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general boating areas, water depths,restrictions,etc.

des moines iowa
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general boating areas, water depths,restrictions,etc.

Hello, i am asking for any help with the following questions. my family is planning a trip to the keys for 1 week in january. we will be staying on ramrod key for the week. we have rented a boat for the week and i am concerned about water restrictions with boats, and curious about water depths, and areas that boating is allowed in. any information on things to do, or places to go with my kids is greatly appreciated. Also worried about places we can go with the boat where i will be able to get close enough to shore that my kids will not have to do much swimming to get to shores. any/all help answering these ?'s is greatly appreciated. best regards, dustin rhodes

Summerland Key...
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1. Re: general boating areas, water depths,restrictions,etc.

Welcome to my island!

You seem to be taking a very cautious approach to boating here, which is to be applauded. I apologize if the following is a bit offputting, but it's pretty easy to get into trouble here. Forewarned is forearmed, or something like that.

Are you going to be staying on the bay- or oceanside of Ramrod? If you're staying on oceanside, which I suspect you are, you have pretty clear runs out to the reefs and over to the bay side, as long as you stay between the markers. I'm pretty bad at guessing depth without a tank on my back, but I'd say that the waters between Ramrod and Little Palm/Munson islands are anywhere from a foot to 10 feet deep. A lot of it is really shallow, but its pretty easy to read. The channel running out of the canal is a blast job, and at low tide there's less than a foot of water outside. (I've grounded my kayak on more than one occasion trying to cut over to it at low tide.)

I'm not sure why you want your kids to be able to swim to shore, but you'll notice that most of our islands are ringed by mangroves. We also have very rocky shallows and shores. Since most of the islands on oceanside are either private or impenetrable, don't count on the shore as an easy way out of the water. There are also some pretty mucky areas that you wouldn't want them getting mired in.

There's a nice patch reef about two miles out, with water in the 10-foot range, and Looe Key is only five to seven -- I always forget which -- miles out (max depth 35 feet). I only know the backcountry by kayak, so I can't help you there.

The midchannel has a small area closed for research, and another portion that is no-wake, no-take, no-anchor, with mooring buoys for snorklers. Looe is a very heavily regulated portion of the outer reef. Read the NOAA info and watch out for the sanctuary buoys. Odds are good you'll see at least one patrol boat while you're out, so make sure your boat is up to snuff and follow the rules.

Also keep an eye out for trap buoys, because a cut line will really ruin a fisherman's harvest day.

Make sure the folks who are renting your boat give you an up-to-date nav chart and a NOAA sanctuary guide so you know the rules. Running aground within the sanctuary can be a costly and/or dangerous mistake, so don't cut corners.

des moines iowa
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2. Re: general boating areas, water depths,restrictions,etc.

Hey IslandKitty,

Just wanted to say thanks for the info on boating, swimming, etc. I am planning on being extra cautious as far as the whole boating thing. I really look forward to visiting your areas and can,t wait to get away from the cold and snow for a week. thanks again, dustin rhodes

Tampa, Florida
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3. Re: general boating areas, water depths,restrictions,etc.

Please make sure you buy a chart -- and ask when you pick up the boat for local advice -- most locals are happy to mark up a chart with shoals, things that have shifted, or good places to anchor or snorkel.

An oldtimer told us years ago that "there's lots of water in Florida, and the birds can stand up in most of it."

Marathon, Florida
Destination Expert
for Marathon, Islamorada
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4. Re: general boating areas, water depths,restrictions,etc.

Wow, nice reply Islandkitty!

North Saint Paul...
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5. Re: general boating areas, water depths,restrictions,etc.

The response from IslandKitty is terrific and I have one thing to add. Pick up a cruising guide!! I am sure that you will find it helpful. You may be able to find this one for sale in the Keys but I don't know where. I bought my online and there is a great deal of local knowledge contained within it's pages.


6. Re: general boating areas, water depths,restrictions,etc.

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