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Where Are We Now? February 15, 2013

Posted by Katherine Harms in Uncategorized.

We arrived in Marathon Florida about three weeks ago, and we are still here! Just this morning we had the pleasure of welcoming friends from Baltimore to the neighborhood. It’s a busy neighborhood. There is always a waiting list for the moorings in the City Marina. We were fortunate to tie up to the next to the last ball available for deep-draft boats when we arrived on Sunday, January 27, 2013.

It was a grand arrival. As we made the turn out of Hawks Channel toward the Seven-Mile Bridge, there were dolphins playing ahead of us. We saw a lot of dolphins between Miami and Marathon. I was surprised, because when we made the trek last year, we did not see any.

Then, as if that weren’t enough, as we entered Boot Key Harbor, we were greeted by two manatees. They were playing in the water beside us, and it was the first time I have ever had a complete view of a living manatee. In their own way they are cute, the sort of cute a mother loves. We always love any contact with sea creatures and birds along our journey.

We were a bit ahead of schedule, if it can ever be said that we have one. We only stayed in Miami 8 days, and left almost by accident, just because it was such a great day. We had been driven out of the Fisher Island anchorage, our first stop in Miami, by a report of strong winds and big waves that would roll in from the east. We love this anchorage because it is open visually to the sea, although the bottom contour across that opening is a reef. However, reef or no reef, waves predicted at 9 feet didn’t sound like a sight we wanted to see from that vantage point. We moved over to the Venetian Islands and anchored between Monument Island and Star Island, very close to the location we enjoyed last year. On Friday morning, the 13th, (as I write, I realize I never gave that number a thought) we got up and about early in order to ride the high tide out past a low spot near the MacArthur Causeway Bridge. We intended to anchor at Fisher for at least one day, just for the joy of it, and leave on Saturday or Sunday, two days predicted to be quite favorable for the trip to Marathon. The Friday prediction indicated a little more turbulence on the segment from Miami to Cape Florida, where the course begins to turn westerly, so we had thought we would enjoy spending the day at Fisher. That was the plan.

It was a positively beautiful day. We passed under the bridge and turned toward Fisher Island. We looked over at the Fisher Island anchorage. It was quite appealing. We looked down the channel toward the inlet and out to sea. The sky was clear, the sun was brilliant, the water sparkled, and the breeze was gentle. I ran to get my Kindle. When I need weather in a hurry and I am near shore, Kindle is my solution. I read the forecasts for the course from Miami to Marathon. We talked a bit, and we both agreed that we could handle whatever turbulence we might encounter for three or four hours, and we set our course out to sea.

What a great day. After we made the first westerly adjustment just past Cape Florida the water began to calm a bit. By the time we reached Rodriquez Key, it was quite pleasant. We ate dinner on the aft deck and were rocked gently to sleep.

The next morning we had intended to be off early, but that plan changed. We had departed Miami quite unexpectedly, despite the fact that Larry knew a filter change was due soon. He had thought in the back of his mind that he could do it at Fisher Island, but we kept moving. When he looked things over Saturday morning, he concluded that the smart move was to change that filter. It isn’t a hard job, and it doesn’t take a long time. It is simply tedious and dirty. By noon we were on our way again, and we stopped at Long Key for the night.

We ate dinner on deck and sat there talking as the moon rose. It wasn’t quite full, but it was magnificent.

Moonrise at Long Key

Moonrise at Long Key


The next morning we cruised away and arrived at Marathon in time for lunch. 

One reason we wanted to be in Marathon at that time was Superbowl. In Miami, we were sure there would be plenty of places to view the game, but we knew of none in easy reach of our anchorage.  We hoped that in Marathon, where cruisers wait days for one of the 200 mooring balls in Boot Key Harbor, there would be a plan for the big game. There was. One of the marina employees and a couple of his friends hung a white tablecloth up and provided projection for the whole evening. Cruisers brought food, and the party was on. 

SuperTV for the Superbowl at Cruiser Heaven in Marathon, FL

SuperTV for the Superbowl at Cruiser Heaven in Marathon, FL

We had a wonderful time. Those present appeared to be pretty evenly divided between San Francisco and Baltimore, but there was only one tiny moment of booing. I still don’t know the reason for it. Otherwise, there was a great deal of whooping and hollering for whatever team was having fun, and at the end there was a wonderful roar. The images were fine, though the sound was muddy. That was, of course, a real advantage during the power outage. We all ignored the mindless gabble of those who were doomed to be required to talk when there was nothing to talk about. It was a great party.

The next week, we made a run for fuel and water to Burdines, a historic local establishment. As we waited for tanks to fill, we stared across the canal at the remains of Faro Blanco Oceanside, the site of some very special memories for us.

In 1996 we owned a sailboat, and we had spent one summer cruising around in manmade lakes in Iowa and South Dakota. We wanted to learn real sailing skills, and we wanted to cruise the high seas. We enrolled in the Annapolis Sailing School, and at that time, the school had a teaching site at Faro Blanco Oceanside in Marathon, Florida. We took 3 days of basic keelboat instruction in a 14-foot Rainbow, and then we took the 7-day Bareboat class which featured a trip to the Dry Tortugas. Our keelboat instructor was Barking Joe McKeag. Under his tutelage we docked under sail for the first and only time in our lives. When we cruised to the Dry Tortugas, we were regaled with tales, mostly tall ones, by Captain Mike, whose last name I don’t remember and whose signature I cannot read on my class certificate. We learned a great deal, because even though he explained things very skillfully, we did all the work. We learned by doing. The Faro Blanco marina at the entrance to Boot Key Harbor was a treasured memory for us, and it was painful to see it falling into decay. We learned later that the owners were shut down for safety reasons several seasons after we were there. At present, they make motions about doing repairs and bringing the place back to life, but things don’t look good. It makes us sad.

We returned to Burdines a few days later to collect our free basket of fries. Every customer at the City Marina gets a book filled with all sorts of ads and coupons at the time of check-in, and the ad for Burdine’s includes a coupon for a basket of fries. We discovered that this is a bountiful basket, typical of their servings for both food and drink. We ate on the tiki deck on a lovely afternoon with temperatures in the seventies. A new friend, Michele Oublay, sat down next to me, and after we got acquainted, she kindly consented to make a photo of Larry and me.

Larry and Katherine on Old People's Day Out at Burdines, Marathon, FL

Larry and Katherine on Old People’s Day Out at Burdines, Marathon, FL

 We had intended to leave Marathon sometime this week and make our way to Tampa Bay. However, while I was doing laundry I met another new friend who told me about red tide. She and her husband had intended to visit the Gulf Coast of Florida this year, but she discovered that the red tide is infesting the waters. She told me that several years ago she had been caught over there when a red tide developed. She doesn’t have asthma or any other breathing disorders, but while she was in that area, she had to use an inhaler. She told me about a site where we could get all the information we needed to make our own decision. After we looked it over, we decided we didn’t need to go there. We renewed our registration for a mooring and decided to stay a month. If things get better in the Gulf by then, we can make our planned trip. If things don’t improve, we will make some other trip.

That is our status at this point. We are enjoying the beautiful weather. We are endlessly entertained by pelicans and gulls, and we love dinner on deck at sunset. 

Sunset at Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL

Sunset at Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL


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