Flamingo to Long Key Florda BOOMERANG

-- Last Updated: Mar-26-14 6:57 PM EST --

Paddling across Florida Bay from Flamingo to Long Key is the local bay long distance route. Observing winter weather patterns with NOAA, Canadian weather bearing down on South Florida bringing a west, NW, north, NE, east and south east winds cycles gives a south wind headed from Flamingo to Long Key and a south east or best a south wind from Long to Flamingo.

Last week I saw tides from the Gulf for Flamingo and tides from the Atlantic at Long Key were opposite for last weekend 19-24 with Saturday dead on. Winter storms fade now with spring coming in so pack it up…!

My first kayak camping trip. Preparation is intensive. 20 hours went into organization from finding to packing to load hatches on the CD Solstice Titan. All equipment and freeze dried food in stock.

Flamingo is a 2.5 hour drive from home base.

A visit with Jim Taylor at the Flamingo Visitors Center gave Johnson’s Chickee as open and reservable. Wind from the south at the Visitors Center strong at 15+ mph no mosquitoes programming the GPS with a laptop at the Center’s bayside deck. Concern if that wind stayed I could not go.

Reserving Johnsons for the trip back from Long is done over the phone from Long.

Wind speed dropped next morning n shifted to the NW.
The route was learned. Catch wind out of the Gulf, paddle west past the campground toward Cape Sable then turn toward Johnsons Key before or after Clive Key.

Paddling west in the land shadow then onto the main boat channel west of Clive then turning down to Johnsons is faster if tides are low n wind is high.


Looking at the map now, I have a Blue Charts equipped GPS, you will see a direct route to Long Key from Man O’War Key Channel west of Johnsons onto a waypoint at N24 57.351 W80 56.232.

Then to N24 52.277 W80 53.097. N24 51.294 W80 46.906 west of the Channel 5 bridge at Long Key to N24 52.277 is called Yacht Channel, a staked route. Yacht Channel maybe findable on your chart.

Also possible is accepting the Everglades demarcation line as Yacht Channel as a reasonable waypoint for finding the Yacht Channel stakes leading to the designation Yacht Channel near circled bouy map locations at 24 52.277

http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/11449.shtml does not show Yacht Channel nor does the channel show on Garmin Blue Charts when transferred from GPS chip to laptop Homeports but on the GPS screen.

All channels carry more tidal flow than routes over banks. Heading west from Long Key, surface is glassy away from the bow toward the destination. Tidal waves roll west. On this trip, wind behind, a perpendicular course to tidal waves followed the channel with faster speeds.

The basin below Man O’War flowed at our time of crossing, see tide predictions, with incoming Atlantic tide to that ebb with a rising Gulf tide to the south west of Man O’War Channel.

On our trip, a fresh north front came over this basin with solid wall of tall columnar pillars on mainland’s perimeter. We paddled on a misty green surface under a thin sky stratus. Surface clouds 12’ high flowed across the bow front like giant tadpoles. Silence.

Approaching Man O’War at 4 miles sky cleared to a deep blue, brilliant sunlight, green water. Gulf current and a stronger South to SE wind from a clear fetch below.

I arrived at Johnsons 7.5 hours from Long Key Point at abt 3.4 mph with a top speed of 12 mph.

On the route south from Johnsons. I planned on crossing bars with wind and tide astern.
The route was west of Rabbit Basin at 6 hrs 38 minutes !

We flew past Rabbit basins outer banks, over the phallic southern Rabbit bank then over to N24 57.351 W80 56.232.

Plan was to go thru the lower exit from Rabbit basin.

We were flying downwind with an out going tide at 8mph. Movement to Keys on the horizon below Rabbit clearly showed a probability for running aground so we paddled a strong 60 degree ferry over the Phallic bank and continued ferrying to N24 57.351 W80 56.232.


Going with the mist.

N24 54.516 W80 52.351 are the Pontoon Keys. Worth a visit. At low tide one of those wondrous small dam ripples drops into the seaward side on an outgoing. The wind below Arseknicker shifted into a NE blow.

Total speed down to that point is very quick as paddling across to Long from Pontoon was arduous taking 2.5 hours.

I stopped short of the Bridge staying at Fiesta Key. Tired from crossing the Long Key bay, short of daylight with an off course paddle into Jewfish Hole where I had planned to cross under a small bridge that was moved to Tom’s Harbor while I was on the West Coast.

