Sailing Biscayne Bay
If you’re thinking about sailing to Biscayne Bay, No Name Harbor and Boca Chita harbors are great destinations. They are both very protected manmade harbors with a seawall all the way around. At No Name Harbor you need to be at anchor (on the hook) if spending the night and there is a $25.00 fee. On the honor system you need to put $25.00 in an envelope supplied at the deposit box ashore when anchoring in the harbor overnight. If just staying for a few hours you can tie off to the cleats on the seawall and there is no fee. There is a great little restaurant there named Boater Grill. They are open early in the morning and stay open late at night. The food is Cuban but they have many other items on the menu. No Name Harbor is within the Cape Florida State Park also known as Bill Bags State Park. There you can walk the nature trails to the Beach or Climb the Cape Florida Lighthouse which was built in 1825 and is the oldest structure in Miami Dade County.
Further south in Biscayne Bay is Boca Chita. This harbor is similar to No Name Harbor but a bit smaller and has a faux lighthouse as a landmark. Here you can tie off to the seawall when spending the night. Again there is a fee collected on the honor system for anyone spending the night on their boat here. There are no services on Boca Chita only a small rocky beach, park benches, BBQ grills, and of course the Faux Lighthouse.
Be careful in Biscayne Bay and pay attention to depth as fines may be issued in Biscayne National Park for groundings. The only entrances and exits from the bay to open water that is navigable by sailing vessels is Old Biscayne Channel just south of Key Biscayne and Angelfish Creek located at southern Biscayne Bay.
If you plan to fish from your boat or dive for lobster (when season permits) you will need a saltwater license (crawfish stamp for lobstering), which you can obtain online, at local bait shops, dive stores, and marinas. Lobstering is prohibited in most of the bay, and fishing regulations are enforced- seasons apply to many species. Divers can fill their tanks at Divers Paradise (Crandon Marina, Key Biscayne; 305-361-3483) and moorings mark popular dive sites in Biscayne National Park (www.nps.gov/bisc/home.htm) For a cultural and historical fix, visit any of the following on your trip: Cape Florida Lighthouse (305-361-8779), the Commodore’s former home, “The Barnacle” (3485 Main Highway, Coconut Grove; 305-448-9445), Fairchild Tropical Gardens (10901 Old Cutler Road, South Miami; 305-667-1651) and Viscaya- the home and gardens of James Deering (3251 Main Highway, Coconut Grove; 305-250-9133). Be sure to try local Cuban food around the marina!
For more information, the following are all available through Bluewater Books and Charts: Cruising Guide to the Florida Keys by Captain Frank Papy, Florida Keys and Everglades Cruising Guide by Captain Freya Rauscher, and Maptech Embassy Guide to the Florida Keys and Gold Coast