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JJMc
12-08-2013, 08:03 PM
Hello, the family is headed to Florida for a winter break from Wisconsin-- over the school Christmas holiday. I'm thinking it would be nice to bring my 16' Wayfarer daysailer, and would welcome recommendations for places to launch/camp/enjoy restaurants in the Keys. I know it's a long ways to trailer, but with our Prius it should cost us less than $100 additional to pull the boat. This will be our first time to Florida.

Brian Palmer
12-08-2013, 08:49 PM
We went there last year for New Years and stayed in Islamorada. I cannot give you much advice, but one issue is that the water around the Keys can be very shallow (like knee deep for a 1/4 mile off shore) except in the channels. It was great to try flats fishing, but I was not too disappointed to leave the sail boat at home. Kayaks would be great.

Are you going to pull the Wayfarer with the Prius? (We have a 2005, and my understanding is that you can't tow anything with it. I use our minivan instead.)

Bregalad
12-08-2013, 10:15 PM
Can you be more specific? Will you be staying in one place?
It's >100 miles from the Upper Keys to Key West with lot's of great cruising for a shoal draft boat on both the Ocean and Bay sides. Thousands of square miles.

I had a boat repair and building business down there in the late 70's and early 80's. I had a house there until 2004.

Depending on your small boat skills, how adventuresome you are, and your preferences you can find almost any kind of sailing you want. My shop was at Mile Marker 97.5 in Rock Harbor, right on the western boundary of John Pennecamp State Park.

From there one could sail into the Park and dive the various sites inside the Park ...... 'Christ of the Abyss' is a popular site located around Dry Rocks, around six miles east of Key Largo. Or you could sail a bit westward outside the park where you could spearfish or catch lobster in season. Or just go a couple miles out to Rodriguez Key where the bonefishing used to be excellent off the western side.

A little further down the road on the Bay side you could sail out to Lignumvitae Key. Bring Insect Repellant..... or as it's known down there Key Largo Cologne https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignumvitae_Key_State_Botanical_Park

At the other end of the Keys there are numerous small islands you can sail to from Key West. If you are adventurous (and skilled) you could sail to the Marquessas or to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson. It would be a notable sail in a Wayfarer, but others have done it. Hugh Horton sailed his canoe out there.

The nice thing is that with shallow draft you can find smooth water in most wind conditions. If it blows hard from the SE stay on the Bay side. If a norther moves through the inshore areas on the ocean side will still be quite safe.

ahp
12-09-2013, 03:04 PM
Bring your GPS and charts. From what little I have seen of the Keys, everything looks the same. There are no easily recognized landmarks. You can get lost.

WI-Tom
12-09-2013, 03:12 PM
Buttonwood Sound west of Key Largo--right near the finish line of the Everglades Challenge--is a nice little protected area of Florida Bay. There are some islands with nice picnic beaches a few miles out. This is all right near John Pennekamp State Park, too. Mrs. Mack's Kitchen is always a popular restaurant there just off the beach in Key Largo--tiny place but good food.

Tom

Bregalad
12-09-2013, 03:51 PM
....... Mrs. Mack's Kitchen is always a popular restaurant there just off the beach in Key Largo--tiny place but good food.
Tom

Wow .... I remember that place from 30ish years ago. It must be under different ownership now. Mrs. Mac was in poor health last time I was in there .... must be 15 or so years ago.

There was another place @ Mile Marker 104.5 on the ocean side. Very small but it had great conch dishes.

@JJMc - When you just get into the Keys stop at Florida Bay Outfitters @ MM 104 on the ocean side (right next to the Caribbean Club). Frank, the owner bought the house I built in Tavernier. He and his wife are really nice people. They've been running kayak tours down there for 20+ years. Before that Frank lived on a sailboat. They can fill you in on any local knowledge you might need. Say Hi for me.

Brian Palmer
12-09-2013, 05:17 PM
Wow .... I remember that place from 30ish years ago. It must be under different ownership now. Mrs. Mac was in poor health last time I was in there .... must be 15 or so years ago.

There was another place @ Mile Marker 104.5 on the ocean side. Very small but it had great conch dishes.

@JJMc - When you just get into the Keys stop at Florida Bay Outfitters @ MM 104 on the ocean side (right next to the Caribbean Club). Frank, the owner bought the house I built in Tavernier. He and his wife are really nice people. They've been running kayak tours down there for 20+ years. Before that Frank lived on a sailboat. They can fill you in on any local knowledge you might need. Say Hi for me.

I know Monica and Frank, too. She and I worked together after college about 25 years ago and reconnected on FB. Very nice people.

JJMc
12-12-2013, 12:54 PM
@JJMc - When you just get into the Keys stop at Florida Bay Outfitters @ MM 104 on the ocean side (right next to the Caribbean Club). Frank, the owner bought the house I built in Tavernier. He and his wife are really nice people. They've been running kayak tours down there for 20+ years. Before that Frank lived on a sailboat. They can fill you in on any local knowledge you might need. Say Hi for me.

I will certainly say Hi, thanks for such a useful introduction! I don't find a name in your profile-- who should I say says hello?

