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Old 12-22-2018, 10:27 AM   #1
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Letís talk about the keys...

Weíre planning our trip from St Pete down to Ft Myers. From there we want to go to the keys. We will be commuting to the boat by airline. We will be doing 3-4 day trips twice a month. Because the commute will be such a pita, I canít imsgine we will be spending very long in key west. So we will probably start moving toward Miami because of more flight options. How is the boating in the Miamiís side of the keys?

So to make the most of the few trips we will have, Iíd love to hear some recommendations. We will be leaving the boat at marinas while we are gone, but will be spending nights at different Anchorageís while we are there.

Ok go!

Thanks everyone!
Steve
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:11 AM   #2
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I always saw the keys as a place to go ashore and enjoy the fun things on land rather than hanging out at beautiful anchorages. Key West is the embodiment of that spirit.

Having said that, one of my most enjoyable experiences in the keys was hanging out at No Name Harbor on the south end of Key Biscayne. You can anchor in the harbor, tie up at the sea wall during the day, fish off of piers in the state park, swim and sunbathe near the lighthouse. It helps to have a bicycle or electric scooter to get around or maybe a rental car as it probably is an expensive taxi or Uber ride from MIA.

Weekends are crazy as the Cuban Navy takes over and anchoring may be impossible and dangerous. But you can usually fit in during the week. Maybe move outside during the week if the whether is settled. I spent a week there and really enjoyed it.

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Old 12-22-2018, 11:20 AM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. 91. There are international airports in Marathon and Key West so no need to go all the way to Miami.
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:33 AM   #4
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Greetings,
Mr. 91. There are international airports in Marathon and Key West so no need to go all the way to Miami.
Yeah but we have more options with MIA and FLL. We definitely will fly out of Key West as often as possible though.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:03 PM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. 91. There are international airports in Marathon and Key West so no need to go all the way to Miami.
Does Marathon have airline service? Or is it just private planes?

I have rented cars at the airport before in Marathon, didn't remember seeing any commercial gates.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:11 PM   #6
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I found the Keys to be wanting last winter.

The "old flavor" of the keys is all but gone unless you are there long term with friends, contacts and hangouts.

There are few places to freely land dingies, well protected anchorages south of Key Largo are few, and last winter Jan and Feb were neither fishing or snorkeling friendly.

I generally thought hanging in the Biscayne Bay area was the better option because there were so many more options and the water seemed clearer and access to the reef side of the keys was easier.
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Old 12-22-2018, 02:12 PM   #7
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There is a high speed ferry boat that runs from Fort Myers to Key West I don't know the schedule but you can check it out
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:24 PM   #8
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Wifey B: The Key to the Keys.

The Keys aren't about anchorages or even marinas, except as means to land. Then they're not about the land, but the spirit. We were last there for Fantasy Fest, an event like no other anywhere. The Keys are about freedom and spirit. Wonderful food, great entertainment, friendly. Streets filled with art galleries. Body painting. No one caring what others are doing. An adult playground but for kids a place for exploring. Hop on and off the trolley. Take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park (assuming it's open when you go). Enjoy Duval and Mallory Square. Go to the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Go to the maritime on the CG Cutter. Take a ghost tour or go on a ghost hunt. Don't miss the Shipwreck Treasure museum or the Aquarium or the Eco-Discovery center or the Art and History Museum. Then the Mel Fisher museum. Then no trip is ever complete without the lighthouse.

You have to walk and immerse yourself in the Key West Culture. Yes, the hurricane damaged some but it didn't destroy the spirit.

Between Key West and Miami then so much to explore from Marathon to Key Largo. From Stock Island to Key Biscayne. Just don't shortchange Key West as you can visit the world but you'll only find one Key West. Let your hair down and enjoy. Oh and restaurants, great ones. But don't miss having a romantic dessert at Better Than Sex.
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:48 PM   #9
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Wow I’m glad I asked. You know we’ve only been able to spend a few nights on the hook and it’s been such an awesome experience that we thought in the keys it’d be even better. Maybe we can split the difference.

How is it going from Ft Myers to Key west? I’m assuming it totally depends on the weather.
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:56 PM   #10
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Wow Iím glad I asked. You know weíve only been able to spend a few nights on the hook and itís been such an awesome experience that we thought in the keys itíd be even better. Maybe we can split the difference.

How is it going from Ft Myers to Key west? Iím assuming it totally depends on the weather.
Wifey B: Many love Key West on the hook, but the real action is on land. Then plenty of great anchorages as you ease north up the east coast.
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Old 12-22-2018, 04:44 PM   #11
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I prefer the lower keys, usually in the summer. Not sure we will be able to eat all the lobster we caught last Aug before the next trip. Agree with the topside attractions, and that's predominately KW. Any snorkeling or diving in your forecast? Middle keys to MIA; not so much. MIA airport? Not so much. IMO.
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Old 12-22-2018, 07:13 PM   #12
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There is a protected cove just Ne of Bass Pro Shop and you can land your dinghy there. Itís nice. They had a farmers mkt etc. Also anchor at Bahia Honda, Key Largo and Elliott Key is nice. Weíve anchored in the islands behind Miami Beach Marina and landed our dinghy there and explored south beach. Great staging area for Bimini. Very protected and great holding.
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Old 12-22-2018, 07:15 PM   #13
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With a 4í draft you can do the whole bayside of the Keys from Miami to Bahia Honda. Pic and choose if you draw more then 4í. Hawks channel is deep.
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Old 12-23-2018, 09:08 AM   #14
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I recommend buying a Cruising Guide, I think Frank Papy's is the best.
You can cross from the Gulf to the Keys at 3 places, Long Key, Moser Channel (7 mile bridge Marathon) and Key West. The ICW runs through Biscayne Bay from Miami down the Back / Bay side of the Keys to Marathon where it continues in Hawks Channel to Key West.
The snorkeling / diving in the lower Keys is far superior to the upper Keys if that's your interest.
BandB gave a good thumbnail of Key West, I lived there 10 years and I'm told I had a very good time.
Robbies on Upper Matecumbe (Islamorada) for hand feeding giant Tarpon and Dolphins Plus in Key Largo are great diversions.
As Dave mentioned No Name Harbor is a great shove off point from Miami weekdays, Boca Chita and Elliott Key also in Biscayne Bay offer good anchorages.
Shoving off at dawn from No Name will get you to Key Largo for Lunch at Trawler speeds.
Mid and Upper Biscayne Bay have a lot to offer as well, the section between Broad Causeway and 79th St have Pelican Harbor Marina, Shucker's waterfront restaurant, and several good anchorages for example.
Enjoy,
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve91T View Post
Wow Iím glad I asked. You know weíve only been able to spend a few nights on the hook and itís been such an awesome experience that we thought in the keys itíd be even better. Maybe we can split the difference.

