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Old 11-16-2014, 09:29 AM   #21
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I second Louie's back yard. Reservations are probably required.
If you can anchor in range, Indian key was a historical park we enjoyed touring it some years ago. Interesting history. I don't know its status today.

Be careful at the ocean side of angelfish key at low tide. I swear there is a wall across the entrance. I made it with 4.5' but go slow. The Barnacle museum in Miami is interesting for a FL boating historical perspective.\


Everything boating is expensive in KY I would avoid the holidays if possible. Marina reservations are a must. Call ahead to find price schedules.

The inside route gets shallow with strong north winds over several days. Lots of boats do it however. Investigate the no anchoring rules in grass areas to avoid mistakes.
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Old 11-16-2014, 10:45 AM   #22
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Thanks for filling in a few blanks for me Keys, good links too.

Key West for New Years? Bold!

We love Louie's Backyard as a special occasion place, beautiful setting and facility, great food. Advise it for lunch to better enjoy the setting, and easier to get a reservation.
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Old 11-17-2014, 07:34 PM   #23
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What a great feedback, you guys are awesome!!!

I'm absorbing all of your suggestions and studying the charts. As I'm looking closer at some areas there seem to be tons of anchorage options.

"...Biscayne Bay to Channel 5 just South of Islamorada and then crossing over to Hawks Channel..." this will be my primary route as it makes perfect sense and fits our cruising style.

Keep your tips coming. I'll be back with more questions very soon.
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Old 11-18-2014, 08:46 AM   #24
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We took our five foot draft boat through Anglefish many times and always had plenty of water, despite the legend of a rock somewhere out there. I nosed around out there once on the Whaler, equipped with a sounder, and my best guess was people were not lining up the markers correctly and staying center channel.

One place I forgot to mention in that area is Adams Key, which has a day dock for small boats and is a fun tour.
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Old 11-18-2014, 11:36 AM   #25
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I suggest getting a copy of Managing the Waterway from Biscayne Bay to Dry Tortugas. I understand the book is now almost free as they now only charge for printing and shipping. This cruising guide is well written and FULL of useful information. We just returned from a 2 month cruise from Ft a Lauderdale to the Dry Tortugas. Great trip! Watch your weather as the Keys usually have high winds and a lot of small craft advisories in winter.
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Old 11-18-2014, 05:21 PM   #26
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It looks like we've faced our first "roadblock". All of the marinas in downtown Key West are booked. It's kind of a first time for me having this issue when booking 1.5 months in advance just for one boat. That was some WOW factor when I heard "sorry, we're booked solid...".

I looked at the anchorages and mooring spots marked in Active Captain. I wasn't to excited seeing low rating for most of the anchorages, due to being exposed to wakes and boating traffic. So, for this reason I think going to Garrison Bight mooring would make more sense.

Another option, which I'm scratching my head about, is going to more remote marina (e.g. Stock Island). I don't mind being in a nice marina 3-4 miles away from downtown, as long as there's good transportation. If we stay late hours for the New Year's party in downtown, I just want to make sure we'll have a way to get back to marina. I have no idea what to expect in regards to transportation at that time. I just assume that a cab line would be long.

Any words of wisdom on the given options? Is there another option I should consider?
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Old 11-18-2014, 05:30 PM   #27
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I highly recommend Stock Island Marina. Stay for a month if you have the time. They offer free van shuttle service to the grocery and downtown Key West several times a day and night. It's also an easy and safe bike ride to grocery, west marine, Home Depot, sears and Duval Street .......bring a bike lock.

To confirm, there are no good anchorages close to Key West. Stock Island marina is MUCH nicer than Garrison Bight Anchorage.
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Old 11-18-2014, 05:37 PM   #28
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A question about No-Name Harbor. After reviewing our schedule, it looks like we won't be taking off from FTL until around 4:30-5pm. My understanding was that No-name is good day stop, which we could take advantage the following morning. Having short daylight in the winter days I'll be pulling in there in total darkness. Are there any concerns (known hazards) when approaching the harbor? Should I just come close enough and anchor on the outside, hopefully with some other boats around or should I go right inside and find a spot?

Just an FYI, I've anchored in the dark many times and often in new to me areas. I just wanted to see if this location doesn't present unnecessary challenges.
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Old 11-18-2014, 05:39 PM   #29
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I highly recommend Stock Island Marina. Stay for a month if you have the time. They offer free van shuttle service to the grocery and downtown Key West several times a day and night. It's also an easy and safe bike ride to grocery, west marine, Home Depot, sears and Duval Street .......bring a bike lock.

