Touring the Florida Keys

Valt & Sandy
Tue 14 May 2013 22:23
24:71:852N. 081:12:556W
May 14, 2013
We took Biscayne Bay south to Florida Bay, which is the inside route of the Florida Keys. We usually like to go out on the ocean side, but winds and waves were brisk the next few days. Florida Bay meanders through shallows, but is plenty deep if you follow the marker buoys. We anchored the first night off Key Largo in a protected bay. From the bow I peered into the murky water looking for sand to drop the anchor. But of course, we are not in the Bahamas anymore: we cannot see bottom. Dolphins danced around the boat. It is hard to tell if they come to ride the surf of our bow waves or if the black hull helps hide them from their prey. Either way it is fun to watch them. Odd that such big creatures like shallow waters.
Next morning the anchor came up with a huge ball of dirt. This is more like river cruising. The winds were still blowing so we opted to stay in Florida Bay again today. After 57 miles we arrived at Marathon on Vaca Key. Seven Mile Bridge spans the waterway. We'd passed under it off Knights Key Channel before, but the tides, currents, and winds prevented us from going under the 19' span there. Our height can be adjusted to 18' with the radar and anchor lowered on a special pivot. but with only one foot clearance, it needs to be calm. We had to run another 4 miles west to the recommended opening which sports a 65' height. The winds had increased to 26 knots! Mooring balls are provided for a small fee inside the harbor at Boot Key but we arrived too late to get one. We like it there because it is close to everything: shops, tiki bars, laundry, fish markets, places to walk. Instead we dropped anchor just outside the harbor entrance. A few other boats were moored here. Crab pots dotted the shoreline. Fishing skiffs came and went. It was a good spot.