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Cruisingdad 07-30-2013 01:01 PM

Key West
 
Well, I thought it would be nice to post some pics up on Key West and some thoughts on it.

We have been to Key West... three times? Four? It is an easy sail in from the north or south, and if coming from Marathon, you can take Hawk Channel all the way there. There are a few areas you need to keep an eye out for, but it is a really easy sail.

We started off with it blowing 20-25 sustained (behind us). Doesn't look like it in the pic, but we had some nice seas following us. Still was a nice run. We were over 7 knots with just the main! Here is my little man enjoying the ride:

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...ps773fe64d.jpg

The water in Key West and the trip there is pretty. THere are a few "green/murky areas", but most of what you see will look like this:

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...ps02e04a3b.jpg

We ended up staying in Key West Bight. It is basically "downtown" Key West, right off Duval street. If you don't mind spending the money, that is where I would encourage anyone to stay. Everything is close by, including a West Marine, grocery store, hardware store (about as good as the West Marine), and of course many shops, restaurants, and bars.

Here is a pic over looking the wharf and our boat:

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...ps2128c20d.jpg

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...ps08df8699.jpg

Bars

Key west is certainly a party town. Duval doesn't even really get going until about 9 or 10 pm at night. In fact, some of the bars don't even open until then! We hit most of the major bars, including: Hogs Breath, Durty Harrys, Irish Kevins, Margaritaville, and Sloppy Joes. THere were others too, but I don't remember them all. Of all the bars, our favorite was Irish Kevins. They have some great acts in there and that place is hopping.

Shops


There are a million Tshirt shops and other things. But our favorite was definitely Peppers. It is a huge shop made up of hot sauces!! They have a Cayenne Pepper hot sauce that is awesome! You can sit at their bar and try all the sauces out on chips... but just a word of warning, take water with you!!

Cool Kid Stuff

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...ps5ff88362.jpg

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...psa9bf70da.jpg

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...ps742725eb.jpg

Well, this should go into the kid and not kid category. We went to Fort Zachary Taylor which is a great walk and history experience. It also has some great views over the water. It is interesting because you can see how the fort has changed over the years to accommodate the different times. It is not as nice as the Tortugas Fort (Jefferson), but certainly a good and cheap visit. There is a water fountain, but again, you will want to bring your own water.


Another really cool 'kid' trip, and maybe the best thing to do, is the Butterfly Conservatory. It is very close to the Southernmost Point, so another must see. Basically this is an indoor conservatory of butterflies, birds, and vegitation. Sounds weird, but it is first class (and air conditioned!!). The girls really love this stuff guys.

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...pse7ff55b8.jpg

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...psd8426792.jpg

Of course, no writeup is complete without a quick peek at the other boats. This boat belongs to Henderson Motorsports I think... Jeff Gordon?? It has to be close to 200 feet long, and appropriately named Wheels. They wouldn't let me on board, even when I showed them Fatty. Oh well...

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...psb872f6a2.jpg

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...psf10755e2.jpg

My overall impressions of Key West is that it has some of the most friendly people in the Keys. Everyone helps each other out and everyone is there to have fun. It isn't cheap though. I think the monthly rate where we were is $34/foot or $36 plus electricity. Our electricity ran $56/week. However, given how close it is to everything, and that you don't have to have a car, you can try to justify it. Of course, you can anchor out in the mooring field but that thing is seriously unprotected in a northern. Not to mention, they charge you $85/month to tie your tender up at the tender dock you see in the previous pic. THere is also stock Island, but now you are a good car ride or taxi or bus to get in. That is why we opted for Key West Bight (which isn't even the most expensive!!). You gotta have insurance too, btw.

We hung out with a lot of friends and ended up deep sea fishing (I caught a green moray eel!! haha!!), diving, snorkeling, and just hanging out. DHalf the time we had over a dozen people on our boat!!! We were cooking out and eating until we were sick!! Good friends from all over that we have met cruising.

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...ps3c1e4006.jpg

THe water quality is pretty good for diving, but not as good as the Tortugas or even Marathon or Largo. Still worth doing. THere are some good sights to see and a lot of marine preservation so lots of fish. This is the kids and some other friends using a Hooklah (Brownie) off the back of Sea Mist. Pretty cool and the kids love it. It is a great way to introduce kids to diving in a controlled environment.

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...psfbc0386f.jpg


If anyone has any questions about the place, or getting in, let me know. I am no expert, but happy to help. Also, don't forget to buy your Conch Republic flag. Remember, you cannot fly it until your boat has been in Key West. You have to have the toasting celebration to keep tradition!!

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/n...ps6e80aa19.jpg

See ya down here!!!

Brian

smackdaddy 07-30-2013 01:10 PM

Re: Key West
 
Great write up dude! Xort should take a look at this for the format of his anchorages/provisioning section he's working on.

cthoops 07-30-2013 01:17 PM

Re: Key West
 
Great write-up and pictures! We've been to Key West twice (before we were bitten by the sailing bug) and really enjoyed it.

Our retirement fantasy is to sail down to Key West from Connecticut every November to escape the winter and return in time for a May arrival in Connecticut. The best of both worlds. :)

travlineasy 07-30-2013 01:17 PM

Re: Key West
 
I've been going to Key West nearly every year since 1976, and while many things have changed, there are lots of things that seem to remain the same.

One of the things I noticed last winter was the water quality has slowly, but surely, deteriorated. I remember when I dove the reef at Sand Key and the underwater visibility averaged about 80 to 100 feet most days. Now, a good day is 30 feet at best.

