Anchorages & Marinas
Here are a list of the places we have visited and our impressions.
Calvert Marina- Solomon’s Island, Maryland: This was Ojigwan’s home for six years. Many, many wonderful memories at Calvert Marina on Mill Creek. The land that Calvert Marina sits on is gorgeous and at the time we left, undeveloped, although there were plans to do so in the future. The bathroom facilities are quite lacking, but the one on board suited us fine. The Marina has coin laundry, wifi and also a courtesy car for transient slip holders. There is a pool open during the summer season and a small restaurant within walking distance (Hidden Harbour- Try the Catfish Po Boy, Cuban Rueben or Grouper Sandwich-all amazing)—and several more eateries within dinghy distance. Hidden Harbour is only open in Spring, Summer and early Fall. I advise you call before you commit to heading there. If you are able to get a ride in to Solomon’s Island, I would not miss eating at CD Cafe or Lotus Cafe—our two favorite places. Mill Creek has good depth, and a muddy bottom. There are fuel docks, a pump out station and access to fresh water. This is sort of a biased review, but we couldn’t recommend Calvert Marina more—lots to see and do in the Summer time and good pricing.
Bald Head Island Marina, North Carolina: Ojigwan came into Bald Head Island Marina, located on the East side of the Cape Fear River, on our trip down the coast from St. Mary’s County, Maryland. We had damaged our jib on our offshore journey south and needed to come in to repair it. Bald Head Island Marina had a spot for us. We arrived on November 7, 2016, fueled up, got water and stayed for one night. Bald Head Island is gorgeous—a very lovely area with well maintained laundry and shower facilities and a gorgeous landscape. Wifi and phone coverage (we had Verizon at the time) were great. Palm Trees line the sidewalks and locals buzzing around in fancy golf carts are just about everywhere. It reminded me of a little Charleston. Although Bald Head Island is two miles off the mainland, they have so many offerings, I don’t see why you would need to go to shore. They have: clothing stores, an art gallery, a salon and spa, a golf shop, a beach and baby supply rental store, a bike shop, a board shop (SUP and windsurfing, etc.), convenience store, grocery store/ market, hardware store, a parcel store, jewelry store, museum and store, an onsite professional photographer shop, and a sail shop with water sport rentals. I am probably forgetting a place or two. They also have restaurants on the island. You never need to leave! Bald Head Island is nationally recognized for its sea turtle nesting activity and is home to “Old Baldy”, the oldest lighthouse in the State of North Carolina (although out of commision). Also, some cool tidbits— Weekend at Bernies and The Butchers Wife were both filmed here. Over all, the place was awesome– I can see why people vacation there and one day I would love to stop in for a couple nights during the warmer season.
Harbortown Marina, Merritt Island, Fl: Ojigwan tied up at a slip here on November 10, 2016 and stayed for 7 days. The Marina itself was nice—had about five laundry machines in an outside shed (I did laundry with a snake one day). I was able to get a weeks worth of laundry done in no time because there were so many machines! There was a pool on site, and the staff was very friendly. There was nothing close by, however, as far as grocery stores or restaurants of any sorts. Their website does say they have a restaurant on site, however it was not open when we were there. Getting to Harbortown Marina was not difficult but not easy either. We entered through the deep water channel at Port Canaveral (where all the cruise ships are) and then had to cross under one draw bridge (no problem), but then had to go through a lock. On the other side of the lock was the Banana River and then the canaveral barge canal where the Marina was located. This was my (Jessie) first experience with locks. I do not like them. On our trip to Harbortown we had eight people on board and that helped (although still proved challenging), but on our way out to the Atlantic via the lock, it was just Ridge and I. On our way in, the wind was blowing us off of the walls that we needed to tie up to, and most cleats were broken. On our way out, we were getting blown into the wall and had a hard time getting off. We had fenders ready and everything turned out okay with minor obscenities and no damage, but still extremely stressful. Overall, if coming in through Port Canaveral, I would try to find a marina closer to the ocean. We tried and everyone was full. Although Harbortown was great, the stress of the lock, I would definitely avoid again if I could.