How is it going from Ft Myers to Key west? Iím assuming it totally depends on the weather.

When we first bought our boat one of our first trips was to Key West. On the way from Ft Myers we went along the coast, stopping at Marco Island, then Shark River, then to Key West. On the way back I was solo and went directly from Key West to Ft Myers, and I prefer that route now. I did have great weather for that direct crossing and obviously it would suck in bad weather. I think I used Chris Parker to get a weather window because I was a newbie and scared. I remember having to replace the main engine belt half way across and freaking out a little, but she started right up and I continued on.

Have fun!
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Old 12-23-2018, 04:55 PM   #16
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Whenever I've run from Ft Myers to Key West, I head down to Goodland(shallow draft) or Marco and head direct to Key West from there. Assuming you pick a good weather window, the only issue is crab pot bouys, there's a ton of them so you have to keep a good lookout! I've always enjoyed Key West a lot, but the anchorage is not great, not much protection. The mooring field in Garrison Bight is ok, but exposed to the north, so if it blows from that direction it'll get rough in there. Plus the dingy dock for the mooring field is a good ways from old town Key West. I've never stayed at a marina there, but understand they're kinda pricey. Still, all in all I've enjoyed it there and will be back.
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Old 12-23-2018, 06:28 PM   #17
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Wifey B: The Key to the Keys.

The Keys aren't about anchorages or even marinas, except as means to land. Then they're not about the land, but the spirit. We were last there for Fantasy Fest, an event like no other anywhere. The Keys are about freedom and spirit. Wonderful food, great entertainment, friendly. Streets filled with art galleries. Body painting. No one caring what others are doing. An adult playground but for kids a place for exploring. Hop on and off the trolley. Take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park (assuming it's open when you go). Enjoy Duval and Mallory Square. Go to the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Go to the maritime on the CG Cutter. Take a ghost tour or go on a ghost hunt. Don't miss the Shipwreck Treasure museum or the Aquarium or the Eco-Discovery center or the Art and History Museum. Then the Mel Fisher museum. Then no trip is ever complete without the lighthouse.

You have to walk and immerse yourself in the Key West Culture. Yes, the hurricane damaged some but it didn't destroy the spirit.

Between Key West and Miami then so much to explore from Marathon to Key Largo. From Stock Island to Key Biscayne. Just don't shortchange Key West as you can visit the world but you'll only find one Key West. Let your hair down and enjoy. Oh and restaurants, great ones. But don't miss having a romantic dessert at Better Than Sex.
Yeah! What she said! Spent 3 months in KW last year, starting with Hurricane Irma. Loved it, but our livers eventually cried out "Give us a break!".
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Old 12-23-2018, 06:37 PM   #18
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From my last checks, Galleon, A&B, Bight and Conch range from $3 to $4.25. Garrison Bight is more in the $2.75 range. Marinas in the Stock Island area are $4 or just above. As you move toward Marathon prices drop some although Faro Blanco is still $3.50 but it has exceptional amenities.
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Old 01-21-2019, 01:34 PM   #19
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Hey guys! We now have the boat in Ft Myers and are planning on the trip to Key West. So here’s our situation, the kids. We don’t want them with us for this trip and since my parents will be watching them, we only have about 4 days to worth with...and we don’t like rushing.

So, our options are:
1: Ft Myers direct to Key West on day 2. Looks like roughly 11 hrs. That’s a really long day and I’ve never been outside of the ICW, so it’s a little scary to be honest.

2: Ft Myers to Marco Island on day 2. Then day 3 make the 8ish your trip to Key West.

3: Get the boat to Marco Island and just stop there and enjoy Marco Island and save Key West for another trip.

Day 1 is going to be a travel and get the boat ready day only.

I know the weather is a huge factor to conditions on the gulf.

Can you anchor for the night in the gulf? Common sense tells me it would probably be a rough night and I would worry about getting run over.

Would we be missing out by passing up Marco Island? I’ve heard it’s pretty nice but that’s all I know.

The charts look confusing south of ft Myers. Does the ICW stay inside or do you have to go outside?

Thanks
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Old 01-21-2019, 02:42 PM   #20
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Letís talk about the keys...

Steve,

I donít think 4 days is going to be enough time. Yes you can shoot over directly from Ft Meyers, and Iíve done it once before (actually in reverse) but you better make sure you have good weather. With only 4 days will you be able to wait on a good weather window? Plus, I wouldnít strike out on an 11 hour open water cruise as my first one. But thatís just me.

I have found that when I have limited time for a cruise I tend to get in a rush and make stupid weather decisions.
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