We've been at the anchorage in Tarpon Basin just off of Key Largo for a week now. "Parking" the boat here is essentially free (since we don't have solar or wind, there is a small cost in diesel for the generator to charge the batteries). This beats the $60+ a night it would cost to be at a marina (and most marinas around here are far more than that).
Shore access can be an issue when at anchor. When the shore is lined with private property, access can be tricky. Often there are businesses (marinas, restaurants, and bars) that will grant access for a fee or only if you are visiting their establishment. This is what makes the nearby free government dock a nice feature of this anchorage. It allows us to explore Key Largo without being tied to one given restaurant or have to pay a daily landing fee.
Waste is another issue that needs to be dealt with when you are your own floating little island. Fortunately, the government center also has a dumpster and recycling containers where anchored boats are allowed to deposit trash. We try to minimize the amount of trash we produce, but in the pre-packaged society we live there is inevitably some trash (or recycling) produced by any household.
Of course that isn't the only waste that needs to depart the boat. The...um...other stuff...needs a place to go too. Fortunately, Monroe County (the county that includes all of the Keys) has a solution for that as well. The county has contracted with a company called Pump Out USA to provide a weekly pump out service for boats anchored in their waters. In places that didn't already have some sort of service, they setup a weekly schedule and will stop by your boat and relieve it of the unwanted cargo. To use the service, you fill out a registration form on the Pump Out Florida Keys web site and they will get you on the schedule.
This area really does offer quite a bit for the cruiser, but I think it is about time to move on. We would like to do just a bit more exploring before we have to make our trek back up north. I think we are going to pick up the anchor today and go find another spot to drop it. Not sure what, if any, internet access will be available, but I will continue writing and post when I can. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a picture of the sunrise over the government dock this morning.
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