Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One Month?

One month?  I just kept thinking what are we going to do for a month?  In over nine months of cruising we have never spent a month sitting in one place.  How would we deal with all this time off and how will it affect the rythum of our day to day activities.   No planning for the next stop?  No figuring out where to get water, take on fuel or get a pump out?  It all seemed so strange.  It seems like a vacation from the vacation.  As it turns out, you can use up a month pretty quickly.  Marathon took us a little while to get used to. Upon our arrival we felt a bit put off, but we quickly found out things happen differently down here and it becomes very contagious.  With the major route 1 running through the center, biking seemed quite dangerous, we had trouble seeing the beauty at first.  We had many conversations with our fellow boaters on the dock and were happy to hear that many of them stayed for several months and had been calling Marathon their winter destination for years.  Determined to keep an open mind Anna and I began a quest to find the charm and beauty in Marathon. It didn't take long, on about our third day in port, we met our first local Manatee. Many a morning started with a visits from Manatees including one occasion when a Mother and her Calf greeted us off the side of Blue. On our morning walks to Pidgeon Key we saw sting rays and sharks as well as one of the most spectacular views of the the Atlantic and Gulf I have ever seen.  One of the more interesting creatures that we ran into were the Man o'War jelly fish, I had heard of Man o'War but had never seen them.  While taking the boat out for a short cruise trying to keep the bottom from forming to much growth Anna kept saying she could not believe the number of crab pots out there.  I said their not crab pots they are plastic bags, well we were both wrong. As it turns out all the blobs that she was seeing were Man o' War.  What strange creatures they are.  With a big bubble above the water used as a sail a dark blue circle and evil tentacles you can not help but to be fascinated by this creature which is actually made up of more than one organism.  Luckily we escaped marathon without a sting, we have been told it is unbelievably painful.  I was shocked to find that the worst thing you can do if you get stung is wash it with fresh water.  Besides the wonderful creatures we had many special visitors throughout the month.  Anna's parents came for almost a week presenting us with a great opportunity to visit Key West and the Turtle Hospital in Marathon.  Both were things that we may not have done on our own so it was fantastic to have them in town. They stayed at a great hotel about a mile from the Marina which gave Anna and I a taste of the good life hanging at their resort pool.   We also got to explore many of the local restaurants from Burdine's to Keys Fisheries. Towards the end of their visit I thought I might have to take a break from fresh Mahi sandwiches........ NOT!. My god are they good.  Our good friends Bill and Carol Yancey also came to visit.  We had not seen them since Joe Wheeler when Bill got a rider on his farm insurance and allowed me to drive his Combine.  Seeing Bill brought back two wonderful memories, the memory of actually driving and the memory of Bills expressions as I started out.  I don't think he would be a great poker player I could see his concern in his eyes as I first pulled out.   They were kind enough to drive us up to Fort Lauderdale to Trawler Fest, a gathering and boat show for trawler enthusiasts.  The best part of the Fest was seeing that people were starting to purchase boats again.  It is a great relief to see people interested in investing again in this not so cheap hobby. My old Boss use to say it is hard to sell fun in hard times, it is the first thing to go in a bad economy.  It is no doubt that boating is expensive but it has also been one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives so to think others are going to jump in and take a risk on a boat is a thrill.  Our final visit came from my brother H and my nephew Will.  This visit was Will's Christmas gift from my Mom and Dad and it included a scuba dive for Will and H.  Although their visit was short it included some special moments like our first trip to the Sombrero Beach.  Can you believe we were here for 3 weeks before we actually went to the beach?  We were sad to see them go but it was then time to begin planning for our next part of trip.  Heading North?  Yes the time has finally come for us to start our trip North.  After a few anchorages our first stop will be the Miami Boat Show.  I can not believe that a month has come to an end.   In the end Marathon was an excellent place to provision and meet and greet other cruisers especially with the 9 AM morning cruisers net on the vhf.   It is a very thoughtful time for us as we say goodbye to many of our boating friends who we may not see for some time as we are going  up the coast and they are going to be staying around Florida and moving much slower than us.  However one of the most important things we have learned in boating is that you never say good bye it is always will see you again soon.  I think we will see all our friends again as we our they cruise the waterways, the relationships and experiences we have shared have been great.    So with much mixed emotions we say good bye to our home for the past month.  On a beatiful thursday at noon we cut the lines and pushed off.  Once again we will be hooking up with the Parrent family as we head north, many an evening in marathon was spent laughing on the decks of Negotiator Craig, Danielle and the kids are to much fun.   We will miss our morning walks on the bridge as well as our time at the Sunset Grill but we are ready to write the next chapter in our book.  So North it is, "Anna, where did we put our mittens?"

Beautiful Sunsets from the dock at the Marina

Our mail and information headquarters for the month.

You will see these signs everywhere and they are important to read as these animals are truly unique.

Momma and Calf Manatee hanging out by our boat at the Marina.

Can not forget the traditional tourist photo when you are in Key West.

Great Old Coast Guard boat in Key West.  Believe it or not this ship is the most highly decoreated in the fleet, and is the only coast gurd ship to have sunk a German sub off key west in World War II.

Anna's parents walking about on an old Coast Guard boat in Key West.

This is a great museum in Key West.  We just wish we had know more of the history of Mel Fisher before going.

Although we did not ride the Conch train we heard from others that it is a great way to see the city.

A fun day in Key West

Sunset in Marathon with Anna's Parents

Nautical Flea Market!!!!

We went to this great nautical flea market in Big Pine Key with my parents.  They had great live music. 

For all you non believers it does get cold in Marathon.  Not as cold as New England though.

One night at Key's Fisheries we fed the fish swimming in the light off the side of the restaurant.

The Negotiator out on an attempted cruise to the Mooring Ball Sombrero Reef.  Unfortunately we both had to turn back because of high waves. 

I am Snorkel Man!  I can't get over how much Will has grown in the past year, soon I wont be wreseling with him anymore.

Our first day at the beach

Agent H and his catch of the day

Ryann showing off a beautiful starfish. 

My brother H asleep on the beach.  It was good to see him relax, his job doesn't give him much down time.

Bill and Mary on Harbour Reach.  They showed us their great boat that is truly cruiser comfy.  We were shocked to hear that their daughter that use to work for Mystic Seaport has been following our blog. 

Our fellow boaters stop by to wish us well as we cast off.

The night before we left Marathon we had a looper gathering combined with a Birthday for Jim.

Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. You missed the warmest winter in recorded history here on Nantucket. And it only snowed once. 6" once back in December. The rest of the East Coast is buried under 4' of snow. Some of the trees have already started to bud and I heard the spring peepers last week! The striped bass should be here in a couple weeks.

  2. So many good times together! We share your same experiences and enjoy your friendship. Looking at 'Blue' outside my window now in Miami gives me a sense of warmth and love. You two are the best!! Looking forward to making more memories together!