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
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.
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