Monday, January 17, 2011

Marathon and Beyond

 We've been here for almost a week now and really still haven't seen much of the town. It's a long stretch of Highway 1 and we're back to foot power. Plus, I hate to complain since most of our blog followers have been in freezing cold weather, but I guess I'll whine a little anyway, it's been windy and a little chilly here. Not much fun for dinghy exploring and way to cold for swimming. Fortunately taxi service is cheap here and we have been able to complete our shopping and provisioning for the extended Bahamas cruise (more on that later).

The first thing we noticed when we made our way into Boot Key Harbor here in Marathon was how organized the City Marina is compared to Key West. We called the marina on the radio as we entered the harbor and were assigned mooring ball number Sierra 7 and Steve was assigned Sierra 6, right next to us. We dinghied into the office where we were checked in, given magnetic card keys to the showers and laundry room and received a nice welcome package from the local cruisers net which meets on VHF channel 68 at 9 AM every morning. They have wireless internet service and even a couple of TV viewing areas.
We tuned in to the cruisers net the next morning. This was our first experience with a cruisers net. Each day of the week there is a different moderator running that days net. They are very organized and they welcome new boats to the marina, have a "buy, sell and give away" time and also local announcements. Here are some of the fun things we did that we learned about on the cruisers net:

• Every Wednesday there is a pot luck at the marina. We attended the dinner and on the way in to the marina we met Matt and Christie on s/v Kaleo. They are from Kemah and kept their boat at Legend Point Marina, right around the corner from our home marina. They are also headed to the Bahamas and will be crossing with them tomorrow. We have had lots of fun getting to know them and have done some provisioning together. We look forward to spending some time with them exploring in the Bahamas and hunting lobster and fish.
Troy - It's a Good Day for the Blues!

• Every Saturday there is a gathering at the marina and everyone brings their instruments and plays music. Troy took his new guitar up and played a couple of songs. Of course he played Good Day for the Blues. We had a great time listening to everyone sing and play. We are looking forward to lots more times like this in the weeks and months to come.

• The day after our arrival the net announced a meeting for anyone interested in crossing to the Bahamas on the next weather window. We went to the meeting and found 11 other boats that are interested in crossing together. We have met a couple of times since then and I think we will have around 6 or 7 boats crossing together. Some of the boats have the same general itinerary as us so I have a feeling that we will get to know the people well as our paths cross along the way. Just one more great thing about cruising!

It looks like tomorrow is our big day. Everything is falling into place to make for a good crossing. There is not much wind predicted but and Gulf Stream should be calm and that is a good thing. We plan on leaving Boot Key at around 2:00 PM tomorrow, we will spend the night crossing the Gulf Stream and our plan is to arrive at South Riding Rock (apparently that's all that is there - a rock). It's important to arrive there during the day because the water depth will go from around 2500 feet to around 8 feet (or less) very abruptly. Then, suddenly - you are on the Great Bahama Bank! In clear, beautiful water!

We will take our time crossing the banks because our next arrival is at the Northwest Channel. It's about another 12 hours and we also need to arrive there in day light because it is a narrow channel from the Banks into the Tongue of the Ocean (I love that name, don't you?). Anyway, It's just the opposite of getting onto the banks, you go from really shallow to really deep through a narrow channel. We figure Steve will need to get some rest since he is single handing now so we will take most of the rest of that day and night to rest and cross the Banks to the Northwest Channel.

From there we have a few options but we are hoping to make it to Nassau on New Providence Island. The capital of the Bahamas, where we will check into the county and plan on where to go next. Watch the SPOT updates!

Fuzzy Stanley and Steve
Oh, yeah, I did mention provisioning.  We started provisioning back in Kemah and continued in Key West and in Marathon.  I believe that everything that we need will be available in the Bahamas - for a price.  We figured that the more that we can buy here, the less we will need to spend later.  Makes sense, right?  So we have purchased everything from shampoo to rice and anything in between that we could think of.  I hate to think of all the money we've spent, but hopefully it will save us in the long run.  One thing we learned was that, while rum is cheap, beer can cost as much as $40.00 a case.  We just can't seem to get our minds around that, and since we have been known to drink a beer or two, we started planning to see how much we can put on the boat.  The last count was that we have over 272 beers on Storvyille.  It will be interesting to see how long that will last.  I have also bought as many 2 liter diet cokes as I could.  I think I have about 15 of them. 

I feel like the adventure is finally beginning.  Getting across the Gulf was great and we have had lots of fun in Florida, but somehow getting to the Bahamas feels like the beginning of real cruising!

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. ~Alan Alda


Anonymous said...

sounds like it's more of a beer taste on a champagne budget, HAHAHA. now I know why "sailing Salsa" has a "buy me a beer" spot on his blog -hint hint! I would certainly buy both of y'all and Steve a beer right now! Stay safe!
Darryl and Dawn

Anonymous said...

Stay safe and keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

Love sailing with you from the comfort of home!

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited for the two of you - I agree with you, that the adventure is really starting now. Thanks for bring me along . . . .