The deepest and only viable route for vessels with a draft of 5 feet or more is the Hawk Channel running from Biscayne Bay to Key West. Not “officially” part of the ICW system, Hawk Channel tracks southwest 1 to 3 nm off the ocean side of the Keys. Taking the form of a somewhat protected “channel,” it runs over the flat banks (Florida Platform) between the Keys and Florida’s barrier reef to the southeast. In ordinary weather it is a pleasant sail or an easy run for the entire length of the Keys.
The prevailing southeasterly winds can provide a nice boost for a long reach on an outside run under sail. However, with numerous breaks in the outer reef it can offer its share of rough water should the wind be strong from either the southern or southwestern quarter.
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The Waterway Guide Team has gained extensive boating knowledge over the years, and now we are sharing all of the tips, skills and tools we’ve picked up along the way!