Contrary to our last post, it’s actually not sunny here ALL the time. Today a freak patch of thick fog rolled through for about an hour. We were just getting in our dinghy returning from a trip to the store when it rolled in, and could barely find our way to our boat among all the boats in the harbor. A cold front is moving through and tomorrow there is supposed to be a low of 50. Whatever will we do?!?
So if there isn’t perfect weather 24 hours a day, why did we choose to sign up for a whole month in Marathon? You may be asking this, so here are a few of the reasons why we said “heck, yeah, sign us up for a month!”
Well, first of all, we have been traveling for 3 months straight and we need to just stop and chill out, as well as do some work on our boat. AND, it turns out this is the best place in the Keys to get work done on our boat, as it is THE SAILBOAT MECCA of the region. This is the winter destination of many snowbird cruisers, and most of the 200+ sailboats here in Boot Key Harbor are staying for anywhere between 1 -6 months. Some people have even just made this their permanent address and have been here for years. So there are tons of businesses that cater to boaters and any type of supplies or work that anyone could need are near at hand. At the marina here they even have a workshop available to boaters renting space in the harbor, where one can set up projects on a large table that is not rocking on the water. I think that is what really sold Capt’n K. on this place — when we walked in and saw they had a workshop available, his eyes widened and I think he even started salivating.
The Marathon City Marina decided to try a different attitude towards cruising sailboats than the attitude we have found in the rest of Florida: they are welcoming people who live aboard sailboats and making a space for them to exist well within the system. The marina has reasonable rates for long term mooring, and provides all the facilities people need; in addition to the workshop space, they have a community room that includes two mini “movie theaters” with televisions, a large library, internet access, a community bulletin board, etc. Awesome!
And then there is the supportive, grassroots nature of the boating community itself, which continues to amaze us. The Marathon boating community has set up a “net” on the VHF radio (the type of radio all boaters are required to have on board), and at 9:00 every morning, there is a “cruisers’ net” meeting that occurs through the facilitation of a volunteer moderator. During this time people can make announcements of all kinds, such as “does anyone know about wind generators because I’m having a problem with mine”, or “I have a used winch for sale”, or “I’m going to Rodriguez Island, does anyone know of a good anchorage there?”, to “This morning there will be a free yoga class at 10:00”. One person was even having a “yard sale” on their boat with all kinds of stuff for sale!
The mooring field is set up in a grid, so there are “neighborhoods”, and your address is your mooring ball number. Ours is P5, so we are in the same neighborhood as M’s and O’s, but “blocks” away from A’s and J’s.
There are two large “parking lots” for all the dinghys, and it is a fun activity just to watch the steady stream of people coming and going at the dinghy dock at all hours of the day.
Most of the people, as could be expected, are retirees: healthy, happy people in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. But there are also young couples with young children that are being home-schooled on the boat, and a few couples like us who are Gen-X’ers bucking the system. One such couple, Charles and Hilary, have been here “for a few days” since last April, meaning they arrived last April and planned to stay a few days, but have never left because they like it so much. Hilary befriended us our first hour here on the dinghy dock because she was excited to see another couple their age, and we have been enjoying getting to know them.
They have introduced us to lots of people, namely, the “long term live aboards”, who have been here for several seasons.
My first impression of this place when we arrived, was that it was like an RV park for sailboats, which turned me off. And the town of Marathon itself is nothing to brag about — it’s pretty much the same highway strip mall as the rest of the Keys….but the amazing community aspect of the Marathon City Marina is what is keeping us here.
Oh, and there are beaches! Actual beaches!
And another thing: there are friendly iguanas here!