Boot Key Harbor is a Municipal marina and harbor that is run by the city of Marathon and does not take reservations. Once you have a mooring ball, you can stay as long as you want. We have been told that the harbor starts to fill up around Thanksgiving and it can be difficult to get a mooring ball. Boot Key Harbor is considered to be the most protected anchorage in the Keys. We did not have cell coverage at Little Shark River, so we would have to wait until we got close to Marathon to call the harbor and check to see if they had any mooring balls available. We do not like to not approach a harbor after dark that we have not been to. Also, the office closes at 5 pm.
I lifted the anchor is a fairly strong outgoing current. Kim was at the helm and she did great in a very tight anchorage. We were soon on our way with the current helping us maintain over 5 knots out the channel to open water. Once we cleared the channel, we made a turn south and hugged the coast along Cape Sable. We were in about 8 feet of water. We could have gone further off shore to deeper water, but they do not allow crab traps within 3 miles of the shore of the Everglades NP. We took advantage of this and did not have to deal with crab traps for the first few hours of our day. That would soon change.
I guess I was very focused on the goal on this day because I did not shoot any video or take any pictures until the very end of the day.
We were making our longest open water passage of our short sailing career. This passage would be across Florida Bay, which is the water between the Florida mainland and the Keys. At one point we were about 15 miles from land in any direction. 15 miles puts the land over the horizon, so we spent a bit of time without seeing land in any direction. The crazy thing is we were in about 15 feet of water at the deepest point.
We had about 8 knots of wind right on the beam. That normally would be fine and we sailed at about 4 knots. Unfortunately, that would not work today, so we fired up the motor. We cruised along under full sails at about 6.7 knots with the motor giving us an assist.
One we left the land at Cape Sable, we hit a sea filled with millions of crab traps. It is hard to explain how many of them are out there. It is impossible to use the auto pilot because you are constantly having to steer around and through them. It would be bad to pick one up with the propeller. It would not only stop us, it would also potentially cause some damage to the boat. It was a long and tedious day.
We took turns at the helm and before long we were entering the channel north of the 7 mile Bridge. I called the marina on the phone and was happy to hear they had a mooring ball available for us. We came under the bridge at about 3 PM. We then turned east and went around a reef and back to the inlet to Boot Key Harbor. As we approached the mooring field, we called on the radio and were assigned a ball. It felt great to get hooked up and shut the motor off. WE MADE IT!!
The feeling was awesome. We had been planning to make this trip for over a year. Way before we had purchased this boat. It felt so good to feel secure in our new home for the next month or so. We had sailed about 300 miles in about 3 and a half weeks. We burned about 20 gallons of diesel and the best part is we did almost all of it in open water away from the ICW. We are a sailboat and we really wanted to sail as much of it as we could.
We dropped the dingy and headed to the office to get checked in. It was at this point that we began to experience what this place is all about. We have never felt so welcome. This place is a floating trailer park. A small community that has the players constantly changing. There is a core group that comes here year after year that kind of keeps the place going. I will talk much more about this community in coming entries.
|Here is a shot of SHIFT sitting on her mooring.|
|This is a view of our first sunset out the back.|
|Lots of neighbors|
|View over the bow|
That is enough for now. I will write more about this place and the community that we are now part of, in coming entries. Enjoy your day and if you find yourself in the Florida Keys this winter, look us up.