Thursday, December 31, 2015

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon FL

This is going to ba a short post, for now. We have been enjoying our visit here so much that I've neglected the blog. I'll spend more time soon covering the details.

We arrived expecting to spend a week here. At the end of that first week we decided to stay for another month. Great place to spend the holidays. It also allowed us to have a place to ship all the things we ordered from Amazon. There was quite a list of stuff we realized we needed after the last month aboard.

More to follow, stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Cape Sable to Marathon

We were up just before dawn. During the night a sailboat had arrived and anchored about ¼ mile away.  The swells had died off during the night, too. It looked like it was going to a great day to go the final 32 miles to Marathon.

As soon as it was light we got the anchor up and headed south.  I expected this to be an easy run across open water. And the water was beautiful, clear blue, with a white sandy bottom. For as far as the eye could see. Then, we saw them… crab trap floats. THOUSANDS of them! For as far as the eye could see! They were placed so close together we were having a hard time getting around one without running into the next.

I figured once we got a few miles offshore they would start petering out. No such luck. They were like that for the next  30+ miles!  There were times all we could do is take the engines out of gear and coast through them, fingers crossed they did not snag on props or rudders. It was nerve racking, to say the least.

As we neared the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon the crab traps finally stopped. Only to be replaced by a very big, very fast, boat heading directly for us. Of course, he was throwing a huge wake. Did he slow down? Not a chance. Paula was scurrying around trying to get stuff off the counters before the wake hit. What a welcome to Marathon.

We passed under the bridge, then turned east for the channel into Boot Key Harbor. We were hoping to get a mooring ball from the city marina there. This is peak season, and the moorings are very popular. They are very reasonably priced, and this is the cheapest place you can stay in the Keys. Boats from all over the east coast come to spend the winter here. The moorings are first come, first served so I did not have high hopes we would score one.

We called the marina on the VHF as we approached the mooring field. There were hundreds of boats here!  They only have a dozen or so mooring balls for boats our size, but I had my fingers crossed. YES!! They had one mooring left that would handle our boat. How lucky can we get!?  It was at the far west end of the mooring field, so we would have a long ride into the dinghy dock. But at least we had a spot to stay in the harbor.

Boot Key City Marina is a great place to spend the winter.  The harbor is surrounded on all sides by land so is well protected. The moorings are well designed and inspected every 120 days, so you know you are secure in a blow. The whole area is geared for cruisers, and everything you could want is within a short distance.

On our first visit to the marina office to fill out paperwork and pay for our mooring, we were handed the cruisers welcome kit. This consisted of a very large insulated bag (for toting ice or refrigerated grocery items) filled with maps, brochures, yacht services guides, dining coupons, etc.  They have two huge dinghy docks, with separate areas for hard and soft dinghys. They can accommodate dozens of dinks at once. There is a large community area with free wifi, several TV viewing areas, a large book exchange, and tables along a wall with AC outlets for using laptops, tablets, etc.

In a separate building they showers and laundry. The showers are individual rooms accessed with a key card (like at hotel) they issue when you check in. There are about 20 of these rooms so you almost never have to wait. Laundry is a bit expensive, though, at $3/load each for washer and dryer.

All in all, a very nice place. We are excited to be here.