Wednesday, April 11, 2007

February 26

February 26? Times been flying since we’ve been here in Marathon. At first we thought that we might be here for 2 weeks or so but that quickly turned into a month.

There’s a beautiful anchorage about 11 miles south of here at Bahia Honda State Park. We’re thinking of heading down there and staying for a day or 2 before continuing on to Key West. It’s funny that Key West was the goal when we first set out and now that we’ve been in such a nice anchorage with so much to do it doesn’t seem that important to get there anymore. We took the bus down a couple of days ago and it’s kind of like “been there, done that”. So now we’re debating whether or not we should go at all and for how long if we do.

We’ve had a couple of good blows come through since we’ve been here. The day before the first one we put out the second anchor and set it pretty tight effectively making it the primary anchor. After 2 days the wind was gone so we decided to pull the anchor so the 2 anchor rodes would not get twisted together. Holy crap was it stuck.

I pulled the boat forward by hand, pulling the rode into the anchor locker as the boat slid forward. I figured that when all the extra rode was aboard I would be able to rip the anchor straight up out of the bottom. Wrong, not even close. We had to tie off the vertical line and start the engine and drive over the anchor and rip it from the bottom so I could pull it up.

Since then we had to deploy it again this weekend before the winds hit 35 knots as a front came through. Tomorrow we will pull it up again, probably stuck as hell. I have to say that I’m glad all the time and money spent researching which anchors to carry seems to have been a good investment.

I spent a good bit of time on Saturday during the blow helping a guy and his wife kedge their boat back into deep water after they had dragged up into shallow water. I dinghied several anchors out to windward so as the tide came in the wind wouldn’t blow them further up into the shallows. They dragged and at low tide they found themselves pretty much lying on their side. There really wasn’t anything to do until the tide started to fill in later in the day. At around 4:30 they were upright and floating again. After they were off the next 2 times they dropped the hook they couldn’t get it to set. They finally did get a good set and they were completely drained both mentally and physically. Their day sucked.

We went a “meet and greet” this week at one of the local pubs. They have a social for all the boats in the harbor to get together and meet each other once a week. Everyone brings a dish to share and there’s plenty for everyone. It was lots of fun and topics covered the entire gambit, Christy even told all the women at our table that I’ve learned to color her hair. I overturn a 5 gallon bucket in the cockpit; put a cushion on it and it becomes “Mr. William’s House of Hair and Fabulosity”. (<~ said with a lisp) Turned out that all the women were having the same treatments on their boats so it was a pretty funny evening.

Before we left we were debating on whether or not we needed bicycles on board. We decided that it was time to break down and buy bikes. The local West Marine had a supply of nice aluminum frame folding bikes so we went in to buy some. The fortunate thing is that as we’ve traveled we’ve been saving broken parts that we’ve purchased from West Marine as we headed down the coast. We’re always meaning to return this or that every time we get somewhere where there’s a West. It’s just that we never do. So we walked into West with more than an armload of stuff to return. We ended up paying 105.00 out of pocket for the pair of bikes. Oh, and their awesome. They fold up just a little bigger than a piece of carry-on luggage and their actually comfortable to ride.

I rebuilt the aft head last weekend and completely replaced the forward head this week, shitty job. We had 2 different models on the boat and the aft head is easy to maintain. The forward one on the other hand was a Wilcox-Crittenden head. It was a thing of beauty, big brass pump with brass plumbing and brass handle. The problems with it were many, the brass was always green like the Statue of Liberty, a clean toilet is one thing but a toilet you have to polish just seemed stupid. It was pretty old and even after rebuilding it the metal parts of the pump just didn’t function as smoothly as they once did. The new head is the same as the aft head so the rebuild kits are interchangeable now.

We’ve taken the dinghy out Sister’s Creek to the ocean side of Marathon a few times. Out at the end of the Creek is Sombrero Beach. It’s a cool little beach that you can drag your dink up onto and enjoy the day at the beach. Palm trees, white sand, the whole bit. There’s a nearby reef that holds a ton of colorful fish and even some Barracuda and a Moray Eel or two. Things are pretty relaxed here so you can openly have a beer on the beach and let the dogs play in the water.

We also met Skip and Lydia from the vessel Flying Pig. They spent the last 3 years rebuilding and outfitting their Morgan 46 foot sailboat to retire and go cruising on. They got caught unaware and were out in one of the blows that we decided to put out our second anchor. In big seas they were blown off course and at 2300 hours were washed from 20 feet of water up onto a shelf covered by only 3 feet of water. Their boat needs six and a half feet of water to float.

Their boat was immediately on its side and pounded by the surf for hours as the tide went down even further. Tow Boat US responded but wouldn’t come close enough to get them off the boat let alone try to tow the boat from the ledge as the water was too shallow for him and the conditions to rough. The Coast Guard airlifted them of the boat at 0400 the next morning. Their retirement trip lasted exactly 3 days.

The boat was eventually pulled off by a trio boats with the help of 4 divers. Amazingly the only water intrusion was from a thru hull fitting that had been pushed back up through the hull. The boat was towed to Marathon and hauled out for repairs. A local fiberglass guy repaired the smashed rudder and added layer upon layer of glass mat to the ground down areas along the entire starboard side of the hull. When they say Morgan’s are built like tanks, their not kidding.

The violence of their hard grounding was readily apparent. The wind generator was gone and on its way overboard it smashed one of their solar panels. Their mainsail and genoa were both damaged; bulkheads were ripped free from the inside of the hull as well as electronics being damaged by water. The boat is water tight and floating so Skip and Lydia left yesterday to motor back to St. Petersburg to make the rest of the repairs at their home port so they can set out again as soon as possible.

Of note: there is a Cruisers Net here every morning on the VHF at 0900. It’s hosted by a different local everyday and is always interesting. First, new boats to the harbor are invited to introduce themselves then boats departing announce their plans. Then boats with something to sell call out what they have, boats looking for something or wanting to trade something all announce what they have or need. Then there’s general info which could range from a sale on boxed wine at Publix to which barber to avoid. Whatever tidbit you can share with the cruising community is welcome and any info you made need is out there for the asking. The local businesses all take advantage of the opportunity to make announcements about everything from the lunch special to what bands will be on stage tonight. It is quite a handy tool.

I’ve not been writing too much lately when were not moving about as I fear it may be a little too boring. I’ll keep sending these periodic updates and increase the frequency as we get rolling again. Oh, and its 80 degrees and sunny. 

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