At 7 AM, the anchor is up at dead low tide in Dinner Key. The Miami skyline disappears astern as Cutter Loose moves south through Biscayne Bay. This is ideal sailing. The coral reefs and islands to our east provide protection from ocean swells. Each tiny island is a key and each key has a name…Soldier Key, Ragged Keys, Boca Chita Key, Elliott Key. In the openings between the keys, slender fingers of deeper water lead towards the ocean. Sand bars on both the Bay side and the ocean side of these cuts render the openings unnavigable. This entire ecosystem is part of the Biscayne National Park. No tourists. No campsites. No lodge or hiking trails. Traffic here is limited to an occasional fisherman and a few cruising boats headed south for the winter.
Biscayne Bay is a shallow body of water with depths averaging about ten feet. The Bay becomes even shallower to the south. With this thought in mind, we leave the Bay, navigating our way east through the mangrove-lined banks of Angelfish Creek and into the deeper aquamarine waters of Hawk Channel.
Our course takes us southwest between Key Largo to the west and an endless chain of underwater coral reefs to the east that buffer Hawk Channel from the open ocean. This is an incredible coastal setting. We can scarcely believe that we are here.
Our destination for today is Rodriquez Key. This is a popular overnight anchorage, roughly midway between Miami and Marathon. Tonight the weather is exceptionally calm. There is just a hint of a breeze and Cutter Loose is lying motionless, which is incredible given the expanse of open water that surrounds us.