To confirm, there are no good anchorages close to Key West. Stock Island marina is MUCH nicer than Garrison Bight Anchorage.
This is very helpful. Thank you. I'll give them a call and see if they have open spots.
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Old 11-18-2014, 05:53 PM   #30
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Yes, there may be a line for taxis, but will you really be in a hurry that night?

I'd suggest you better call Stock Island quickly and make reservations as they will fill up too. Key West is popular on New Year's Eve.

Just curious. Why leave FL at that time of the afternoon? Why not leave early the following morning? You really don't gain because if you move all night then you sleep during the day.
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Old 11-18-2014, 06:12 PM   #31
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Yes, there may be a line for taxis, but will you really be in a hurry that night?

I'd suggest you better call Stock Island quickly and make reservations as they will fill up too. Key West is popular on New Year's Eve....
As you can imagine, we won't be in a hurry, I just want to make sure I'll be able to get my family back to the boat without getting stuck. I've been to KW only once while on a cruise ship, and that was many years ago. So, I just wanted to get some more info to gain the comfort level.

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....Just curious. Why leave FL at that time of the afternoon? Why not leave early the following morning? You really don't gain because if you move all night then you sleep during the day.
I did float plan from FTL to No-Name harbor and in this short (~25nm) stretch I would have to open at least 6 bridges. This means that I could be traveling for at least 3.5-4hrs. I just figured that if I can start making my way southbound, that's 4hrs I can use for the following day, either exploring or continue cruising.

I travel at night very often and it's one of the favorite time. Exploring the scenic waterways during the day is great, but doing this at night makes an unforgettable experience.

While delivering my boat from CT to FTL I cruised after dark every single day and also did an overnight run. When my wife joined me and we did the night cruising on ICW until we arrived in FTL, the scenery was just what "a snowbird" would wish for.

Even the fact that I had to open about 20 bridges between Vero Beach and FTL, which drastically reduced my AVG speed didn't bother us so much. The scenery made up for everything.
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Old 11-18-2014, 07:01 PM   #32
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I did float plan from FTL to No-Name harbor and in this short (~25nm) stretch I would have to open at least 6 bridges. This means that I could be traveling for at least 3.5-4hrs. I just figured that if I can start making my way southbound, that's 4hrs I can use for the following day, either exploring or continue cruising.
Makes sense if you like night traveling and from Fort Lauderdale to No Name there really isn't much "night" as there is quite a bit of lighting. The one negative is that the anchorage could be a bit crowded by that time of night. A lot of people use it to jump off to Bimini and this is peak season.
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:38 PM   #33
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I started plotting my routes. Leg #1 "FTL to No Name Harbor" is pretty much self explanatory.

However, Leg #2 "No Name HBR to Key Largo" is a bit puzzling one. I'm planning to pass by historical Stiltsville (from what I understand, it's the channel via Stiltsville Inlet), which I thought I'll enter from the EAST, after heading SE from No Name harbor and then head for ICW.

This looks like a good option, but as I continue heading south I (BTW, at this time I'm considering to take mooring at "Pennekamp State Park Largo Sound"), I realized that my options on cutting across to the East side are limited. It seems like my original thought of staying on ICW all the way to Channel 5 doesn't work, if I want to be moored in "Pennekamp State Park Largo Sound". I see that one of the options would be using Caesar Channel to cut to the Hawk Channel and stay on it until the PSPL sound. As I'm reading the cruising guide, it suggests that only vessels with less than 4' should use Caesar Channel. But, looking at the chart and Active Captain channel mark update it seems like I should be fine with my 4' draft.

This leads to the following questions:

1. Would you guys advise using Caesar Cahnnel with my 4' draft boat (BTW with prop pockets half of the props are exposed)?

2. Would you recommend more preferred or more common options for mooring or anchoring, or even a marina that doesn't charge arm and a leg in Key Largo, on the Western side?
By looking at AC, I see that "Tarpon Basin" has few decent anchorage spots. But, since this is new area to me, and based on what I've read so far on about the Park moorings, I thought it would be better option.

3. Any words on the Pennekamp State Park? Is it a popular site or should I be focusing at other POIs instead?
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Old 11-25-2014, 08:26 PM   #34
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I would advise going back to the original plan of ICW to channel 5. On the Hawks Channel route there are far fewer good anchorages and the ride is way less scenic. The trip becomes a delivery instead of an adventure.

As for no name harbor, this is way off the beaten path of the ICW. If you like night time passage making just continue under Rickenbacker down the middle of Biscayne Bay to Elliot or Boca Chita. Plenty of room in good protected anchorages. I would not want to be poking around in the dark in no name as a noob. Plus anchoring outside puts you in Biscayne Channel, the current can rip through there.

