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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:14 pm 
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Hey Guys,
Im starting to plan a trip down to the Keys this September with my wife and wanted to get some input from others on this forum. Ive looked online and haven't seen anyone else document sailing the length of the keys.

We have owned out TI for a year now and have gotten quite a bit of experience already.

Im trying to decide whether to make a 1 way sail with planned stops (hotels and campsites) along the way. (Im thinking of leaving my wife with the yak at the end and finding a way to shuttle back t0 key largo to retrieve the car...)
(should be around 100 miles and I was thinking of spreading it out over 7 days.)

Or go the easy way and just stay in various keys and just do day trips from launches...

I think the Sailing all the way would be a fun accomplishment, but I wonder if the logistics would be worth it.

Please let me know if you have any input, Especially if you have made a similar trip in the past.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:25 am 
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Location: Houston, TX
Longboarder850, I would be seriously interested in this trip and a week would be perfect. Live in Houston so I don't have any insites on sailing the Keys. I imagine a mixture of camping and staying at hotels along the way. Wonder what the winds and the bugs are like in Setember.

My wife would make the trip but she doesn't sail so she would take the car and meet us along the way. She could be you trip back to your car in Key Largo.

Vetgam


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:09 pm 
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Location: South Florida
Hello VG & LB,

I live in S FL 2/3 of the yr, but have done very little sailing in the keys. That does not keep me from commenting, however. As usual, take it for what it is worth.

1. The 1/3 of the year I do not live in S FL is July thru October. Why? The heat, period. The heat only begins to let up near the end of Oct, but with global warming, you can't depend on that time line. My wife and I spend July-Oct in the Rockies at >9500'--nice and cool.
2. Sept is still prime hurricane season, and if you have never been in a hurricane, take my word for it, they are dangerous and unpleasant at best. You do not want to be in the FL Keys if a hurricane is possible. Between hurricanes in the Fall, winds can be light.
3. Bugs can be bad if it is warm (see 1) and wet. They do not really let up until cooler, dryer weather in Jan-Feb.
Those are the bad things.

Good things,
1. Beautiful waters
2. (probably) good fishing

Camping,
1. FL Bay in ENP: Nest Key and Rabbit Key--you will need a permit for these (not a problem, $10/permit/group + $2/night/person) Camping in ENP is a super bargain.
2. Long Key State Park, Bahia Honda State Park--both excellent State parks, but you need to get reservations in advance.
3. Commercial campgrounds--these are available, but I am not familiar with them.

Motels, hotels, etc. There are many, but I am not familiar with them. Generally, they will be expensive, but some reasonable ones are available.

Good luck.

Keith

_________________
I sail: Biscayne Bay, Everglades to Cape Romano, Ft Desoto, Cedar Key

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex ... It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." A. Einstein


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:05 pm 
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I've been in the Ten Thousand Islands in August, but that's just because being eaten alive by mosquitoes and torn apart or electrocuted by afternoon thunderstorms is preferable to being at work.

Seriously, though - it will be hot in September, but if you are somewhat offshore and moving, mosquitoes might not be intolerable, but bring gallons of repellent anyway.

As Keith said, watch the weather reports a few days ahead of time for hurricanes. And no matter what, there will be afternoon thunderstorms everyday, so have an exit strategy.

Having provided those advisories, the trip you suggest sounds utterly amazing. I would love to do it. If you could get someone to drop you off in Key Largo and have the truck / trailer waiting on you in Key West, that would be ideal.

I would suggest studying charts carefully. It's shallow and reefy close into shore around the keys, so knowing your route would be critical
To avoid that sickening crunching sound.

In terms of staying in hotels along the way - I have always thought it would be really neat to reserve a hotel room on the beach and then pull up in the TI instead of the car.

For camping, once you get down around Islamorada, there are a number of uninhabited islands, but I can't speak for their campability.

