We've anchored near Pye Key and Torch Key. While we dropped the anchor at 24°39.803′N 081°25.583′W, we didn't stay there.
I did not read the coastal pilot carefully. The "controlling depths" for the channels near here are 3½′ and 4′. This is a place we really should have avoided.
Big Lesson Up Front: Taking your own boat to Key West is difficult. I don't recommend it. A better approach is take your boat to Marathon and take the bus to Key West.
From Marathon to Key West in a sailboat is a long day. Its 40 miles down the Hawk Channel, and then a few hours of fussing around at the Key West end to find a place to anchor or moor. At 6 knots, that's almost seven solid hours of motoring (or sailing) and a few more hours of finding a place in some really crowded anchorages.
It's hard to turn this into an overnighter: you'd have to leave at midnight to arrive at dawn. (Daylight savings times does us no favors as sailors.)
I tried to break the journey up by ducking in Newfound Harbor between Big Pine Key and Little Torch Key. Mistakes were made.
The main channel is deep right up to Red #4. After Red 4 is shoals down to 5-6′ at most. We draw 5½′. I panicked, turned around and fled. Instead of Newfound Harbor, we tried the Niles Channel. It's exposed in almost every direction, the bottom is rock, there's a healthy current.
When the wind is from the E, there's a little shelter, but the wind is perpendicular to the current. This is weird.
Also. It's only 8½′ deep. Maybe. We put out 7:1 scope -- all chain -- but the anchor dragged about 100 yards before resetting. In a crowded anchorage, this might be trouble. Out here, it was a nothing. CA said the clump of dirt on the anchor was like a ball of concrete.
The weather overnight involved a very stiff blow (20 knots maybe.) It felt like a huge thunderstorm, but there wasn't a drop of rain on us. I think the storm was close by. The good news is it only lasted a few hours. The bad news is that by morning, there was no wind.
|Depart||Boot Key Harbor 24°42.250′N 081°05.550′W|
|Arrive||Torch Key 24°39.803′N 081°25.583′W|