JJMc
12-12-2013, 12:58 PM
Buttonwood Sound west of Key Largo--right near the finish line of the Everglades Challenge--is a nice little protected area of Florida Bay. There are some islands with nice picnic beaches a few miles out. This is all right near John Pennekamp State Park, too. Mrs. Mack's Kitchen is always a popular restaurant there just off the beach in Key Largo--tiny place but good food.
Thanks Tom, sounds like a good place to start. There must be a boat launch if the EC finishes there.

JJMc
12-12-2013, 01:03 PM
Can you be more specific? Will you be staying in one place?
Yes, we plan to stay in one place mostly, which is why I listed daysailing-- before lunch and after, maybe an all-day trip once or twice. We enjoy fishing and sailing, wildlife and aquatic life, not out to accomplish anything significant. We are thinking of basing in Marathon because we don't know the first thing about the Keys, and my mother's family spent many winters there when she was growing up.

JJMc
12-12-2013, 01:06 PM
Are you going to pull the Wayfarer with the Prius? (We have a 2005, and my understanding is that you can't tow anything with it. I use our minivan instead.)
Brian, thanks for the advice and, yes we pull the Wayfarer with the Prius, easily. I have read that it is rated to pull a trailer up to 1500 lbs in other countries. There is a useful yahoo group called Prius Trailers with helpful information: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/priustrailers/
The Wayfarer with trailer is around 1000 lbs, so we pull it with a (wooden!) canoe on top of the car at times...

Brian Palmer
12-12-2013, 02:17 PM
Brian, thanks for the advice and, yes we pull the Wayfarer with the Prius, easily. I have read that it is rated to pull a trailer up to 1500 lbs in other countries. There is a useful yahoo group called Prius Trailers with helpful information: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/priustrailers/
The Wayfarer with trailer is around 1000 lbs, so we pull it with a (wooden!) canoe on top of the car at times...

Well, you learn something new everyday. Still, we already have a hitch on the van, and I don't think I could change my wife's attitude about towing the boat with the Prius. I had a '92 Corrolla wagon that I think was rated to tow up to 1000 or 1500 lbs (can't remember which). We never towed anything, but we would often put 4 kayaks on the car, and four people inside with all their paddling gear, and head to the mountains.

Tom Kremer
12-12-2013, 06:47 PM
There is great sailing down there for a centerboard/leeboard boat. Yes, there is some shoal water but just pay attention to your GPS and charts and you'll have a blast.

Years back I spent 10 days up in Florida Bay in a Bolger Black Skimmer and went all over, west past Flamingo to the Capes and east to Blackwater Sound and up to the Nest Keys. Plently of water in the basins, tricky navigation in the passes between basins. The passes are marked with poles that fishing guides have stuck down into the mud but you need to pay attention to stay in the channel.

Just one tip... if you get stuck in the marl, don't jump out of the boat.

JJMc
12-13-2013, 10:19 PM
Just one tip... if you get stuck in the marl, don't jump out of the boat.

Okay, I'll bite Tom. Why not jump out of the boat? Alligators, or...?

WI-Tom
12-14-2013, 12:19 AM
Okay, I'll bite Tom. Why not jump out of the boat? Alligators, or...?

He's probably talking about the waist-deep mud.

The first time a SCAMP sailed the EC (2011? 2012?) there was a north wind that blew for days, pushing a lot of the water out of Florida Bay. All it took was a small mistake in navigation, and the shallow water and deep mud kept the boat stuck just outside Flamingo for more than a week, I think.

Tom

WI-Tom
12-14-2013, 12:29 AM
Thanks Tom, sounds like a good place to start. There must be a boat launch if the EC finishes there.

I don't know where you're staying, but some of the smaller hotel/B&B operations in Key Largo have their own boat launches (a bit rough and shallow, suitable for small boats) and docks. Bay Cove Motel, I think, is the one at the finish of the Everglades Challenge. About two doors down from that is a place called the Key Lime Sailing Club--that's a little cottage rental type place where you can rent a 22' keelboat along with the cottage (it doesn't cost extra from what I recall).

http://www.keylimesailingclub.com/ (http://www.keylimesailingclub.com/)

The Key Lime Sailing club is an interesting place, a few different cottage options and a waterfront gazebo/tiki bar. They also had sit-on-top kayaks, a Sunfish, and an O'Day Daysailer that were free for guests to use. John Pennekamp State Park is just down the road, as is the African Queen (the boat from the movie). It's not shiny and new and corporate, but I liked it a lot. The year after I stayed there with my family I was back in town alone waiting for friends who were sailing in the EC that year. I walked over, told the guy I had enjoyed staying there the year before, and he let me use the Sunfish for free all day while I was waiting.

Seems like it might offer a nice mix of daysailing when you want it, along with land-based stuff.

Tom

Tom Kremer
12-20-2013, 06:51 PM
Okay, I'll bite Tom. Why not jump out of the boat? Alligators, or...?

the worst mud ever... dangerously deep, gooey, viscous and really foul smelling

JJMc
12-20-2013, 09:52 PM
We'll be at Big Pine Key for a week, then who knows? About mile 46. Pics later.
Jerry