Our goodbyes said to the Basavage family, we left Big Pine Key and made our way through the canals, clearing the local bridge by a good 4″. We cruised back to the Hawk Channel in the Atlantic and it’s 3-foot seas. A mere 45 miles, we rode the waves, dodging crab pots along the way to Marathon. The good news – we lost no lower unit oil, and the dinghy remained stable through all the swells.
I can no longer talk about ‘shorts days’ or ‘jeans days’, as every day is a ‘shorts day’. The highs have been in the upper 70’s to low 80’s, and we’re getting a little complacent with the weather. Last night we slept through a good rain storm with our hatch open, and have been trying to dry out all day. Our big concern is the winds whenever we are on the move. We now have the option of going back out to the Atlantic (Hawk Channel), or taking the inside through the Gulf with the protection of its many islands.
We arrived at the City Harbor of Marathon, and were assigned mooring ball #N11. The mooring field is virtually a city unto itself, having 226 mooring balls, with boats from everywhere. The only state that I haven’t seen represented is Hawaii. It is also dinghy land – every boat has a dinghy – and they are everywhere. The city marina has 2 large dinghy docks. Welcomed by neighboring boats we tied up to our ball and got settled in.
Sunset is a big deal here; many folks blow their horns (conch shells) as the sun goes down. We have been on the look-out for the comet, which should be visible shortly after sunset near the western horizon, but we haven’t spotted it yet. I love the night skyline – lights from all the sailboats instead of city skyscrapers.
Our first full day here was St. Patrick’s Day, and we participated in the mooring field dinghy poker run. It was fun, as we had to find 5 boats, each owner giving you a playing card to make up your poker hand. Jim got 3 kings, a good hand, but didn’t win anything. Everyone was decked out in green, and we met many of the other boaters at the party afterwards.
Many people spend months here, with quite a few live-a-boards. Personally, it’s a little too much of community living – a week is long enough for me. They have a daily forum on the marine radio, welcoming newcomers, goodbyes to departures, open comments, and a flea market where you advertise things for sale that you no longer need. Thursday they have classes in the project room, currently teaching basket weaving using native Florida pine needles.
Yesterday we spent a good portion of the day walking. Jim dinghied over to the marina, then walked to West Marine and the Home Depot, purchasing a lock for the dinghy motor and some alcohol for the stove. Later, we dinghied ashore again, and pushing a grocery cart down the sidewalk for a good mile or more, went to the Publix for restocking of food and wine.
After dinner and dishes, we again drove the dinghy back to the dock to take much-needed showers. Every time you drive in you meet someone new from another state and have a good chat. But I must say grocery shopping and showers have never been more difficult and time-consuming!
Today we drove the dinghy to the Chiki Tiki bar for happy hour and their famous French fries. Afterward, we took the dinghy through the maze of neighboring canals, and finally located Don and Buffy’s house from the water.
In a few days our plan is to cruise to Key Largo, where we will meet up with son Michael and his girlfriend Tammy. I’m looking forward to seeing them, and staying at a marina again where you don’t have to take the dinghy every time you want to go somewhere. It sounds like a really nice resort – we’ve heard good things about it from a neighbor hailing from Omaha.
Possible thunderstorms are in the forecast again for this evening. Jim is already asleep in the aft cabin, and I will definitely batten down the hatches before retiring…It’s a good idea to learn from one’s mistakes.
Continually we are asking each other what day, date or time it is. We used to answer, “its river time”. Now we simply say, “it doesn’t matter, we’re on ‘island time'”.
I’ll leave you with a quote that I like and find meaningful on our voyage. Hope all’s well in your little corner of the world…
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living”. – Miriam Beard