Florida Keys

Ambler Isle
V and S
Thu 26 May 2011 00:47
Wracked our brains for places we visited in prior years.  We first cruised Keys with pals Werner and Doris Schuette.  They bought their Sea Ray in Florida, and we came with them to pick it up and ended up touring the Keys.  We went to Holiday Isles, Hawk's Cay Marina, Plantation Marina, and back through Gilbert's on that trip in 1997.  None of those fit our current itinerary, so we looked for new places.  We were touring the inside, Florida Bay route, so our old favorite outside spots did not work.  Finally we consulted the Southern Waterways Guide book, and it directed us to The Hungry Tarpon Restaurant, just off mile marker 1175.  Although it was a little early for our normal stop, we anchored at the tip of Long Island, just in front of the Long Island Viaduct.  Running the dinghy into the nearby marina, we inquired about the restaurant.  No such place was known there.  The nearest restaurant was 10 miles in either direction.  Back aboard the Amber Isle, we grilled filet mignon and red skin potatoes.    The night was a bit rolly due to be by the open bridge.  Next morning we opted to continue on inside the Florida Bay.  No sense getting rocked on the Hawk's Channel.  The ride was uneventful til we reached the Bahia Honda Bridge.  Listed on the charts as having a 20' vertical clearance, we searched for the marked bridge opening to cross over to the Hawk's Channel.  We went through the center section of the bridge.   Confusion reigned when we discovered a second old bridge that was never removed.  Was it also a 20' clearance?  The only signs on the derelict bridge were "Danger, falling or hanging debris."  Unsure of the clearance, we back tracked east to a section of the old bridge that was remove to allow sailboats to pass.  As soon as we entered the Hawk's Channel, we remembered why we had been on the inside Florida Bay.  While the wind waves were only 2-3', the swells were another 4'.  Traveling the Channel for about 6 miles was enough.  We were glad to turn off into the Newfound Keys Harbour some 6 miles to the west.  Past the Little Palm Island Resort, we went another 5 miles to an anchorage in 10' water.  Little Palm Island is a very chic resort, visited by many celebrities  who want to conduct "private affairs".  The harbour is full of women arriving by boat or sea plane for rendezvous with their bosses or other famous, influential men.  Little Palm carefully guards their privacy by limiting access to the island to only resort guests.   We would skip Little Palm with it's $100 lunches, and $200 dinners this trip.  Instead we dinghied over to the Parrotise Bar and Grill, formerly known as the Sand Bar. It was located on Little Torch Island.   We tied up on the rickety wooden dock that was labeled, "No Mooring.".  When we were here in 2000, it was much more "old Florida".  But the newer version was still fun.  We dined on shrimp and burgers.  In the old days, they threw beer bottles into a chute in the bar that landed outside in trash bins.  Today they were much more civilized.  Full and happy, we returned to the Amber Isle, where we discovered no TV channels were available.  We decided to stay another day here, and catch up on some maintenance issues.