31 Jan 2016

31/1/16 : Made it to Key West at last!

Having delayed our departure to Key West by a couple of days we took the opportunity to explore the park by bike and foot and generally had a relaxing couple of days, plus we caught up on admin tasks from home, including putting in another planning application for a new entrance to the field.

For once the weather forecast remained consistent and so on Friday morning we inched our way out of No Name Harbor and back into the Hawk Channel for the sail down to Key West, around 130 miles.  We'd be told that the channel is full of lobster pots which very easily become wrapped around unsuspecting propellors and so we decided to take the trip in daylight only, making stops at Rodriguez Key and Bahia Honda Key each evening.

The entrance to the anchorage at Bahia Honda was an interesting one: The old railway bridge built by Henry Flagler in the early 1900s still spans the entrance with the modern road bridge behind.  In order to permit access to what is yet another Florida State Park, one of the spans has been dismantled. It's interesting that the bridge built in old Henry's time is far higher and hence more accommodating for sailing vessels (although not ours) than the modern bridge!

It's been a gentle sail along the length of the Keys but at least a sail and not a motor-sail, makes quite a change.  Being inside a reef the sea state was calm and the weather warm and largely sunny, although with a northerly breeze it was quite chilly the first day and so we were layered up for warmth, if not elegance!

The only niggle came from the myriad lobster pots, marked by floats, littering the channel .... hundreds of the things, making for vigilant navigation and quite a few avoidance tactics.  The powerboats bombing along at 25 knots or more don't seem to worry about them .... maybe they push them out of the way .... but for we slower craft it's a bit of a pain.  At least when we head back it will be outside the reef to make the most of the Gulf Stream current.

Our first impressions of Key West in terms of an anchorage are somewhat mixed: a lot of tatty (derelict?) old boats and very shallow water.  We decided to utilise the municipal mooring field for our stay (gains us use of a dinghy dock) and after picking our way around a very narrow channel dredged through the shallows ... always a bit hairy .... we're now moored up in 3m of water and tomorrow will start our exploration ashore.  Sadly Paul has developed a bit of a cold and so is feeling under the weather .... must be a reaction to finally finding some warmth!!