Our friends John and Pat were set to leave on Saturday the 15th of November, so we met them last Thursday night at the Rusty Anchor on Stock Island for a last dinner with them until we see them next year in Key West.
The food was great, as expected. I may have had the best pan fried dolphin that I had eaten since arriving in the Keys, and the price was very reasonable. The Rusty Anchor has a fish processing facility at the rear of their family owned restaurant, and you can't get fish much fresher, unless you catch it yourself, and anyone who has been reading this blog knows about my ability to catch fish.
On Friday, Rosie and I loaded up the Zuma for the trip to Marathon. One of our foldable motorcycle ramps was placed on the dock leading up to the gunnel, and one was placed from the gunnel down into the cockpit. The ends of both ramps were fastened to a nearby cleat, and Swing Set was tied fast as close to the dock as possible.
We were offered help from a new dock neighbor, but being an independent sort, I wanted to see if my highly engineered plan would work in reality, and it did.
The scooter was tied down at the front and our new cover for it was put in place. I never thought we could put a scooter on our boat without a crane of some sort. It's nice to be able to carry our two important modes of transportation along with us, the Zuma, and the dinghy.
Our two dock neighbors, Jeff and Sandy, had some guests coming in, and we were invited to join them for dinner aboard the 63 foot Prout catamaran that they have for sale at the dock we share. The boat is offered at just over two million smackers, and it's a beauty. The mast is 110 feet tall and the boat takes up the most of the width of two slips.
Dinner was stone crab and lobster, plus a scrumptious salad. Their friends were very nice and we had the best send off from Stock Island Marina Village and Key West that we could ever hope for. We know we'll see Jeff and Sandy on our travels along the way in our future.
We filled up with diesel on Saturday morning after being waved off by several of our dockmates at the marina. We didn't need fuel, but diesel had dropped to $3.53 per gallon, the cheapest we had seen it since leaving St. Louis, and it is still well over $4 per gallon in Marathon, so fill 'er up!
We made a slow cruise to Newfound Harbor, about midway from Key West to Marathon, and anchored just off of Picnic Island, intending to stay a couple of nights on the hook.
It was hard to imagine that we hadn't been overnight on the hook in over fourteen months!
The wind was up and we bounced around a bit, but with our Drag Queen application activation of the iPhone, we slept rather soundly and our anchor stayed put.
Some other boaters started arriving to spend the day at Picnic Island, and we started out just laying on deck and enjoying the sunshine, but at around 2 P.M., I started getting anxious to head to Marathon.
We pulled up our hook and left Newfound Harbor in some fifteen mile per hour north easterly wind, which put the two to four foot waves on our starboard quarter beam, making our trip a little bumpy. My concern was the stability of the Zuma strapped down in the cockpit, but it stayed in one spot, thankfully. The cover kept the salt spray off.
We dodged crab pots all the way into Marathon. I don't know about what laws regulate the placing of crab pots, and I suspect there aren't any short of having a license for them, but the floating markers are land mines to be avoided. A sharp eye is necessary to spot them, and even if we had auto-pilot, there is no way we could utilize it. A short trip can be taxing, given the anxiety level present. I'll never buy stone crabs again, and I hope the fishermen who litter the cruising lanes with their traps rot in hell.
We slipped into Marathon Marina about an hour before dark. We pulled into the inner harbor and was met by Judy the dockmaster. She helped us tie up along the sea wall where we intended to unload the Zuma before heading to our awaiting slip.
I tried something that I had not intended to do, having some time to think about it on our way, plus a few Bud Lights did help in my thinking process. I put the motorcycle ramps leading out of the starboard side of Swing Set, having had them placed on the port side when we guided the scooter onboard, so that we could push the scooter forward putting it in, and also push it forward leading it out. Seemed like a good idea to me. (I haven't driven a two wheeled vehicle backwards, on purpose anyway.)
Everything went well until the Zuma reached the top apex of both ramps, and then the rear luggage case got stuck against the bottom of the flybridge.
The prudent thing to do would have been to return the scooter back into the cockpit and remove the top case, but I was determined, and always doing the prudent thing is not one of my strong suits.
I was only lacking less than an inch in clearance, and the top case is thin plastic, so with just a gentle push, the Zuma popped free onto the downward ramp and onto the parking lot with not a scratch on it.
We pulled around to our slip where some dock neighbors helped us nose into the slip. We applied some dock lines in a temporary basis, plugged in the shore power, and walked over to the office to check in.
We got back to the boat just as the sun was setting, and this is our view from the stern which we can see every night from our new home.
There is some exposure from westerly waves, but the wind rarely comes in from the west, plus there is shoaling in the basin just behind us which protects the boat from most waves from that direction unless it's a major storm. If very bad weather is imminent, we'll grab a spot in Boot Key Harbor, a well know hurricane hole, just around the corner.
We spent the next day washing salt off of Swing Set and running power, cable T.V., and water lines. Being docked "bow in" requires us to run more lines than we normally would, but having an extra set of 50 foot 30 AMP power cords came in handy, as did having enough water hose to supply our onboard system, and also to have enough to put on a dock mounted hose rack for washing down the boat.
I did have to make a trip to Home Depot to buy some more coax to hook up the cable. I bought a short 3 foot section to leave a "pigtail" in the trunk at our stern, so that I can unhook the cable and water supply at the stern and leave those two lines at the dock when we go out for a cruise. The power cord connection is also near the stern, actually no further away than the connection we had at Stock Island Marina Village, so I can disconnect from the extra cord I ran along the pier, and stow our regular power cord in the trunk. I never leave all the power cord at the dock. You never know when you might have to stay at a dock away from your home port. You want a power supply cord with you at all times.
I finished running lines and cords yesterday morning and Holly approved of my work. I did have to make amends for the tidal swings, something I had become a bit uncertain of at our floating berth at Stock Island, but I made my line attachments at low tide, and checked for line length later in the day at high tide. We are using very long spring lines to account for the tide changes too. I think we have a good system for normal use, and tying and untying for a cruise should be a snap, especially since we don't have to back into the slip. Sweet.
We were able to watch network T.V. last night for the first time since leaving Dinner Key a year ago last September. We did miss Brian Williams on the Evening News, but I don't think we missed much else. But some T.V. will take up some time on the long nights, and we did join Netflix again for the DVD program. The mail here is easy to get and we signed up for the three DVD at a time plan, so even with the slower mail here in the Keys, we should have at least one DVD in our mitts at any given time.
We have a nice pool here at Marathon Marina for our use, but this picture was not taken today. The cold front that has invaded lower Florida has blasted in and it was a blustery 64 degrees this morning! Brrrrrrr!
Maybe we'll be able to use the pool by Sunday, it'll be back into the 80's by then, but today we're going to snuggle in and make a big ol' pot of Hungarian Goulash from my grandmothers recipe. We have plenty of time to explore Marathon. We think we'll be here a long time.