Florida’s kayak waterway instructions tell us call Long Key State Park before arrival. There are super kayak tenting platforms but in a buggy area. There are primitive beach spaces around the point. We use a Kelty Gunnison screen tent over a Walmart painters tarp used if possible once. Call from Flamingo. A Verizon cell phone does not work at Flamingo but would on Pontoon.

I tried no bag sleeping with night temps predicted in the 70’s saving hatch space, learning a down bag with added Gore bag is necessary saving 2x space over polyester. Long underwear, a polyester blanket and nylon sleeping bag liner was warm. The liner from Campmor doubled heat retention over the blanket. A space blanket was available but unused at 70 degrees.

The trip was my first extended use of freeze dried food, breakfast lunch and dinner. Polynesian chicken for distance, chicken n noodles for carbos with ranchos huevos thrown in at breakfast, I forgot loading Cliff Bars, an ongoing snack food here and a plastic jug of small soup pasts for added carbo.

No problem. Nutrition and power was on and available…with enough Cranberry Red Bull, Full Throttle.

A stay at Long Key for low tide flats cruising, wildlife observation and a shower are highly recommended. A water outlet stands halfway up the beach. Rangers are AAA, clientele international. The first German we saw said he wanted to punch me in the face. The Hungarians were pleasant.

Quick Stop around the corner in Layton has water, Red Bull and basics but is not a grocery store. No cliff Bars. A Publix supermarket in Marathon is bus or taxi. Paddle down to Curry Hammock State Park above Marathon. Call first.


Parks in the Keys are excellent. We have no experience with Bahia Honda as spaces are completely reserved ahead in advance. There are open kayak spaces. Curry Hammock is outstanding.

Careful with rolling. From before WW2, concrete rounds lay on the bottom for mooring anchors.

Parking on Flamingo’s lot in the staff area is statistically safe. My truck has a burglar alarm.

Fiesta Key, a marina south of the Channel 5 Bridge has expensive camping if necessary but avoid if possible. If there, do not leave equipment alone unguarded, do not feed the animals.




Zip code for NOAA is 33001. Move NOAA’s Long Key map to Rabbit Basin for an accurate prediction on winds.

Link winds to tides and NOAA at

South Florida’s late winter weather is fantastic. Bring the kayak.

GPS is highly recommended and a deck compass. Speed over ground to the next waypoint is evaluated onscreen against a ferry angle taken and ‘held’ using the deck compass. For example a 270 heading from N24 52.277 W80 53.097 held for 6 miles to the area west of Rabbit basin’s south side.

Predictions for wind direction crossing from Rabbit Basin across Arsenic Bank into the Atlantic wind and Long Key are found at:


Other crossing point winds are found at:


The outgoing tide will draw approaching Old Dan Bank.


A Current Design Solstice Titan was paddled for the Boomerang.

summer weather boomerang
A summer Boomerang forecast for east to west to east.


Long Key to the channel west…


good weather
is in: http://goo.gl/mjp1bV




more Boomerang

– Last Updated: Dec-19-15 9:39 AM EST –

The NWS forecast for the Boomerang was posted Friday night. The forecast hyperlink is not fixed at Friday night, the forecast moves forward with time.

What we’re looking for here is the initial passage of a cold front bring north winds into the Florida Bay area followed by south/southeast winds as the front moves out into the Atlantic.


Tides cooperate. Read main report, check tide tables.

The last leg toward Long Key is reviewable at: http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=LONF1


And http://goo.gl/n6Ya6O

Try Long Key Channel West.

The approach to Bridge is from the south side of Yacht Channel…read report.

Crossing Long Key sound is done on an outgoing tide. Atlantic winds may come ashore moderating the passing front north wind carrying your kayak south across the Bay past Arseknicker.

I crossed on relatively quiet water stream a hundred feet south of the main outgoing current swells with a moderate Atlantic breeze from the east north east.

There is no such thing as “Long Key …

You mean “Long Key Bight”

We are there right now, and yesterday happened upon a refugee Cuban boat out on a beach at Long Key Point.

We evidently were the first to find it, and got some nice souveniers that they left behind.

My heart goes out to them, and only hope that they become good citizens of the US as ninty percent of the ones before them did.

Jack L

Long Key Sound

– Last Updated: Dec-19-15 7:09 PM EST –

The Bight is the bite.

The ‘sound’ is my distinction. There is no ‘SOUND’ on the map. Water named as ‘Long Key Sound’ is west of Channel 5 Bridge, east of FLORIDA BAY. The Bight is part of the Park east of the Bridge, protected area.