For a protected anchorage, though a long dinghy ride to Key West, Mule Key Basin is great. Depths average about 5 to 7 feet at low tide, it's surrounded by flats, there's an easy to access, marked entrance from the North West Channel and best of all, you usually have the entire place to yourself.

Sure wish I were there right now - especially when I look at the cesspool waters of Chesapeake Bay.

Nice photos young man,

Gary :cool:

Cruisingdad 07-30-2013 01:39 PM

Re: Key West
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by travlineasy (Post 1066530)
I've been going to Key West nearly every year since 1976, and while many things have changed, there are lots of things that seem to remain the same.

One of the things I noticed last winter was the water quality has slowly, but surely, deteriorated. I remember when I dove the reef at Sand Key and the underwater visibility averaged about 80 to 100 feet most days. Now, a good day is 30 feet at best.

For a protected anchorage, though a long dinghy ride to Key West, Mule Key Basin is great. Depths average about 5 to 7 feet at low tide, it's surrounded by flats, there's an easy to access, marked entrance from the North West Channel and best of all, you usually have the entire place to yourself.

Sure wish I were there right now - especially when I look at the cesspool waters of Chesapeake Bay.

Nice photos young man,

Gary :cool:

Thanks Gary!

Sure wish I could see you down here this winter. Melissa got her new tub... maybe you can hitch a ride with her?

Not sure why visibility has gone down. I also noticed that over the years, the reefs around Marathon have gotten a bit more bleached. I also noticed a lot of bleaching in the Tortugas the last time I was there... more than I remember over the last ten years.

All this said, I do not want to discourage anyone from Key West. We have actually talked about doing our summer there instead of Marathon and I know we will be heading back soon. I found Key West was full of surprises and the people really are some of the nicest (if not the nicest) in the keys.

A few words of warning though for those with kids (and maybe without):

Got hit by a prostitute not long after dark... in the middle of the street!! Alcohol use is HEAVY and the chicks do hit on the guys as much or more than the other way around. Had a friends cell phone stolen at a bar. Basically, after dark, it gets crazy. Before dark, it is pretty kid friendly.

I think a lot of people go there to get hammered and party all night. THat's fine, but that is not really what it is all about. There is a lot of history and things to do outside of that. There is some really good food and I think it is reasonably priced (for the keys)... and maybe cheaper than Marathon. I did not even mention the museums (Mel Fishers is great) or beaches. There is also a lot of great musicians. I played out on the dock with another fellow and felt like a kid with a Kazoo compared to some of the guys and gals down there.

I bet you could light it up some Gary!!

Brian

Cruisingdad 07-30-2013 01:44 PM

Re: Key West
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cthoops (Post 1066529)
Great write-up and pictures! We've been to Key West twice (before we were bitten by the sailing bug) and really enjoyed it.

Our retirement fantasy is to sail down to Key West from Connecticut every November to escape the winter and return in time for a May arrival in Connecticut. The best of both worlds. :)

Go for it! But you may find you are better off staying in Marathon and sailing to KW periodically. As I said, the monthly is $36/foot at KWB plus electricity!! Of course, Marathon isn't getting any cheaper either. They just upped their rates to $21.5/foot. Boot Key is only $300 ish, but you might as well say $350 when it is all done.

The mooring field in KW is wide open to a northern. I have never stayed there, but it seriously looks like a rocky-rolly all nighter. No thanks.

If you are retired military, they have bases there you can put your boat for a LOT cheaper. We have a retired military friend that showed us around the bases. They look pretty nice. The bases will be a ride to Duval, but the cost will be a lot better.

Brian

Capt.aaron 07-30-2013 01:52 PM

Re: Key West
 
I see Ya'll waited until I sailed down to Honduras to come to keyWest, Now tomorrow I'm sailing a boat from Marco to Key West and I supose your gone now. Next Time Maybe. We have a house 3 blocks from where you where docked.

Cruisingdad 07-30-2013 01:58 PM

Re: Key West
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Capt.aaron (Post 1066552)
I see Ya'll waited until I sailed down to Honduras to come to keyWest, Now tomorrow I'm sailing a boat from Marco to Key West and I supose your gone now. Next Time Maybe. We have a house 3 blocks from where you where docked.

Figures. I was scouring the anchorages for free beer tied up under a boat. I thought maybe YOU left when you knew I was coming!!

I am back in Marathon now. May end up staying here for Hurricane season. We'll catch up.

Take care,

Brian

Capt.aaron 07-30-2013 02:09 PM

Re: Key West
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cruisingdad (Post 1066555)
Figures. I was scouring the anchorages for free beer tied up under a boat. I thought maybe YOU left when you knew I was coming!!

I am back in Marathon now. May end up staying here for Hurricane season. We'll catch up.

Take care,

Brian

I'll be sailing under the 7 mile on a little gaff rigged Spray replica Thursday Morn. And I'll be driving up and down the key's off and on for the next 2 weeks. Let me know if Ya'll need a pick up truck for haul'n and shopp'n. I'll be around any way's.

Cruisingdad 07-30-2013 02:10 PM

Re: Key West
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Capt.aaron (Post 1066562)
I'll be sailing under the 7 mile on a little gaff rigged Spray replica Thursday Morn. And I'll be driving up and down the key's off and on for the next 2 weeks. Let me know if Ya'll need a pick up truck for haul'n and shopp'n. I'll be around any way's.

Great, thanks!! Have a safe trip.

Brian


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