March 28, 2015

Mind, Body, And Marathon

“Boys are beyond the range of anybody's sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of 18 months and 90 years.”
James Thurber

I was captured by watching these boys fish from the rocks just as the sun was setting... they were laughing, cutting up and guffawing like there was no tomorrow.  Suddenly I realized I was one of them too! .... out here, fishing for a good time, a special memory, or a reason to believe...

 "Time is but the stream I go a'fishin' in." 
by Henry David Thoreau...

So here it is at the end of March, and I am finally on a mooring ball at the infamous Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, Florida. And it feels like school recess for this boy.

Today started with a yoga class at 10 a.m. in the park with a bunch of fellow boaters led by another boater instructor. Generally speaking, the purpose of a yoga class is to open up the mind, body, and spirit... and so it did... hence let me begin with some tales about the Mind, Body and Spirit of Marathon.

I've heard good things of this harbor for so long now, that I suddenly feel like I've made a right of passage by just getting here.

 .... In terms of major sailor headquarters, I suppose you could consider this harbor somewhat of a Mecca for southern sailors, or at least for sailors of the Florida Keys.  It is  a unique place indeed.   

Marathon is located about halfway down the string of Keys... by water, it's about 45 miles from Key West.
Each little white dot in this photo is a sailboat.... 250 mooring balls total.
Inside this well protected harbor sits over two hundred live-aboard boats all tethered to mooring balls in neat rows arranged side by side orderly and efficiently.  This unique community is known as Boot Key Harbor. 

It is like a mini-city here with a Bohemian feel.  All the neighbors are sailors and the scores of commonalities are just too many to name. The central gathering place would be the main dinghy dock and tiki hut where folks shuttle back and forth from their boats to the land, fill up water jugs, work on projects, linger in conversation, and just share smiles to each other. 
 Ahhh.... a well deserved rest after a frisky sail under and back around the 7-Mile Bridge and and into Boot Harbor Key.

There's a real community feel here at Boot Key, and I've decided to hang out here for a week, maybe two, to see what's it's all about... After all, boys will be boys, and I am no exception....There's a daily morning show on the VHF radio called the "Sail Net" where cruisers weigh in on all types of topics, announcements, boater tips, and buy, sell or trade marine goods.  

The headquarters of the City Marina at Marathon is like a central gathering place where they have a wide variety of activities going on all the time like boater classes, technical classes, yoga, pot lucks, music, and discussion groups if you feel so inclined.  They even have a central hub with seating, wifi and a family friendly atmosphere.... There's even a few TV viewing areas if that appeals to you. 

You can also use their huge covered work areas for doing projects away from your boat... some folks end up staying here for months or even years... where else can you live in the Keys for about $320 a month?
Looking out across the Boot Key Harbor mooring field... 
over 250 boats here... Last month I was #30 on waiting list for a mooring ball, but today I got in with no problem as many boaters have left for the Bahamas now.

This gathering area at the Boot Key Marina is called the Tree of Knowledge... Basically, it's just a shade tree with some comfortable chairs where anybody can hang out, enjoy fellowship, tell tales, or just drink beer with new and old friends.  They have a great recycling program here as evidenced by the dumpster in the rear here.
Here's some other sights around Marathon....No one seemed to notice that I did not belong at this Hyatt luxury resort... just passing by, mind you.

The Faro Blanco lighthouse still shines on the bay side of Vaca Key at Marathon.  It is now a part of the newly renovated marina/ Hyatt complex.

.... Cormorants sunning on the rocks.

This is the new towing harness I made for Dazy... works great...and me about to take a dip.

I took a side trip out to Buchannan Banks for some remote anchoring while doing boat projects... the wind soon kicked up to about 18 knots so I headed back on this wild ride...

There's just something quite chilling about moving 12,000 pounds of fiberglass, lead, and teak across the ocean using only the force of the wind ... 

it's a powerful and emotional tool to be reckoned with indeed... so powerful, yet so gentle, so quiet, so efficient, so clean, so toxic at times

I enjoyed the company of these cormorants at this anchorage  called Channel Key the night before.

So here I am flying into Key West after a month back home and my dental work all complete... ready to chow down again... Key West, yes.

