Everglades Exploration Network

A trip to Pavilion Key or places south often involves a paddle around Rabbit Key, but if conditions are right, you can save a few miles by cutting through the Auger Hole and Rabbit Key Grasses.

The uncharted Auger Hole (indicated by the red arrow) is near 25-46.4N/81-21.3W on the south end of the shallows of the bay above Rabbit Key Pass. It is about due south from the exit of the pass from Chokoloskee Bay.

The Auger Hole is a tiny creek, not visible from a distance. Its opening is to the left of two small mangrove islands in the shallow bay. The opening reportedly features an oyster bar that prevents entry at lower water periods. From the short, winding creek -- almost a tunnel -- you'll pass into a shallow, muddy pond. Bearing 130 deg for 1/4 mile across the pond, you can find your way from this pond into a bay leading to Rabbit Key Grasses and the Gulf.

The Auger Hole is reportedly passable only at higher tide levels. On a trip from the Greater Chokoloskee Area to the southerly Gulf islands and river mouths, you could use this shortcut if you are departing near high tide. Low-tide departures would probably entail a route through Sunday Bay, anyway, on the rising tide. I plan to use the Auger Hole shortcut for future trips, because it can save a few hours of paddling and help me avoid the open Gulf west and south of Rabbit Key. On the outbound leg, it's not too far out of the way to try even if the tide is not optimal. Coming back to port, I would want to be sure I had high water.

 

The entrance to the Auger Hole is shown above, behind Brian.

 

In this photo by Brian on 4/17/2011 at 2 pm, I am just entering the muddy bay at the end of the Auger Hole creek. The tide is high, on a full moon, and water depth was fine.

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Satellite photo above with track and coordinates overlay courtesy of Terry.

I've seen the Rabbit Key Grasses on a low spring tide and it looked like a cow pasture. The only thing missing were the grazing ruminants. Give yourself plenty of time to get through the Grasses out to where you can actually see numbers on the chart.

 

You can get from Chokoloskee out to the Gulf by way of Rabbit Key Pass on any tide as long as you stay in the channels.

I've seen the Rabbit Key Grasses on a low spring tide and it looked like a cow pasture.

Amazing the difference a foot or so of tide will make.

You can get from Chokoloskee out to the Gulf by way of Rabbit Key Pass on any tide as long as you stay in the channels.

If you can paddle harder than the tidal current. :)

Those current rip along pretty good, but they can be managed. I always seem to have the bad luck of coming or going through the passes on the wrong tide, but I always make it through. Knowing when the tides are running is half the battle. I've given in to the fact that if I need to leave at 4 AM to catch a favorable tide, so be it. On New Years Eve last year, on my way to Camp Lulu, I left EC at 4:30 AM and very much enjoyed being carried through Indian Key Pass on the falling tide, but I had to keep pulling over to let the stone crab boats go by. I didn't get so lucky on the return trip, and paddled against the outgoing tide in Sandfly Pass all the way through to Chokoloskee Bay. I've learned to just take it as it comes, and don't try to beat the current. I just paddle like I normally do and expect to arrive at my destination much later.
If you have the wind and tide in your face on the way out, the only thing you can be sure of is that, it'll turn around by the time you're coming back...

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