Monday, December 29, 2008

Small world

Marathon is one of those places where, if you hang out long enough, you are going to run into someone you know.
Yesterday at the pig roast at Dockside, we ran into Sande and Donnie from the catamaran "Gypsy Cat." We first met them back in January 2007 at Clearwater. They have a beautiful macaw named Pete.
After a pitcher of beer and some story swapping, they followed us back to our boat to meet Morgan.
Here's a picture we took of Pete during our first visit with them, almost two years ago.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in Marathon

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We had a great day yesterday. The good folks down at the "Dockside Bar and Grill" closed the business for the day and held a great Christmas dinner for the boaters in the harbor. They deep fried a bunch of turkeys, baked some ham and roasted a pig. Each of the 120 or so boaters brought a dish and we all ate entirely too much. Several local musicians provided entertainment.
Here are a few pictures.
I've been told by the Admiral that I absolutely must mention that our little Christmas tree sports an ornament made by Bev's sister Gayle. It is homespun wool that Gayle spun and died herself.
We had phone calls from all of Bev's boys, Mike's son Mike and granddaughter Chandra and Mike's sister Jane. (Bev also got to speak to her not-quite-one-year old granddaughter Kahlenn.)
Happy Birthday Julie!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tis the season

We've been busy getting ready for the holidays and partaking of holiday fun. Here are a few pictures of what we've been up to.
Last night, Bev's boss Debbie (she's the one with the funny headgear) drove us down to Key West to do the "Conch Train Holiday Tour." We saw all the Christmas lights on the houses down there. They have a contest for the best decorated house. I tried to get some pictures of the houses but the train was moving too fast.
Saturday night we went to the weekly jam session at the Tiki hut at the marina. Several performers were there, I got to do around 10 songs, and a splendid time was had by all.
I have also included a shot of Morgan playing in his new playground.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas is coming!

The last week or so has been really busy getting ready for the Holidays.
We went to a "tree lighting" at the hospital where Bev works, a holiday concert at the community theater, a boat parade and an "end of hurricane season" party. We even caught a glimpse of Santa and Mrs. Clause on the way to meet some kids.
Here are some recent pictures.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Touching history

We made it to Key Largo yesterday and got to see the "African Queen." As previously reported, she is in sad shape. It looks like no maintenance has been done in years. The old steam engine that Humphrey Bogart fiddled with in the movie is still there, but in obvious disrepair. An outboard engine bracket has been added to the transom. It looks ugly and out of place on a boat like this.
Here are a few pictures.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving and a party

On Thanksgiving, one of Bev's coworkers invited us to her house for dinner. We had a great time and ate our 7,100 calories as required. (Yep, that's the average American Thanksgiving dinner - 7,100 calories!)
Thanks Jody!
Last night (with borrowed car) we drove down to Ramrod Key. We went to a place called "Boondocks" (surprisingly upscale) to see Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band. They were having a CD release party for the release of their new live CD/DVD collection "Live on Duval." Just before the band went on, I walked up to Howard to say "Hi." He remembered us from Key West. Of course, we forgot the camera so no pictures today.
Bev offered to be "designated driver" and it was a good thing. I was not in shape to drive 20 miles back to the marina. (Hey, I said it was a PARTY!)
Today we are making a Christmas shopping expedition while we still have the car. We will be passing by the spot where "African Queen" is on display, so we are hoping to stop by and get some pictures. Look for them tomorrow. We hear that the current owner hasn't been diligent about maintenance and the boat is in poor repair, but it is still a piece of history for several reasons so while it's still there we want to take a look.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rope clutches

Folks have asked what rope clutches look like, so here are a couple of pictures.
The clutches have two positions, open and closed. In the open position, the rope can slide in either direction. In the closed position, the rope can slide through the clutch in one direction only. Thus, you can pull on the line and let go without the line pulling back from the weight of the sail.
This set is a triple, and we are only using two of the three clutches available. Someday, we may find a use for the third and we won't have to pay for it. (The price we paid for the triple was less than the new cost of a double.)

A day on the water

Recently, we bought a set of "rope clutches" for our main halyards. Ever since we started out, Bev has had a hard time raising the main by her self. The rope clutches allow her to pull each halyard a bit at a time and makes it much easier for her. Yesterday we took the boat out "Sister's Creek" to the Atlantic and sailed around for a few hours. Bev put the sail up by herself and sailed the boat by herself for about two hours including two tacks. She did really well.
When we got back to the harbor, Bev picked up the mooring buoy on the first try. She's really getting to be quite the sailor.
On the way back into the harbor we saw a huge manatee. They say that the cool waters farther north have driven the manatees all the way down to the Keys.
Here are a few pics of our expedition yesterday. Note the pic of the Man-of-War. Ouch! Don't touch one these guys.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Islands of Marathon

Palm trees swaying in the breeze
on this island that I call home.
It's the tropical life in the heart of the Keys,
the islands of Marathon.

from "The Islands of Marathon,
by John Bartus, singer, songwriter and former mayor.

Saturday, Bev and I took the ferry over to Pidgeon Key for a music festival that was held for the benefit of the foundation that operates the island. Several local musicians performed. There was food, beer, snacks and watermellon and a raffle. It was a great day.
After we got back we went over to the Tiki hut at the marina where several boaters had gathered with their guitars for an impromptu jam. I borrowed a guitar and did a few songs and tried my best to harmonize with the other guys when they sang.
All in all, it was another great day in Paradise.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On the ball...

Here are a couple of great pictures of Walkure "on the ball" in old Boot Key Harbor. The daytime pic was taken by the crew of Papillion, and the sunset pic was sent to us by Bob and Joanne on "RadioWaves." Thanks folks.
I've also included a pic of "Papillion" after the dismasting on Florida Bay.
Also in this batch is a picture of "Luna," a highly modified "Bolgeresque" boat with a junk rig. The basic design is similar to the AS-29, but Luna is 31 feet, with external leeboards and 3 masts instead of 2. The "doghouse" over the galley is farther aft and the interior layout is quite different. It does make for an interesting boat.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Settling in

We're starting to get settled in here in Marathon. Bev started work last week and I put in an application at the hospital. If I get the job, fine. If not, that's OK too.
Last Sunday we took a walk up to the Crane Point Nature Center. Our new friends Mike and Judy from "Papillion" joined us. We met them up in Goodland and they sailed their 25' MacGreggor down here from Naples. Their first crossing of Florida Bay was a lot like ours. Their second was much worse.
On the return trip across the Bay, they set out at 6:30 PM with the idea that the wind would be lighter at night. Wrong! About 15 miles out a pin failed on their forestay and the mast came crashing down. Fortunately no one was hurt and Mike was able to save the mast and sails. They motored back to Marathon Boat Yard and had the rigging repaired. A friend drove down with their truck and trailer and they trailered the boat home.
Hate to say it, but "Glad it wasn't us."
The day at Crane Point was a much better experience. We saw some rescued birds including an osprey, a falcon and a hawk. There were butterflies and lots of exotic plants and trees. We even saw a couple of parrothead fish in the lagoon by the point.
I've posted some pictures of Crane Point and a pic of Bev piloting the dinghy on her own. She's getting pretty good at it.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Well, we made it.
It was a TRIP, let me tell you.
We waited almost a week in Goodland. Not because we planned it, but just waiting for a favorable weather window. Florida Bay can be nasty unless you get the right wind, so we waited until the forecast wasn't too bad. Or so we thought.
The forecast for Wednesday into Thursday was for northeast winds 5 to 10 and Bay waters a "light to moderate chop." Well, as I've said before NOAA means "I have NOAA idea what the weather will be." It turned out once we got to the Bay the wind was north at about 20. More on that later.
We started out from Goodland about 9:30 Wednesday morning. The wind was light, but we were able to sail or at least motor-sail all the way to Cape Sable. It was a little on the cool side, but otherwise a pleasant day.
The trouble started around midnight. We passed Cape Sable and entered Florida Bay. The winds picked up and the waves started getting bigger. We were sailing on a dead run when we had two back to back "accidental jibes." The boom slammed first to port and then immediately back to starboard. The huge shock loads from the jibe broke the shackle that holds the main sheet block on the traveler horse. With no way to control the mainsail, we had to take it down and motor.
As we motored along in a steep following sea, the dinghy was surfing on the waves and catching up to us, only to fall back and put shock loads on the tow line. So, at 1:00 AM, I'm hanging off the stern rearranging the tow line to keep the dinghy closer and lessen its movement. Well, somehow I managed to leave a loop of line floating in the water which then proceeded to snag one of the zillion crab pots that dot the Bay. Our speed suddenly dropped from 4.5 knots, to 1 knot. We were actually dragging the crab pot along at one knot!
So, here I am again, hanging off the stern untangling the tow line from the crab pot.
Still, we carried on. We motored on through the night and arrived at the Seven Mile Bridge just after dawn. Once we could see again, we noticed that the pin had come loose from the main throat halyard. The block (one of the heavy old wooden blocks on the boat) was swinging free. Once again, I'm up on the fore deck grabbing the flying block and tying it down.
As we approached the Bridge, a wave broke under us causing the motor to lift clear of the water. The engine revved up wildly and I thought for a minute that we had broken the prop as it didn't settle down when the prop got back into the water. As we got near the bridge, our speed kept dropping and I thought we were losing power. It turned out just to be the tide flowing against us.
Yes it was an adventure. But as these things go, it could have been a lot worse. All night long we kept hearing Coast Guard "pan-pan" messages about a 34 foot wooden ketch that left Isla Mujeres, Mexico on October 20 bound for Fort Myers and now over due. It seems like every time we make a long crossing, we hear about a boat that's overdue.
We hope you enjoyed the "SPOT" messages we sent along this trip. These serve not only to entertain and inform you, but serve an important safety feature. These messages mean that somebody will always know where we are when we are at sea. The SPOT system also can alert the Coast Guard and give them our exact location if we send a distress message. We don't want to be the subject of any "pan-pan" messages that other mariners hear and say "Oh, well, glad it's not us."
Hear are a few pictures of our last anchorage at Goodland, the trip here and of course, Morgan taking bath.
Oh! I almost forgot - Happy Halloween!