Marathon Fl. ( Boot Key Harbour)
09 December 2016
When we arrived we anchored outside of Boot Key Harbor. Although we had good protection from East and NE winds, which was blowing 25 knots, if the wind shifted to the West, the anchorage would be uncomfortable at the least. Dale got on the cruiser's net, channel 68, and asked if there were any good anchoring spots inside of Boot Key Harbor. We were told there was a good spot at marker 16, and 20 minutes later we were anchored there. From this spot, we cut off over a mile for our dingy ride to shore for restaurants, etc.
There are 226 mooring balls in Boot Key Harbor and all of them were taken. There were also an additional approx. 200 boats anchored in Boot Key Harbor. The Harbor is really pretty at night, with the anchor lights looking like stars, and many of the boats decorated for Christmas with additional lights ran up the halyards to the mast top. Sundown is especially a nice time for sundowners (cocktails in the cockpit). Numerous cruisers also traditionally salute the sunset by blowing their conchs. For the uninitiated, this means they have a conch shell that they are able to blow; that is if you are trained. It is not as easy as it sounds, but makes for a beautiful sound at sunset throughout the harbor. There is also a cannon that is fired at sunset and usually a few nice fireworks as well. The wind is usually blowing and there is slight chill to the air, which makes for a very nice evening.
There are lots of manatees coexisting with the boaters, and they like to come up into the protected waters of the city marina and beg for someone to turn on a water hose so they can drink fresh water. We saw a cow (female manatee) with her two little ones where we tied up at the dingy dock.
We were sad to find out that last year Docksides closed. It was a wonderful watering hole and restaurant and a good place to take in a live band. We had intended to go there Sunday but the good people at Poncho's fuel dock informed us it had closed. Mike was there making his world renowned smoked fish dip, so we did not miss the chance to pick some up. It made for a delicious appetizer to go with our sundowners. It was awesome, but we sure to miss the delicious wings we used to get at Docksides.
Marathon is the place most cruisers from the Southeast come together to wait for a proper weather window to cross the gulf stream and go to the Bahamas. Crossing the gulf stream can be very dangerous, which is why it is important to pick a good weather window. Some people wait a few days, others over a month, and some never leave. One cruiser stated he had been waiting for five years..:) Many cruisers come down just to spend the winter and then return home. There are lots of people from all over, and the vast majority are willing to help someone in need. There is a daily cruiser's net on the VHF radio, and all types of activities are scheduled, from softball to pot luck dinners. Overall, a very good place to hang out and wait for a crossing.
Dale & Christina