C'est la Vie is a 1966 Charlie Morgan 34.

Her home port is Everglades City, FL. Our typical cruising area is Southwest Florida, the Florida Keys, the Southeastern Atlantic Seaboard, and the Bahamas. We are C'est la Vie's third owners and purchased her in 2005. We continue to maintain and update this classic vessel. Please post any questions or comments about C'est la Vie or our travels via the comment links below.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tarpon Belly Keys to Boot Key Harbor

Typically I am the first to rise in the morning.  My ritual on C’est la Vie is to start the coffee and check weather forecasts.  Unfortunately Friday morning’s weather reports predicted deteriorating conditions over the next 24 hours with Thunderstorms and 20+ knot east to southeast winds through the weekend. 

Boot Key Harbor was already a planned stop; the forecast only sped up our timetable.  I pulled our charts to assess our route to Boot Key Harbor.  For folks unfamiliar with the Florida Keys here is a quick geography lesson: Boot Key Harbor is a lagoon between Boot Key and Vaca Key.  The town on Marathon is on Vaca Key and surrounds Boot Key Harbor. Therefore going to Boot Key Harbor is synonymous with going to the town of Marathon.  Marathon is the Annapolis of the Keys – a place where sailboats outnumber the motor vessels and if there is a part desired or repair required it can be had in town.  The city also operates a first class mooring field / marina - Boot Key Harbor Marina.  The mooring field  is where I began to plan a route.

Via the Big Spanish Channel Boot Key Harbor is 36 NM from Tarpon Belly Keys.  The depth of Big Spanish Channel at mean low water is 4  feet with the width only slightly greater.  Fortunately C’est la Vie draws 3’8”.  Some quick math and we have 4” to spare.  IF we departed Tarpon Belly Keys ASAP the tides would be favorable.  Well the current from the flooding tide would be on our bow thus slowing C’est la Vie, but if we were to go aground the rising tide would life us free (wise mariner once said, “always go exploring new areas on a rising tide.”) 

Exiting Cudjoe Channel we discovered much larger seas, 3’ to 5’, and higher winds than expected.  We motored sailed close hauled under a double reefed main for over two hours before gaining Big Spanish Channel and the ability to turn off the wind and into more sheltered waters.  The morning watch belonged to me so Anne took the helm for our transit through the shallow waters.

Anne piloted the narrow channel deftly.  We passed through the shallowest area Between Big Spanish Key and Cudjoe Key approximately 2 hours after low tide.  The minimum depth we observed was 4’4”.  Here is a look over our stern at the channel marks…

The channel is so narrow the marks appear to form a straight line.  Transiting Spanish cut 10+ NM of continued motor sailing close hauled in the Gulf off of our approach to Boot Key Harbor. 

We fell in behind a trawler as we passed under US1 in Moser Channel.  Turning east towards the entrance to Boot Key Harbor we noticed two other sailboats off our stern.  It seems we are not alone in our plans to ride out this weekend’s foul weather on a mooring ball. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello in Boot Key Harbor! Been following your blog for a while and have a boat here myself. I'll be making a sail in the project room so drop by if you see someone doing that and say hi!

    Rather not give out specifics on Blogger publicly but that's how to find me if you'd like to.