Living the Marathon Life

2.4.2019

We recently made the decision to NOT go to the Bahamas this year. This was not an easy decision, but one that works the best for us this year. We are sorry that we will not be able to travel with Karen and Hugh and will not be able to share the Bahamas experience with (our) Karen, Brian, David and Rhonda. We get sad every time we hear people making their plans to cross the Gulf Stream. But, we felt it important to have everything working properly before we go and we had problems with our new water maker and WIFI booster.

Bob getting off the boat in Bootkey harbor

The water maker was fine the first four times we used it and then it started to cavitate (shake like crazy). We feel that some air was getting into the system also causing it to lose pressure. We sent the unit back to the manufacturer and should be getting a new unit on Tuesday. We will make water every day for a week and hopefully will not have any issues. The WiFi booster - I won’t begin to explain - but it didn’t work. We got replacement parts today and it is now in working order. We can pick up the WIFI from the marina without using a hotspot.

We also wanted to be able to get home quickly, if needed, and this seemed to be particularly important this year.

So we are enjoying being in the warm embrace of the Florida Keys and plan on doing much more exploring here.

You might then ask, what have we been doing?

Debbie leading our 3 mile walking group in the tiki hut.

  1. Meeting interesting people (live aboards and cruisers) that we would not have a chance to meet in Beachwood, OH

  2. Working out 5 days a week, outside, a short dinghy ride from the boat

  3. Riding our bicycles almost every day

  4. Star gazing

  5. Volunteering at a local art show that benefitted Pigeon Key – an historic island

  6. Visiting Sombrero beach walking in the beautiful white sand and hunting for treasures with my new metal detector – again a short dinghy ride from the boat

  7. Sailing out to Sombrero reef

  8. Taking dinghy rides to visit other boats in the harbor – happy hours

  9. Schlepping water from the dock to the boat – 5 gallons at a time

  10. Trapping fruit flies – I think we now have them under control

  11. Going out for dinner with friends and cooking/grilling on the boat

  12. Reading – I think I am on my 8th book. Check out the Library section.

  13. Grocery shopping, laundry and cleaning the boat (this stuff still needs to happen)

  14. Not to mention – BOAT PROJECTS – Bob’s favorite thing to do.

Covered shelter in the community park where I do yoga in the am.

Life is definitely different than it was last year when we were traveling almost every day. Living on a mooring ball, not at a marina, allows for much more privacy. We don’t have to close the blinds at night. It also provides an inexpensive housing alternative for those that cannot afford anything else. This leads to a wide variety of interesting people sharing the harbor: those just passing through on their way to other places; those that come here every year to enjoy what the harbor and Marathon have to offer and those that cannot afford to go elsewhere (many of the latter living on derelict boats). People honestly care about each other here and are willing to go out of their way to help. The strong sense of community and communications are enhanced by a radio net that takes place on Marine VHF channel 68 every morning). I think I talked about this in a prior blog.

Journey cover band performing in the community park shell. They were terrific!

For example: Friday we decided to leave the harbor and go for a sail out to Sombrero reef, about six miles southeast. This is a protected nature preserve area where you cannot anchor. There are mooring balls that you can tie up to so that you can go snorkeling. This protects the reef. The wind was too strong this particular day so we didn’t snorkel but we did have a great time sailing out there. We hope to go snorkeling the next calm day. In order to get off our mooring ball and out of the Harbor, Bob went up front to the bow of the boat to unhook the mooring lines and I was at the wheel. We have not done this that many times and we both agree our communication was not what it needed to be, to be able to do this maneuver properly. We have now discussed this adnauseum so that it won’t happen again. To make a sad story long, I motored up to the ball to help take the slack out of the lines so Bob could undo the connecting lines and in doing so got the ball alongside the boat. Then when I motored forward I ran over the mooring ball and got the keel and propeller stuck on the pennant (line that attaches the mooring ball to the boat). It made a sickening groan and I flipped the gear shift into neutral. We were stuck!!!

Bob went below to get his mask and flippers so that he could go under the boat and see what the problem was and I just stood there with tears in my eyes. One more thing - ugh! Then, like a voice from above, Gregg appeared in his dinghy and asked if he could help. Gregg, a long haired, long bearded fellow sailor is living on the boat right to the east of us but we had not yet met him. He had his fins and mask in his dinghy and offered to go under the boat and check things out. “I am like a fish”, he said. Almost before we could even respond, he was under the boat. Thankfully no damage was done and Gregg was able to unhook us from the pennant in a matter of minutes. We offered to pay him for his time but he flatly refused. This is not an isolated occurrence. We hear stories about people needing help of one type or another on the cruisers radio net in the morning and almost every time someone will pipe up and say I can do that. Sometimes it is getting a dinghy ride into shore, help with climbing up a mast or sometimes it is getting a car ride to a local spot. I hope we will get the opportunity to pay it forward. In the short term, Gregg got a six pack of Islamorada beer and a big thank you!!

One of the locals.

I am waiting to hear that I have a security clearance to volunteer in the local elementary school which is right across the street from the marina. I always wanted to be a reading mentor with the Federation’s program and never got the chance. Hopefully I will hear soon. In the meantime, we are living the Marathon life and loving it!

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