The map declares water west of the bridge as FLORIDA BAY.

However, for kayaking the ‘sound’ is a completely different area from the BAY.

BAY water tides straight down to the bridge.

‘Sound’ tidal water flows into the Atlantic from north and south sides of Yacht Channel running east-west from the bridge. Water surfaces of BAY and Sound are different.

‘Long Key Sound’ begins east over PONTOON KEY, a map named string of rocky piles north of YACHT CHANNEL, PONTOON also lies south of YACHT CHANNEL but there goes un-named on the NOAA map 11449.

Refer to the map named in the main report.

I was over PONTOON KEY NORTH and SOUTH an hour before low tide. Depth at both maybe 2’, bottom in the south side of 1-2’ round rock.

The PONTOONS are probably from WW2 dredging as is eg Daytona and the once broad Fred Marriott Beach.

I overlooked the Bight in not noticing a distinction between BIGHT, ‘Sound’ and FLORIDA BAY. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.



I believe you make up your own names
to suit yourself.

Channel five goes under the bridge.

On the north side of the channel is Craig Key

On the south west side is Fiesta Key, approached through Jewfish Hole, and then after you get under the bridge, you’ll be paddling across the mouth of Long Key Bight.

On the west side you are in Florida Bay, on the east side you are in the Atlantic heading toward Hawk Channel.

The tides under the bridge can be nice or they can be nasty, depending on many different factors.

I have crossed under it in most of them, but wouldn’t want to today with the winds gusting at 33 knots.

Jack L

on the hitherto unknown BOOMERANG is written for tourist kayaker and Florida paddlers with directions for the first time long distance camper…tempted with a continuing trip toward Key West.

Well, instead of confusing all of
us “tourists”, at least get all the names correct, unless you are bushwacking your way through some Key, cutting a new channel with your trusty chain saw.

Then you are entitled to name it.

Maybe something like “Figment Pass”

Jack L

well Jackel
fersure ura not gonna tell me what to do …

you stick that up your XXXX XXX XXXXXXX

Wow !

– Last Updated: Dec-21-15 6:27 AM EST –

I know you talk rag time, but this is the first time I have seen you riled up.

I must be doing something right

jack L

from the main text:
‘GPS is highly recommended and a deck compass. Speed over ground to the next waypoint is evaluated onscreen against a ferry angle taken and ‘held’ using the deck compass. For example a 270 heading from N24 52.277 W80 53.097 held for 6 miles to the area west of Rabbit basin’s south side.’

Not clear. Wind from the north is the motive element going south to Long Key. The kayak’s hull is held broadside to the wind, is sailed with GPS and compass toward Long Key.

‘N24 54.516 W80 52.351 are the Pontoon Keys.’
Pontoons, submerged rock dredgings are north and south of the Yacht Channel’s meeting with the ‘Sound’ (of the Atlantic) before the bridge. Chart and above coordinates are not the desired crossing area lying south of Yacht Channel


I assume I was occupied navigating -1’- at the Channel to not get a GPS but that is the out
of wind in fairly smooth outgoing tide water stream below Yacht Channel. Outgoing tide water a few feet to the north is
2-3’ chop with more wind as the flow is higher in elevation. Then navigate toward Fiesta Key and Jewfish Hole.
If using Johnson’s Chickee as start, we recommend bringing 3M flapped dust masks and a Wal painters tarp for tent cover for possible roof guano blowoff
And 2 extra long @ 20’ lines securing kayak to deck from the tent floor area before lifting hull to landing

Winter time is buzzard season at Flamingo. Buzzards have strange tastes. It seems they like wiper blades, and windshield rubber gaskets. Some people leaving vehicles in the lot for extended periods cover the vehicle with a tarp.

Flamingo’s Ranger Station Marina store and campground is closed from Irma. Long Key appears closed for the season but the beach is still there probably the food store. Hide the kayak.

Johnson’s Chickee open ? call. If paddling the Boomerang starting from Johnson’s is necessary. With tide going out, wake n pack before dawn, paddle north 200+ feet from Johnson’s then turn left to the north side Man O’ War Key, past MOW 300’ or well into the channel current n down you go. The 2 Keys n others may be connected by shallowness, here bringing the trip to an early end. Same coming back north. Around MOW, camp chickee, back into Flamingo via the boat channel outside local Keys and staked.