Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda Key & Looe key

Big Pine Key

We leave Key West at 10 AM on Friday 5/7 for a short sail up the Hawk Channel to Big Pine Key (2nd biggest Island of the Keys). We have light winds on the nose with flat seas so we are motoring, using the time to make water. As we start to enter Newfound Harbor, we pass by Little Palm Resort & Spa on Torch Key. A very exclusive resort, for $1100.00 a night you can stay here OR if you would like your meals included it will only be $1500.00 a night. Check out their web site http://www.littlepalmisland.com  in case you are in the area.  As we travel further into the harbor we start to see some skinny water. It is funny how when we were in Galveston Bay and we saw 10 feet of water we thought we had plenty of room but now that we are used to seeing an average of 20-30 feet, 10 gets us worried and we start to panic when we see 7 feet under us. We make it in fine, but it is high tide so we know we will really have to be careful getting out. Later in the day we make contact with Donna & Patrick who just got home earlier in the day from Dry Tortugas. Donna is sleeping but Patrick tells us to come on in anyway and gives us directions to get to their place with the dinghy. It is about a 30 minute dinghy ride from where we are anchored but we find it with no problem and bring the hand held GPS so we can find our way back in the dark later in the evening. As we turn down the cannel where they live we see Mel & Roger at another neighbor’s house, so we stop and visit with them. They are talking about a neighborhood fishing tournament they will be doing on Saturday at Bahia Honda Key, which is where we were planning on going to the state park, so say we will see them there. We get to Donna & Patrick’s have a drink before heading over to No Name Key to go to the No Name Pub for pizza.  ( I HAD SOME GOOD PICTURES TO GO HERE BUT THEY ACCIDENTLY GOT DELETED )
It must be a Florida thing as this is now the third restaurant / bar that we have seen with $1 bills stapled all over the walls. Have a gourmet pizza dinner then back to their home spotting a couple of Key Deer on the way. They’re miniature white tail deer, native to the island, endangered and protected. They’re about the size of a large dog. Our dinghy ride back to the boat is calm with flat water and just starlight & flashlight to see by, glad we have the GPS to follow our path back to the boat. No TV stations available but great internet service so stay up and watch LOST. Saturday we leave our anchorage at 10 since the tide is starting to go out and we just make it hitting bottom a few times but able to get right off & keep going. Another short sail up to Bahia Honda Key, the entrance was made accessible to sail boats by cutting down a section of the old original RR Bridge so we can get to a safe anchorage by the state park.

We are anchored by 12:30. We had the dinghy on the davits so just had to lower her down, but since the winds are so light we decide this would be a perfect time & place to get the kayaks out & use them. We get them out and blown up and we are off to explore the waters around the park.

As we are heading out we see several fishing boats come tearing out of the boat ramp area and see that Mel & Roger & their neighbors have arrived after towing the boats down and have started the Tarpon fishing tournament. Donna & Patrick will not be fishing but have decided to come up with their beach cat (pontoon boat) to watch. We have a fun time with the kayaks going out to a little Island and over to the south side beach for a swim, then back over to the north side beach where it looks like access to the old RR bridge is easier to get to so we climb up to get a look & take some pictures.

 Back to the boat just as Donna & Patrick arrive so we get on their boat & go out to say hi & let Donna take pictures. After a couple of hours we go back to Ocean Star where Steve makes a great Cabbage & roast beef salad (one of my favorites). As Steve is making dinner Donna, Patrick & I are watching a ketch that was nicely anchored nearby pull up anchor and start heading for the dock entrance at a pretty fast rate. All the maps & data info about the park &marina say it is 3-4 feet deep so I am thinking wow I guess he has a full keel and not a very deep one just as he runs hard aground. He tries & tries but cannot back off. Mel & Roger & a couple of their neighbors stop by on the way back to the dock & we tell them what happened by this time another fishing boat is over trying to pull the ketch off and finally does everyone gives a cheer . Donna & Patrick leave, and then the ketch came back over & almost anchored on top of us. Maybe he just needed to rest after his ordeal or he realized how close he was or saw one of Steve’s looks but after a little while he pulled up anchor and moved to a better location. Later that night the boat rocked from a big wake in a NO wake zone, so I go out to see what caused it. I did not see any boat but onshore we see all kinds of flashing lights that turn out to be an ambulance & fire truck. Never find out what happened and do not know if this is related but as we leave the next morning there is a small boat way up on the little island that we had kayaked to.

Sunday- Happy Mother’s Day we are heading south west to a place called Looe Key, it is close by so we leave around 10:30 heading south for an hour to where the water goes from 25-30 feet to 100-130 in just 5 minutes. We then go west and arrive at Looe Key at noon. But as you can see by the picture this Island is quite different than any other Island we have been to or seen as this one is totally submerged.

We were surprised also as we had heard it is a great place to dive & snorkel but did not know it was an underwater Island. No anchoring allowed because of all the reefs in the area so they have mooring balls out. Only this time the mooring balls have a line attached to them so no problem hooking it from the front of the boat & getting our line through to tie off with. We see some rain clouds on shore heading our way so I say looks like we will get a shower, but Steve says it will break up before it reaches us- wrong. By 1 it starts to rain, than we get a nice down pour. It was good to get some of the salt washed off the boat. By 2 it is all over but still partly cloudy, we put on our wet suits & gear & go snorkeling. Even with cloudy conditions we still have great visibility and see all kinds of fish, a lobster that does not like Steve diving to get a closer look. Steve says he sees a shark, but at this point I am not sure I believe him. We go back to the boat & rest and shortly after, the sun is out full blast so we decide to go back in. It must have been dinner time for the fish, because now we are swimming in schools of all different kind of fish. There are thousands of fish all over. And now I see the SHARK. (Yes Cousin Walt you told me) At first I freaked a little but he was just swimming along gently & I thought with all these fish around here, he has plenty of food without bothering me. We did start back to the boat after that though. No overnight out there – no protection from wind or waves and a really bad place to run a ground. Back to Bahia Honda Key only this time we anchor on the south side of the Island as the winds are predicted to come from the north later in the night and our other anchorage had no protection from the north & if we dragged anchor we would go into the old bridge, so we opt for the south side & hope we don’t get any strong winds from the south.

It has been a busy three days since we left Key West!!!

Link to more pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/BigPineKeyBahiaHondaKeyLooeKey?feat=directlink

1 comment:

  1. I am happy to see that you are having such a great time. Wish we were out there. Our house gets a roof this week!