A Travellerspoint blog

Marathon Redux

Seeing Sue & Jay


After leaving Key West, it took us two days to get back to Marathon, FL, near where Sue and Jay stay on Ohio Key. Funny what a difference the wind makes. With the wind behind us it took about nine hours to get to Key West; against the wind, two days for the reverse trip.

However, we did sail both days for about a half day. Beating to windward and tacking is a lot of fun, and seems to capture an essence of sailing. It is also very hard physical work. Our autopilot is not an option in higher winds and the boat ride can be rough with the bow into the waves and the boat heeling over. When heading up the real reason many sailors seem take down the sails and turn on the motor is geometry. In a perfect Pythagorean world, if you could cut exact 45 degree turns, the boat has to travel 2 miles tacking to cover 1.4 miles of linear course. As a matter of practice on a well piloted boat it may work out to more like 2 miles to travel 1; we probably cannot even do that. A lot of fun but not too much accomplished.

We're staying in Boot Key Harbor, run by the city of Marathon. It's a mooring field with about 200 spots to park boats. Most are in use because there is some lousy weather coming through and everyone is looking for a sheltered mooring, which these are. It's a good enough facility which shopping a vigorous walk away. For a look at the area, connect to http://www.bootkeyharbor.com/BKHAerial.htm

We met some folks from Oriental that we didn't know the other day, and have also seen two other sets of people that we did know, also from Oriental; sailboating is a small world it seems.

On Sunday, 01/11/09 Jay invited me to go fishing along with a friend of his, Opie. Jay has about a 16-ft. aluminum boat that handled the three of us very well. We started fishing near one off the old railroad bridges. These are no longer in use and are, through deterioration from the salt and elements, becoming de facto man made reefs and great for fishing. We were catching a lot of fish, but not any that were keepers. Florida has many regulations about fishing and the best fish to eat, of course, have strict size limits; all of the good ones that we caught were under sized. So, we moved to a location more in the open water and, finally, started putting some fish into the cooler. All told, we caught 11 keepers, ranging from about 10-in. to 14-in. The fishing highlight of the day was at the very end. We were back by the bridge, trying to "use up" the last of our bait. Opie had a nice yellowtail on his line and was trying to get it into the boat. When the fish was about 5-ft. from the boat and we were thinking about reaching for the net to land it, along comes a 4/5-ft. shark that also wanted Opie's fish for supper. Opie yanked the fish out of the water and into the air; Jay grabbed the net and caught the fish in mid-air. Tinker to Evers to Chance. If only we had a video!

After Jay and Opie did the hard work of filleting the fish, they gave Carol and me most of the day's catch. We had the fish for dinner last night and the eating was really, really good. I'm not sure how the details will work out, but fishing for supper will be part of a routine in the Bahamas.

Being on the boat is different. At all times the boat demands a great deal of attention; there is always a list of things to do and the list always requires something or another to be purchased. So any project breaks down into three parts: one, schlepp around to try to get the necessary parts and pieces; two, make the repairs and, always, three, discover what other parts and pieces you need but don't have so you go back to step one. It's good to do these projects; it forces us to poke and probe into parts of the boat that do not normally attract attention. In the end, we better understand the boat.

The other aspect of the boat, particularly when the weather is calm and warm, is that it inspires an intense interest in doing absolutely nothing. Sitting about and looking at the horizon is an activity that can fully occupy the mind. This was our view on a lazy Saturday morning in Boot Key Harbor.Mangrove_S.._Harbor.jpg

On Tuesday evening a sailboat was coming into a mooring and ran hard aground. I felt a great deal of sympathy for the boat; we had been on the exact same shoal on 12/31/08, our first time into the harbor. Our keel is different and we were able to power our way off the shoal; this boat was unable to do that. So, five or six guys powered up their dingies and converged at the boat. After a few efforts that didn't work we got serious. One dingy took a halyard from the boat to tip over the boat, via the mast; this has the effect of making the draft shallower. When this was done all the other boats pushed on the other side. Amazingly, it worked and we able to push the boat into deeper water. An interesting example of a successful undirected, ad hoc team. The next day a huge motor vessel went aground near the same area. It was like the Ritz-Carlton except with a hull instead of a foundation. No sails .... so, no one came out to help.

The anticipated front arrived on Tuesday night, a little rain and a lot of wind. The temperature dropped to an unthinkable, bone chilling 58 degrees and we went back under the bunk to retrieve some of the winter wear that we had thought to have been packed away for good. I looked at Spring Creek's weather and there were special weather advisories about snow, more snow and black ice. That makes this seems seriously not too bad.

This is the first time that we have been around a lot of boats in close proximity. The various iterations of sailboats are amazing; sizes, colors, sails and rigging of every conceivable combination. And more interesting, so many dogs. Most of the dogs are poncey little things, lots of bark and not much else. However, some people have real dogs. We met two ladies that are cruising with two setters that weigh about 70-lb. each. I hadn't realized how much I miss having a dog. Wile E. may be a weenie but he's a dog and it's good to have a dog, even a red weenie dog. All dogs, including Wile E., understand faithful and loyal and all dogs talk exactly the right amount.

Carol and I have been talking about getting a wind generator. We've been living like "electrical" hermits in order to save power. The solar panels put out good energy but not enough to keep up with the refrigerator. The choices seem to be four: (1) stop using the refrigerator, an inconvenient idea; (2) run the engine a lot to keep the batteries charged, generally a bad idea; (3) buy a 150-lb generator for which we have no room, an impractical idea; (4) get a wind generator, maybe an OK idea.

If we get the generator, we'll end up here in Marathon until early/mid February. This would be OK since the mooring is cheap and the weather in the Bahamas gets better towards March. More to follow, the next time with pictures of the cousins and, maybe, trophy fish.

Posted by sailziveli 04:37

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Sounds like life is good there, Russ, and the sailing sounds wonderful. The picture is beautiful, too, but think about Spring Creek with a tad of snow on the ground and the light of the full moon. Also very beautiful.
Enjoy..and keep writing. We love the armchair travels. Anne and Marshall

by SCfriends

Great to hear you are fishing, there is nothing better than eating a fresh, just caught fish!

Keep Afloat!!

I hope your next fish is, BIGGER, than the last!


by wk2

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