Passage from Marathon to Angelfish Cay
After spending three months living and working in Marathon, Florida our time had come to move on. We had been living on a mooring in Boot Key Harbor on our 32’ Bayfield “Puff”. The facility provided by the town of Marathon at its City Marina caters to liveaboard cruisers. For a very reasonable monthly fee ($260 for our 32’ sailboat) they provided a dingy dock, showers, laundry facility, book exchange, and bike racks. The marina also strictly enforces no overboard discharge and provides weekly pumpouts from a pumpout boat that makes its rounds throughout the week. We feel a lot of other marinas could learn a thing or two in this respect by making pumpout stations more available.
On our trip down to Marathon we had taken the bay side route and enjoyed the shelter of the many small cays. Wanting to get the full experience we planned an ocean side return north. On our itinerary were stops at Molasses Reef and the dive at the Christ of the Abyss. Our first leg of the trip took us from Marathon up to Rodriguez Cay just off Key Largo. We planned our departure according to the weather and as the wind was shifting to the southeast we set sail The water inside the reef was crystal clear turquoise and as we approached the greater depths of the open sea it darkened into the cobalt blue of the deep. Their are two options for cruising the ocean side of the keys, the open sea beyond the reef or the marked channel through the inside of the reef. We chose the open ocean passage in hopes of catching dinner as we trolled the ledges of the abyss. Our only luck was a single bonito (too bloody for our taste).
As we approached Rodriguez Cay the wind had died and we ended up motoring the last few hours to a beautiful anchorage. Our view of the open ocean had a bit of excitement that went along with the beauty of it. Excitement in it because there is always the possibility of the wind shifting onshore and putting you on a lee shore in the middle of the night. The forecast held and there was only light winds shifting to the southwest and a brilliant red sunset to end the day.
The next morning we awoke to a glass calm anchorage and billowing cumulus clouds out over the gulfstream. The day was already warm and had that wonderful tropical feel as the birds on Rodriguez Cay serenading us to another glorious day. Molasses Reef lay only seven miles from the anchorage where we arrived around 9:30am. We grabbed our fins and masks and were over the side exploring the remains of a spanish galleon’s anchor, a beautiful swim through, and some of the most dramatic coral formations we have seen. After nearly two hours of diving we were satisfied with our visit Molasses reef and set sail to the Christ of the Abyss eight miles northeast.
On the sail we enjoyed a quick lunch and rest as we got ready for the second dive. Our expectations of this dive were only to see the statue and continue on to Angelfish Cay. As we picked up a mooring and jumped overboard we found ourselves in a fabulous coral garden. The formations came from 25 feet to within 5 feet of the surface with huge hogfish and groupers swimming throughout. The Christ of the Abyss statue was placed within these formations obviously to protect it from currents and surge while creating a glorious backdrop. It was truly a magnificent area to explore and well worth the effort.
It was now 4pm and time to make for Angelfish Cay before the wind clocked around to the north like forecasted. The wind was piping up out of the west with the approach of the front and clouds that were rolling in. Within 5 miles a dark cloud passed over giving us a light shower and bringing the north winds on its backside. The cool dry air told us that was the front and the engine came on to motor us the remaining way. The approach to Angelfish Cay and Angelfish Creek that brings you bay side was very straightforward with clear channel markers and good depth throughout. We opted to anchor in one of the many small channels off Angelfish Creek to wait out the strong northeast winds that followed with the high pressure behind the front.
Our splash back into truly cruising again after a short stint of work in Marathon was fabulous. We choose a good weather window for what we wanted to do and got some great sailing and diving as a result. We are looking forward to the rest of our voyage back north, sailing, fishing, diving, and exploring as we go.