Swing Set

Mar 2, 201309:44 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

A Slice of Life at Marathon City Marina

The last six days have just flown by here in Marathon. We had several goals when we arrived here, and we've accomplished a few and have high hopes for others.

The big thing was getting Holly's rabies shot. We knew getting the appointment wouldn't pose a problem, so calling the vet on Monday was not high on the list, but calling the wind generator repair people was. The promise of a Wednesday visit left us optimistic that this other big goal of getting the wind generator fixed so we would have it for travel to the Bahamas would be met before weeks end.

Wheels also began turning for a potential haul-out by month's end and getting new bottom paint on Swing Set's hull, something we could put off, but we need to wait a month after Holly's rabies shot before entering the Bahamas anyway, so this seems to be a good time to do it. Marathon Boat Yard could put us on their schedule. They sent a reasonable estimate, and upon their recommendation, we were able to secure lodging for a week across the street from the boatyard at the Blue Water Resort Motel. The people I have spoken with so far at Marathon Boat Yard are very nice. I'm looking forward to doing business with them.

On Tuesday, I changed the oil in the Westerbeke generator. I change this oil every 100 hours, and it's easy. Our onboard oil changer pulls the oil out, I switch filters, and then I dump a gallon of new oil in. I usually only ruin one pair of pants and a shirt in the process. I also used our new vacuum oil extractor and pulled the dirty fuel from the bowls of our Racor fuel filters and put new filters in. I have been using 2 micron filters in our Racors for years, but I learned that 40 micron is what I should have been using. The 2 micron elements work better, but they don't last as long. I have a case of them to use up before I need to buy any 40 micron filters.

I also painted our cockpit speaker grills and the housings for our port and starboard running lights. I have found the best thing to do with any new plastic, especially white, is to just go ahead and paint them with a plastic-compatible paint right away, otherwise the sun will break them down in no time, either turning them yellow or just causing them to disintegrate.

On Wednesday morning, I waited patiently for the phone to ring, hoping for the technician from Sea, Air, Land, Technology (SALT) would be arriving early enough to get our wind generator looked at. Rain was predicted for the afternoon, so I wanted to beat the weather. We had made several appointments, but we kept this day clear of all commitments, as the wind generator is on high priority. By 10 a.m., I called SALT. They barely knew who I was.

"We have you on our list, and a technician will call before he comes," we were told.

"My decks were cleared for today, but now we have other appointments scheduled, so we can't promise to be here when he calls."

"That's OK. If he can't come, there will be other things for him to do."

It might be OK for them, but I hope we don't regret not pulling the unit down and sending it away as soon as we got here.

A late afternoon visit from SALT was still possible, but by 3 p.m. we closed up shop and took the dinghy over to Lazydays for happy hour. A few cold Bud Lights later, along with happy hour-priced chicken wings and pepper poppers, and I couldn't even spell SALT, much less care if they came or not.

On Thursday, we had an optician appointment for Rosie at noon. In the morning, I touched up some corroded spots on our spotlight where the paint has started flaking off. No call from SALT.

By 11 a.m., we left the boat in the dinghy, parked it at the dinghy dock and then walked a short way down the Overseas Highway to the opticians. My "everyday" sunglasses are over 10 years old and are a little worse for wear, so I used my last prescription and ordered a new pair of sunglasses that are not polarized. I know polarized is better for the sun, but you can't view an iPad, or some instruments, with polarized lenses unless you tilt your head sideways. I could tilt the iPad, and tried that for a while, but just never got used to using it that way. Rosie ordered a new pair of glasses "for morningtime," whatever that is, along with a supply of contact lenses.

After a short visit to West Marine, just down the street, we crossed the highway and went to check out the Blue Water Resort Motel. We have stayed in worse places, but it would tax our memories to list them. I called the Marathon Boat Yard and asked about the chances of getting the work done on Swing Set within the week, allowing us to only stay at Blue Water Resort for four nights instead of seven. I made it well known that I intended to give the bed bugs as little time as possible to do their work.

Then to lunch! We walked over to a "Chicago Style" hot dog place, and I ordered the grandest hot dog combo on the menu. Rosie chose the close second. In a few minutes, we were served big Cokes, hot fries and two of the smallest hot dogs I have ever seen, albeit smothered in everything one could possibly put on a pint sized bun. I guess we are still in tourist country.

One thing about Marathon is that almost everything is on the one stretch of roadway, the Overseas Highway, so if your walk is long enough, you'll pass every business there is to pass. Hello...there's SALT!

