Thursday, March 8, 2012

Marathon - We visit Pennekamp State Park

Pennekamp State Park - mooring field in the distance
The local Enterprise rental agency is at the Marathon airport but they will come and pick you up, a service that Enterprise is noted for. So we rented a car for the day and explored the area. We are still calibrated to boat speed so when we figured that Pennekamp was 60 miles away, it was much too far - but then we said, "Wait a minute, at car speed it's only a little over an hour". We usually anchor by an island near Pennekamp and it takes us all day to get there.

Bumming at the picnic table
Pennekamp is a state park so our "Golden Passport" from the National Parks Service did not work so $8 later we were in the park. The park is beautiful and very well kept. They have several beaches for swimming and snorkeling and a marina where you can rent a boat, kayaks or take the park boat out to the reef for snorkeling. Unfortunately, it was much too rough for snorkeling today. They had reported 8 ft waves rolling over the snorkeling area! It was even too rough for divers since the in coming wave action creates a powerful counter current going out to sea - waves move water towards shore, then the excess water has to return in the opposite direction, like an undertow. There were some people snorkeling in the park area just off the beaches, no coral but some fish. There are also trails through the mangroves to explore.

Only 4 ft, 2 in for docks or moorings!
Ann talked to the Dock Master since we were interested in whether or not we could get in there with Fleetwing since it only draws 4' 9". However, the Dock Master was not encouraging. He said not to try it in anything over 4' 2", even the mooring field. The channel itself is okay but out of the channel to the docks or moorings results in very shallow water (the 4' 2" figure). So it's back once again to anchoring by Rodriguez Key which is not protected at all from the east, southeast or south! Of course, that's where the wind is blowing from so it's more waiting for us.

We finished with dinner at Lazy Days, a great restaurant with a stunning view of the setting sun over the water. Looking at the weather report, I just signed up today for another week at Marathon. We're in no particular rush, especially with this wind and desire to go east when the wind is calm or out of the north or northwest. Hopefully that will be before spring.