Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Looe Key Reef National Marine Sanctuary


Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 82, low 72)

The typical March winds died down and everyone with a boat is heading offshore.   Including us.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday are physical therapy days for Al.  Now that the weather is nicer for boating, these physical therapy sessions are getting a little bothersome.  :)

Yesterday, since the winds were calm and there was no therapy, so we decided to take the boat out.

It took us a while to load our stuff on the boat, and remember to do all the regular things that were no longer second nature to us.  We also had to remember all the important things we like to have onboard like paper towels, hand wipes, sunscreen and things like that. We always keep those things in the boat when we’re using it, but over summer storage everything was removed, so we’re starting from scratch.

Al assured me that we could launch and re-load the boat without  him injuring his shoulder, but I was a little worried.

Al made sure to wear good shoes with a lot of tread, so that he wouldn’t slip on the wet algae covered ramp, and we had no trouble launching.

The next step was to decide where to go.  Atlantic or back country, which is basically the Gulf of Mexico. The boat cranked up immediately, seemed to be running great, so we decided to head out to the Atlantic.   It was flat calm and we could be to the reef in minutes.

We wound our way through the maze of navigational buoys and out to deeper water.  The shallower water has a lot of sea grass on the bottom, so it appears a bit green, as you can see in the next pictures.


That is Venture Out in the background.

boating towards Looe Key Reef

Once we passed buoy #1, we were in deeper water and the water became a beautiful blue.


It was flat calm. 

boating towards Looe Key Reef


Looe Key Reef is one the nicest places in the Keys to snorkel and dive.  Luckily for us, it’s only about 8 miles away.

The reef has the typical spur and groove pattern like most Keys reefs.  You can see this in the next picture which I borrowed from the internet.   The water is deeper than it looks.  Most of those boats are probably in 20-30 feet of water, but there are shallower areas as well.

The dark blue is deep water.  You can see how easily a ship could run aground. They are in 100 feet of water one minute and the next minute there is a shallow reef, some of which is only 2 feet deep.


No fishing is allowed, and since it’s a marine sanctuary, you are not allowed to drop an anchor.  Mooring balls are placed throughout the reef and you hook your boat up to them.

The reef was named after the HMS Looe, which ran aground and burned in 1794.  It’s an interesting place and you can read about it HERE.   Apparently they are still finding some relics from a few ships that have struck the reef. 

We didn’t bring our snorkeling or diving gear, so we didn’t get into the water, which was nearly 80 degrees.

We’re not sure exactly how Al will be able to get back into the boat without using/hurting his shoulder.  Any ideas?   We have a three step ladder attached to a platform on the back of the boat.  There is a grab rail on one side and a big cleat on the other side.  Normally, we grab those to pull ourselves out of the water and then walk up the steps.  I’m thinking about tying a heavy kayak strap around under Al’s arms and pulling him up.  The problem with that, is if it doesn’t work, we’re screwed.  I’d have to tow him home behind the boat, which is commonly known as “chumming.”    :)  The sharks might like that.

We have never seen so many turtles, and one in particular seemed to be messing with us.  He would pop his head up, look right at us and then go back down before we could snap a decent picture.  They normally don’t come up for air as often as this one did, so we’re thinking he was teasing us.

This is about the best picture we could get.


There are always a lot of sharks on the reef.  We managed to get a good shot of one of them.


There were also a lot of barracuda and more seemed to arrive all the time.



A gigantic eagle ray  swam by several times, but he stayed down a few feet, making it hard to get a decent photo.  He must have had a 6-8 foot wing span.

Eagle Ray

Remember I said you aren’t allowed to anchor on here?  Evidently someone didn’t tell this guy, because he was definitely anchored.  The anchor was in the sand, but he would have gotten a big fine if someone caught him.

illegally anchoring

We hung out a few hours, read our books, took a short nap, watched the fish, took pictures and had our lunch.  We decided to head in early so that we could load the boat before there were too many other boats coming in at the same time.

We were more worried about getting the boat back on to the trailer than taking it off, but it turned out just fine.  I  planned on doing the winch cranking, but we had the trailer in deep enough water, so there was very little cranking and Al got it done before I had a chance to help. 

Today is PT again.   Sigh… boating today.


Stay tuned for our story of a rescue of an injured pelican…..


  1. 80* would be tempting. But best not to let him risk hurtimg that shoulder again. Would you have gone in alone if you had the gear along?

  2. Sounds like a great day out on the water, love those calm days.

  3. Wonderful that you could get out on the boat!

  4. What a beautiful place! Glad that Al was able to get away from a day of physical therapy into such a wonderful location. That is Mental Therapy! LOL
    KarenInTheWoods and Steveio
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  5. Rays, barracudas and sharks and you're disappointed you didn't go swimming? We need to talk... :cD

  6. Sounds absolutely heavenly. What we wouldn't give for our medical problem to require only PT. Count your blessings! Today was certainly one of them. Just makes me sigh with how wonderful.

  7. Ah.. The Life Aquatic is such a good life.

  8. I'd get an old school long ladder over the side - he should be able to one arm it


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