Many people anchor out off Key West. The alternative is to take a mooring in the mooring field which is between Fleming Key and Sigsbee Park which is on what was known as Dredger's Key. (Sigsbee is the Navy housing and was built on fill or the Key West dump)
The moorings themselves are helical screws designed to hold a 40 foot boat in up to 65 knot winds. Currently there are 81 moorings, and if the demand for them is great, they have permission to expand up to 149..
Because the waters around Key West are a no discharge area, all boats that have signed an agreement for more than three days must have a mandatory pumpouts, which are included in the moorage fee and can be done boat side. There will also be MSD inspections of vessels that sign agreements for more than 4 days moorage in the field.
In addition, every boat must use a shock absorbing pennant, which the City provides for a deposit of $20. It connects the buoy to around five feet or so of mooring line on your boat, which you must provide.
The charge was $12 a day for transients and $120 a month plus tax for long term moorage of 30 days and up. Because the marina running the moorings claimed they were losing money, the charge has been raised (as of 1 March 2004) to $15/day and the monthly rate to $163.50 including tax. It will go up to $261.50 in 2005.
Dockmaster hours 7 am - 5 pm daily
Equipment: We stayed in the mooring field for 3 weeks in January of 2001. Our boat is oversized for the moorings but at that time the moorings were free.
We had our own mooring pennant of course.
We did have to pay to use the dinghy dock in Key West Bight.
The problems with being on the moorings here are:
a) The shower facilities are reported to be the worst in Key West
b) The mooring field is completely unprotected from the the northwest winds which are common in the winter and it can be quite rough and uncomfortable. We were pinned down on our boat for several days at a time because it was too rough in the mooring field to make a safe dinghy trip in to the dock.
c) The Key West Marina which administers the moorings is in Garrison Bight which is not convenient to town.
d) Garrison Bight is inaccessible to sailboats with tall masts because of a low power line across the entrance. So to get fuel or water, the boat has to go all the way around Fleming Key to the Historic Key West Bight.
These fish are big and right in the marina, they beg like rats. They also put up a spectacular fight with some great jumps, these tarpon are inly 4 to 5 feet long and they get much bigger!