We walked in and I asked to talk to Brad, the fella I've been negotiating with to get our wind generator fixed. I wanted to put a face with a voice. Brad was very apologetic and thanked us profusely for our patience. When I told him we needed our wind generator fixed by the time we get hauled out at Marathon Boat Yard on March 25, he said that a technician would be at our boat on the 24th. Now, that is funny. No, he assured us someone would be over by the middle of next week, and we even talked about the work being covered under warranty.

Their shop is very neat, and I liked what I saw when we were there. It wasn't a dump, and there was a full staff. They sell water makers, wind generators, air conditioning units and other things not normally seen at your typical marine supplier. I'm giving them the full benefit of the doubt, and will only pull out at the last minute. Sort of like a kamikaze pilot who suddenly has second thoughts. Envision your own metaphor.

My dad called while we were making our way back to the boat in the dinghy once we got back to the marina. He wondered if we were in Nassau yet, but I assured him we wouldn't leave the country without a phone call to him first. He was making dinner, and his description of how his mother and mine used to make stuffing for chicken was making me hungry. Cooking was always a big thing in our family, and it's always been a source of pleasure in a sometimes mundane day.

Chili and macaroni was our fare for dinner on Thursday night, with Fritos Scoops.Then, it was gin rummy until bedtime. Did I mention that my Chicago Dog earlier in the day had chili on it? Rosie may attest that it was less than a pleasant night for her.

Our big day, Friday, and Holly's visit to the vet. Rain was threatening as we left the boat. Rosie called a cab as we landed at the dinghy dock, and they showed up in less than five minutes. The cabs in Marathon are a set price: either $4 or $5, depending on who you call, no matter where you are going, as long as it's within the Marathon City limits.

We got to the Marathon Veterinary Hospital about a half hour early, so I called the Bahamas Agricultural Department to see what was taking so long for Holly's permit to immigrate into their country. We have spent nearly $20 so far in phone calls trying to get this permit. We mailed the application back in January and followed up with faxing it on February 5. I was passed over to the second person during our phone call, and then I was disconnected suddenly. I am not deterred so easily.

On the second call, I was finally speaking to someone with a command of the King's English, which my limited schooling here in the United States gave me a fighting chance to enable me to communicate with a fair amount of the inhabitants of this planet. (The required Russian language course that I was forced to undergo for two years in Junior High has been a bust.)

"Miss Borroughs" informed me that our permit was mailed on February 8 and "we should have gotten it." No kidding.

"But we didn't get it."

"Did we fax it to you?"

"I don't have a fax machine at my house, so...no. How about this? Just fax it to me now, as we are at our veterinarians office. Could you do that, please?" With molasses on it, I was thinking.

"I'll do it right away. Sorry for the delay," was the sweet sound I heard over the phone from Miss Borroughs.


Ten minutes later, we got the permit we have been waiting for. While I was engaged in this phone call, Rosie was in the examination room with Dr. Molly Willet and Holly. We waited for the results of Holly's heartworm blood test, and I noticed a woman in the waiting room trying to hold back tears without much success.

"Is your pet hurt," I asked her.

"No, she is just old...." More tears.

The one cruelty that all pet lovers endure is the prospect of losing a pet. It's why we weren't going to ever get another dog. Ever. But the joy is too great. After 13 years without a dog, we couldn't imagine life now without Holly. Our heart went out to this girl in the waiting room.

Then Dr. Molly came out, all smiles as usual. "Holly is just fine, but she still has problems with her teeth."

"What?" On her last two visits, Dr. Molly mentioned how beautiful Holly's teeth were, and now there's a problem? Apparently, Holly has a loose front tooth. We can live with that, and so can Holly. I think Tara, our vet back in St. Louis, would be paying better attention.

We scheduled a visit for Holly to get her health certificate on March 29. Once she gets her certificate, by Bahamian law, we have 48 hours to enter their country. "Yes, that's reasonable," said no one ever. We have reports that we have more flexibility than that, as much as 10 days. Who knows? Weather will play the biggest part on when we enter the Bahamas, and where.

We left the veterinary clinic and walked over to Advance Auto because I wanted oil filters. A man at the counter asked if he could help me, and as I began to talk, he began to talk to a co-worker at the counter with him. I stopped talking, and he finally did, too. Multi-tasking is commendable, but it's been my experience that talking and listening at the same time is not a good practice. He didn't have the filters for the mains and began to say he could have them by the afternoon. I said that we'll just see if he had the filters for the generator instead, not wanting to explain anymore to him than I had to. He had several choices for the generator filters, and asked if I wanted the $14.99 filters or the $5.99 filters. In my world, this falls under the heading of "stupid questions."

"Does Advance sell inferior oil filters?" I asked him.