ANCHORAGE- Turning Basin East, Palm Beach, Fl: Ojigwan was anchored off of Peanut Island in the Turning Basin East on November 18, 2016 for about a week. We loved this anchorage—great sandy bottom, good holding and beautiful water. The current is crazy though and definitely rips through the area. Getting ashore for us to get supplies was a dingy ride to the other side of Peanut Island under the bridge where a boat ramp was, and then an uber. It was kind of a sketchy area and a local told us later on that we probably shouldn’t go there. We did the trip two times though before we were told this and did not have any issues. It was an are, though, that I would not recommend leaving your dinghy without a lock. We were later told that there is a good anchorage in West Palm, by the city, with free dingy dock access and everything you need within walking distance. We attempted to head to the West Palm Beach anchorage one day but we turned around because the bridge on the way was unwilling to open both spans of the bridge for us. We were uncomfortable going through under one span under the conditions so we turned around and headed back to our original anchorage. Phone service for both Verizon and T-Mobile worked quite well at this location. Highly recommend taking the dinghy to Peanut Island to walk around.
Virginia Key Anchorage- Miami, FL: This was a lovely, quiet anchorage with a great view of the Miami skyline. We anchored here one night only and had a good holding on the sandy bottom not too far from shore. Cell service was good via T-Mobile and there was a beach where you could go ashore should you need to walk a dog. Taking the dingy to an actual dock, however, there is nothing to my knowledge that is close by.
Catamaran Boat Yard- Key Largo, FL: Not sure where to even begin with this one 🙂 Ojigwan spent nearly three months on the hard at this place. The price for haul out and dry storage is among the cheapest you will find in all of Florida, and that is great. Just a few things though to beware of when going here. 1. The channel to get to this boat yard is sketchy. At high tide the depth is about 5 feet deep, so, if you don’t have a catamaran or a power boat, you’re not getting in…like ever. The channel in is marked by galvanized pipes and you will be instructed to keep them 5-10 feet off you’re starboard side when entering. Do this, and you will still very likely bump the bottom, or worse, run aground. We sure did 🙂 If you don’t know the full story, I will ask that you head to our blogs section and read the story “All Before 9:00 a.m.”. 2. This is a boat yard, not a marina. There are no docks for you to tie up to, other than the one that is the well for the travel lift. The bathrooms are a shipping container that has been converted to have two toilets (one for guys and one for the ladies), a shower in the ladies room that only has cold water, and a cat bed, complete with a cat (ladies room…I named the cat Gator and he/she likes turkey lunchmeat). 3. When you call to set up your haul out and inquire about pricing, ask questions that we did not. For example—we had been quoted the haul and block price, and confirmed that we could live on the boat on the hard, but did not ask if there was a fee associated with doing so…there was, $80.00 a day to stay the night on our boat. Also, we were put into their dry storage section, but there was another option at a higher rate to be put into a work area. We were planning to be traveling in Australia and New Zealand for 44 days, so opted for dry storage. We had a few things we needed to do before leaving her that long, and of course would need to do a few things before we went back in—the cost of doing any work, and I mean any, on your boat is an additional $80.00 per day. Ask about any additional fees for various reasons. 3. If you are not staying on your boat, you must leave by 5:30 p.m., even if there is still a few hours left of daylight and work to do. If you stay on your boat, you must stop working at 5:30 p.m. 4. The employees at the Boat Yard were great—especially Tino and Ray. 5. The owner…once he had our check, not so much. That is all I will say about that. As far as phone and internet, service for T-mobile was fine and there is wifi at the boat yard. There is a gas station that has diesel right across the street, and several restaurants within walking distance. A Publix and a farmers style market is under 10 minutes away (just north of the Boat Yard). I highly recommend getting all of your fresh produce from the market—their mangos were amazing. A West Marine is about 15 minutes away, north, and an ACE Hardware store is about 15 minutes south. Also, there is an Avis/Budget rental car place five minutes away…I would, however, continue on about 15 minutes down the road to Thrifty. We were totally scammed by the girl at the front desk of the Avis/Budget place. Her name was Jessica. We think maybe she was pocketing some money for herself, or she was somehow financially compensated for shafting us and giving us a car twice the price of their cheapest available vehicle. I would avoid them at all costs—feeling taken advantage of is not a good feeling. Overall, if you are looking for a cheap place to store your boat for a period of time—I would recommend Catamaran Boat Yard.
