Our first charter of the season has ended and we are off to a great start. We were able to travel well down into the Keys to Islamorada with our first student couple because not only did we have the time available but we also had great sailing wind. That’s what pushed us down Biscayne Bay in no time at all. Because Biscayne Bay is only 12-feet deep or less and has shallow coral reefs to the east protecting us from the ocean swells, big waves simply cannot develop. This is what we love about living and sailing on Biscayne Bay.
After a one-day run from Miami to Card Sound we anchored in time to enjoy the sunset in a calm, quiet spot between the southeast tip of Florida and Key Largo. The next morning we continued under the dramatic arch of the US Highway 1 bridge into the upper reaches of Florida Bay, a watery world full of fish and birds, mangrove islands, and friendly people enjoying a laid-back lifestyle. With the help of the wind that was still blowing quite nicely from behind us, we anchored for the night right off the Village of Islamorada. This is a slightly upscale town known for it’s artist colony, kayaking and shallow-water fishing guides–a perfectly charming spot with great evening entertainment.
We like to take a break from the boat at a bay side restaurant/bar called the Lorelei. There’s a beautiful view of the sunset from the sandy beach where you can enjoy your beverage and listen to live music. On this trip after we and our guests finished dinner on board, we took the short dingy ride to shore to check out the band. They were new to us, called themselves “Room Service“ and were from Miami. Locals…almost. They played a wide variety of 70’s and 80’s music quite well, which is not surprising as music in the keys is usually very good. The play list included Santana and Cream (amazingly enough) so we had to forgive them for the two disco songs they played first. We watched a dancing couple expertly twirl around the dance floor to a few songs we hadn’t heard in a long time and even danced to a song or two ourselves. Before heading back to the boat we perused the jewelry stand where local Islamorada artists display their unique creations. Our guest bought a beautiful silver and mother of pearl earring and necklace set for just $40.00. What a steal!
The next morning it was time to head back the way we came. The wind was still coming from the north. But now that our guests had been on board for a couple of days and were used to how the boat systems worked, they could comfortably practice their tacking skills. After a couple of days, with some stops at a few of our favorite sheltered anchorages, we made our way back to the southern reaches of Biscayne Bay where we like to tuck into the mangroves of Angel Fish Creek. This spot is in a narrow creek between Key Largo and Elliot Key where we teach our students how to easily set two anchors using a Bahamian moor. It’s a peaceful way to spend a windy evening.
The next morning we began our travel back up the familiar waters of Biscayne Bay. It was a beautiful day with the wind a little lighter than it had been. It shifted a little more easterly, allowing us to set the sails for a close haul straight north up the bay. We couldn’t have planned it better. The wind speed is a perfect 15 to 18 knots and the temperature is warmer than it has been all week. So no more windbreakers or jeans. It’s back to T-shirts and sandals.
Half way up Biscayne Bay we stopped at Boca Chita Harbor where we practiced docking. We tied up to the wall and walked around the picturesque island perched between the bay and the ocean. What was once a private island is now part of Biscayne National Park, so the island is well maintained with lots of palm trees rustling in the breezes that are coming directly off the Atlantic. There’s a small beach overlooking the shallow pass between Boca Chita and the neighboring island where one can take a quick dip or do a snorkel. While sitting on one of the picnic benches, we watched the chattering flocks of pelicans, egrets, herons and cormorants that perch on the thick mangroves next door. Off in the distance the tall buildings of Miami and Key Biscayne are barely visible. They look like floating monuments marking the line between the blue water and the sky, reminding us that our trip will end the next day. It’s all over before you know it.