Anyway, life in the Keys is a little different from what I had imagined. The parts of Marathon we’ve seen so far are not very picturesque. It seems to be highway and strip malls. But on the plus side we’ve managed to run a few errands and stock up on a few badly needed supplies. A Home Depot, Kmart, CVS and 2 grocery stores are within walking distance. Surprisingly, though, no really cool places to eat.
The harbor is only about half full – perhaps about 200 boats. Some of the folks seem to be permanent residents – and others like us are just passing through. Another thing I’ve found surprising is how quiet it is. With so many boats, fairly close together I’d expected a lot of noise from dinghies, music, etc. It’s actually just the opposite – except for the howling wind – it’s very quiet. Boaters seem to be very respectful of their neighbors.
We are about a 10 minute dinghy ride from the huge dinghy dock. Now this marina is definitely not the fanciest place we’ve visited, but it has all the essentials and is clean. The dinghy dock has a place where you can tie up and fill your jerry cans with water while still in the dinghy. They have a new shower/restroom building with about 12 showers. Again, nothing fancy, it’s all cement – but it’s clean. There’s a huge laundry room where the washers/dryers all seem to work well – and they even have a table for folding – and rather than using quarters (of which you never have quite enough) they use a sort of debit card. (I was lucky on that one – as I was able to buy one on my Amex ).
They have a huge building that looks sort of like a warehouse. Big garage type doors open on both sides. Part of it is used as a project room, part of it has storage lockers (for rent), and the rest is a very large boaters lounge. One huge wall is filled with books for swap, they have picnic type tables next to the opposite wall with power outlets – which seems to be a popular place for folks to power up their laptops and use the free wi-fi. They even have two areas with large screen tv’s and theatre style seating. Now again, none of this is fancy – it’s all very practical, no-frills and clean. The only downside is the place closes up around 6 p.m.
Some really good news is that we’ve finally met some families with children onboard! The first evening we went in for showers children were pointing to Coleen and shouting “Look there’s the new kid!” She quickly made new friends and we were invited to a gym class for homeschoolers being held the next day.
There is a lovely new park next to the marina with a playground, tennis courts, a huge basketball/roller hockey rink, skateboard park, and ball fields. The homeschoolers gym class was at the park. Coleen had a wonderful time and I met several other mom’s who filled me in on other activities, including an art class at the park on Saturday. We were invited on a field trip to a Christmas house next week – not sure of the details but we have to take a ferry.
Another good feature is the beach! It’s about a 15 minute dinghy ride through some canals to reach a lovely town beach. It has a beautiful large swimming area, with clear water, restrooms, picnic tables, and a playground. There’s even a place to land the dinghy. Coleen and I took a little trip over there yesterday – a little Thanksgiving stroll on beach – not bad.
Now for the not so good part! Tuesday night we had the most horrible storm we’ve encountered so far. The wind was nothing short of fierce. Lot’s of almost non-stop lightning too – and driving rain some of which managed to find it’s way into the boat – in the form of newly found leaks. I got up to look outside as I heard a loud unfamiliar noise as though something had scooted across the cabin top. I thought perhaps the anchor had popped free. I put on my foulie and literally crawled down the deck to check things out. Everything seemed to be in order – but I sure wished I had put on an extra line to the mooring. That thing was really straining, but it was too late. I was totally soaked by the time I crawled back inside. I changed clothes, and put away a bottle of red wine that was sitting on the counter. Just about that time we were hit by a huge wind that sent us heeling over almost to the rail! Things went flying inside the boat! I was very, very scared and thinking “crap, I’ve come all this way just to die in a damn harbor!” I’m sure it didn’t last long although it seemed it at the time. Soon enough we were upright and I started picking up. It rained buckets and hailed and the wind blew like crazy all night!
The next day we heard that several boats had recorded 100 mph wind during that gust. One trimaran was flipped over, lots of boats lost canvas and biminis, and things off their decks. Only one boat broke free of it’s mooring. There were reports of a couple of twisters too. We were lucky the only thing lost was Coleens’ fishing pole. I still can’t believe that our bimini held up.