Rodriguez Key, off of Key Largo, Fl: We anchored here twice, once on the south side of the island and once on the north side. Both times we had good holding on a nice sandy bottom. There is not a lot of protection here though, and if there were other options of a place to anchor for a few days, I would have picked it instead. T-mobile service works fine here and of course there is no wifi. There is no where within a reasonable distance to go ashore on your dinghy. Rodriguez Key is covered in mangrove trees so you can’t really get on the island. The water is beautiful though and we saw a ton of really massive tuna here and several sea turtles. I might suggest heading a few miles south to Tavernier Key, although I think protection would be the same there as well.
Marine Stadium, Miami, Fl: This is where we are currently anchored (as of me writing this on March 8, 2017)— This spot has great holding, nice sandy bottom and it is extremely well protected. We rode out a blow with gusts in the 30’s with no dragging. The view from this location is even better than the Virginia Key location—The Miami skyline at night is stunning. On weekdays, this is a fairly quiet anchorage, other than the occasional jet skier and the rowers. On the weekends…another story—there are jetskiers and boaters everywhere making a lot of noise and a lot of wake. There is good phone service here and if you had a dog to get ashore, there are a few places to tie up and walk the dog: There is a prep school that has a dock that a couple friends of ours have been tying up to with no issue and walking the dog on a path nearby. There is also an abandoned dock and lift that is on the other side, opposite of the Marine Stadium that has a running trail to walk a pet. Getting ashore to get things has not been too terrible. We have been using the dinghy dock at Rickenbaucker right by the Whiskey Joes Restaurant. So far no one has said anything to us. We have eaten there and used the services of a marine vendor inside the marina so maybe that is why! I would definitely recommend this anchorage to anyone coming to the Miami area over No Name anchorage or Virginia Key. Great holding, great protection and a beautiful spot. Also a plus, just about every morning we have dolphin visitors and they are so fun to watch.
- Adding to the previous post on the Marine Stadium Anchorage. Since we first arrived there have been several derelict boats that have been dropped off by an unknown person and left. We found out later that they are usually in the anchorage, but they were removed to the other side of Virginia Key while the Miami Boat show was going on. They are now, one by one, heading back to their spots in the anchorage and now outnumber the boats with occupants . One was dropped a little too close for comfort next to our boat while we were out one day but we did not have any issues.
Bimini Sands Marina, South Bimini, Bahamas:
This marina was awesome! It had showers that were fine but a bit buggy at times, had laundry (two working washers and two dryers), two pools, one of which was an infinity pool overlooking the atlantic, and it also offered 24 hour security. Surrounding the marina are beautiful condos, and when we were there, the beautiful marina was a ghost town. There was one other boat at the marina and little to no one in the villas. We spoke to a security guard who told us the place was at one time the most fun and cool places to be in all of Bimini—there were restaurants, a sushi bar, customs and immigration right on site, live music and it was just a fun place to be. Over the years, however, with different owners, the restaurants closed, the sushi bar left, as did customs and immigration, and the place kind of died. He said the person who started the marina was a Bahamian who was looking to put this money into a legitimate business so he purchased the land and began dynamiting the coral to make way for a jetty/entry to the extremely protected marina area. The locals seem to think that when he did this, it angered god and mother nature. He said ever since then the sand shoals in ways that it never did before and it requires constant dredging by the owners and although there were years of booming business there, it has slowly died. The marina is once again under new ownership. They say that during the summer months, business picks up and the slips are filled with center console boats from Miami. They had signs saying the restaurant was going to reopen, so we shall see! We hope it does well—it is a cool place away from the hustle and bustle of North Bimini—lots of cool trails and a shark research center nearby. We were there during a week filled with rain, squalls and 30 kts of wind and were totally fine—it has great protection. There is also a ton of cool wildlife to see if you just take a look off of the stern of your boat. The coral that lines the marina is filled with beautiful fish, nurse sharks and barracudas! We enjoyed our time there for sure, even though it felt like an eerie deserted ghost town at times 🙂
Chub Cay (pronounced “key”), Berry Islands, Bahamas: When we left Bimini we headed straight for Chub Cay—pretty much as far as we could get in good light, in one day. We arrived and ancored just off the channel. There were several other boats there and we were not in the most protected of spots. Our Mantus dug in good on the sandy, grassy bottom and we held good through the night. When we woke up, it was extremely rolly! So much so, that we decided to move to another Cay nearby that would be more protected in the prevailing winds. Chub Cay was fine but not one of my favorites—it was rolly and some areas are noted on the Explorer charts to have bad holding. We had no issues there, but if we had had more daylight I would have opted to move elsewhere.
Bird Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas: