Christmas in Marathon

 

Christmas here has always been bittersweet. On one hand ya gotta love the 78 degree weather and all the Christmas activities you can participate in here in the harbor. On the other hand we miss being with family members this time of year. But please, don’t discount the fact we’ve had some wonderful Christmas’s here with friends. Everyone  really pulls together to make the season special.

We had a great time in Key West on the Conch Train. The train was chartered by New Life Church here in Marathon and the cost was only five bucks. It proved to be so popular that they had to charter two trains! We rode in the church van down to Key West where we met the train. From there, we toured the city singing Christmas carols from the train. It was a blast and the folks on the sidewalks and in the restaurants loved it.

Christmas morning we had terrific breakfast of shrimp omelets onboard Links, which is our friends Tim and Jill’s, Gemini catamaran. Tim can whip up a mean omelet, they were delicious. Later that day the harbor had planned a pot luck Christmas dinner for the cruisers here. Michele prepared a corn casserole and two platters of deviled eggs. I’m pretty sure they were a hit as there was none left! The food that the other cruisers brought in was delicious also.

 

Cruisers Christmas Day pot luck dinner..

Cruisers Christmas Day pot luck dinner..

P1050737 P1050736  The Key West Conch Train

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Until then…..

Sisters Creek, Florida Keys

There are two ways to enter Boot Key Harbor in the Keys. If you’re coming from the Gulf side then you have to go under seven mile bridge and use the west entrance to the harbor. If you come in from the ocean side then you can also come in using Sisters Creek on the south side of the harbor. The only caveat is, if you draw more then 6 feet, at low tide you may touch bottom while still within the channel markers. Otherwise this is a good option coming in from the ocean side. The Sisters Creek entrance will save you several miles if you can use it.

Sisters creek itself is lined on one side by mangrove trees and on the other side by canals and some nice homes. The other thing that is particular to Sisters Creek are the four very tall radio antennas just on shore. We’ll get to that later..

The mangrove side offers many options for exploration with it’s many offshoots from the main channel. You can cruise along at idle speed and spot manatee’s, many different species of birds and jumping fish. As you get further back in the channel it narrows and in some spots it’s only a little wider then the dinghy!  As you enter these narrow canals the overgrowth actually extends over your head. I love being back in there, but it spooks Michele a little bit since there’s always the possibility of an iguana falling down from overhead and into the dinghy.

If you choose to explore the other side of the creek you’ll find many man-made canals that are lined by nice homes. You can spend quite a bit of time on this side too, because there are still lots of wildlife to spot, usually on people’s lawns!

If you’re in the mood for the beach, then right at the entrance to Sisters Creek is Sombrero Beach. Although you can’t land your dinghy right on the beach, there is a spot right around the corner where folks leave their dinks. Just look for the launch ramp.

So, back to those antennas. They were installed there by the US government in order to transmit to Cuba, news and propaganda. For further info check here…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_y_Televisi%C3%B3n_Mart%C3%AD

The concern for cruisers regarding the antennas is that the signals they send out will absolutely screw up your electronics onboard. Not in a permanent way, but they cannot be trusted while in Sisters Creek. An example of this is when we traveled to Sombrero Reef onboard Links, Tim and Jill’s Gemini catamaran. Passing through the creek we watched as the wind speed indicator jumped from 6 knots to 250 knots and everything in-between. The needle indicating wind direction spun around so fast that I thought it may damage itself. It was crazy seeing all this so be careful there if relying on depth instruments to get you through the creek.

 

Here are the antennas I just mentioned..

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In the mangrove side of Sisters Creek

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Some more of the wildlife..

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I always wondered what it looked like under the mangroves, so I broke out the SJ4000 and took this…

 

Until then…

 

First Day of Vacation

I know this is going to sound a little crazy, but Tuesday was the first day we really felt like we were on “vacation”. I know what you’re thinking, we live on a boat and everyday is like a day in paradise. Folks, even in paradise you still have to cook, clean, do laundry, shop and maintain the boat. And that takes up quite a bit of time, especially right after a voyage, whether it’s a crossing or just coming down the ICW. So on Tuesday when friends of ours, Tim and Jill along with more friends, Bud and Jen, invited us to go snorkeling, it was like, heck yeah!

The destination was Sombrero Reef and we all went out on Tim’s boat, a Gemini catamaran. On the way out we actually got some sailing in and even though Sombrero Reef is only about five miles offshore, it’s a nice trip out. Once there you discover that the state of Florida has installed mooring balls for you to hook up to. This is really cool because the balls protect the reef from all the damage anchoring would do. After getting into our snorkel gear we slipped into the water, which was quite warm by the way.

