I set out this day to burn some calories and knock a few miles off of my goal to kayak the length of the Florida Keys this year.
I left Key Colony Beach around 0730 hours with a light breeze out of the east southeast. Current under the Vaca Cut bridge was light and I passed over to the bayside without having to work the eddies and current with any special care. Just a little brute force and I was on my way. The hump on the bridge was visible as soon as I rounded a couple of points and I headed directly for it. The shortcut led me about a mile from shore but shaved some time and distance. With the tail wind it wasn't bad but the lack of nearby reference made it feel like I wasn't moving.
I passed the north end of the bridge after traversing about 8 miles. Current was moderate for the bridge but still something to contend with. I powerboat around the bridge frequently and knew I would be facing some current under the bridge. I didn't expect the current on the bay to be running parallel to the bridge with the strength it did. One word of warning, if the current is going into the wind, expect some very rough seas around the bridge. Fortunately today they were not battling each other.
I made my way to Pigeon Key which is alongside the bridge just before the hump. There I ducked under the old bridge and stuck to the shadow of the new bridge to get out of sun for the hour or so it took to get to the south end. There is a county park on the south side of the bridge (ocean-side), where I stretched my legs and replenished my water supply.
I had plenty of energy and time remaining so I headed out and passed a couple of the smaller keys traveling on the ocean side. Just before Bahia Honda State Park, I passed back to the bay side as I have spent time on the ocean side of it before. The Bahia Honda bridge wasn't any easier than the Seven Mile but it was shorter. I paddled with care as the deep water and current here is known for a population of Bull Sharks and an occasional hammerhead.
Once this obstacle was behind me I had traversed over 20 miles and decided to call for a pickup. I arranged to continue all the way to Big Pine Key and doubled back to the Scout Island boat ramp.
By the time I finished the trip it was 1330 hours and I had traveled over 24.5 miles. I saw at least a dozen sea turtles and countless birds and fish. Even though lobster season had just opened, boat traffic wasn't an issue until I got down by Big Pine. Near Big Pine I had boats passing within 100' of me at 40+ mph and I wasn't even in a marked channel.
If you're going to make this trip bring plenty of water and make sure you plan for the tides.
Google Maps and Sat. view
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: Open Water/Ocean