Don’t Run Aground in Newfound Harbor, FL Keys

Disregard what the charts say, don’t run aground in Newfound Harbor!  Newfound Harbor is the perfect stopover between Marathon to Key West.  Approximately 15 miles from outside Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor, and 23 more miles to outside Key West, Newfound Harbor makes 2 leisurely day sails out of a bit longer sail for boats like Winterlude that average between 4 – 5!    During the winter months, daylight is limited and it’s so nice not to have to worry about using the rumbly diesel to help push us along.  There’s just nothing like the whoosh of the water past the hull, the wind in the sails and no other noise!  We don’t like to enter anchorages close to dusk, no room for error, so we opt to break up the sail into two very fun short daysails and stop at Newfound Harbor.

Entering Newfound Harbor is easy, just follow the marked channel past Little Palm Island (where PT109 was filmed), hang a right, then another left… this is where it becomes less clear.  There’s a sandbar in the middle of the channel and all the old charts show a marked channel on either side of the sandbar.

Marked Channel on either side of the sandbar.

Marked Channel on either side of the sandbar.

Previously, we had always taken the green marker side because it just looked deeper despite narrower.  This year, we decided to try the red marker side because it’s closer to the newly designated “anchorage” — previously boats could anchor anywhere but after too many boats drug into the power lines crossing the harbor back by the road, the community changed the rules.  Now the anchorage is marked with buoys/markers but unfortunately, it’s a maximum of 5 feet deep and we’re 5 1/2.  So we anchor on the very edge up by Red #6.

Unfortunately the red side has shoaled in, leaving our 5 1/2 foot draft in about 4 1/2 feet of water.  We were STUCK!  Luckily the bottom is sand and mud, and we just put up the sails again, heeled the boat and drug through.    Here’s our way in, sticking to the red marker side .. and our way out, our traditional green marker side.   Bad choice on our part, but all’s well that end’s well.

You can see our track in and out ... and where we anchored, just outside the

You can see our track in and out … and where we anchored, just outside the “designated anchorage” farther right.

Still it’s a great anchorage — back in 2002, when boats could anchor further up in the bay, we weathered a nasty norther here with no problem and spent several days exploring the anchorage.  This time we just stopped for the night.

With the exclusive Little Palm Island Resort out on Munson Island, the classic wooden launchs they run are always a graceful sight to behold.  The harbor is full of other interesting boats, sailing, paddling and motoring — always something to catch my eye!CatboatNewfoundHarbor

And speaking of catching your eye … what’s that thing up in the sky?  OH, it’s none other than Fat Albert, the blimp that monitoring the Florida Straits and beyond.


And for eye candy as we’re leaving (the deeper route!), there’s always Little Palm Island …LittlePalmIsland


How relaxing would it be to hang out in this hammock on a sandspit off Little Palm Island with a nice tropical umbrella drink and watch the sun go down?  Of course, the sunset view from our cockpit is always pretty good too!


Good night Newfound Harbor!  See you as we leave in the early AM, headed to Key West!

If you decide to stop, enjoy!  Anyone have other experience in Newfound Harbor?  Please leave a comment and share!  Cheers!   Jan


  1. I look forward to this stop, thanks!. If anyone is interested, at Indian Key, there were a couple of three moorings that was run and maintained by one of the Florida parks systems, and they were free, but you can stay only a total of three nights. They looked like they would provide protection from the west-northwest around north thru east, almost 180 degrees, but wide open to the south. Great place to stay, restaurants, bars, grocery, all close enough. This was in 2005 and was thought to be an open secret, so who knows now?
    s/v Renasci

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