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Bahamas 2005
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Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Key Vaca, Florida Keys.


Entry to Boot Key Harbor under lifting bridge



View of Boot Key Harbor looking west from top of Dream On's mast


A natural harbour formed between Key Vaca and Boot Key.


Definitely a slower pace of life here. In fact, it is said that the reason there are so many cops in Marathon is to ensure that no-one exceeds the local pace of life!


Literally hundreds of boats here, mostly sailing yachts and all much closer to our boat size and budget than the multi-million dollar mega-yachts that surrounded us in Fort Lauderdale. Many "Yachties" have fallen into the trap of free anchoring, a low cost of living, good availability of supplies and a laid back atmosphere that they may never leave Marathon. Many yachts from the northern US and Canada, (called the "Snowbirds"), migrate down each winter and return north in the spring. Others, like us, use Marathon as a great place to get jobs done while waiting for a weather window to head for the Bahamas.


There are two entries for boats into Boot Key Harbor. Sister Channel, in from the South winds between the mangrove covered Boot Key to the west and the houses and condos on Key Vaca to the east. Sister Channel is narrow and too shallow for "Dream On". The main entry for larger boats is from the west, passing the mangroves of Boot Key to the south and the main marinas to the north, then under a lifting bridge which opens on radio request.


Dream On is at anchor in the middle of the harbour and as the boats swing with the changing winds, each morning we wake to a different view. Our access to shore is by dinghy, a 10 foot rigid inflatable on which we have just mounted a new, (and reliable) Yamaha outboard.


We have discovered wildlife in the way of 3 foot iguanas. The most abundant bird in the area is the pelican. We have seen dolphins in the harbour and there are manatees, though we are yet to see one here.


Marathon is a major sport fishing location with access to the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the north and the reef, the deeper Atlantic waters and the Gulf Stream to the south. We have attended a couple of fishing seminars to try to improve our novice fishing skills.


We have two elderly folding bicycles which we keep ashore here. With the added and essential accessory of a supermarket milk crate on the back, we have been known to carry incredible provisioning loads back to the dinghy.


Our shore base is a restaurant and bar called Dockside. This is run by ex-"Yachties" for "Yachties". They provide a dinghy dock, water, showers, laundry facilities, a mail service and very cheap food with a different special each day. Most evenings there is live music. We have also discovered they have a wireless internet access point, so we can now sit there with our laptop and update our email and web site. Dockside is full of characters. Many have sailed the world and have stories to tell, some may never have been anywhere but look the part. Every yacht that has ever been to the Keys must have visited Dockside at some time.


As we write this, we have been here for one month. We have fitted a new refrigeration system, commissioned the new watermaker that we fitted earlier, fitted a new single side band radio, added an additional solar panel, added a new instrument mounting location in the cockpit, added a new cockpit canopy and generally had a busy but enjoyable time.


There have been a number of cold fronts in that time, accompanied by some very lively winds. We are now looking forward to moving on to The Bahamas and hopefully some warmer weather and water.


A suitable weather window finally arrives on Valentines Day, so the following day, 15th February, together with two other boats, "That's It" and "Chill", we head off across the Straits of Florida and the Gulf Stream to The Bahamas. 

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