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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:05 am 
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We need some advice from the locals on sailing in the Keys. My 11yo son and I will be coming from the DC area the 1st of May. We plan to bring our '11 AI and stay at Curry Hammock & Pennekamp Parks.

Our idea was to sail out to the reefs and wrecks, around 5 miles or so from shore. We were planning to do copious amounts of snorkeling and enjoy going at our own pace instead of using a dive boat. My question - is this feasible?

We haven't seen anyone write about doing this so I don't know if it's a realistic expectation. We have the normal safety gear (SPOT, VHF, GPS, etc.) but maybe we're missing something. It seems like a reasonable and exciting trip but we haven't found anyone that has done it- is there a reason?

We expect to have an off-shore breeze but we don't know the currents, wave heights, etc. Would the sailing time limit the amount of snorkeling? Are there dangers or weather issues or other factors I'm not considering? Are there better places to sail and snorkel in Southern Florida? We would appreciate any feedback from fellow AI/TI owners about this idea.

FYI, We have reservations at Curry Hammock 5/2-5/4 and Pennekamp 5/6-5/9. We haven't finalized the weekend but we're up for suggestions. Also, we invite anyone in the area to join us.

Here's a map of the mooring buoys we can use: http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/mbuoy/buoymap.html There's lots of web info on the sites but no mention of getting out and back. Obviously, they want us to patronize the local shops but we'd like to set our own schedule.

Florida, here we come!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:47 am 
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Location: Clearwater, Fl
That sounds like a great idea for a trip with the AI, AI-DC.

Last time we went to Pennekamp was about 13 years ago bringing our 18' power boat to snorkel the reefs. One memory when we snorkeled, the current was quite strong. I had to assist my wife getting back to the boat as it was a little strong for her. Our kids (13-14) did ok but I kept a close eye on them.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:02 pm 
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Location: Florida Keys
I live in Marathon not far from Curry Hammock. I just got a TI and have not yet been to the reef in that boat. I can tell you that the currents are quite strong at Sombrero Reef. Tie off to a ball, attach a line with a float somewhere on the boat and let it drift back behind the boat. Swim up current and drift back. The line is there to help you back if you go past the boat. If it's a strong wind blowing it may be too rough at the reef. I would suggest an inflatable snorkel vest for your son and you too if you are not a strong swimmer.

Bahia Honda State Park is great as well.

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"When the going gets tough, the tough drink tea." Jon Turk


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:46 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:02 am
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Location: Cape Coral, FL
I agree with the comments on currents, definitely swim upstream and be sure to keep an eye on the boat to make sure you don't get to far afield. I was scuba diving when I was there and there was minimal current on the reef but quite a bit at the surface.

Watch for thunderstorms, they are fast and unbelievably powerful down here. If you can see one on the radar heading your way, GET OFF THE WATER IMMEDIATELY! We are the lighting capital of the world. Do not count on being able to sail home if you are racing a storm, the wind will switch and you may want to lower your lighting rod as the storm approaches. The good news is they are generally gone as fast as they appear. Afternoons are the most common time for them but be wary all the time.

J

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also a more manageable 100 square foot spinny...
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:56 pm 
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Native Floridian who spends a lot of time in the keys fishing and diving around Marathon and Big Pine. May is a transitional month when the winds dies down and we enter our rainy season. We can still have a day to two when the winds kick up but mostly the winds and seas are calm. Sombrero is great reef along with Looe Key further south, which i would recommend diving as well. Trailer to Ramrod Key for an easy sail to Looe. Each reef has a number of mooring bouys and i have seen all type of water craft out there. On both reefs you will almost always find other boats including Dive Charter boats with a bunch of tourist, many of whom have never gone snorkeling before. The reefs are safe and spectacular. The currents can be very slack to moving fairly fast but i have never been on either when one could not snorkel, but then again i pick my days..... Watch your weather, check forecast and sea state before departure, and if you sea a thunderhead moving your way, better to hop on it and move. It ought to be a blast sailing to them then diving....the water is crystal clear. Also morning is probably a better time rather then afternoon, as the sea breeze tends to pick up as the day warms up and therefore sea conditions should be calmer...Good luck!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:39 pm 
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We are also planning a trip at that time. What are the rules for camping on the uninhabited islands like tavernier key and molasses key, or even some of the island on the north side.


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