If you don't go that far there are several anchorages and marinas in the "Northern" part of Biscayne Bay and you could get an early start the next morning. I used to shove off from around 79th Street Causeway near Pelican Harbor before dawn and at 7-8 knots be in Key Largo for lunch. You can anchor on the East side of the spoil islands just North of 79th Street Causeway or pull up to Shuckers Shuckers Waterfront Grill | Miami Beach, Florida for dinner and drinks and if you stay late enough maybe just stay tied up there til morning.

Oh, and getting a cab at zero dark 30 to Shock Island should not be a problem, I kind of sort of remember not having any difficulty at peak times like fantasy fest and new years.

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Old 11-25-2014, 10:27 PM   #35
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I would advise going back to the original plan of ICW to channel 5. On the Hawks Channel route there are far fewer good anchorages and the ride is way less scenic. The trip becomes a delivery instead of an adventure.

As for no name harbor, this is way off the beaten path of the ICW. If you like night time passage making just continue under Rickenbacker down the middle of Biscayne Bay to Elliot or Boca Chita. Plenty of room in good protected anchorages. I would not want to be poking around in the dark in no name as a noob. Plus anchoring outside puts you in Biscayne Channel, the current can rip through there.

If you don't go that far there are several anchorages and marinas in the "Northern" part of Biscayne Bay and you could get an early start the next morning. I used to shove off from around 79th Street Causeway near Pelican Harbor before dawn and at 7-8 knots be in Key Largo for lunch. You can anchor on the East side of the spoil islands just North of 79th Street Causeway or pull up to Shuckers Shuckers Waterfront Grill | Miami Beach, Florida for dinner and drinks and if you stay late enough maybe just stay tied up there til morning.

Oh, and getting a cab at zero dark 30 to Shock Island should not be a problem, I kind of sort of remember not having any difficulty at peak times like fantasy fest and new years.

Great advice. Thank you.

I guess if I stick with original plan and take ICW, this leaves me with a question on where to stay in Key Largo. Would you have any recommendations on the anchorage/mooring/marina on the "bay side"?
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Old 11-26-2014, 06:31 AM   #36
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Great advice. Thank you.

I guess if I stick with original plan and take ICW, this leaves me with a question on where to stay in Key Largo. Would you have any recommendations on the anchorage/mooring/marina on the "bay side"?
Below from my post here #20. Basically anywhere on the bayside is a good anchorage. If it's blows from the North all the traditional anchorages get bumpy, so pick a lee to the North. The bottom is almost all mud and grass and holds very well. In Tarpon Basin for instance which is a small body of water it seldom gets more than a big ripple.


As mentioned No Name, Boca Chita and Elliot Key are all good first anchorages in the Bay. In the Upper Keys, again as mentioned, Pumpkin and Tarpon Basin make great anchorages. In Blackwater Sound you can anchor off the Caribbean Club (where the movie Key Largo was filmed) and dingy into Sundowners for dinner Key Largo Restaurant offering waterside in the Florida Keys: Sundowners

Buttonwood Bay between marker 54 and 55 is a good anchorage (as long as the wind stays East) and is near "downtown" Key Largo. Snooks has good food and is an easy dingy ride Key Largo Restaurant, Key Largo Weddings, Key Largo outside Dining, Wedding Reception, Snooks Bayside Restaurant and many stores are close by.

Near Snooks the Upper Keys Sailing Club welcomes transients and has the best sunsets in the Upper Keys. Dockmasters Guy and Sally monitor 72 or e-mail or call: HOME | Upper Keys Sailing Club They can accommodate your draft at least on the end dock.

As mentioned Plantation Yacht Harbor, now Founders park is an excellent marina with many features. Islamorada, Village of Islands Florida
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Old 11-26-2014, 05:27 PM   #37
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Does anyone know what the bugs situation is like in No Name Harbor and/or Boca Chita Key Harbor during winter (Dec/Jan)? I've read that the mosquitos are really bad when it's warmer.
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Old 11-26-2014, 06:06 PM   #38
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Does anyone know what the bugs situation is like in No Name Harbor and/or Boca Chita Key Harbor during winter (Dec/Jan)? I've read that the mosquitos are really bad when it's warmer.
Yes, but this is winter and will be our cold season. Key West will be in the 70's and at night very cold, in the 60's. Miami normally gets bitter cold during that time. Early December is ok in the low 80's but late December drops to upper 70's and nights in the 60's. We may not see the 80's again on a regular basis until March. Might even have to wear sweaters or coats some nights.
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