Islands & Ocean, Marathon
Hawk Channel is the ocean side of the Keys. A larger and deeper draft boat has to go on the Hawk Channel side away from the usually more protected and very much shallower waters of Florida Bay which is on the other side (it is NOT the Gulf of Mexico BTW).
The confounded bridges that Flagler build for his railroad means that there are only about 2 draw bridges (both very tricky for us as the water is shallow) and 2 fixed level bridges that we could go to to get to more protected waters or to the marinas on the bay side.
Fondest memory: The little islands or keys that are off of the highway (no bridges to them) can sometimes provide some protection from the wind. We've anchored behind Rodrieguez twice on our way up or down Hawk Channel. We can't make it from Marathon to Miami in less than 2 days and we need someplace to stop for the night. Holding is not too good here, but at least it provides a chance to get partly under shelter from the wind.
You can see in this picture how the wind and current has whipped up the sand and made the water aqua green. (Before I straightened it, the picture was tilted because the boat was rocking, and I was sticking my head over the side to get the picture.) When it is calm, the water is a nice glossy blue when it is deep (second photo), and shades of green to yellow as it gets shallower.
Favorite thing: From the bridges of the Overseas Highway (especially 7 mile bridge) you can see fishing boats, birds and little keys or islands. Some of them don't have anyone living on them, but rest assured, they all belong to someone. This one is probably Money Key or possibly one of the Molasses Keys. We saw it on the drive down to the Big Pine Flea Market.