Captain Frank Papy tells us that when you enter Key Largo here at red marker #2 you are approaching Crash Corner, the local name given the canal area (where there's a round mirror to help you see what's there on the right angle turn!) frequented by several dive boats and tour boats going in and out. We think we're going to start calling Papy's suggestions, interesting comments and tidbits of information "Papyisms." (If you know Captain Frank, you'd probably agree that he's surely what people call a "character," ... certainly a delightful character, always with a smile or a funny story to tell!)
There's been a Papyism describing the Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West (here again in this issue). And you might watch for another Papyism when you get to the Fort Jefferson copy at the end of this section.
There are also restaurants with docks; the Pilot House Restaurant is one. There are good anchorages on the bay side in Blackwater Sound, Tarpon Basin and Community Harbor and on the ocean side around Rodriguez and Tavernier Keys — except when the wind blows from the northeast.
Key Largo ends at Mile 1152, where Tavernier Creek meanders from bay to ocean. Tavernier Creek Marina, a short distance to the west, offers facilities and services. Bayside at ICW Marker #65 you'll find the full service Mangrove Marina with haulouts plus dockage.
On the bay side at Mile 1155 is one of the largest marinas in the upper Keys, Plantation Yacht Harbor Marina. The staff is friendly and helpful and you'll see some of the best sunset views this side of Key West. Owned by the Village of Islamorada, the site is a city park with swimming pool and tennis courts and has been remodeled recently. The on-site restaurant is still closed but several of the Keys' better dining establishments are but a short cab ride away. Treasure Harbor Marina lies across the island in its own beautiful little harbor - oceanside.
Directly offshore from Plantation Yacht Harbor lies the popular Cowpens Anchorage, so named for the pens built by the early settlers to keep captured sea cows — West Indian Manatees — one of the staples of their otherwise meat-short diet.
A little farther down at Mile 1156.5, Snake Creek winds between bay and ocean. The creek is spanned by the Overseas Highway’s only remaining opening bridge. Why this spot was selected for a drawbridge remains a mystery, since Snake Creek (like many Keys passages) has a reported scant four feet of depth at either end. Captain Bob Armstrong reports that he has taken near four-foot draft the entire length of Snake Creek with no problems at half tide or better, and Captain Frank Papy mentions 4' draft at ocean side, too, 3'6" with an extra low tide. But, Papy says, it's important to pay attention to the weather. If swells are running (and they often are) 4', 3' or even 2' of draft could be " ... bouncing ..." (i.e., touching bottom).
The word — still — is that dredging is constantly being requested by the Coast Guard but they've not had much positive response from the Corps of Engineers. So the final word must be: "caution." We'll announce any news we hear about dredging on our web site update. You'll still find dockage available on the north and south sides of the creek.
In any event, a couple of miles farther south is Whale Harbor Channel, at Mile 1158.9, which separates Windley Key from Upper Matecumbe Key. Here again, you should approach the outer markers with care — the entrance bar is the shallowest part of the channel. We're now in the heart of Islamorada where the main emphasis is fishing. (The incorporated Village includes Plantation Key, Windley Key and both Upper and Lower Matecumbe.)
On the east side of the channel is Holiday Isle Resort with extensive charter and rental fleets. They have a wide variety of marine services as well as dockage and fuel — and they have bars and restaurants, too.
Whale Harbor (on the west side) has fuel and dockage only for Charter Boats. We've noted that on Chart 14 and show the Chesapeake Beach Resort next door. They have rooms, villas and docks for boats up to 30' and the restaurants at Whale Harbor (Braza Lena Brazilian Steak House, Wahoos Bar & Grill and Whale Harbor Buffet) are readily accessible to their guests. Docking at Whale Harbor to visit a restaurant is also allowed, but is limited to dinghys and small open boats only.(Continue...)
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