"Why, no."

"Then, the $5.99 filters will do just fine."

"If money is an object, then I have some Fram filters for $4.99."

When is money never an object when you are buying something? This last thing he said was with a smart aleck tone.

"Sell me the Fram filters," I told him.

As he walked into the back he said something like, "Too bad we don't sell anything but boat stuff here." I did find out that the oil I use was on sale, but couldn't buy it then because we wanted to walk back to the boat without carrying 12 gallons of diesel oil. It's four miles.

We did Mickey Ds for lunch. I smuggled Holly through the restaurant so we could eat out on the deck outside. The only way possible to do this is to hold my hand over her eyes so she doesn't see something to bark at, which is typically everything.

Last stop was the AT&T store, but first Rosie popped into a jeweler and got a new battery in her watch. With that accomplished, we entered the AT&T store and no one was in there but the two people working there. We wanted to see if we could combine our data transfer minutes on the MiFi device we have with the 3G per month we have on the iPad. The nice young man at the counter said we could and still said we could when I told him we didn't want to mess with our iPhone plan because we still have unlimited data transfer on that contract. Then his phone rang, and he went into the back to take the call and the other employee took his place. This is never a good thing for the customer.

"What can I help you with?" she says. Now, I have to explain everything all over again to this new person. I usually don't do this sort of thing in the best humor, trust me.

Long story short, we couldn't change our plan without affecting our unlimited data feature on the iPhone, so we wasted about half an hour at the AT&T store. It was still better than calling them on the phone, which is an excruciating process each and every time.

It was well into the afternoon by the time we got back to the boat. Rain was threatening, so we both relaxed and got into our books until 5 p.m. Then, it was time to go back to the marina for our showers. As I have mentioned before, we are trying to avoid using up all our onboard water, and so far we've done pretty good.

It had started to sprinkle, so we put on our rain gear and motored back over to the dinghy dock. I took a few pictures to give you an idea of what the Marathon City Marina looks like. The picture above is the approach from the harbor. The big building on the left is the office and community center. The shower and laundry are inside, along with a workshop and storage area.

At this time of year, the dinghy docks are usually full of dinghies. The hard bottomed dinghies go on one side of the dock, and the soft sided ones like ours go on the other. The dinghy in the picture looked like it could go either way, about as homemade as I've seen. The fella who owns it has a small cruiser with two wind generators on the radar arch, and every other surface of the vessel has solar panels on it. His boat looks similar to this dinghy. He is probably a very interesting guy, and I plan on talking to him soon.


Another view of the dinghy docks. Even though it was raining, boaters found reasons to leave their vessels to either use the shower facilities, the laundry, go to "town" or hang out in the community center at the marina.

Here's Rosie posing after her shower in the community center. There is a large library in here, and there are usually plenty of boaters setting at the tables using there laptops and taking advantage of the free WiFi at the marina. We only wish we could get it out in the harbor on the boat. This is a very stout building, and I wouldn't hesitate to use it for shelter in the event of a hurricane, but I don't know what their policy is in regard to doing so.

Here's another view where you can see the little seating areas in the back, each with a nice TV and theatre seating in case you want to sit in there and watch TV all day. The building closes at 5:30, so going there to watch something in the evening is out of the question. I would prefer to have this building available well into the night, so we could have drunken beer parties. But that's just me.

Here's part of the workshop and storage area. If we were to stay here for a long period of time, a storage locker would be a good idea. Then, we could start accumulating junk again after getting rid of it all last year. It does seem like a good place to take on a project that would be messy or cumbersome aboard the boat.

Today was a work day. I changed out all the zincs on each of the main engines, and all went well. We hadn't changed them since last April, when Karl Kotraba and I did it; the raw-water zincs were still serviceable, but the zincs in the oil coolers were about gone. I'll make it a habit to check them all every four to six months from now on. I also changed the engine oil in the Cats and only ruined one shirt, managing to not get any oil on my pants. This is progress.

After we had lunch, we gathered up all of the trash and used oil, put it in the dinghy and rode back over to the marina. They have bins for used oil, fuel, coolant, dirty rags and used filters, which is very nice and thoughtful, I think.

We picked up a few things that we had purchased from Amazon over the last few days. Yet to be delivered are 16 DVDs we bought, so we could watch them and use them for bartering in the future. While online yesterday, I bought our Rotella oil from Advance Auto, which I will pick up at their store when I can get a ride over there. I was able to save an extra 15 percent by using their online site. The oil filters for our Cats will be delivered free here to the marina, something that the fella in the store told me they don't do. Take that, multi-tasker!

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