Conditions: Sunny and hot. Winds from the east 5-10 mph. Seas calm.
Distance traveled: 49 nautical miles
Time underway: 5 hours 18 minutes
Average Speed: 10 knots
Max Speed: 16.2 knots
Fuel used: 65 gallons
It was definitely odd spending a night at another marina after our 2+ months at Stock Island Marina but Faro Blanco was a terrific and easy stop. After arriving we walked across the street to West Marine for some supplies and spent the afternoon catching up on things while plotting our next move before dining at the onsite Lighthouse Grill overlooking their pool where a solo guitarist provided some great background tunes.
Our plan was to be off the docks by around 9 am for our run to Islamorada as we had to time the tide at the spot where we would be leaving the Hawk Channel on the Atlantic side to cross over to Florida Bay.
On a rising tide there is just enough water for OLOH to pass through the entrance to Snake Creek according to the research I had done and local knowledge we received. We typically don’t like to mess around with situations like that but because there are so few options of places to stay between Marathon and Miami we had to decide between having a much longer day or enduring the apprehension of transiting a tricky area for the first time. Once away from Faro Blanco there is a bit of backtracking to be done to return to the Hawk Channel. Many people stay on “the inside” waters of the ICW but there are some even more tricky spots along that route between Marathon and Islamorada so we went with what we knew.
Once past the Seven Mile Bridge, it was literally smooth sailing for the entire trip, just a stunning day with light winds and calm, beautiful blue water.
Once we were upon Islamorada we turned to the north towards Snake Creek, the shallow passage to the bay. The tide was up and while the depths were low there was just enough water for us to move on through without incident despite my usual sleep-depriving Captain’s apprehension.
If you are traveling this route definitely read and honor the Active Captain hazard marker on the ocean side. I would not attempt this passage with a draft greater than 5 1/2 feet and certainly not at anything less than a rising tide approaching high water. There is also a bridge to clear with around 24 feet of vertical clearance, just enough for OLOH to shimmy under with her antennae down. Otherwise, it opens on the hour. The passage to Florida Bay was populated by large homes and canals.
Once on the bay side, we followed a local’s instructions to continue north for half a mile before turning southeast towards the marina. Again, more shallow water but no trouble for us getting in.
Plantation Yacht Harbor is city-run, adjacent to Founders Park in Islamorada and one of the nicer municipal marinas we’ve been to. The controlling depth is only five feet at mean low water so it’s not for everyone (and barely for us) but there are some bigger boats here which obviously play the tides coming in and out. It is nestled in an absolutely beautiful spot and we’re glad we came here. It’s not close to any services without a car but for us, that’s part of its charm.
We’re still figuring out where to stop between here and Fort Lauderdale and we’re carefully watching the weather as it’s supposed to deteriorate a bit in the coming days.
See you out there!
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