Never-ending Boat Projects, Marathon, Florida Edition

It’s been a while. Hello, have you missed me? I’ve sure missed writing. Welcome to a post where I spew out whatever comes to mind.
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Last you heard, we were leaving Marco Island. We sailed from Marco Island to Shark River to anchor for the night before continuing further South to the Keys. Marathon, Florida, to be exact. We had been warned that the anchorage at Shark River would be riddled with bugs swarming all around. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. It was a dark night and we had an umbrella of stars surrounding us in all directions.
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Pulling into Marathon, down the channel and into Boot Key Harbor, we began to see what Hurricane Irma had left behind. Broken masts on sailboats, collapsing docks, and buoys marking the unknown beneath the water.

We were assigned a mooring buoy just before the marina closed for the night. RJ steered us in the right direction as I reached for the pennant. To my confusion, there was no pennant, just a rope coated in sharp barnacles. A woman from a nearby boat paddled towards us on her kayak asking if we needed any help. She told us that someone had ran over the mooring and broken it even before the storm.
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It was getting dark, so RJ was able to secure us using the shackles below the mooring ball until the marina relocated us to a new mooring a few days later.

Our first night in Marathon, our friends on Serenity invited us over for a drink and some catching up. It had been awhile since we had seen them, so we were happy to share some laughs.

If I remember correctly, our second day in Marathon was a fairly lazy one. On our third day, our aforementioned friends drove us down to Key West (they had an errand to run, we were dropped off to explore the island for the day).

We went sunglasses shopping, bought a dry-bag backpack, and ate at all the best vegan restaurants. After relaxing for a few moments on the Truman Little White House lawn, we walked through the surrounding area marveling at the huge trees hanging over the street all the way to the Southernmost Point. RJ thought this was “touristy,” and, it is, but I still liked it.
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We stopped in one of the 50 identical cigar shops so RJ could purchase some cigars. I thought this was “touristy,” but I didn’t tell him that.

As the afternoon started to turn into evening, we met up with our friends from Skinny Dipper, David & Kim. We had texted them earlier asking where the best happy hour was on the island and they invited us over to another “Looper” (remember, Looper = people traveling America’s Great Loop) boat for story telling and drinks. They were so kind to make us some rum drinks from mixtures of Hemingway’s rum, which we had taste tested earlier in the day and LOVED.
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After some quality hang-out time, we had to start planning on how to get back to Marathon. First, dinner. Then, vegan key lime pie. Then, four dollar bus up the ten mile bridge and back to our home on Patches. After all the food we had eaten, the bus ride seemed never ending. All I wanted was to crawl into bed.

Now, Marathon.

When we arrived in Marathon, our “plan” (loose term) was to visit Key West, provision, and leave for the Bahamas. Somehow, the “provisioning” part went from a couple days to an entire month really fast. Mainly, because, and as I’ve explained here before, one boat project turns into five boat projects which turns into twenty boat projects incredibly quickly.

If there was a graph for boat projects, it would be infinitely exponential.

Towards the beginning of our stay, we decided to order some more anchor chain. We decided, since we were ordering anchor chain, why not order a new stove while we’re at it? And maybe, some more LED lights, why not? An order for one thing turned into an order for nearly twenty things. All necessary, of course, but nonetheless, you get my point.

On a day while going back and forth from the dinghy dock, our dinghy motor started acting up so RJ went to work on that (all day every day for an entire week). What was wrong? A blown head gasket.

With a new stove, came the project of redoing our galley set up. This wasn’t too big of an issue, we just had to carve out a spot for it in the counter and viola! We now have a gimbaled stove. With this project came all the other overdue woodworking projects.
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Our bathroom was all dead space before and we desperately needed a shelf to aid in organization and storage. Our bathroom is nothing special, there’s no door or even a curtain, but the improvements that we’ve made to it in the past month and a half have been game changers. I highly recommend composting toilets and shelves.
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Other woodwork included pieces to create a secure place for food items and kitchen tools to be stored. Before we used two different methods: 1. bungee cords. 2. purposefully placing things on the floor before a crossing in order to avoid the inevitable “boom” from them falling themselves.

We finished a book we were in the middle of. Started and finished a second book. And started a third book since we’ve been here.

I have done yoga and practiced Spanish every day this year, so far.

RJ has made about a million friends.

I’ve wanted to go home more than once.

Other projects that we’ve completed since being in Marathon: heightened the floor in the bathroom, registered and figured out how to use our new Garmin inReach, unlocked RJ’s cell phone preparing it for a new sim card in the Bahamas, acquired a lot of spare parts and hoses, got new bed cushions, rebuilt the carburetor, re-organized our entire boat, etc.

RJ and I sailed out to Sombrero Reef for an afternoon, have spent time at the beach, and even made a bonfire under the full moon.
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We’ve cleaned the bilge out, twice. We’ve restocked the galley. We’ve refilled the water tanks. And we are ready to go.

I don’t want to hate on Marathon or the people here, too much, because everyone we’ve met has been more than nice. But, admittedly, I’ve never in my life wanted to take a vacation to Florida and somehow I’ve been in the state for over three months now. How did that happen?

Right now, as I sit here typing, RJ sits next to me with Caribbean chart books. Time for me to say goodbye to you all and say hello to the next leg of our trip.
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