Swing Set

Feb 26, 201305:07 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Back in Marathon with a Laundry List

I'll get a couple of things out of the way first: The wind generator worked for a couple of days and then quit again, so we're going to embark on a plan to get it fixed. On a successful note, I put on my snorkel gear on and quickly found our grill that I had sent flying into Newfound Harbor by accident.

On Friday and Saturday, we spent some time visiting other boaters on Picnic Island. For the most part, the people we met were nice. Two couples from Canada waded over to meet Holly. We talked for a bit, and one of the things we talked about was Little Palm Island Resort. The one fella told us how they visited one time, and two shots and two appetizers came to a total of almost $300, and dinner was typically $500 and up. To spend the night there ran over $3,000. You can rent the whole place for $500,000 per night.

Most people would be telling you this in a way of bragging that they had spent this kind of money on something as fleeting as dinner. I'm telling you this so you can avoid the place. Some people have more money than sense.
 

As we were getting ready to head back to the boat, the Canadians, who had retired to their pontoon boat, invited us over for a beer. I normally trust my instincts, and my instincts were telling me to decline, but my instincts were also affected by the consumption of a few cold ones, so we went. Mistake No. 1.

Of course, they would have none of us sitting in the dinghy, so we were invited to come sit up on the deck of their boat. Mistake No. 2.

I knew they had been fishing. Fishing poles lined the rails and fish scales and whatever else was in the carpet. Holly thought she was in heaven. We tried to hold her in our laps, but she scrambled away at every chance and ignored us when we tried to rope her back in. Compared to fish guts, we are nothing to her.

Now, these folks were putting some good dents into their supply of rum and Budweiser, I must tell you. They had the idea that we must hate sleeping on the boat and offered us the comfort of a bedroom over at their house. Not that we would accept any such invitation, but they had no regard as to where we were to keep the boat, or the dog. A similar request was made to join them all in Key West over the weekend. They would drive us all over there and spend a night or two. Again, they didn't seem to think that leaving our boat at anchor in Newfound Harbor while we were all traipsing around Key West drunk as monkeys was of any concern.

Short of saying, "Are you people idiots?" we did all we could do to be polite and continue to ward off their invitations. Now, let's be honest. Had one of the women looked like Supermodel Kate Upton, there might have been some wiggle room. The term "far cry" would apply here.

No, but really, why do people think we must not enjoy sleeping on our own boat? If we wanted to sleep in a "bed," we would have sold our boat, kept our condo and saved a ton of money.

Our patience ran thin when we heard the one guy say, "Boy, your dog sure likes Doritos!" Even after explaining to all of them about how we don't give Holly "people food," here's this guy feeding Holly right out of the bag. We were gone in less than one minute.

The next day, we kept more to ourselves. Lots of people bring their dogs along when they visit Picnic Island, so there are many of them running around in the shallow water. The owners would walk up to see the source of the ferocious barking coming from our small dinghy, and when they would see Holly, they would want her to come and "play" with their dog. This is not gonna happen.

No offense to other pet owners, but there is no upside to letting Holly play with other dogs. Maybe there is an upside to her, but we've already established that she is fickle and has no taste. One bite from "oh, my little doggie is friendly" and it's over. Not only that, I can audibly hear the ticks and fleas on the other dogs making plans for the attack whenever they get within range of Holly. Our policy is to keep her away from other pets, and we're sticking to it. Call us bad parents.

The forecast called for a calm day on Sunday, and the wind was due to pick up from the south on Monday afternoon, so we decided to abstain from any more delights to be had at Picnic Island on Sunday and head east to Marathon in the morning. I was securing the dinghy when Linda, our new friend on Ramrod Key, came motoring up in her Boston Whaler. She wanted to meet us before we left, and knowing we where low on water, brought two six-gallon jugs of water for us to put into our tank. She had this handy gizmo that she stuck into the jerry can, shook it up and down a couple of times, and the water began siphoning from the jerry can into our water tank. I will be getting one of those things.

Linda has a very friendly Lab, called Mercy, and I felt like a jerk telling Linda about our policy of not letting Holly play with all the other reindeer, but I think she understood.

We cast off at high tide and headed into the Hawk Channel and made a left. The sun was shining, we had coffee and egg burritos at the helm, and after 12 days in Newfound Harbor, we were glad to be on our way. When we got to Bahia Honda Key, I let Swing Set loose at cruising speed, and we ran along at 25 mph for a half-hour or so until we reached Vaca Key. The channel is very close to the Gulf Stream in this area, and the water is very clear. We saw dolphins and big turtles, and we began seeing jellyfish, too. Made a mental note: jellyfish bad.

 

We spent mid-day exploring around the south side of Marathon. We checked out Key Colony Resort and Cocoa Plum Marina.

We had Sparky's Landing in our sights, and I called them on the phone to ask if we could buy some water. This notion was foreign to the woman who answered the phone, and she didn't know where to begin to find out as to how much we should pay for it. I made a few suggestions, and we negotiated a fair price of $.10 per gallon. We pulled in, and $10 later, we had our tanks full and were set to spend the night on the hook before entering Boot Key Harbor the next morning.

We sat at anchor and just enjoyed the day, as it was calm and the forecast was promising little to no wind for the evening. There is a reason places are called "harbors," and I learned that, in the future, we needed to be on the lee side of something before spending the night anywhere. Even though the local forecast called for calm conditions, the waves that came after midnight didn't get the memo. We were bucked and tossed all night long, and neither one of us got any sleep. The sun just began peeking over the horizon when we started our routine to head out.

We had high tide to our advantage as we entered Little Sisters Creek. Two months earlier, when we would visit the beach there, we saw more than one boat run aground in the area, hugging the east side of the inlet too much. Knowing to favor our port side of the inlet, we sailed right in, never having less than five feet under our keel.

There is a nice anchorage up into Little Sisters Creek, and I had notions of spending a night our two there, but reviews of the area on Active Captain revealed that some large government radio towers in the area messed with instrument and phone transmissions. I suspected those towers to be the source of our difficulty in trying to watch the Academy Awards the night before. I swear I could hear the Voice of America coming over our VHF as we snaked through the Little Sisters channel.

We called the City Marina and were directed to a mooring ball. Once we got tied up, we finally had our breakfast, promising to come into the office with the dinghy later on to make payment for our one month stay. Then, I got on the phone. First, I called Sea and Land Technologies, or SALT, an outfit referred to us by E Marine in Fort Lauderdale, to see if they could fix our wind generator. "Leave everything the way it is, and we'll be out on Wednesday," we were told. Even though we won't be able to claim the repair on our warranty, if we can get this thing fixed without sending the unit away and waiting for who knows how long to get it back, it will be worth it. I just hope the $95 per hour they charge does not include a "head scratchin' charge," but will go only towards actually fixing it, and won't exceed the price of a whole new unit. One can but dream.

Then, I put in a call to Marathon Marina to the service manager. I know Mondays are busy in the boatyard world, so giving my number to wait for a call back was expected. I was prepared to wait until the following day, actually.

Rosie was at work, too. She made some calls and scheduled a dental appointment for both of us, as well as an eye doctor appointment for her, as she is down to her last set of contacts. I kept at it and made the appointment for Holly to get her rabies shot on Friday, and began to consider the logistics of getting her health certificate and the timing needed to get into the Bahamas with the necessary paperwork before permits expire.

While Rosie finished up, I gathered up our trash and pulled the five gallons of engine coolant in the bilge that we had been dragging around for over a month, waiting to get to the recycle station at the City Marina here in Marathon. It was mid-morning before Rosie and I made it over to the office. Rosie paid us up, and I took care of the engine coolant and trash. We returned a movie that we had also been dragging around and picked up a couple of books at the library. We kept busy back at the boat but began to wear down after lunch.

I was reading when the phone rang. It was the service manager from Marathon Boat Yard. Sherry was very nice and patient while I relayed to her our history of the bottom paint on Swing Set, which is lengthy. I requested a haul-out on March 25 because it's the day our month is up here on the mooring ball. This presented no problem for them, as it's far enough in advance. So, if the estimate they will present to us in a couple of days is fair, we are set to get new bottom paint.

Another issue is where we will stay when Swing Set is on the hard. Sherry suggested a resort across the street from the boatyard, as they give a fair discount to boaters getting work done at Marathon. The Blue Water Resort had a vacancy for the week we needed, and more importantly, accepted pets at an extra $15 per night. When they found out that Holly only weighed six pounds, we got the rate reduced to a mere $10. I wonder if there is an adjustment if Rosie and I both lose a few pounds in the next four weeks? In my case, one can but dream.

So, things are falling into place. Holly and I took a dinghy ride in the afternoon while Rosie worked at making an appointment for an annual physical for me, and to have our dental records sent to the dentist that we are going to see. We discovered that the restaurant over at Sombrero Beach was closed indefinitely. We didn't go there on our last visit. Oh well.

It was close to 5 p.m. when Rosie and I took the dinghy over to get showers. We also had dumped our two plastic jugs of water into the tank on the boat in order to refill them at the dock. This is an effort not to save on the 5 cents per gallon charge for water, but just to avoid taking the boat over to get filled up every week. Not only is there a queue for boats wanting to get water at the city dock, the less times we have to negotiate the mooring ball will be better for our marriage.
 

At the end of the day, we felt like we had gotten a lot accomplished, at least got the wheels in motion. If we can get everything done in time, we can stay on our loose plan of getting to the Bahamas before the end of April. We wanted to get over there well before hurricane season, but we'll be nearly on top of it. If we can but stay only a couple of weeks this time around, we'll feel like we've set out what we intended to do from the start, for the most part.

It won't all be dull here in Marathon, though. We'll have some visitors in a few weeks and be able to get out on the water with them before the boat gets hauled. We'll also begin stocking up our provisions for the scarcity of such that we expect to find when we get to the Bahamas. We expect, though, that we'll be more than ready to get back in the saddle and out on the seas by the time we are finished here in Marathon. At least, for this time around.
 

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