Miami Beach to the Florida


Welcome to Miami Beach! Florida Yacht Charter’s headquarters are located at the world-class Miami Beach Marina, on the southern tip of Miami Beach, known locally as “South Beach”, or as the hipsters call it, “SoBe”.

You’ll want to save some time either before or after your yacht charter to experience SoBe. Over the last ten years, South Beach has experienced a virtual renaissance of the arts and has become a favorite backdrop for the fashion and film industries.

The nearby “Art Deco” district is famous for its pastel, lovingly restored landmark hotels and architecture. Stroll down Ocean Drive and dine at a beachfront café. Or cruise on over to Lincoln Road outdoor pedestrian mall, where an eclectic mix of shops, art galleries, restaurants and live music reflects a truly international blend of Latin, Caribbean and European cultures.

The Miami Beach Marina is conveniently located in the heart of South Beach, at the corner of the MacArthur Causeway (836 East), and South Alton Road. It’s about a 15-minute taxi ride from Miami International Airport; and just a crab claw’s throw away from Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant, the oldest eatery on Miami Beach, famous for it’s delicious stone crabs and seafood. (They even have “take-out” stone crabs you can bring back to your boat, to start your charter out right!)

Okay, You’re Ready to Cast Off!

DAY 1

BISCAYNE BAY

Stay in Fisherman’s Channel as you pass south of Dodge Island. You are in an international “inbound” channel here, so remember “Red Right Returning.” The last inbound channel marker is “#25”, you will then see Green “57” which is an Intracoastal Waterway Marker (ICW). ICW markers can be identified by a yellow reflective sticker, the same shape (green=square or red=triangle) as the marker.

Leave the ICW Green “57” to port, turn south to enter the Intracoastal Waterway. DO NOT TURN BEFORE THIS MARKER OR YOU WILL MOST CERTAINLY RUN AGROUND! (We know this from personal experience…)

Your destination this evening is either ELLIOT KEY or if you are making good time, continue on to round, little PUMPKIN KEY, which always has a lee side. This is an easy first day out, even if our “winter” winds are blowing; (but don’t worry, the temperature rarely drops below 70 degrees F).

They are several good reference points for sailing south through the bay to Featherbed Bank’s ICW “3” and “4”. (The more westerly of the two channels through Featherbed Banks). You can anchor along Elliott Key or continue south to red “8”, run through the channel and anchor on either side of Pumpkin Key, depending on the wind. Here and throughout the Keys, you are often in national and state parks and preserves. Please remember “TAKE NOTHING BUT PICTURES, LEAVE NOTHING BUT YOUR WAKE!”

*DISTANCE-25 MILES TO ELLIOTT KEY
*DISTANCE-30 MILES TO PUMPKIN KEY

DAY 2

Hawk Channel – Key Largo

Today, you will depart Biscayne Bay/Card Sound through ANGELFISH CREEK for HAWK CHANNEL. Hawk Channel is the body of water between the Florida Keys and the off-shore reefs. It varies in width from one quarter mile up to two miles at some points, and has an average depth of 15-20 feet.

Angelfish Creek is a winding little channel cut through thick mangroves. It is very narrow at the western end of Angelfish Creek, so it is important that you stay in the middle of the channel, close to Red “14” and “12”. Remember “RED LEFT LEAVING” Angelfish. As you are exiting the eastern end of the channel, stay centered in the channel and as you pass Marker “1” and “2”, set a safe course for Hawk Channel. Hawk Channel is considered an inbound channel from the entrance (outside Biscayne Bay) all the way to Key West, so remember “red right returning” heading south.

Once out in Hawk Channel, you can plot a course out to a protected reef for an afternoon of snorkeling or diving. Be aware of the approximate bearing to your next Hawk Channel marker, so you don’t confuse other channel entrance markers, and verify the numbers as you pass the markers. (It’s the “sail by numbers” game!)

Please Note: Each major reef has a tower marking it. Around the tower will be white diamond markers on stakes showing the outer edge of the reef. DO NOT SAIL BETWEEN THE TOWER AND THE DIAMOND MARKERS. Outside the diamond markers are the white mooring buoys which you can pick up for snorkeling and diving. Never, ever anchor on a reef, and even casually touching coral or brushing it with a flipper can kill it.

Marina Del Mar-1-800-451-3483 Key Largo Harbor Marina 1-800-843-5397

Distance-25 miles

DAY 3

Key Largo

Depart Key Largo today for Indian Key Anchorage, which is off the northeast end of LOWER MATECUMBE KEY. Along the way, you again have a choice of several beautiful reefs for snorkeling: CONCH REEF, DAVIS REEF AND PICKLES REEF. If you have never tried snorkeling on a tropical reef before, you will be amazed by the new world you find just a few feet below the surface of the water. (If you’re a beginner, tie a long line off the stern and hang onto it while you snorkel, as the current can sometimes be surprisingly swift. It is also a good idea to take turns, so that the boat is never left unattended.)

After passing Hens & Chickens, continue southwest approximately 6 miles to the north end of Lower Matecumbe Key where you will see Indian Key Anchorage. This would not be a comfortable anchorage in a strong east to southeast wind. Alternatively, you could continue on to LONG KEY BIGHT to anchor (an additional 12 miles) or simply stay in the Key Largo area. At Indian Key Anchorage, you can dinghy into the dock at Indian Key and walk around what used to be a thriving little community. Indian Key was the Dade County seat from 1836 until 1840 when the Indians burned it down. There is an observation platform on the island, so don’t forget your camera. This would be a perfect anchorage to barbecue off the stern of the boat, a cool and easy way to cook dinner.

DISTANCE – 20 miles.

DAY 4

Windley Key or Duck Key

While you are still at Indian Key Anchorage, you may want to do a little more exploring. LIGNUMVITEA KEY, which is northwest through Indian Key Channel (accessible by dinghy or tour boat) has a virgin hammock including many native species and a coral rock house, cistern and windmill built in 1919. There are walking tours Thursday through Monday-call ahead for information.

You have two choices today depending upon how much sailing you would like to do. We will start with the shorter route:

FIRST DESTINATION: After all your exploring today, you can head straight for port tonight or you can take a short side trip to ALLIGATOR REEF (no one has spotted a REAL alligator yet!) where you will find plenty of bright and colorful tropical fish on this shallow reef. When you have cleared your anchorage at Indian Key, you can set a safe course in a southeasterly direction to pick up one of the mooring buoys on Alligator Reef. If you have chosen the shorter route, you are now on your way back to Miami Beach. Your port of call this evening is HOLIDAY ISLE BEACH RESORT ON WINDLEY KEY. This is one of the best resorts in the Keys. You will find something to please everyone here- five restaurants, arts and crafts shops, sport fishing, wind surfing, parasailing, jet skiing, swimming pools and white sand beaches…all Florida Key’s style!

Whale Harbor Channel, the entrance to Windley Key is northeast from Alligator Reef. Be sure to clear the shallow spots when setting a safe course for the Red “2” at Whale Harbor Channel. After passing Red “8” you will see a secondary channel to starboard taking you into Windley Key.
SECOND DESTINATION: Your second choice will take you further into the Keys.

DAY 5

Rodriguez Key

Why not waste away a day in Margaritaville? You have plenty of time to partake of all the activities at Holiday Isle Resort or you can head out for another day of snorkeling the reefs. You anchorage tonight is RODRIGUEZ KEY, just a short hop away. You also could choose to go back to one of the Key Largo marinas tonight if you would prefer not to anchor out.

DISTANCE-10 MILES (RODRIGUEZ KEY)
12 MILES (KEY LARGO).

If you took the second option yesterday, you will be underway today for a long sail from Hawk’s Cay to Tavernier where you can anchor out for the evening. On your way back up Hawk’s Channel, don’t “bump into” the HENS AND CHICKENS, but do make a point of stopping at this small reef which is very accessible, just outside the channel. DISTANCE: 30 MILES

DAY 6

Heading North

Today will be your last day for reef snorkeling, so it’s time to “hit” (not literally) any reefs you missed on the way south. Identify that last bright blue and yellow fish and smile at your last friendly barracuda! You will be head back through Angel Fish Creek to anchor at Pumpkin Key tonight. I hope you have been watching the sunsets –they are some of the most spectacular to be seen in the world. An alternative destination tonight would be to stay out in Hawk Channel and anchor either north or south of Ceasar’s Creek Channel. This is a great anchorage as long as there is not a strong wind out of the east.

DISTANCE- 23 MILES FROM RODRIGUEZ TO PUMPKIN KEY
30 MILES FROM TAVERNIER TO PUMPKIN KEY
DISTANCE- 25 MILES FROM RODRIGUEZ TO CEASAR’S CREEK
29MILES FROM TAVERNIER TO CESAR’S CREEK

DAY 7
Coconut Grove

Today is an easy sail back through Biscayne Bay for an evening at DINNER KEY MARINA at COCONUT GROVE. Downtown Coconut Grove is within easy walking distance of the marina and is a fun party town for your last night out. CocoWalk is the center of town and is filled with shops, restaurants and clubs with all types of entertainment. If you stayed at Ceasar’s Creek last night, continue north through Hawk Channel, exiting Hawk’s Channel at markers “2” and “3” close to FOWEY ROCK’S LIGHT. You can re-enter Biscayne Bay through BISCAYNE CHANNEL (south of Key Biscayne-look for the green and white diamond marker at the east end of Biscayne Channel). Then head for Dinner Key Marina; or duck into “No Name Harbor” at the south end of Key Biscayne, a peaceful little anchorage, with the Cape Florida Lighthouse in the background.

If you would prefer to come back to Miami Beach Marina, continue north, from Hawk Channel turn into Government Cut east of the jetty and green marker “11”. As you enter the channel Miami Beach Marina is to your starboard side.

DISTANCE- 20 MILES FROM PUMPKIN KEY TO DINNER KEY
(DINNER KEY MARINA – (305) 579-6980)
DISTANCE- 25 MILES FROM CEASAR’S CREEK TO DINNER KEY MARINA
DISTANCE- 34 MILES FROM CEASAR’S CREEK TO MIAMI BEACH MARINA

DAY 8
Head For Home

After all the partying you did last night in Coconut Grove, you still need to make an early departure this morning for about a two hour jaunt back to Florida Yacht Charter’s docks for your 10:00 a.m. return time.

DISTANCE – 8 MILES FROM DINNER KEY TO MIAMI BEACH MARINA

Alternate return route: If you would like, you may return the “INSIDE” route (which is west of the Keys) by heading southeast from Indian Key Anchorage to CHANNEL FIVE which is just north of Long Key about five miles away. Channel Five has a fixed 65 ft bridge your mast should fit under (check mast height) as you head back in a northeasterly direction. This is a very protected course but the first twenty-five miles is narrow and shallow channel. We suggest that you motor this section on a rising tide. You will then enter BLACKWATER SOUND, BARNES SOUND and CARD SOUND as you head for Biscayne Bay. You may want to consider this option in the winter months if one of our “rare northeasterlies” blows through.