Into the Tarpon’s Belly!!

 Well, we are living up to our boat’s name. Wandering, traveling without a specific destination. Key west is great, But the pull to move is strong, looking for that perfect anchorage..

Getting some swim time in. Day before departure.

It is all fun and games till a paw gets wet…

Time for higher ground

And a nap.


Goodbye Key West!! It’s been fun.

Interesting ferry crossing our stern in the busy Northwest Channel.

Passing the Key West graveyard. Well, we call it the graveyard. The vessel on the very right hard ashore is a new addition since we came through 4 weeks ago.



We headed East out of Key West and found ourselves threading through the shoals to anchor at Tarpon Belly Key. 

The Straits of Florida. Weather was calm, seas pretty flat.

On the approach, water is very skinny! I stood at the bow looking for coral heads, I saw many but not in time to warn Brian at the helm due to the overcast skies. Thankfully, no coral heads were harmed in the process 🙂


The approach to Tarpon Belly Key anchorage involved going down Cudjoe  Channel. At first, you head straight for land, gulp, then turn to port and follow the shoreline till you reach the channel. There are no day markers, you gotta use your eyes, the chart, and GPS. The shallowest water we saw was 9 feet. We entered during low tide.

Cudjoe channel, our anchorage is about a mile ahead.


Anchor attemp #1-wouldn’t set, anchor attempt #2 set the anchor more carefully which included waiting 1/2 hour after dropping the anchor ( so it will settle in the sand) then let out more scope and set anchor with motor in reverse slowly going up to 2200 RPMs. This held well until the next morning when vesper alerted us that we started to drag again. This is the first time we have ever had issues with holding, first time dragging, first time to hear the vesper’s anchor alarm. So we headed for deeper water( from 9 feet to 14) and found another big sandy patch and set the anchor carefully adding more scope to make us 7/1. After a while we added our 30ft snubber. This time we have held. Lots of big squalls and very gusty conditions, and the anchor is still holding. But we do not trust it. The currents are very strong and we literally circle the anchorage, the competing winds dueling it out with the 2 knot northerly or southerly current( depending on the time of day). Sometimes our anchor rode is running back behind the boat, sometimes it is running off to port or starboard. Rarely is it running straight off the bow, even in strong winds. We have had beam waves with wind off our stern.Crazy.


Towing the new Dinghy was pretty straightforward. Brian and I rigged a towing harness that put most of the load on the transom. Amsteel ( grey line) is run from transom pad eyes to bow port and starboard D rings, then back to transom eye, making one big line from port transom eye to starboard transom eye. I added webbing (blue) to help protect the dinghy from the small diameter amsteel. A steel O ring attaches to the tow line via soft shackle. This allows the load to be evenly distributed between port and starboard pad eye as the O ring slides side to side from the waves. Clear as mud? The lime green line coming from the dinghy’s center pad eye is back up in case our splices give way, line chafes through, etc. this set up still needs a lot of tweaking. PS- no way we could tow dinghy with the big 15 hp mounted on the dinghy’s transom, way too much weight.

When not in use, the towing bridle is brought up through the big hand rail and tied off to stay out of the way( usually take all slack out but I was working on the webbing). To tow,we simply free the bridle line from the big hand rail (as the hand rail is not meant to take towing loads)and attach tow line. Green painter is secured to boat too.



2 thoughts on “Into the Tarpon’s Belly!!

  1. Glad to see you guys moving! 🙂 we’re sitting in Black Point, Bahamas right now with a dead engine 😦 … our injector pump is leaking badly. But we sailed here, and even anchored under sail … been awhile since I’ve done that. We’re still planning on the east coast this summer … hope to travel with you then … stay safe!

    • Hope you get your engine sorted out. Just pulled into boot key to replace Erika’s dead iPad. Hopefully will begin moving north soon and be in Oriental by mid-June.

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