We’re Chartering for a Week

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2013 • all rights reserved

MD sunset clouds

Dave and I are really excited to be taking to the water for a week!  We will be in the Florida Keys aboard Midnight Dragon, leaving out of Key Largo.  And the best part is that Paz gets to go along!

We board tomorrow evening and will be leaving the dock Monday morning.  No set itinerary, but we’re hoping for time at Pennekamp State Park (an underwater park) and other great snorkeling spots, secluded anchorages where we can explore by kayak, plenty of sailing, a bit of fishing and lots of fun!  Where we go and what we do will be determined by the weather . . .

So how’d we choose this location, this company and this boat?

Location.  One of the things that Dave and I miss the most about cruising is snorkeling, and the Keys offer the best warm water snorkeling and diving that fit in with our other major requirements, which was that it be a location where we could take Paz (no long flights, no restrictions on a dog entering a country, etc.) and that it wasn’t the Sea of Cortez (we love the Sea, don’t get me wrong, just wanted to go somewhere new).

MD dockMidnight Dragon.  Midnight Dragon is a one-man, one-boat operation, with a older Morgan Out Island 41.  The owner, Jim, captains all charters.  While we had originally been looking for a bareboat, the fact that Jim was willing to have a dog aboard, seemed both knowledgeable and laid back, and sounded like he had the same ideas of a great week out as we did made us decide to go with him.  (The fact that a number of years ago, before we had a boat of our own, we had the time of our lives on a captained charter on a Morgan OI 41 in Alaska didn’t hurt either.  We reconnected with the captain from that trip — John Joeright — when his wife Tammy saw The Boat Galley on Facebook.  Small world!)

NOTE:  For those looking to take a dog on a charter, I did find a few:  a couple in the Pacific Northwest (captained, with dogs of their own), one on the Erie Canal (bareboat) and a couple of bareboats on the Chesapeake that would consider a dog on a case-by case basis.  As far as I know, Midnight Dragon hasn’t taken dogs before, but I told Jim that Paz had lived aboard a boat for 4 years and sent a photo of her on the dinghy to show that she was small and friendly.

MD kayakThe other big consideration for us with a captained charter as opposed to a bareboat was whether they were willing to work with dietary restrictions — specifically, Dave’s milk allergy.  We’ve found that anyone who works in the travel and food industry is well aware of allergies and other dietary restrictions and as long as you discuss this far enough in advance, it’s not a problem.  It didn’t faze Jim.

We’ll be on the boat for a week, then we’ll have another week ashore at Banana Bay Resort and Marina in Marathon, where we’ll be meeting up with cruisers there and at Boot Key Harbor.  I have a bunch of posts already written and scheduled for The Boat Galley, and will post pictures and updates on our travels on Facebook as I’m able.  Be sure to check there (and like the page if you haven’t already) to see what we’re up to!

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  1. Sounds like a great trip, FL does have some great snorkeling. We are headed for our very first charter, with us as Captain and crew this week, but on the Gulf side of FL.

  2. Have fun!!! Anxious to hear about your trip and your charter experience after cruising on your own boat.

  3. Oh sure…YOU go to the Keys the winter WE have to stay home! Have a GREAT time!!!! Where are you starting from in the Keys?? Must stop by Boot Key Harbor…the Harbor and all of Marathon is VERY cruiser friendly 🙂 We just love it there!

  4. Just read your full article…duh! So cool you will be at Banana Bay. That’s right next to our “home away from home” – Blackfin 🙂 You should like Banana Bay…great grounds, close to all the conveniences, right next to The Hurricane (at Blackfin) for Wing Night and Taco Night…and a short 15 min walk to Boot Key Harbor. Hook up with someone there that has a VHF so you can listen to the BKH Cruiser’s Net at 9am to find out all that’s going on….

  5. Boot Key always a fav. Enjoy!!!

  6. We have a Lagoon 380 in the USVI that we live aboard. But we just spent 4 months in France caring for my terminally ill mother in law who passed away so now we are returning to our boat next week. We plan on hiring ourselves out for crewed charters later this year. We have a dachshund on board and would be willing to try another dog on charter. The USVI are easy to fly into and dog friendly. Please keep my contact information if you might be interested in chartering with us. I have learned SO much from your website!

  7. Sounds great while we are windy & chilly on the Washington Coast! Will be looking forward to posts on your trip!

  8. Carolyn, our boat is at Marathon Marina! We are headed there Dec. 2nd. We love snorkeling by the lighthouse and dingy rides in Boot Key. I have your provision spread sheet and love it!! Thanks so much, I have learned lots from your blog even though we are on a power and not sail boat. Have fun on your trip!

  9. D and Don svsoutherncross says:

    CAROLYN- We can recommend the Dry Tortugas to visit. Have you been there before? Also, friends of ours, Bill and Laura on SECOND WIND are at Marathon. You would enjoy meeting Laura as she is quite the baker. They are on an Endeavor 43 ketch with maroon sail covers and trim. http://www.sunnysailcharters.com/2201.html

    Most of all, enjoy!


  10. Hope you have a great time! 🙂

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