Lake Worth to Marathon
09 January 2015 | Vaca Key - Marathon, FL
ABOVE: Sunset over the Channel 5 Bridge, Matacumbe Key
Jan-1, Leg 1: West Palm to Biscayne Bay (73 nm in 10:40)
Weather looked good enough so we departed Lake Worth on New Year’s day and headed south some 73 nm to Biscayne Bay via Government Cut (Miami). Rain chased us right up until we headed in Government Cut. Easterly to southeasterly winds made pure sailing difficult if we were to set anchor by nightfall. The Yanny cranked away.
Once inside GovCut, the traffic was, well this is Miami, heavy. Recreational boats everywhere in every direction. There is also dredging underway of Fisherman’s Island and of course a freighter was in the process of repositioning as we headed toward the ICW.
We finally passed under the Rickenbacker bridge and made for the anchorage known as ‘Nixon’s Harbor’ just west of Key Biscayne. There were quite a few boats there as we dropped anchor, but it is a large space and we had more than enough room to set anchor and relax. At least we thought we did until the very large motor yacht about 75 yards to our south began blaring music at an unfathomable volume. Not only was it loud, it sounded like fingers nails on a chalk board. Not really sure which middle eastern dialect it was but if I didn’t know better I would think they were having an al Queda birthday party or New Year’s celebration.
Fortunately about 2 hours after sunset the yacht departed.
Jan-2, Leg 2: Biscayne Bay to Matacumbe (74 nm in 10:37)
We hauled anchor just before dawn and motored toward the infamous ‘Stiltsville’ channel that connects the Atlantic with Biscayne Bay. With only partly cloudy skies, we finally could feel some of the wonderful Florida sunshine. As we motored further south and west wind direction (15-20 knots) allowed us to carry the full genoa quite well and we got a good boost in boat speed. We needed it. This shaped up to be another day when we’d used every bit of daylight if we wanted a secure anchor by night fall.
Just past Key Largo large numbers of the infamous crab/lobster pot floats began to appear. Anyone who has traversed the Hawk Channel has encountered these and they are maddening as it always appears there is one on the bow. From that point on there was quite a bit of hand steering while paying constant attention to the waters ahead.
We made the turn and headed under the Channel 5 65’ bridge. If you haven’t been through the bridge before, be aware that the fendered section is west of what is shown on many electronic navigation charts. I was running both a CMAP NT+ chart and Navionics on the iPad as we approached the bridge and both were directing me to the wrong section.
We passed under the bridge and headed northeast toward Matacumbe Key. Forecast winds were ESE to SE 20 knots for overnight, so we wanted to get in the lee of Matacumbe. We dropped the anchor amongst a collection of crab pots about 3/4s of a mile off the Key. There was an immediate and very good set. I mention this because in past layovers in this area we had been to Matacumbe Bight, large with less than average holding, and Jew Fish Hole. The holding here was excellent in about 8’ of water. Also note that when tide is rising there is quite a bit of current through here. On the falling tide not so much.
Jan-3, Leg 3: Matacumbe to Vaca Key / Harbour Cay Club (32.7 nm in 4:37)
This was the least fun leg of the trip. Fortunately it was short. Winds were steady SE 19-22 knots with gusts over 27 knots. Seas were on our port quarter stern 3-6’. We hauled out a handkerchief of the genoa and plowed through the water at just under 8 knots most of the way to Marathon. The swells and waves, when they combined just right, gave us some fairly extreme pitching and rolling as we motorsailed along.
Our destination was first the Moser Cut / 7 mile bridge. As we approached I was beginning to wonder if the seas would make traverse of the bridge untenable due to the severe rolling. As we made the turn up the channel marked out for Moser Cut, the seas flattened out and we entered the Florida Bay without incident.
Forty five minutes later we pulled into Harbour Cay Club, tied off and relaxed.
Next up: BOAT PROJECTS - I have a bunch of them.