Let us know about your plans as you get closer to the date, if for no other reason than so we can live vicariously through you :)


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:35 am 
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Location: Sarasota,Key West FL
I think most of the guys are talking about the glades (Mosquitos), I've never been there and have no plans to go there ever. We have a house in key west and contrary to popular belief they don't roll up the streets in the summer and leave. We split our time between sarasota and key west thru the summer, and I have never been bitten by a mosquito since moving to Florida in 2007, we used to spend most summers in northern Wisconsin and Michigan, where the Mosquitos pick you up and carry you away. We try to get down there once every month or two (we are divers) for a week or so, we always take the TI along. First off we don't tent camp at all, and we don't fish (except spear fishing which is pretty restricted down there so know the rules). What works out the best for us is to stop at resorts along the way then day sail from there (they all have launches and beaches), spend a day or so then move a little further down and repeat. We like the Hilton in key largo, and fiesta key in islamarada ( they have off shore mooring balls). We also have a big camper and have stayed at the KOA, and blue water resort (at around mm 14), and Bahia Honda. The guys are right, there are many areas too shallow to pass thru where you have to go way out of your way to get around (not worth it) and there are several long stretches of nothingness (around 7 mile bridge) that are just not worth trying to traverse by boat. The daily storms are usually in June but they only last an hr or so, in sept it is going to be in the 90's every day and very sunny typically but don't count on a lot of wind (typical is around 5-7 mph) that time of year. Of course all bets are off with any storms within 500 miles. Sometimes we get nice trade winds off key west (steady 15mph from the west) which are nice.
The waters off shore around key west can be very dangerous, don't venture too far without local knowledge especially with a TI, where you can go out and never be able to get back (currents are 5-6 mph). West of key west there are many shallow coral humps that will eat your rudder ( much of that area is too shallow (kind of like florida bay).
We usually launch near Higgs beach (there is a concrete ramp next to the Vietnam memorial, free parking in their parking lot.
Hope this helps
Bob


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:33 am 
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Location: South Florida
fusioneng wrote:
I think most of the guys are talking about the glades (Mosquitos), I've never been there and have no plans to go there ever. We have a house in key west and contrary to popular belief they don't roll up the streets in the summer and leave. We split our time between Sarasota and key west thru the summer, and I have never been bitten by a mosquito since moving to Florida in 2007 THAT is amazing, we used to spend most summers in northern Wisconsin and Michigan, where the Mosquitos pick you up and carry you away. We try to get down there once every month or two (we are divers) for a week or so, we always take the TI along. First off we don't tent camp at all now, I understand, and we don't fish (except spear fishing which is pretty restricted down there so know the rules). What works out the best for us is to stop at resorts yes, it is becoming clearer along the way then day sail from there (they all have launches and beaches), spend a day or so then move a little further down and repeat. We like the Hilton in key largo, and fiesta key in Islamorada (they have off shore mooring balls). We also have a big camper and have stayed at the KOA, and blue water resort (at around mm 14), and Bahia Honda. The guys are right, there are many areas too shallow to pass thru where you have to go way out of your way to get around (not worth it) and there are several long stretches of nothingness (around 7 mile bridge) that are just not worth trying to traverse by boat. The daily storms are usually in June but they only last an hr or so, in sept it is going to be in the 90's every day and very sunny typically but don't count on a lot of wind (typical is around 5-7 mph) that time of year. Of course all bets are off with any storms within 500 miles. Sometimes we get nice trade winds off key west (steady 15mph from the west) which are nice. Always, always try to camp where there is a nice breeze.
The waters off shore around key west can be very dangerous, don't venture too far without local knowledge especially with a TI, where you can go out and never be able to get back (currents are 5-6 mph). West of key west there are many shallow coral humps that will eat your rudder ( much of that area is too shallow (kind of like florida bay).
We usually launch near Higgs beach (there is a concrete ramp next to the Vietnam memorial, free parking in their parking lot.
Hope this helps
Bob

Cities in FL do try to protect their citizens from mosquitos by regularly spraying. Also, if you camp out of an air-conditioned camper, and don't venture out too much at dusk and sunrise, mosquitos may not be much of a problem. But, if you are a tent camper in FL, you will be bitten by a mosquito or 2. I feel confident to promise you that.