It was with an adolescent excitement that I returned back to the Keys on March 17, 2015.  I felt like skipping and whistling at the same time... (people roll their eyes at me sometimes.) 

My month in Georgia had been a great time to see family, but flying into Key West on St. Patrick's day was all about the anticipation… Georgia was a nice little break after 2 months of solid cruising, but now I was ready more than ever to get back into the solar rays of the Florida Keys and return to forever.

I figured arriving in Key West on such a festive day as St. Patrick's might be interesting … indeed it was.

I treated myself to a car rental at the airport and enjoyed the freedom of being in a cool town on a warm day…  After celebrating the Irish Holiday in Key West, I would drive north back to Glory Days where she would be waiting in the Coral Bay Marina about 80 miles away in Islamorada.  Giddy is an under statement.

One of my first stops was at the Key West City Marina to get some general information since I would soon be arriving back here in my boat.  The rates for a mooring ball seemed reasonable at $18 a day and a dock master named Terri was very cordial and helpful. 

 The boats docked here had a rather laid back flare to them… it was clear many of these boats never leave the dock as several of them were like little homes decorated with bright colors, flowering plants, and a laid back friendly air about the place… Next stop, Duval Street.  Key West is filled with interesting shops, boutiques, bars, and outdoor eateries on the waterfront… it was a gorgeous day and I was like a kid in a candy store wide eyed and curious.

 I strolled around for a while and just took in the sights...

I soon came upon the famous pub, Sloppy Joes… Altho it was only 1 pm, the festivities were getting started and the beer was flowing from the taps and the music was trickling out of the bars… Here's some scenes from my 6 hours in Key West that St. Patty's afternoon.

Shamrocks were just about everywhere on this day.

Sailboats slowly pass open air cafes on the waterfront.
There is a rather large cruise boat industry now that makes regular stops at Key West.

By 6 pm, my time in Key West was done and it was time to drive back north to Glory Days where she had rested in the Coral Bay marina for the past month.

The drive north was quite nice, and I soon found her resting peacefully in her slip in Islamorada located on Upper Matecumbe Key.  I really like this area.  So I lingered here for two more days to get her outfitted again and to get my mental pchychie back in the groove… It would be time well spent for a boy on a mission.

Upon leaving Islamorada on March 20, I would opt for an easy day sail south to Fiesta Key.

One of the major upgrades I made for Glory Days was this worthwhile investment in what they call a "new generation" anchor.  This particular model is called the Rocna... best money spent in a long time.. I like to call it my new insurance plan... man, does she grab, and does she hold!

Here's my current arsenal of anchors just in case... I ditched the old rusted Danforth model you see here but still have 4 choices depending on the weather conditions and different types of bottoms.  However, I have a feeling the new shiny Rocna will be the "go to" anchor... psssst... she's not near that shiny anymore.

Sometimes I feel like the odd bird....
Dreamy sunsets seem to be the norm each day here whether at an anchorage like this or in a large group of fellow boats in the mooring field.... take time to listen... take time to b-r-e-a-t-h-e
On Sunday nights they have an Open Jam at the Dockside Cafe and Grill.  This place is evidently an icon in the community and I was proud to get to play a few songs... But mostly I was stoked to get to blow harmonica for several rocking bluesy tunes with the house band...

This fellow was 97 years young and had a handshake like a vice.  Before playing his trumpet with the band, he did a hilarious stand-up routine with funny jokes, many of the "adult" nature... I just hope I'm half as frisky as this youngster if and when I ever get that far. 

Well folks, another blog post comes to an end... thanks for following along again... there's still a long road ahead. Fair Winds to all.  Joe


Stay tuned for the next blog posting where I will be doing a feature on my friend 
Diny Van De Loo...

You may recall we met last year in the Bahamas as our two shiplets crossed paths in Hopetown ...We had a nice reunion and did some buddy boating again... stay tuned for more about this amazing woman aboard her boat 
Adventure Quest!


  1. JOE!!! I can't believe you posted that pic of me wearing the shamrock!

  2. Captain, you have such a delightful way of telling a tail you even make other live-aboards jealous!

  3. I never saw Marathon the way you did. I need to explore it more the next time I get back. Great blog again.