Friday, February 20, 2009

Marathon East to Marathon West



Greetings to all from Marathon! I have to apologize to our followers for not updating the blog for such a long period of time, but in our defense we have only just realized that we have been here for 2 months. We thank all who wrote, and for the stream of concerned e-mails wondering if we were still on the surface. Rest assured we are still here, and are living in a world where the saying “My how time flies when you are having fun!” is a mantra for life.

Once a cruiser reaches a particular destination, there is a tendency to stay put for a while. Everybody begins with the intention of cleaning up the boat, re-provisioning and setting off again, but there is something hypnotic about Marathon that causes people to stay much longer. It is perhaps one of the paradoxes of cruising that I have heard repeated over and over from many hardcore long term cruisers, a group in which Pat and I are still novices. So despite the fact that cruisers are adherents of a nomadic lifestyle, there is a tendency to plant roots very quickly. Certainly that was the case for Pat and me, because after arriving in Marathon Harbor on December 21 we have moved maybe a total of 12 miles. And most of those 10 miles were used to exit the harbor and take care of little household chores like flushing the holding tanks 3 miles off shore!

The mark of how long a boat has been here is by looking at the amount of sea scum that has built up on the water line of a moored or anchored boat. The fresh arrivals show up with waxed hulls, clean dinghies and clear boot stripes. The long term residents however keep their dinghies looking appropriately scruffy, so they are less theft prone and their water lines resemble a reef. Most make an effort to keep their vessels looking tidy, but there are always a few that are like the suburban neighbor who never mows his lawn, and let their vessels decay to a floating Dog Patch. The intermediate residents like Pat and me only have a thin layer of slime on the water line and the slightest hint of barnacles at the edge of the bottom paint. The bottom of our unprotected dinghy however is an entirely different story, and will require a trip to the beach with paint scrapers to get clean again.

In some respects our cruising life really only began on Feb 1 of this year. On that date, we moved onto a mooring ball in the Marathon mooring field from our fully serviced slip located behind a million dollar home on the very toni Sombrero Boulevard. We have now been on the ball for nearly 3 weeks, and during that time, we have been making our own water and electricity on our own self contained off grid island. Since our plans are to go farther a field, getting some practice in how to balance the systems to make the best use of our resources is very helpful. Between our solar panels, and a small gas generator, we are able to make water, have hot showers, watch TV, surf the internet, toast bread etc. in other words all the comforts of home provided we don’t overdo it.

The mooring field here is one of the largest in the US and holds hundreds of boats. In addition to the “official” moorings, there is also space for those who prefer to sit on their own ground tackle for free. Speaking of free, it is entirely possible to live down here for next to nothing. While every cruiser has their own sense of what “next to nothing” really means, I am convinced that there are people in the harbor who survive on only a few hundred dollars per month. For $140 per month, one can anchor in the harbor, have a place to dock their dinghy, a place to park your bicycle, free showers, and a weekly pump out of the holding tank. Food in the Keys tends to be a little pricier than it is elsewhere, Pat paid $1.20 for a single potato the other day, but with some judicious shopping a couple of hundred dollars spent on basics, supplemented by a few hours a week with a fishing rod can provide a pretty decent diet.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are many million dollar homes, with million dollar boats parked in front of them. For the uber rich crowd, Marathon offers amenities like a private 103 member golf course, an airport with plenty of parking space for your Gulfstream or Challenger, and perhaps most importantly for some, the ability to disappear into the crowd, like the Chinese emperor who dressed as a peasant to get closer to his subjects. Unless you are extremely observant it is not possible to tell the princes and paupers apart. Last night for example, a former member of the Clinton cabinet, was plucking his banjo as back-up to one of the local bar singers.

At the end of this month, we will leave Marathon for either the Everglades or we will continue down the Keys towards Key West. We are fortunate enough to have the choice and the time in which to exercise it. Several of our friends have contacted us to let us know they are heading this way, so we are looking forward to meeting as many of them as possible. I can’t promise that I will post every week like we did coming down here, but I will make an effort to be a little more diligent in providing news and pics than I have in the last month…or is it two???

Have a great week, and stay warm!

Addison

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1 comment:

Carol & Helmut said...

As one of the "worried many" from PCYC, it's great to hear that you are doing well and enjoying life in Marathon. Pat definitely looks relaxed in the cockpit!
Thanks for the update, and keep well.

Carol & Helmut