honda

      Worth Waiting

      All of the above stated is true. From the beauty of the park and beaches to the dangers of the anchorage.
      I did spend a night there in the squall conditions described above.
      However since I had read about the strong currents I had two anchors down not even considering that there might be a squall. The winds that night were predicted ENE which would be from behind the island giving us protection if they increased. But the squalls came from the ESE where there was no protection, surprise, surprise. We got pounded on an off for hours in the middle of the night. Sitting under the dodger in the companionway all the while I was thinking, if I drag I’m going to drag into that bridge.
      But since my anchors are over sized and one rode is all chain, with plenty of scope out we did not drag.
      I night to remember.
      Cap Jules
      S/V Nemesis

      I was there on the night of March 28th, having just returned from Cuba. The boat that hit the bridge was a 22 foot Pacific Seacraft. His engine was not working properly and he went back very quickly once he started dragging, although he tried to let more scope out ‘“ I had a spotlight on him to assist. The boat was not dismasted and Boat US was there to take he and his wife off the boat, which was then towed back into the anchorage and re-anchored, then towed to a marina the next day. I myself dragged onto the beach that evening and had to be towed off by boat US, and again was re-anchored well out where my boat comfortably handled the conditions.
      The safe part of this anchorage is well off the beach, where the current has not scoured the sand and it is possible to get decent holding. Close to the beach is NOT where you want to be despite what the OP says ‘“ the current rips through there and with the right winds, will pull your anchor out as it did mine. This by the way is the advice that Boat US will give you as well.
      Wally Moran

      Check out:
      Susan Kennedy

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Anchorage Directory Listing For the Bahia Honda Channel Anchorage

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Bahia Honda Channel Anchorage

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    • Updates on AICW/Little Mud River Problem Stretch (Statute Mile 655)

      Again, Captain Bob takes this trouble spot within less than two hours of high tide and offers some advice to his fellow cruisers.
      Please note that the Little Mud River section of the AICW, is the WORST problem stretch of the entire run from Norfolk to Miami. Trying to interpolate the tidal tables, it looks as if we must subtract 6 to 7 feet from the soundings below to discover what depths would be at MLW. That means we could easily be looking at a mere 3 feet of water near markers #190 and #195.

      10-29-10 Little Mud River (A Walk in the Park) Anchored in Duplin River night before, Great Anchorage
      Short Distance to Little Mud River. High Tide was 1200 Noon. Arrive Little Mud River 1-1/2 Hours before HIGH TIDE.
      Marker R190 10 Ft,
      Marker G195 10 Ft.
      Exit Mud River @ 1247 PM.
      Draft Five Ft we had five under the keel Minimum all the way. Good Run.
      Instead of folks posting horror stories they need to take life easy and do these areas of concern two hours before high tide.
      Captains Bob and Helen
      aboard M/Y ALLEZ

      We just passed the Little Mud River. We hit it at exactly low tide. Uh oh. We made it through OK however. The minimum depth I saw was 6.5 feet near marker 194. We met a tug going north. He said that he didn’t have a depth sounder, but that he draws 8 feet and he made it through fine, also at low tide. Go figure.
      Captains Dick and Libby Mills

      Good evening all, went through today 11/2/10 at 2:00 PM local, just about low tide & only saw 6.9 ft, just stay in the MIDDLE & you will be fine! Winds today were between twenty to thirty & did not seem to affect the depths.
      Captains Mike & Barbara aboard M/V Elan
      We did basically the same thing that Captains Bob and Helen did, anchoring in Duplin river the night before passage through the Little Mud River section. We hit it at about an hour before high tide and had a trouble free passage. (s/v MarLyn, S2 30ft, 5ft draft)
      Skipper Mark

      Transited Little Mud River 3/27/11 at half tide. 8-9 ft through mid channel.
      Skipper Stephen

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s “AICW Problem Stretches” Listing For Little Mud River

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

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    • Major New Publication Available on Florida Anchoring

      Our sincere thanks to Captain Mary Dixon for forwarding the link below. We have read the document in question, and it IS LENGTHY and very wordy, BUT it is perhaps the last word on virtually ALL the issues surrounding the complex and emotionally charged Florida anchoring issue.

