Cruisers Information for EVERGLADES - Little Shark River / Tarpon Bay:

IMPORTANT NOTE AS OF 2020:  ALL Boaters MUST now have a special "Everglades National Park Boater Certificate" in order to operate within the boundaries of the Everglades National Park. This even includes going up the channel into Everglades City. The Park has developed a free online Boater Education Course which you MUST complete in order to operate in the Everglades. CLICK HERE for that website. It takes about an hour to complete. This webmaster's experience with it is that it is a very awkward and clumsy online platform to navigate and complete, but you must do that if you want the Certificate. Much of it re-hashes basic boating 101 that is already covered in many other basic boating courses.

This is so far into the everglades that nothing works - phones or TV (Satellite is OK). VHF will still reach to Flamingo. Remember a Florida fishing license if you’re catfishing. You'll be anchoring - there are no facilities. A dinghy is very useful, but someone can shuttle you between boats if you don’t have one and you go with a group. There are no facilities and no docks. Be self sufficient. Some of us raft up in 3-4 boat rafts depending on size of boats and weather. Always be prepared to break a raft - even at night - in case the weather gets bad in order to prevent the raft from breaking loose and drifting. If it does get stormy then a posted watch isn’t a bad idea. Holding is generally good in the bay, but there are some boulders/rocks reported. The Bay is generally calm. There are fishing boats around during the daytime, and some primitive campsites scattered here and there.  DO NOT SWIM IN THE BAY - because of Alligators. Crabbing and Catfishing are excellent. Mosquitos should be under reasonable control in February, but bring bug spray and whatever "after-bite" itch remedy you like. Many people talk about "skin so soft" being a good repellant besides bug spray. (Go inside at dusk for a while) They usually come out at dusk for an hour or two, then we can come back out if you don't turn on lights. Light colors of clothing are suggested to minimize the attraction to mosquitoes. In the winter (usually when we go because the bugs are too bad in the summer) it can get cool at night, so bring a jacket, socks and some warm clothing.

Activity: .  You can catch freshwater catfish and crabs for a group feast. Gunkholing is good in dinghies and you should go on a dinghy expedition.  There are tons of creeks and rivers up there to explore from Tarpon Bay including the Alligator pond up Avacodo Creek (Canepatch primitive campsite), the Harney & N. Harney Rivers, plus the entire Wilderness Waterway routes. Bring cameras for the alligators & eagles. Handheld radios are worthwhile for safety to stay in touch with the motherships. A handheld GPS, though not necessary, is convenient from the dinghy.

Charts:  The Little Shark River chart is #39 Waterproof Chart or #11432-1 Shark Rvr to Lostmans Rvr gov’t chart. 11433A Everglades National Park provides more detail to the entrance of the Little Shark River and part way up.  Marathon area is #11451 (make sure it’s Nov22, 97 or later, since the daymarks changed). #11433 covers the waters off Cape Sable, and # 11450 is the entire area from the Keys to Little Shark River.

Chart Printout:  Though the actual charts will give you more detail, here are a couple scanned portions to give you an idea of the route. Click on the links, then printout if you want. Satellite pictures are great too.
    * SHARK RIVER - Charts & Satellites - Small Scale of Entrance to Little Shark River. #11433A Everglades National Park
       includes Larger Scale of continuation of Little Shark River up to Tarpon Bay Anchorage and Satellite views of Little Shark River & maze of creeks - 16 meter & 3 meter resolution photos - compare these with the charts

    * TARPON BAY - Charts & Satellites - Small Scale of Anchorage area in Tarpon Bay  (first anchorage - at west end of Tarpon Bay.
       Others further in not shown here), and Satellite view of Tarpon Bay and N. Harney River (covers much wider area than the chart above)

Navigation from Marathon: Once you clear the shoals around Marathon (John Sawyer bank is last one if leaving from Fanny Keys), we head up to just west of Cape Sable. The heading from just off Fanny Keys is roughly 351 magnetic. It's 37 nm from the North side of Marathon to the Entrance of the Little Shark River. This first waypoint off Cape Sable will be about
25 12.780N 081 13.820W - 2 miles West of R4 buoy, staying about 3 miles offshore to stay safely in 10 feet of water. Then you shoot for the Little Shark Rvr approach at 25 19.110N 081 10.200W which is 3/4 mi off the river. The entrance daymark (G9) to the river is 25 19.327N 081 09.222W. Go straight in, don’t cut the corner. If you get there first and want to wait to follow others up the river, you can anchor in the small cove just to port as you come in, or around the first bend to starboard at a wide place in the river. You can carry 6’ up the river (barely - might bump in a couple spots) and 7-8’ or more at anchor at low tide. Tide is about 2 feet in the river. It's 10.8nm from the entrance daymarks of the Little Shark River to the entrance of Tarpon Bay. We can anchor at the West end of the Bay at about 25 24.977N  081 00.268W, or go further North into more protected and scenic areas.
Entrance to Avacodo Creek at west end of Tarpon Bay (dinghy only): 25 24.755N  080 58.280W
Alligator Pond up Avacodo Creek (dinghy only): 25 25.275N  080 56.590W

Side Trips: From the Little Shark River, you're positioned to either cruise on up North to the Thousand Islands and Naples, or on over to the Lodge at Flamingo in the Everglades National Park. Click for information on Flamingo Lodge.
      *NOTE: The Flamingo Lodge has been closed since 2005 after one of the Hurricanes. The information is still posted here in case they ever get it re-opened and we update those pages.

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