Joy in Marathon
13 April 2017 | Moon over Marathon Mooring Field
It's been a wonderful month, almost a "vacation" in Key West, but now it is time to move on. We are underway again, heading east toward Miami, then north, back to North Carolina. Given time and more perplexing weather, we have decided to head back (slowly) rather than going into the Bahamas, which would have to be a short trip.
From Key West we had a very nice sail on Hawk Channel to Marathon where we picked up a mooring, planning to stay a couple days, but have now been here for nearly a week. A stalled front has left strong winds and rough seas all out of the east, northeast directly on our intended route. So we will sit it out this week in the hope that by the weekend things will settle down and we can move east to Biscayne Bay, then north to Miami,
Marathon is the Florida Keys version of "velcro" beach. It is a destination where snowbirds come to spend the entire winter. With more than 250 moorings, it is always busy and early in the season packed with boats, in addition to many anchored waiting for 2-3 weeks to even get a mooring assignment. Marathon is one of those stops that seems to have everything cruisers want, a beach, supermarket close by, a daily cruisers net, a very large park, loaner bikes, laundry, showers....you name it, its all here. It's not a particularly attractive place, most of the activities and shopping are all along Highway 1, so the traffic is heavy and moves fast through this small community. It has one of the largest mooring fields we have ever seen, and as you dinghy to the marina office its almost guaranteed that you will find a boat you already know.
Like many snowbirds, we head south to escape the winter in St. Louis, and while we don't get the season changes with snow, cold and ice its interesting to see how the seasons manifest themselves in Florida. It shows up in so many ways, the produce seasons change what is available in the fruit stands, fishing and crab/lobster seasons change. The biggest change here comes with the cold fronts that pass thru on an almost regular fortnight schedule. They bring regular, very pronounced wind changes, first out of the north, then clocking to the west, then east with a pattern that is repeated with only duration in question. Temperatures drop, although for Florida that isn't really a significant factor. The days are getting longer, and one of the interesting change is sun and moon rise. A couple of months ago, sailing at night, it was always disconcerting how delayed the moon rise was. It was so strange not having the moon up until 1-2 AM. I would actually pull out my phone to check Google Sky Map to see where the moon was below the horizon, just to be sure it was still there ! Now its very strange to look out of the boat to the east and see the moon high in the day-lite sky, and the west to see the sun setting on the horizon.