Waiting for Weather in Marathon, Florida! Visit Our Neighborhood!

Mid-Life Cruising requested something on Marathon in the Florida Keys  … since last winter we just stopped for 2 days at Marathon Marina to jerry-rig our broken throttle cable, this post from 2004 when we left the country to go cruising seemed more interesting!

Sailing Under 7 Mile Bridge

Sailing Under 7 Mile Bridge

One of the hardest things we had to do was actually LEAVE the marina.  For almost 4 years, it had been our “home”, we had friends and now we were venturing into unknown territory.  Both of us were thrilled and a trifle apprehensive all at the same time.  We sailed overnight to Marathon, sailing under the 7 Mile Bridge right at sunset on Friday evening, October 29, 2004.  I still cannot believe David SAILED under the bridge, I’m not sure that’s even legal.  We dropped anchor west of Boot Key Harbor at Marathon about 8:05PM.  Before we even had the snubber lines on the anchor & the diesel shut off, a launch roared up with a BIG spotlight shining directly on us & two big blue flashing lights.  Uh oh, what have we done now?  We were exhausted & not a little amused when the US Coast Guard demanded we turn on our anchor light immediately.  I obeyed, but I still think they could have given us time to anchor — the bow light was on, so it wasn’t like other boats couldn’t SEE us!

Sobering news to end this week in Marathon … when we tuned into the morning net this morning, we heard that a body had been discovered in the harbor.   Apparently, the victim was a late 40’s/early 50’s man living alone on a sailboat about 30 boats up the harbor.  He had a drinking problem & apparently fell & drowned sometime during the night.  Very sad, alot of people on boats around us knew him & liked him.


Pumpout Boat

Pumpout Boat Refused to Return Until We Fixed Our Gushing Geyser Problem!

Come to think of it, the start to the week wasn’t all that great either, altho’ it was just another misadventure on Winterlude….. Monday morning first thing, we had scheduled the pumpout boat to visit.  David went up to open the waste deckfill and did NOT enjoy a gushing geyser almost as big as Yellowstone!  Both portholes were open, luckily the only one that got massively splashed was the shower where the dirty (now REALLY dirty!) laundry was sitting. The poor man on the pumpout boat was not amused, although he only got splattered, it was David that took the brunt of the geyser, poor David!   It took a couple more hours to clean up the mess and then the rest of the day to dismantle the holding tank & follow all the hoses to find the clog in the air vent line.  David actually pounded a screwdriver through it because it was clogged with a combination of rust & salt. All is not always pina coladas in paradise!!!


Sunset in the Mooring Field, City Marina, Boot Key Harbor

Sunset in the Mooring Field, City Marina, Boot Key Harbor

One of the best things about being stuck in Marathon is the neighborhood we live in!  Every morning at 9 AM, Channel 68 on the VHF radio blares “GOOD MORNING MARATHON”  and the morning net begins.  The purpose of the net is to let all the boaters discuss matters of importance, social plans, who needs help for what, free stuff being given away, anything for sale or wanted to buy, formulating buddy boat groups for boats traveling the same directions, a daily trivia question, & so on.  Two mornings ago, a blue dinghy (i.e. family car) had escaped & was hiding in the mangroves behind s/v Julio, it was reported & a friend of the owner retrieved it for them while they were still at work.  Yesterday, s/v Ilira needed help to go up the mast, instantly two boats volunteered.  We needed someone to replace zippers on our new dodger — the guy that made it forgot the zippers attaching the isenglas (clear plastic) to the back of the dodger forming our “greenhouse” around the cockpit in bad weather.  We asked on the morning net & immediately afterward, Andrea, came past our boat in her dinghy, took the measurements, made arrangements to pick up the dodger on Saturday & had it fixed & back to us less than 24 hours later!

This afternoon there was a potluck up at City Marina – a huge old empty warehouse … very similar to Y Flyer potlucks, BYOB & meat & a dish to pass.  There was SO much food, that from now on, we won’t be bringing meat!!!  40-50 cruisers attended and at least 6 dogs.  After the meal, the captain of Flying Fortress (a former RAF – royal air force – pilot)gave a nice discussion of celestial navigation.  Several boats brought their sextants & we all learned.
David Swears the Boat Won't Hold More Food

David Swears the Boat Won’t Hold More Food

New to the neighboard is “Smorgasboat”, a service started by Chris on s/v Tevake in front of us.  “Smorgasboat” is an electric boat — actually two, one is named “One” and the second is named “The Other” — very creative, huh? 🙂  “Smorgasboat” delivers fresh ground, delicious columbian coffee, warm pastries & the morning newspaper daily along with other errands — a floating Starbucks that will also get your propane tank refilled! He doesn’t do groceries though, claims we women are too finicky about specific brands!

Then there’s “The Ericka”, circa 1928 82′ luxuryliner that’s anchored about 4 boats west of us.  What a GORGEOUS old wooden boat.  It’s owned by Reynold & Marlene who restored it from the empty hull.  They have all the ownership papers & history on the vessel – fascinating! Reynold also invented his own LED lights which he’s selling all over the harbor!  The LED anchor light replaced our existing anchor light that burned 2 amps an hour.  The new LED burns 80 milliamps, or .08 amps an hour!

Lest anyone think that waiting for weather is all toil & no FUN, think again!  There were several gorgeous days – just not the 5 in a row that we needed for the crossing to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.  Here we enjoy a sunset wine dinghy cruise out to the little island David & I did our first PADI Open Water dives – just off Sombrero Beach, Marathon.
Dinghy Wine Sunset Cruise

Dinghy Wine Sunset Cruis

Friends, Barger & Betty requested a restaurant guide for Marathon — our favorites were:  Key’s Fishery, a great little restaurant, bayside at 35th St — turn right after the Overseas Lounge, a biker bar & it’s about 2-3 blocks down, approx mile marker 49.  This place is all picnic tables outside on the water, you order at a window, give them your favorite cartoon character & they call you by the cartoon character to come get your food.  Drinks the same. Bon Appetit magazine wrote it up two years ago. Lots of atmosphere, but no “service”!  Sandy — that yellowtail was as good as I’ve ever had, two meals worth & $14.95 pp!!!  Other restaurants we liked:  The Quay, The Island, Castaways & Cabots (sunset).

And Another Spectacular Boot Key Sunset

And Another Spectacular Boot Key Sunset

Weather forecast:  blowing 25, gusts to 35 tonight & tomorrow (Monday).
Blah, makes for a wet dinghy ride to shore!  Late this week, we may have a weather window to leave Marathon & maybe even cross to Isla!  Keep your fingers crossed that this time next week — or maybe a day or two later, if we can’t leave until Friday — we’ll be writing from Isla Mujeres, Mexico!

Bon Voyage!

Any more recent cruisers with information about Boot Key Harbor, please leave a comment and share!  We plan to return there to wait on weather to go to the Exumas (S. Bahamas) this winter!


  1. […] We didn’t think we needed or wanted a generator, we had solar and wind energy. But sitting in Marathon, FL Keys, waiting on a weather window to sail to Isla Mujeres and the Western Caribbean, the weather turned […]

Speak Your Mind