Monday, May 6, 2013
Today is my birthday. I cannot think of a better way to spend it than on the water except if my friends and family could be with me to share this day. I had said last week that I would like to be in Marathon, FL for my birthday, and it’s going to happen. James is planning to take me out to eat tonight, and I will be able to get a hot shower with unlimited water! I’ve not had one of those in going on two weeks. YAY!!! Isn’t it amazing how when you do without, the little things become big things. Living simple is one of the aspects I like about sailing/cruising. Not that I don’t like flush toilets, unlimited hot water, a large refrigerator where everything stays the temperature it’s supposed to be, and Internet access whenever I want it. Doing without makes me appreciate more what I have, and I enjoy the idea of leaving a small footprint on our planet.
Saturday morning we left Crandon Marina after topping off our fuel tanks (they have the cheapest diesel in the Miami area), and sailed south to No Name Harbor, again. The last time we were there it was quiet with only a handful of sailboats and one or two motorboats. Not this time. It was crowded and noisy with motorboats of all sizes and kinds along with a few more sailboats than before. The motorboats came and went all day along with their very loud music. The majority of the boats had multiple girls in their requisite bikinis. James and I had decided that it was pre-Cinco de Mayo celebrating, but a fellow cruiser said it was just a typical Saturday. There was a cool breeze which made it nice to sit in the cockpit and people/boat watch. James also wanted to watch as other boaters anchored near us. When they got too close, he would give his very concerned look causing more than one to change their anchoring spot. One large cruiser became our central entertainment. First he came in and made multiple attempts to dock at the seawall at the pump out station with his bikini clad girlfriend who didn’t have any idea what to do with the boat hook. Finally they managed to tie up with some help. They pumped out and then proceeded to anchor behind us. Later in the day they decided to move and had great trouble anchoring to the extent of banging their anchor into the sailboat behind us. The girlfriend was helpless as they guy would run up to the bow and then back to the helm. Actually he wasn’t running which was part of the problem. We had decided he had too much drink. When he tried to anchor beside us, James suggested he move further up where there was more room.
The next morning we arose around daybreak to begin our sail down the keys with our ultimate destination –Key West. With little difficulty we followed the “breadcrumbs” we had lain with our GPS several days ago along the Cape Florida Channel to Hawks Channel. Once in Hawks Channel we raised the sails and sailed at a good clip of 7 knots all the way to Rodriguez Key. It was a gorgeous sailing day…perfect temperature and wind. Our first anchorage slipped at Rodriguez necessitating raising the anchor and trying again. Thankfully the second time we got a good hold because the wind howled at about 15 knots all night. James had set his usual anchor alarm and got up several times during the night to check on our holding. We should have slept in the aft cabin in retrospect because we rolled and flopped around in the V berth like we were on a night sail. I must say I’ve had better sleeps.
Again we arose around daybreak and were under way by 7:00 am. It was an overcast windy day with temperatures in the high 60’s for most of the morning. We dressed in long sleeves for the first time in a month. I had been concerned that it might be too hot in the keys; this was totally unexpected!
Last week James had asked what I wanted for my birthday. I had replied to be in Marathon. My birthday wish was coming true as we motored into Marathon Marina in Boot Key about 5:00 pm. After the usual settling into the dock and showers, we walked to 7 Mile Grill for my birthday dinner. We had hamburgers…not fancy but appropriate. My mother always cooked us our favorite meal for our birthdays. Mine was always hamburgers! We brought their famous Key Lime pie back to the boat for later. James surprised me with a candle that he had weaseled out of the waitress. He proceeded to light it and sing “Happy Birthday” to me.
We slept in on Tuesday morning and took it easy that morning. Marathon Marina has the best Wi-Fi yet from any marina so we took advantage. In the afternoon we walked to West Marine (sailors find it difficult to bypass) and then took a $5 taxi ride to Publix. While I was putting away our groceries, another sailboat came into the slip near us. Several of the men on the dock began helping them dock as they were having difficulty. The Island Packet’s new owners of less than a week are Paul and Paulette, Canadians who are working in the Netherlands at the moment. They had hired Captain Blaine, a licensed yacht captain, to assist them in sailing their new boat to West Palm Beach where it is to be shipped to Barcelona, Spain. Captain Blaine is a character who invited to go to Pirates Karaoke at the bar and grill down the street. It was a fun time listening to some rather good singers and others who were really bad but had a fun deprecating humorous attitude. Capt. Blaine being one of the good singers goaded us as a group into singing. After numerous rounds of drinks, we agreed to sing “Love Shack”. It was quite comical. I was glad it wasn’t being recorded!
On the way to Marathon we came by Tennessee Reef which was a surprise. Of course I had to Google it to find out more information. In the late 20’s and early 30’s several non-manned lighthouses were built to mark the reefs along the Florida coast. Tennessee Reef Light was constructed in 1933. It is the only one to still have its Fresnel lens and lights.