The reef was a pleasant surprise in the diversity of sealife and the water clarity. The wind was up a little that day and I expected the water to be cloudy. The only real draw back was once in a while I would find myself in clouds of small clear jelly fish. They didn’t sting, but felt kinda weird when they slid down your arms while swimming. It was like swimming through clear Jello. At one point Bud swam over and pointed out the fattest barracuda that either of us had ever seen. All in all it was well worth the trip and we would definitely go out there again.

Did I mention it was hot that day? On the way back in Bud mentioned going swimming, as in a pool, swimming. I thought he was joking, but he said you could swim in the pool at Sunset Grill and Resort. All you had to do was buy a drink or an appetizer and you were good to go. Well, that sounded like a no brainer, so when we got back to the mooring ball, Tim tied us off and we all got in our dinghies and left for Sunset. Once there after about a forty minute dinghy ride we ordered drinks and in the pool we went. This is the first time I had ever been in a salt water pool and it was excellent! Finally, “on vacation”.

It was well after dark when we left and the ride home was relaxing and quite, a perfect finish to a really nice day…in paradise…

 

Here is Sombrero Light which marks the reef. You can see some of the mooring balls, which were free by the way..

P1050687 P1050686Our dinghy ride to the pool at Sunset Grill

P1050688 P1050689Sunset Grill’s dock and the pool..

P1050692 P1050695Here is one of the dinghy docks at Boot Key Harbor..

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Until then….

 

 

 

 

 

Hangin’ in Marathon

Wow, talk about each day being different then the next. Since we’ve been here, every day has brought something to the table that could either be a day of lazy napping or a day of mini crisis. A mini crisis such as Sunday when we left the boat for church. No big deal except the 20% chance of rain in the forecast. The 20% went to 100% real fast. Not a big issue really except for the fact that we knew we left the hatches open on the boat. How far open neither of us could remember. The last time we made that dumb mistake, every hatch was wide open and there was a deluge of rain. Needless to say, all the bedding in each cabin was soaked through. The only solution was to wring it all out as best as possible and hang everything out on the lifelines and any other line that would suffice. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies on the water. Yep, livin’ in paradise.

This time when we got back to the boat we discovered that I had closed all the hatches but didn’t dog them down except for ours. The result was our bed was dry and only a small amount of rain came in the other hatches. Day saved. It’s the little victories that add up!

Michele and I were discussing what was on the agenda the other day and I said I had some maintenance on the boat to do. She said, “more maintenance”? I told her that the boat was a complicated machine with many systems that lived and breathed. It was like a patient on the operating table, except once you finish one operation, you immediately start on the next one. If you don’t, well, nothing good happens. She said, ” you should put that in the blog”, so here it is in all its profoundness..:)

One of those systems is the freezer. It’s a Frigoboat model with a BD35 compressor and water cooling. This one system has been a thorn in my side since day one. Sometime last week the water pump on the freezer decided it had had enough and quit. Being that I just bought it in March, I was a little perturbed. The thing pumps one measly gallon a minute and costs 163 bucks. Yep, a little perturbed. The thing was, I didn’t know it had quit and the ramification of that was that the compressor will not shut off when the cooling water stops flowing. Go figure. The result of that is the constant drain on the batteries, another system by the way. I couldn’t figure out where all the amps were going. Now at least I know. The good thing is it’s still under warranty, I just have to ship it back to Annapolis.

Today has been a little busy for us as we had a post office run, a water run and one load of laundry to do. And of course this blog, which is at least a two hour commitment of time for each new post. That’s why I really appreciate those that take the time to read it. And I really enjoy the comments and questions. I would add one thing about the comments. When you leave a comment, please put your name in there somewhere. There is a blank space for it or just put it in the body of the comment. Otherwise, without a name, I have no way of knowing who left the comment. Ok? Thanks!

Some of the boats from the Christmas boat parade. I tried my best to get clear shots, but clear shots at night on a moving boat are not easy to come by…

P1050679 P1050678 P1050675 Some of the wildlife we run across when we’re walking or biking..

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Inside the captains lounge area here at Boot Key Harbor. Plenty of room relax..

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The gathering at the SCCA mini gam. The topic was information on cruising to Cuba. We would love to cruise there before they build a McDonald’s…

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Waiting out the rain on Sunday trying to get back to the boat…

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Another beautiful cloud formation!

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Until then…..