It's been a fun couple days around here in Marathon - cold and windy (OK not like in the Northeast since there hasn't been any snow - although there was hail reported in Marathon!!!) but at least the sun has been shining most of the time...
The weather has actually been pretty unbelievable here - enough to make you seriously question the whole global warming thing (just kidding Al). Seriously though, it has been pretty wild down here - the wind has been consistently blowing about 20 knots out of the N/NE and on Monday night it was accompanied by a thunder and lightning storm of biblical proportions (surprisingly after a beautiful sunset!) Lynnie (on Rickshaw) clocked the wind down here at our dock at 42 knots and the paper indicated that Marathon had gusts up to 80 mph (yes folks that's hurricane strength, but since we're not officially in hurricane season it can't be called a hurricane and the winds weren't sustained at that level, so we'll just call it the "Big Blow"). In fact, we were trying to cook dinner when the rain had just started Monday night - it wasn't too bad so John, bedecked in slicker and nylon shorts so they'd dry quickly, decided to try grilling the steak topsides. Unfortunately just as John put the steak on, the heavy stuff decided to come down - the sky opened up with rain that could have wounded a water buffalo combined with whipping wind that was tossing the boat around like she was the SS Minnow - and did we mention the light show that had bolts of lightning sending tremors through the boat kitties as the thunder boomed around us (one good thing about being next to a sailboat in a marina is that it has a mast taller than we are which acts as a good lightning rod - made us feel a little better). Needless to say the grill didn't remain lit and Colleen rescued dinner as we all hunkered down inside to ride out the rest of the storm.
The next morning we awoke to a very tranquil Boot Key Harbor although that didn't last too long - the wind picked up and basically hasn't stopped blowing since! But we haven't let that get in our way - the other day we started a "family project" on the boat - waxing!! The four of us started at the bow with applicator pads, buffing cloths, a waxing machine and a drill with a buffing ball on it and went to work! Three and a half hours later we called it quits for the day but after getting the bow, the Portuguese bridge and the pilothouse all done - not a bad start although it'll take several more days before we get the whole boat done!! We shouldn't complain though since we have four people to wax our boat - according to Vicki on Tide Hiker, they only have one (Norm) and they have the same boat that we do!!! Last night over drinks in our salon, Norm was lobbying for a little waxing help - out of fairness he was saying that since Doug had 4 people to do the waxing, Doug should at least offer up a couple to Norm. Norm is a funny man!!!
While we were waxing the boat, we got a "manatee break" - I almost dropped my buffing ball as a HUGE manatee swam right under the bow of the boat! He was thirsty so we dug out the hose and had him sucking down water from the hose like a little baby. We let him drink for about 15 minutes before we had to shut off the hose and get back to work - our captain deemed the "manatee break" over - such a task master!! Our manatee buddy swam off to find the next hose...
On Wednesday we braved the winds to run boat errands and rewarded ourselves with the all you can eat Chinese buffet at the Panda for lunch!! I live for Chinese food so that was a good inducement...our captain knows me well! Yesterday while John worked on a column, Colleen, Doug and I spent the day at Crane Point which is a natural history museum and 63 acres of nature trails. What a hidden oasis in the middle of Marathon's strip malls, condos and resorts!! The museum deals with the geography and history of the Keys and Marathon in particular and also has exhibits on the flora, fauna, animals and fish indigenous to the Keys. We then got to walk through a native palm hammock, a mango trail, a butterfly meadow and numerous nature trails with an amazing variety of native trees and flowers, not to mention spiders, geckos, butterflies and dragonflies. The highlight though had to be seeing a hummingbird as it feasted on the nectar of one of the flowering bushes. I have never seen a hummingbird live before and it was unbelievable - it was green with some red around the tail, tiny and its wings moved at just about the speed of sound (at least that's what it looked like!!) - what an amazing treat!! We also walked through an early Bahamian settler's house which has been preserved and saw the Crane residence - the Cranes had bought the land in the early 50s and instead of selling off portions of it for development, they recognized its beauty and preserved it in its natural state. Some of the trails led along the Florida Bay and out to a point where bird sanctuaries and rookeries stood off the coast. It was truly a spectacular place to visit!
As if we hadn't walked enough for the day, we decided to try out The Fisheries restaurant for a late lunch - it is a great little clam shack-like place down past the Stuffed Pig on the Florida Bay side of Marathon. We placed our order at the window (Doug got a lobster reuben which was one of their specialties and it rocked!) and proceeded up to the Fish Tank for a few coldies - with the wind humming, we definitely felt like we were living on the edge! The bartender said that he had been there Monday night through the lightning and wind and that customers had been sitting down on the floor behind the bar as the wind whipped through the plastic window coverings throwing things from the bar around everywhere - glad we missed that one!!
Just as we were settling in for the night, Norm stopped by to say that the Tide Hiker and Rickshaw crews were planning on heading to Dockside to take in a little blues for the evening. Sounded good to us - but then again any excuse to party sounds good to us!! So we met Norm and Vicki (complete with cap and gloves - it was really cold and windy!!) and Rick and Lynnie down at Docksides to listen to the blues band. Turns out it was Lynnie's birthday - I knew there was a reason to celebrate!! She had treated herself to a pedicure that day and was showing off her toes for all to see - as a cruiser, little treats like that are cause for lots of happiness!! By the end of the night though, her toes were frozen and she was wishing she had socks on like the rest of us!!! The band played Sweet Home Alabama just for Lynnie as we all danced (dancing in crocs was a first for us, although my niece danced at her wedding in her purple crocs!!) - as the band said, they played Lynnie-yrd Skynyrd - cute!!! Although the heater kept us a little bit warm, the cold overtook us and we headed back to the boats. Not wanting to call it a night though, we wound up having an apres party in the salon of Gypsies with Norm and Vicki. The boat kitties were not amused as we had to relocate them downstairs from their favorite spot on the loveseat - there was no sitting upstairs on the flybridge last night that's for sure!!! It's amazing what you learn at these impromptu get-togethers - who knew Norm's favorite movie is "Spaceballs, The Movie"??
Today is about as cold as it (hopefully) ever gets this far south - it's climbed all the way up to 58 degrees but with a wind chill more like 33 (with the 25 knot winds here on the water). So we've pretty much been hunkered down in the boat all morning - Doug has been down in the engine room hooking up a battery monitor (the work of the boat mechanic/captain is never-ending!) and Colleen's been reading the paper wrapped in a blanket with Puss in her lap for added warmth!! Today we are headed off with the Gang (Vicki and Norm -Tide Hiker, Lynnie and Rick - Rickshaw, Stephanie and Bob - September Song, and Robin and Jim - Adventures) for pizza and to drive down to Big Pine Key to see Robin and Jim's new house! Whenever the Gang gets together, you know there will be some fun happening (along with some wine and coldies)...we'll keep you posted!
Happy Birthday, Dee Dee!!!
1 day ago