Keith

_________________
I sail: Biscayne Bay, Everglades to Cape Romano, Ft Desoto, Cedar Key

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex ... It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." A. Einstein


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:45 pm 
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Yes, on the mosquitoes, I should have been clearer. When we camp in the Ten Thousand Islands (little uninhabited keys on the gulf side), we are staying very near mangrove swamp forests in hammocks, under tarps and in bug nets. So, I guess before we scare you off you should put that into perspective. Camping like that in the summer is not a very bright thing to do but, as I said, still preferable to being eaten alive by politics at work. We spend a good deal of time out in the TI sailing, fishing, and exploring.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:36 pm 
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Thanks Everyone for your input! Im thinking September may be a bad time to take a trip like this, especially tent camping along the way. (My wife might kill me!) Im thinking were going to hold off until I can make it happen in the winter months. I like what fusioneng said about hotel hopping on the way down! But, that might me more expensive and time consuming than what I bargained for. Once we end up making the trip happen Ill be sure to post on it.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:58 pm 
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Chekika wrote:
fusioneng wrote:
I think most of the guys are talking about the glades (Mosquitos), I've never been there and have no plans to go there ever. We have a house in key west and contrary to popular belief they don't roll up the streets in the summer and leave. We split our time between Sarasota and key west thru the summer, and I have never been bitten by a mosquito since moving to Florida in 2007 THAT is amazing, we used to spend most summers in northern Wisconsin and Michigan, where the Mosquitos pick you up and carry you away. We try to get down there once every month or two (we are divers) for a week or so, we always take the TI along. First off we don't tent camp at all now, I understand, and we don't fish (except spear fishing which is pretty restricted down there so know the rules). What works out the best for us is to stop at resorts yes, it is becoming clearer along the way then day sail from there (they all have launches and beaches), spend a day or so then move a little further down and repeat. We like the Hilton in key largo, and fiesta key in Islamorada (they have off shore mooring balls). We also have a big camper and have stayed at the KOA, and blue water resort (at around mm 14), and Bahia Honda. The guys are right, there are many areas too shallow to pass thru where you have to go way out of your way to get around (not worth it) and there are several long stretches of nothingness (around 7 mile bridge) that are just not worth trying to traverse by boat. The daily storms are usually in June but they only last an hr or so, in sept it is going to be in the 90's every day and very sunny typically but don't count on a lot of wind (typical is around 5-7 mph) that time of year. Of course all bets are off with any storms within 500 miles. Sometimes we get nice trade winds off key west (steady 15mph from the west) which are nice. Always, always try to camp where there is a nice breeze.
The waters off shore around key west can be very dangerous, don't venture too far without local knowledge especially with a TI, where you can go out and never be able to get back (currents are 5-6 mph). West of key west there are many shallow coral humps that will eat your rudder ( much of that area is too shallow (kind of like florida bay).
We usually launch near Higgs beach (there is a concrete ramp next to the Vietnam memorial, free parking in their parking lot.
Hope this helps
Bob

Cities in FL do try to protect their citizens from mosquitos by regularly spraying. Also, if you camp out of an air-conditioned camper, and don't venture out too much at dusk and sunrise, mosquitos may not be much of a problem. But, if you are a tent camper in FL, you will be bitten by a mosquito or 2. I feel confident to promise you that.

Keith



LOL!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:51 am 
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Location: South Florida
Yes, mosquitos in northern states can be serious. The difference with FL is that mosquitos are here year around, not just a few months in the summer. If you have ever been in the Everglades, like around Cape Sable, in the summer (June-September) at near dusk, the sound of mosquitos rising (taking off) is literally unnerving. Just before dusk, you begin to hear a humming which reaches the pitch of a plane taking off. I don't think there is anything like it in Wisconsin-Michigan, and it definitely makes you a bit uncomfortable. If you are near shore in a boat, you can go from no mosquitos to being swarmed in minutes as they pick up your smell (or breath CO2). All you can think of is getting out of there--ASAP!

fusioneng wrote:
I think most of the guys are talking about the glades (Mosquitos), I've never been there and have no plans to go there ever. ...we used to spend most summers in northern Wisconsin and Michigan, where the Mosquitos pick you up and carry you away.

Bob, you are clearly mosquito averse. That's fine, but, there are many of us who want to enjoy the raw outdoors. We love it, and, from time to time, we have to put up with creatures (mosquitos, noseeums) who make it their home and must forge a living there.