      Cruising News:
      New publication on Florida anchoring
      Mary Dixon

      Comments from Cruisers (4)

    • Leave the AICW At Statute Mile 652 And Cruise Up Darien River to Darien, GA


      Darien Watefront Inn Porch

      The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net is very pleased to welcome our newest sponsor, the Darien Waterfront Inn. We invited innkeeper, Captain JoAnn Viera, to send us an account of why ALL cruisers should consider this short trek off the Waterway. And, wait until you read her words below. It makes me want to point our bow towards Georgia just to visit this wonderful community. See you there, and PLEASE patronize Darien Waterfront Inn whenever possible to thank them for their support of the cruising community, by way of their support for the SSECN!!!!!

      Leave the familiar confines of the AICW, and cruise up the beautiful Darien River to Historic Darien Georgia. Here you can dock your vessel at the Darien Development Authority docks and spend a night or two with solid ground under your feet. The cruiser friendly Darien Waterfront Inn is steps away from the dock. This seven room inn is situated in a remodeled warehouse perched on the Darien River Bluff. All rooms open onto a spacious riverview porch, perfect for relaxing.
      While visiting with us in Darien, don’t miss all the many attractions of our downtown businesses and historic district. Everything you need is ‘steps’ from the inn: Four local restaurants, a wine bar, gift shop, outdoor outfitter, hardware and marine supply store, post office, convenience store, even a salon that offers services for both men and women. We even offer laundry and grocery service….Let us do the work while you sip a glass of your favorite beverage with your feet up on the porch!
      If you want to take a stroll thru historic Darien, there is lots to see. Darien is the second oldest planned city in Georgia. Take the walking tour and you will visit 17 historic sites! From Tabby Ruins dating back to 1815, Vernon Square (c.1806) and Fort King George (c.1721)
      So make historic Darien and the Darien Waterfront Inn your next overnight stop between Savannah and Jacksonville. We look forward to meeting you! Call 912.437.1215 to make your reservation. Innkeeper, JoAnn will make dock reservations for you as well.

      Darien Development Authority Docks

      Comments from Cruisers (3)

    • My Heart’s At Sea Forever

      Thanks to Captain Bill for sending us these moving words. I hope many of us may be able to stay at sea in body rather than just in spirit!

      I know not who penned these lines, but I think they are true for a great many people, including me, although we might not have sailed the Orient or other exotic places. Whether you travel on water by virtue of the wind propelling you or by power boat makes little difference. The true romance is in the travel, not the means of propulsion. Sooner or later we all must face the fact that the journey is nearing the end for one reason or another. Until that time comes, enjoy your time on the water to its fullest.

      My Heart’s at Sea Forever

      Long ago I was a Sailor.
      I sailed the Ocean blue.
      I knew the bars in Singapore…
      The coastline of Peru.

      I knew well the sting of salt spray,
      The taste of Spanish wine,
      The beauty of the Orient…
      Yes, all these things were mine.

      But I wear a different hat now,
      A tie and jacket too.
      My sailing days were long ago…
      with that life I am through.

      But somewhere deep inside of me…
      The sailor lives there still.
      He longs to go to sea again,
      But knows he never will.

      My love, my life, is here at home,
      and I will leave here never.
      Though mind and body stay ashore…
      My heart’s at sea forever.

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    • AICW Shoaling Reported North of Charleston (Near Statute Mile 459)

      This report centers on a section of the AICW north of the Ben Sawyer Bridge and is similar to earlier reports of shoaling between Statute Miles 455 and 465.


      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Shoaling N of Ben Sawyer Bridge

      Click Here To View An Earlier Report on this Area

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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,

      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

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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.

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

      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.

      > 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
      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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