Cruising in Miami
We have been to several events recently on Biscayne Bay. Most of us usually break the trip with an overnight stop in Miami. Quite often anchoring in No Name Harbor. We recently used the mooring field near the Miami Yacht Club because it allowed us to pick up guests from shore. I was asked to share that information here.
We frequently plan our Miami stopovers at Watson Island (AKA Parrot Jungle Island). The anchorage is just east of the island on the north side of the MacArthur Causeway. There is 360 degree protection there. The city of Miami has been in the process of implementing a mooring field there for over five years. The mooring balls are in place but as of this writing they have not made arrangements for administering rent. Rumor has it from the locals that they plan to establish management of the field by the end of the 2023 summer. There are a lot of mooring balls there and still plenty of room to anchor. Avoid the area near the public boat ramp because it can be noisy. Next to the boat ramp is a small building with a boatyard full of Hobie cats. This is the police office and the Miami yacht Club.
The Miami Yacht Club is open to the public. It is a small place with a bar and a good menu. Their hours are Wed: 1600-2200, Thu: 1100-2200, Fri: 1100-2300, Sat: 1100-2300, Sun 1100-2200. Closed Mon and Tue. They have live music on Fri nights. Everything is casual. Order at the bar with a credit card. They have a fantastic burger. I also like their conch fritters which are not made with flour or corn meal but with sweet potato instead. And they are spicy. To see their full menu go to MiamiYachtClub.com
This location is an excellent spot to pick up and drop off crew. They can park overnight in the Parrot Jungle parking garage (There is a fee) and pick up/drop off can be made at the public boat ramp.
To get to the anchorage you enter Government Cut from the Atlantic at South Beach. Shipping and cruise ship traffic can be a huge hazard here. Look for ships in the channel or with smoking stacks, movement on your AIS (note: Fisher Island ferries all have bird names such as Osprey & Pelican), and radio announcements of ships underway. Cruise ships come in during early morning and leave around sunset. As you come alongside Fisher Island watch out for the frequent ferries to and from the island. Bear left along the cargo ship channel and stay out of the main channel (cruise ship channel). The main channel is closed to private vessels if cruise ships are in port. I'm not sure about other times. Follow the channel markers at the west end of Port of Miami. There is an "S" turn there to enter the ICW. Be aware that once you are looking at ICW markers the orientation is switched as you go north (red is now on the left). There are two fixed bridges with standard 65ft ICW height minimums. There is a railway bridge that is normally open. From experience; if it is down it may be quite a while before the train comes and the bridge opens. After the second bridge make a squared off turn to go east around Watson Island. Depths are about 7- 9'. Use your charts to decide the best course for your boat at this point.
I hope this will help get you to and from Biscayne Bay which is a great sailing area with protected waters. Cheers, BARRY
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