Keith

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I sail: Biscayne Bay, Everglades to Cape Romano, Ft Desoto, Cedar Key

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex ... It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." A. Einstein


Last edited by Chekika on Sat Feb 28, 2015 5:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:26 am 
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Location: Sarasota,Key West FL
Keith:
I'm sure your correct about me being mosquito adverse (probably my wife as well), in the summer when down in key West we sit around the pool compound at night (which is not screened in like our place up in Sarasota). Her best friend can be sitting there with 3 or 4 citronella candles burning around her, and she will have several dozen mosquito bites on her legs and arms within 5-10 minutes, with me sitting right next to her (I've never been bitten).
My wife when they first moved to Florida when she was 13 (from Michigan), they moved to Naples, she said at night the mosquitos would cover the screens on their windows and doors thick enough that you could no longer see thru them.( The tropical zone (where coconuts can grow) starts in Naples, Sarasota is sub-tropical (no coconuts), apparently a huge difference according to my wife ( I have no idea I'm Canadian LOL).
What all this means I have no idea....
Bob


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:55 pm 
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Keith - I have heard that sound you described on Helen Key in August!

In the winter we would camp just inside the mangroves in hammocks, which wasn't too bad with lows in the 40's to 50's. We tried that in August 2013 and thought we would literally go insane. We learned to put our hammocks up near the water and the breeze.

The islands are so different from winter to summer. Low tides seem MUCH lower. When we pulled up in the kayak in August, we thought the ground was moving and there was this loud, unnerving rustling sound. Turned out the entire ground on Helen Key was covered in tiny little crabs. We finally got used to them crawling on everything and paid them no mind.

The scariest though were the afternoon thunderstorms with lightning all around and waterspouts in the bay.

I like going in the winter and the summer, just two different experiences.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:42 am 
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Totch wrote:
Keith - I have heard that sound you described on Helen Key in August!

The islands are so different from winter to summer. Low tides seem MUCH lower. When we pulled up in the kayak in August, we thought the ground was moving and there was this loud, unnerving rustling sound. Turned out the entire ground on Helen Key was covered in tiny little crabs. We finally got used to them crawling on everything and paid them no mind. Those are fiddler crabs and are on most island shores to varying degrees. They like the muddier shorelines, especially where the mud meets the sand.

The scariest though were the afternoon thunderstorms with lightning all around and waterspouts in the bay. Dangerous for sure. We once had a water spout come ashore about 6 am. Passed right over us. Some of the kayaks nearest the shoreline got rolled. After that, everyone was adding more guy lines to their tents.

I like going in the winter and the summer, just two different experiences. Our 2 different experiences are FL in the cooler months and out west during the FL warm months. The west is spectacularly beautiful and a nice change of scenery.

Keith

_________________
I sail: Biscayne Bay, Everglades to Cape Romano, Ft Desoto, Cedar Key

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex ... It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." A. Einstein


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:43 am 
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Location: Sarasota,Key West FL
Florida has 19 million perminant residents year round. That number grows to 100 million in the winter. Most resorts and campgrounds in the keys are fully booked in the winter months (nov-mar), sometimes years in advance. Us-1 can become a parking lot on weekends in the winter. We can't even get in our own KW place in the winter because it's rented out every year nov-April. Also most of the resorts I mentioned double their rates in the winter. Even just parking anywhere in key west (especially with a trailer) during that time of year can be a serious proposition ($2.50/hr is typical (double that with a trailer). We only go down there April- october. The weather down in the keys is typically 2-5 deg warmer than sarasota (300 miles north). Today in sarasota the high is 75 and the sea temp is 72. In key west the high is 78 and the sea temp is 77 (this is pretty typical). Thru the summer the temps and conditions are almost the same in both areas, pretty much every day is in the 90's and sunny with light breezes. The gulf keeps the temps pretty steady. Personally I much prefer the keys in the summer months (less crowded), but then again we live here and are used to the climate. If I could I would go out on my TI every day 'weather permitting' (actually when we are in the keys we sometimes do ). We tend to only go out in winds under 7mph and calm seas, saving the high winds and rough seas for the hard core guys. Since we mostly dive and snorkel, visibility goes down to near zero when it's rough. Everyone is different, that's our thing.... I can't tell you anything about the Atlantic coast or the Everglades (never been there).
Hope this helps
Bob


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 9:58 am 
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Location: Colorado
Slightly off topic.. sort of ...

An older guy I know from some mosquito infested place in Canada (must be really cold there as he comes to Denver in the winter to warm up) told me it’s the "drinkers" that the mosquitoes really go for. I seem to be pretty tasty to Mosquitoes.... and I also happen to like beer.. hmm…

And.. just so this isn’t too far off topic, Florida is sounding really fine right now.. I like hearing all these details.. (and Keith's trip write ups!)


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