Since it appeared we had some inclement weather once we arrived in Marathon, Randy and I decided we should get a ball in the Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field. We’ve been to Marathon many times on my parent’s boat as well as our own, but we had never been into Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field. This was something we wanted to do and it would also provide us with a place to park the dinghy to get to shore for walking Sophie, doing laundry, exercising and getting groceries. Since it appeared we had some time with the windy conditions, we decided we would stay a couple of days. Of course, that couple of days turned into about 6 as we realized we were stuck with the weather and we decided to make the best of it.
Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field is run by the City of Marathon Marina. We were very impressed with not only the helpful employees, but also the amenities and facilities. Once we called in and got our ball assignment, we navigated the channel to get to the spot. You can find an online map of the mooring balls beforehand so you know where you are going. This was very helpful for us newcomers. The dingy dock has 2 main areas you can park and we loved that it was divided in areas for soft dinghies and hard dinghies. Once we left our dinghy and visited the office, they gave us key cards for the showers and bathrooms and we also got our laundry key card (with a refundable $10 deposit). All the showers/bathrooms were cleaned every day and we thought the laundry facilities were great (albeit expensive at $3 per load). They even have a large community room with tables for folks who want to read, play cards, work on laptops with the free wifi as well as a large freebie library of books (divided by genres, subject, author). Folks can leave books there they’ve already read, and pick up ones they haven’t. I was almost finished with my current book and was able to find another book for our trip northward. Other areas include large garage-like areas where you can find folks working on projects such as fixing engines, repairing dinghies and sewing canvas. The area was free to use unless you wish you leave the project there for a $5 fee/per night. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there as well as being able to walk to West Marine and Publix.
Since we ended up staying awhile there, we spent days going to shore for long walks either to the 7 mile bridge or to Publix the other direction. Even though Sophie is trained on the potty patch, we still took her to shore every day for walkies and sniffies. We spent one full day running wire for our AIS antenna to complete that project.
The other great thing about being in Marathon was meeting like-minded cruisers like us. Upon arriving there, we posted in the CSY Sailboat Facebook page about the other CSY boats we saw there (3 total plus ours) and ended up having a meetup with another couple, Jana and Cameron, who had also just arrived in Marathon from Tarpon Springs aboard their CSY 44′ Walkover. They were staying at Safe Harbour Marina (Formerly Marathon Marina), so Randy, Sophie and I dinghied there to meet them and tour their boat. Later in the week, we had them over on Blue Turtle see our boat and discuss cruising plans. It was great to meet another cruising couple who also had the same boat as us. We look forward to seeing their updates on the Bahamas which is their next destination.
While we were there, we also got to catch up with friends, Ed and Kim, who we knew from Salty Sams. They left Salty Sams about a year ago and cruised northeast up to Phillidelphia and making their way back to Marathon. They were staying at Faro Blanco Resort and Marina (a place I know well from cruising with my parents). We we lucky to have a couple of evenings chatting with them about cruising northeast over cocktails. They gave us several tips and ideas that we’re thankful for.
Lastly, I was so happy to meet Carolyn Shearlock (@theboatgalley) and her husband, Dave. I’ve been a long time follower of her and her website, theboatgalley.com, which is a wealth of information for new and experienced cruisers in everything from cooking onboard and provisioning to useful tips for projects and maintenance. Over an Instagram exchange, she commented that they were in Boot Key and gave us their mooring # so we could stop by and introduce ourselves. While it was a crazy windy day on our way back from doing laundry, we stopped briefly to say ‘hi’. It was so nice to meet her and her husband, they were so very friendly and knowledgeable.
Finally, it appeared our weather was beginning to clear, so Randy and I checked out of the mooring field and stopped at Burdines Marina for some fuel and water. After that, we headed back our to the South Boot Key Anchorage right outside the channel and anchored in anticipation of leaving the next morning to head to Tavernier Key. To be continued….