A Travellerspoint blog

Still in Marathon

sunny 74 °F

Today is our seventh day here, having arrived on Tuesday, last. We've been occupied, if not exactly overwhelmed, with boat stuff. The "To Do" list seems never ending but boat rules do apply, working hours being from 0900 to 1500, or so, with an adequate allowance for lunch. The weather here has been great. A front blew through last Wednesday afternoon; when the wind had calmed down a little I turned on the anemometer .... over 35 knots. The weather reports had gusts of 50~60 knots, hurricane force. The front also brought cooler weather, mid 50's at night .... good for Carol, but I demanded, and got, the recently stored blanket back on my side of the bed.

The cruising world has gotten considerably smaller this past week.

  • Case #1 We have a friend, Debbie, who keeps her boat in Oriental, NC, when she is not cruising, Oriental being where we first met her. We knew that she had not headed south this year. I was over at the common room in the marina using their electricity to recharge the batteries for the cordless drill, needed for an up coming project. Some lady on the other side of the room jumped up and started saying my name; I did not recognize her from the distance so walked over to see her and then .... Debbie. She, literally, had been reading the blog at the table to find out where we were when she saw me walking by. What an unexpected pleasure. Jeanette had invited her to "crew" on her boat, it was cold in Oriental, so Debbie flew to Florida and got to Marathon. Good plan! Anyway, the four of us went out Saturday night to the Sea Food Festival. The two of them are also headed, generally, in the same directions so we may travel together some of the way, or not. But we'll definitely be seeing them along the way. Jeanette has a dog on board so I may offer to swap Carol for the dog, but only for an afternoon. I've been missing Wile E and could use a doggy fix.


  • Case #2 Our friends, Bruce and Dawn, who recently sold their boat and moved to Arkansas, emailed that they have some friends in Marathon that they wanted us to meet, no details given. So, Saturday, I was watching the ACC/SEC tournaments and met two very nice people who are from Raleigh, NC. It turns out that their boat is moored, maybe, 100-ft. or so from ours and that these are the two folks that we were supposed to meet. They are also headed on a similar course so we may sail with them or see them along the way. Go Figure!

Saturday night Sue and Jay were feeling a little better so invited us to join them for supper, which we, of course did. The four of us with Opie and J.T., friends of Sue and Jay.


The evening plan was to see Fiona Molloy, who was playing at the clubhouse at their campground. We enjoyed listening to her Irish music in Key West two years ago (01/17/09 blog) so this seemed like a great idea. The last time we saw her, she was performing by herself; this time she had just played at an Irish festival in Key Largo and had a supporting cast. She was great, and entertaining, as usual. She also had a piper with her, who treated us to three bagpipe pieces. Never having heard the pipes in person, I was surprised that they actually sounded really good but, maybe, three songs was about the right number. What blew us away were the Irish folk dancers, Riverdance, was right there in front of us. Having seen the folk dancing on TV was no comparison to seeing it live, 20 feet away. The only other similar experience I've had was the Taiko drums in Japan; they stirred the blood in person in a way that no recording ever could.

There were four young people, three women and a man. The first dance was with soft shoes, akin to ballet slippers. It was good. Then they started with the hard soled shoes and the metal taps on front and back and it was great. Being that close, we got the feel for how strenuous the dancing is ... a lot of physical work. And, the kids were really good, very well choreographed, very well practiced together; they made it look kind of easy, which it is definitely not. During a break, one of them came over to talk and Jay tried some of the moves; I did not try knowing full well that white men in their 60's cannot jump and they also cannot dance. These are the girls and each of the dresses is unique, hand made and very beautiful. It was a wonderful experience.


So, mostly, we are waiting for packages to arrive while we wait for the weather to arrive. I remember talking to Rodney in Ft. Lauderdale about boat projects. We both agreed that the logistics of acquiring all the parts and pieces for a project was harder than the actual work involved.

We had a minor miracle the other day. Probably the most well known guy in the Caribbean area is Chris Parker, who forecasts the weather and broadcasts his prognostications over the SSB radio six days a week. For most cruisers that are outside US waters, listening to his forecasts is a daily event. We've been trying, literally for several years, to listen in to his broadcasts but have never succeeded until Thursday when we finally heard him loud and clear. This, more or less, answers the question we've always had: does the SSB radio work properly. It will be nice to know that this resource is available when we get to the Bahamas. The Bahamas also have a meteorology department that runs a website with good weather information if you can get an internet connection.

Today, Tuesday, a small disaster struck. The foresail had slack along the luff (forward) edge which pretty well messed up any sail trim aspirations for the bottom third of the sail. After having gone up the mast to check the top end of the mechanism, we decided to take down the sail to check out the halyard and the hoist car. It was way too windy, well over 10 knots, to do this but there was no better day in the forecast. Carol released the tension on the line and ..... BOING! Down comes the sail into a pile on the deck, but there's only about one foot of halyard attached, the rest having fallen inside the mast. The halyard had, quite literally, shredded in two. The problem area was inside the mast, behind the sheave where I could not see it on the trip to the top of the mast. Not a good deal but, after a long while, when I had stopped swearing at things, it dawned on me that this was going to happen the next time we put out the sails. Having the problem happen at a secure mooring, not under way and with a West Marine a mile away was not such a bad thing. So with the help of Paul, a boat neighbor who offered help, we got me back up the mast, ran a pilot line through the mast and fished it out, and installed a new halyard. When we got the sail back up there was no slack on the luff edge so the problem was cured, just not the way we thought. It takes a few minutes to get the sail up and while it was exposed to the wind, still too much wind to be doing this, the boat was moving hard enough that I thought that we might tear out the mooring ball. In the event, we did not, but a boat close to us was leaving the mooring field and Carol said that they were startled by the raised sail. If you're that high up you ought to take a picture, so I did. We'll probably replace most of the old running rigging in the next few days.


After that the only preparation will be topping off the fuel and water. I was talking to Jack, a motor vessel guy, and he said that with marine diesel above $4.00 a gallon he wasn't enjoying filling tanks where consumption was measured in gallons per hour. We last fueled in Vero Beach, maybe a month ago, have traveled a couple of hundred miles, run the motor a few hours to charge the batteries and have used about 12 gallons of diesel. I'll try to remember that the next time I gripe about how slowly we motor.

Now, we're just waiting for a weather window, which always seems to be just around the corner. First it was going to be Monday, 03/21; now it may be Wednesday or Thursday, 03/24~25. Or, it may be in April. So, we'll get everything stowed to await the lucky day. Last year all the possible boat companions wanted to make the trip in two days, going back east to Rodriguez Key and from there to the Bahamas. So, we traveled alone. This year it seems quite a few boats want to go directly from Marathon to Bimini so we may have some company. That would be an interesting first for us, never having traveled with another boat.

The next blog entry will be from the Bahamas, whenever we get there.

Posted by sailziveli 09:03 Archived in USA Tagged boating

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