Playing in the Shallows: Marathon to Key Largo

Cruising up the Keys “inside” from Marathon to Key Largo offers a new definition of “shallow water”. We like our 3.5-foot draft.

Day 130, February 20, 2019

Leaving Key Largo, we found ourselves once again in new cruising grounds.  We had elected the inside route because a) the weather demanded it and b) we wanted to see it.

As for a), the breeze was cranking out of the southeast.  While we were in the lee we were seeing 20- 25 knots, but as we crossed the passages out to the oceanside, it cranked up to gusts of nearly 30 knots.  Definitely not a good day to be running up the outside.

As it was, even on the inside, we were taking a lot of spray over the bow.  We had to keep the pilot house windows closed, and as it was still very hot out, we were grateful for our generator and air conditioning.  It would have been an impossible ride without them.

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It was a beautiful trip.  The water was shallow and spectacularly beautiful, with the keys and bridges not far off to the south.  The channel meandered constantly and piloting required close attention at all times.  We were grateful for our very shallow draft of just three and a half feet, especially as our depth sounder blipped below five feet on a few occasions.  We did hold our breath once or twice, and we definitely stayed in the channel.

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It was a week day, and there were very few other boats out to distract or bother us.  A couple of sailboats westbound were having a glorious broad reach.  Just a great day to be out on the water.

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Florida Bay in a feisty southeaster.

There really aren’t a lot of options for stopping over in Florida Bay between Marathon and Key Largo.  There are some anchorages, but getting the dogs ashore did not appear simple, so we elected to go to The Anchorage, as an acquaintance in Key West had recommended it.  It’s the last stop in Florida Bay before you enter the string of sounds leading up to Biscayne Bay and Miami.  After a lovely ride, things got a little, um, weird as we approached The Anchorage in Key Largo. First, we couldn’t raise them on the radio.  Then no one answered the phone.  We began to wonder what it was all about.

Finally we got someone on the phone who sounded like a hotel maid directing a guest arriving by car.  It was just a strange reception, especially after the professionalism and efficiency in Key West, Stock Island and Faro Blanco.  As we approached the facility, things began to fall into place.  The docks were a dilapidated mess.  Old Florida, and deferred maintenance for maybe the last, oh, say, 50 years.  Lots of old rusty nails sticking out of the scrawny, shaky piles.  Crumbling cement finger piers.  Hmm.

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Feeling unwelcome, and very hot.

And to make matters worse, no dogs.  Okay.  We walked them beyond the parking lot on the litter-strewn access road, underneath the Route 1 overpass.  Lovely as you can imagine.

I sort of have no pictures of the place.  Ya-know-why?  There wasn’t much picture-worthy.

Alright.  It wasn’t that bad.  It’s website definitely oversells it.  About the only thing it gets right are the spectacular sunsets.  It was a simple hotel from maybe the 1960s, on stilts with a pool.  There was a restaurant adjacent (different property), the Blackwater Siren, that is a typical keys tiki bar thing, and we did have fun there.  The restaurant part is out of business, but the tiki bar part was definitely open for business and did a lively happy hour.  The clientele and staff were a sort of rough-and-wildish bunch and the tiki-bar food was good as it goes.

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The scenery.

We had made reservations for two nights, primarily because the Miami area was still all jammed up from the mess of the boat show, which was being broken down, but we could find no reason to spend a second night so we took our chances cancelled our reservation for the second night, and had a good nights’s sleep.

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The only photo I have of The Anchorage facility.  The boat is our neighbor,  a Willard 40, same hull as my parents’ last boat, but different (unfortunate) deck/cabin configuration.

The next day we would leave the keys and head into the wild unknown of Miami.

 

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Marathon (Faro Blanco) to Key Largo (The Anchorage), February 20, 2019

The Florida Keys
Marathon (Faro Blanco) to Key Largo (The Anchorage)
February 20, 2019
52 Miles, 7h 1m
Gorgeous day, hot, windy, SE 15-25, G30, overcast & shower in the am then clear, sunny, windy, beautiful.
Total trip miles: 1954

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