Key West is so much fun that if you are not careful you wont ever leave. That said we made impromptu plans not to return the way we came and instead take a route east up the inside of the keys and cross over to the West coast of Florida. Our float plan for the next few days includes anchoring at these locations: Crane Key, Shark River in the Everglades National Park, Big Marco River, Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach. Once at FMB, our plan is to cruise down the Caloosahatchee River, crossing lake Okeechobee and East out the St. Lucie River to Stuart, FL where we will rejoin the Atlantic ICW. We are excited to traverse the Okeechobee Waterway.
The Okeechobee Waterway is just a small segment of the Great loop. The Great Loop is route Kelly & I plan to traverse possibly this Fall or next year. The Great Loop takes you down through the middle of America via the river system. It’s an opportunity to see the heartland from the banks of the rivers.
We understood that many of the anchorages we would spend time at would be off the grid, ie. no cell phone reception or places to get fuel, water, ice, groceries, etc. Step one was to re-provision the boat. Kelly keeps lists of what the boat needs for food and supplies so we took the dinghy in, grabbed an Uber and it was off to Winn Dixie for some groceries. It was particularly windy and the ride back with a dinghy full of groceries was a wet one with sea spray blowing over the bow, which was weighted down with beer and food.
We let go of our mooring line in Garrison Bight Mooring field around noontime and navigated our way out a narrow channel on the North side of Key West called Calda Channel.
The “color of the water” is a phrase I keep saying here in Key West. I’m just not used to seeing such bright greens and blues.
We followed a route that kept us in the deeper water for ease of navigation until we passed Cudjoe Key where we turned into Cudjoe Channel to navigate over the 5-6 foot depths to Crane Key. The Cudjoe Channel entrance daymark and buoys were missing, forcing us to keep an eye on our location to the shallows.
Crane Key turned out to be just a small key with scrubby, low vegetation. As the sun went down it was time for refreshments on the bow.
As the sun set, the 98% full moon rose. It seemed so bright in this remote location you might mistake this picture taken at 8PM as the sun.
Very early the next morning I snuck out on the back swim platform to do some night fishing under the moon streak. Luck had it and I caught a few fish!
We tossed this beast back into the sea and then began the “What kind of fish was that?” research. Thankfully, the internet is full of webpages as well as smartphone apps that help with this.
Identifying the species is just the first step. Next you need to figure out the fishing regulations for the state you are in. Size restrictions, open/closed seasons, etc.
I search the Apple App Store and found a great app called “Fish Rules App”.