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Friendship, Boats and No Name Harbor by Karl Sydor - Skipper of the trawler "Tropical Pleasure".



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Friendship and boating, what a great combination. Tom and I became friends back at the age of 25 when we worked for the same company in New Jersey. We both had been brought up at the infamous Jersey shore, although in different areas. Our Dads introduced us to boating at early ages and we both grew up with a love for boats, as well as the Jersey shore. This became our bond. After a couple of years, I left the company we worked for and Tom and I drifted apart as friends. I later moved to Florida.  

About four years ago I was flying from the Newark Airport to Fort Lauderdale when I heard the hostess call out Tom's name for an upgrade to first class. Not recognizing this guy, I tugged at his sleeve and asked him if he could be the same Tom from the company I had worked at almost thirty-five years ago. To my shock, it was the same Tom. Tom was doing some work in Fort Lauderdale, so we got together and have been in touch ever since. Our old friendship was easily rekindled, since I have an obsession for owning boats and Tom has no problem in being my crew. Tom's wife, Elaine, has been kind enough to allow him to stay down here for a few weekends over the last few years and we have made use of my boats.  

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Last weekend was special, because I've wanted to cruise my current 34 Californian trawler down to Sands Key, just north of Elliot Key, in Biscayne Bay. Tom's flight arrived in Fort Lauderdale just after noontime on Friday, the end of January. I picked him up and headed for my boat docked in Deerfield Beach. I planned to exit Hillsboro Inlet to go ocean-side and drop anchor in No Name Harbor as our first stop; we had a short window until sundown. My boat has twin 3208 Cat diesels and cruises at 15 knots. My calculations gave us an ETA of around 5 PM at marker "2" at the entrance to Biscayne Channel, and a half hour to negotiate our way to No Name Harbor and drop anchor, with a half-hour to spare if we needed it. Luck was on our side and we were able to make it to the Hillsboro Inlet bridge opening fifteen minutes earlier than expected, which allowed us to get to No Name Harbor earlier.  

This extra time made me feel good since I was a little nervous about the route I chose once I entered Biscayne Channel. Instead of following the markers through the Channel, I wanted to cut out of the Channel at it's most northern point, red marker "6", and navigate my way (in what appeared on my chart to be reasonably deep water) from that marker to the SE tip of Cape Florida and then to No Name.  

I had called Jack Kelleher earlier to get his advice on anchoring at No Name versus Hurricane Harbor. I had anchored at one of them over ten years ago and remembered these tall evergreens (slightly arched from the prevailing winds) that gave the boats tremendous protection from whatever was howling outside. Jack could not tell me which harbor that may be, but advised me that Hurricane Andrew had leveled the trees, but maybe some had grown back. We decided that a call to a tow service like "Tow BoatUS"  would give me the info I wanted. I did that and was advised that the best protection would be at No Name Harbor.  

Jack, in his wisdom, also recommended I wait for something like a big Hatteras sport fisherman to follow before entering the unmarked passage I was hoping to take to No Name Harbor. Well, it wasn't a Hatteras, but a sufficiently large sport fisherman happened to be in front of us and chose the passage I wanted, which certainly made me feel better. My depth sounder averaged about ten feet of water through this passage, a couple of hours before high tide. We dropped anchor at No Name Harbor and I recognized it as the anchorage I used to go to years ago when it had more protection. Some trees had grown up, but it certainly is not the same.  

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There were probably about a dozen large (35 to 50 foot) boats anchored over night. The wind was from the NE when we got there and because the wind was supposed to switch to the NW overnight, we were concerned about swing room. We were only able to deploy about 20 feet of anchor chain in 9 feet of water, but with the light breeze on Friday night, that was not a problem. I could see that no one had very much anchor-line scope since most lines were straight up. Tom and I had a quick dinner and relaxed as some of the 'no-see'ims' started to interest themselves in us. Fortunately the temperature was dropping (went below 60 that night) and they went into hiding. I periodically got up during the night to check our position; the anchor held.


Saturday morning we were facing NW and the wind was kicking up. The stern of my boat was not far from the DeFever near me, but everyone was in the same predicament. After finishing breakfast I was chatting with the owner on the 49 DeFever when I noticed that the motor yacht (about a 35+ footer) in front of him was dragging anchor and quickly closing in on his bow. I alerted him; he quickly went to his bow to fend it off as best as he could, while yelling to the occupants inside (who had no idea what was happening). An older woman was on the boat by herself and did not know what to do (no sight of a male). Two other boaters jumped into their Zodiacs, cranked up the motors and tried to assist, while the DeFever owner did the same. Somehow they were able to get a second anchor and line from the woman, and deploy it sufficient distance away. Surprisingly, it held.


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Meanwhile, the crew of a 35 to 40 foot sailboat behind the DeFever started going into action mode when their anchor started dragging and they were heading for the seawall. However, everything seemed under control until I realized my position was changing very quickly, in relation to the DeFever. Fortunately, we were ready to leave and all I had to do was start my engines and reposition my boat until Tom raised the anchor and we were on our way. My anchor came up with one fluke sticking through a plastic gallon jug and a thick wooden stick stuck between the flukes and the shaft. No wonder it didn't hold.


As we left the harbor, two sailboats that had been anchored too close to each other swung around in the wind and collided with the bow of one to stern of the other. What a calamity!!!!! I must say that I will not go back to No Name again to anchor overnight. It has only enough room for a half dozen large boats with adequate anchor line scope.  

We motored down to Sands Key Saturday (this took less than an hour), and dropped 80 feet of chain in 10 feet of water. In the early evening the wind suddenly switched from NW to SE and the black flies came off the Key to check us out. Thank goodness that only lasted for about an hour and the wind switched back to NW. Where did that 180-degree change come from? The NW wind was ten to fifteen knots throughout the night, but we held just fine. Tom got some great pictures of the beautiful Keys sunset and the stars were out in full bloom that night.  

It was really a great weekend cruise, regardless of the No Name Harbor incident. I just love the Sands Key anchorage and area. As a side note, the owner of the DeFever said he thought Hurricane Harbor was closed because residents protested its use. I have not checked this out. No Name harbor is a nice daytime anchorage, but should be used with caution whenever you anchor there. By the way, since this cruise, I have drawn the conclusion that "old boaters never die, we just drift away".

Having recently retired as an independent management consultant for healthcare information technology, Karl now has more time for his twin passions: fishing and boating.

Karl is a boater with over 30 years of boat ownership. His first boating experience was as a kid growing up at the "Jersey" shore. His adult experience has been as a member of the US Power Squadron, originally with the Raritan Bay Power Squadron in NJ and in the last 25 years with the USPS in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, FL.

His boating has been in the Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook area of New Jersey, the upper Florida Keys, and frequent crossings to Bimini. With his recent purchase of a 34 Californian trawler, Karl has been exploring Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys from his home port in Deerfield Beach, FL.   

Being a conscientious boater, Karl not only makes certain that his vessel is in safe operating condition prior to each usage but is concerned with the safety of other boaters. It is this interest that prompted his article on Friendship, Boaters and No name Harbor.    

The excellent photography is by Karl's friend and crew member Tom Clarke from Newark, NJ, using a Sony F707 digital camera with 5.0 mp and 5X optical zoom and 2X digital zoom for a total of10X zoom.  

To share your thoughts with Karl click here




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