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Tarpon Basin, Key Largo Almost everything a cruising vessel might need can be found here By Capt. Ed Robinson Tarpon Basin is located just a few miles southeast of statue mile 1135 on the ICW at Key Largo. Tarpon Basin. Look towards the concrete tower that is just inland on the eastern side of the basin. The dinghy docks are south of it.

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here are very few sheltered harbors in the Florida Keys. Tarpon Basin is one of those rare exceptions, and it’s well worth a visit. The ICW in Key Largo, running from Blackwater Sound to Buttonwood Sound cuts through the center of Tarpon Basin. Cruising vessels wishing to anchor for a few days have several options. From the ICW at marker 48A, one can choose to turn off to the north, or to the south. Eight-foot depths are evident well off the channel on either side. Pick a spot that will shelter you from prevalent winds and look for a sandy spot to drop the hook. Closer in to the mangroves the bottom is thick with grass, and the holding is poor. Water clarity is excellent. On a clear day it is a simple task to differentiate sandy bottom from grass. We switched out our trusty Bruce anchor in favor of a CQR. Our first attempt to set the hook failed. It was cloudy and rough, making it hard to determine bottom conditions. On the second attempt we were able to secure the anchor firmly, and had no problems during our week at anchor. A third option is available to shallow draft vessels. Close to shore, directly behind the Government Center, local liveaboards are scattered about, just a short dinghy ride from the docks. The approach is not straightforward. Leave the ICW to the south of 48A and follow the properly charted eight-foot depths to the southwest, curling around to the southeast. You will see as many as 20 vessels anchored up close. Depths are as little as five feet at low tide in this area. Monroe County and the city of Key Largo provide a free dinghy dock. Locate the oddly shaped concrete tower that is just beyond the eastern shore of the basin. A Hampton Inn, with a small beach, are west of it. To the south and to the right of the Hampton Inn (from the water) is the government center. The dinghy docks are in the center’s backyard. Free potable water is available, as well as a dumpster for your garbage. We were treated kindly by the local liveaboards that we met during our stay. We were shown a free loaner bike, and two carts for hauling groceries

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that we were free to borrow. The center houses the Monroe County Sherriff’s Department among other agencies. All the police cruisers in the parking lot give one a feeling of safety. Behind the building is a park, with covered tables. The dumpster is located behind some green doors in an enclosed area. On shore one can find everything they need within a short walking distance. US1 is divided here by a grassy median, which helps when crossing on foot. A paved walking path is found on the ocean side of the highway. One-half mile to the south, there is a large plaza at US1 and Tarpon Basin Drive. It features a Publix, K-Mart, a liquor store, Radio Shack and a library. On your way, you will pass Hobo’s Café and a pizza shop. Hobo’s features a fine happy hour and serves excellent food at very reasonable prices. There is also a marine thrift store. On the bayside adjacent to the Government Center is Dolphin Cove. If you care to plunk down some of your cruising kitty to swim with the dolphins, here is your chance. One mile north on the highway is the entrance to John Pennekamp State Park. Here you can take a glass bottom boat out to the reef, rent a kayak, go on a SCUBA or snorkeling adventure, or simply sit on the beach. There is a small fee to gain entrance to the park. Inside the visitor’s center are displays and a movie documenting the various wildlife that can be found on the reef just offshore. There is more to do here than one can www.southwindsmagazine.com

Southwinds November 2015  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds November 2015  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...