Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Posted by Sean
We arrived in Marathon, Florida early Monday afternoon, where we dropped the hook just west of Boot Key (map), which offered some protection from the easterly winds and swell. Martin and Steph dropped their tender in the water and picked us up for dinner. We briefly cruised the Boot Key Harbor just to get a look at what 230 boats on closely spaced moorings looks like (not our style) before heading to the Sunset Grille, just a half mile from our boats, for quite literal sunset cocktails and a nice dinner.
Not long after my last post here Monday morning, we were joined by two different pods of dolphins, who swam with us, frolicking in our bow wave, for quite a long time. Dolphins often come over to check out our bow wave, but Vector is not quite fast enough to keep them interested for long, and our experience is that they will typically stay with us for less than a minute, hardly enough time to snap a good photo.
Not so with either of these groups, who each swam with us for several minutes, enough for me to get a handful of photos and even a short video. We speculated that these must be Keys dolphins and thus more laid-back and chill than their northern cousins. The water here is so clear that we could see them swimming well below the surface. The second pod, which numbered perhaps a dozen individuals, included a juvenile swimming with its mother, but those two swam away before I could get the camera out.
We enjoyed our brief stay near Marathon and could easily have spent a day or two, with at least another couple of restaurants with dinghy docks and even a way to get ashore for groceries and other supplies. But we were concerned that the sea conditions would deteriorate and decided to press on while the weather was nearly perfect, weighing anchor yesterday morning.
That meant arriving in Key West three full days before our scheduled arrival and thus our marina reservations. Blossom's slip turned out to be open and available, and they headed in to their marina yesterday afternoon when we arrived here in Key West. Our slip, however, is not available until after 11am this morning, which left us having to anchor yesterday afternoon.
Usually that's not a problem for us, but Key West is a notoriously difficult place to anchor. The best spots are off-limits inside a security zone around the Navy base, and what's left is chock-a-block with derelict boats, sunken wrecks, boats half aground, marginal liveaboards in ratty (sometimes dismasted) sailboats, and a handful of actual cruisers desperately looking for a safe spot to anchor.
On top of that, some enterprising outfits have discovered they can run watersports playgrounds out here in the anchorage, complete with bouncy pads and PWC rentals, without having to pay tax to the city, and two such outfits are taking up valuable real estate that could accommodate quite a few boats.
We drove around the anchorage for a full hour before finally finding a usable spot (map), ironically just a stone's throw from our marina -- we could see Blossom snug in her berth across the water.
Once we had the hook down we had a pleasant evening. We watched the enormous Carnival Dream depart her berth (we previously had to dodge out of the way for the smaller Carnival Ecstasy, which departed as we were coming up the ship channel), enjoyed the sunset over "Sunset Key" (really, Tank Island), and watched the city light up for the evening.
All is quiet this morning -- Key West is a late-night town. We'll weigh anchor mid-day and head over to our slip at Key West Bight, where we will settle in for the remainder of the year. It will take some patience and a lot of jiggling to get the boat stern-in to the dock, so we can unload the scooters. We definitely don't want to be here for a full two weeks without wheels.