Okay, my bad. Just having too much fun in Marathon to blog, as it’s a real effort for me to sit and write. Here’s the catch-up on our two week stay in Marathon. Although we were initially planning to stay for just a few days, mechanical problems and wind and sea state kept us a bit longer. As we tooled into Marathon, a call to the harbormistress revealed no room at the inn. Suz and Susie got on the horn, and Susie found that Pancho’s Fuel dock (&Marina) had 2 spots available for us. As I headed down the fairway, I had my doubts about the size of the slips. Tatianna assured us they were wide enough for us. When I rotated to back in, Suzanne kept telling me to pull forward to clear the pilings on the stern. When my bow pulpit rotated over the boat across from us’ stern, I thought the guys eyes were going to pop out of his head. As we eased back into the slip, I didn’t need to worry about drifting sideways, as the keel was aground. Well, no harm, no foul. After Jeff backed in next to us, we got a standing ovation from the patrons at Burdine’s bar, where the restaurant was emptied as we came in. Later, we got on the waiting list for a mooring ball with the City.
Soooo, here’s the skinny on the clutch issue. The generator motor has a power take-off on the front, which turns an auxiliary hydraulic pump that provides power for our emergency get-home motor. Between the PTO and the hydraulic pump is a clutch, which is disengaged most of the time. The only time that we use it routinely is when we need a little extra “oomph” in the form of increased hydraulic pressure for our anchor windlass and/or bow thruster. Of course, if the main engine cacked, we would need the pump to power the get-home. You may recall that I changed out the clutch when I discovered it had vomited its’ bearings during a routine belt change in Stuart. When the new one started tap, tap, tapping in The Everglades, I took it as a bad sign. Pitt Industries, the clutch manufacturer, was nice enough to send another new one to Marathon for us (no $). Meanwhile I ordered some other parts, just to make sure that every link in the chain was pristine. Long story longer, it took a while for all the stuff to arrive. After all the goodies were delivered, the new clutch, coupler, and hub were installed in an hour or two, with Jeff supplying the much-needed muscle. Sounds good, looks good, we’ll see how it does. While there, I also took the opportunity to change oil, filters, impellers, and transmission fluids. Hope the Girl is happy.
We had plenty of time to play, too. Marathon is just across the 7 Mile Bridge from Big Pine Key, where Suzanne and I had met while on Spring Break from the Universities of North Carolina and Michigan, respectively-lots of fond memories of good times for us here. The afternoon that we arrived, we rode our bikes over to another marina where Betty, on another Krogen, “Lili”, had graciously agreed to accept our mail for us. Betty and “Lili” were gone, but Rob and Sue, aboard “Papillon” had the goods. They also invited us to Burdines restaurant/bar, where local Krogen owners congregate every Friday night to listen to live music and swap lies. That evening, we all walked over to meet the gang, eat, and listen to some tunes. It turned out that there were about 20 or so current or former KK owners in Marathon that get together regularly during the winter, including the Wednesday morning breakfasts at the Sunset Grille. When you have a Krogen, you don’t just have a boat, you’re part of a cult, and they’re everywhere!
There was lots to keep us occupied: We walked the old 7 Mile bridge, which is maintained (sorta) for bikes and peds only. The 4 mile walk out to Pigeon Key and back with a mile bike ride to and from gave us an opportunity for a little exercise in the mornings. Suzanne and I remember driving over it before the new bridge was built.(1982) The Turtle Hospital on Marathon treats injured turtles from all over the Keys, helping to preserve some nearly-endangered species. Most of their patients are released after stays ranging from a couple of months to a year. Some are permanent residents, having injuries severe enough that they couldn’t survive in the ocean again. The most common of these injuries they call “bubble butt”. When a turtle gets an impact injury, they often develop a malady wherein they get a gas bubble in their abdomen which keeps them too buoyant, and unable to dive. If a turtle can’t dive, he can’t survive. In captivity, the turtles are fitted with weights on their shells which allow them to go under. Unfortunately, the weights don’t stay on permanently and need replacement from time to time. There’s some trivia you couldn’t live without. A field trip to Key West was a must. We decided to use the Lower Keys bus (public transportation) for our adventure, and were advised that the most common phrase that we would hear on the bus might be “What were you in for? When did you get out?” Have to say that the 2 hour ride wasn’t just transportation, it was an adventure. Key West is Key West-What can I say? The Admiral and I had been there for the past 2 St. Patrick’s days, but were here a week early this year, so we settled for some tourist things, including a tour of Hemmingway’s house. We all got our fill of shops, trinkets, and trash, and hopped the last bus before dark back home. Some other Krogen pals, Steve and Julia (aboard Erben Renewal), and a friend of Jeff & Susie’s who captains a 70 foot Hatteras were docked at Sombrero Key Marina, so we pedaled the 5 or 6 miles there one day for a visit and to scope out the marina for an extended stay next year (maybe). While there, we heard about a 5K to be held there on the next weekend, benefiting the local food bank. Hey, we signed up, and came back for the event (and the free hot dogs) the next weekend. The Marathon Seafood Festival provided a days’ fun with live music, seafood, and retail booths for local artists and local businesses. We took a tour of Pigeon Key, which was originally the site of a camp for the workers building the 7 Mile Bridge for Henry Flagler in the late 1800’s, and is now a research facility. Susie’s birthday started with a high volume rendition of the Beatles “Birthday” blasted into their boat by the Bose Dock that I place in their salon door at O’Dark-Thirty, and ended with a Lionfish dinner at Castaways restaurant. Suzanne and Susie finally got their Manatee fix while kayaking in the Mangroves one morning, while my fellow swab, Jeff and I did boat chores. Since Pancho’s was mainly a commercial enterprise for a fishing fleet, it was not luxurious, but the price was right. We were also able to snag some lobsters from Dale, the resident Jack of all Trades one day when the catch was minimal. When the catch is good, there are no lobsters (or crabs, or fish) for local consumption, as the Chinese swoop in and pay top dollar for every last one up and down the Keys, shipping the live catch home. Not Judgin’, just sayin’. The Harbormistress called us one morning literally as we were walking back from the office at Pancho’s, paying for another week. Oh well, I think the surroundings were more colorful right where we were, thank you very much. Over the 2 weeks, we got plenty of exercise, as Home Depot and the Publix grocery store were about a 6 mile round trip, and both got a couple of visits each. Visits to La Nina (for Cuban coffee among other goodies), The Stuffed Pig (awesome breakfast), Keys Fisheries (fish store and great lunch), Brutus’ Seafood (fantastic Conch salad to go), and Overseas Bikes were other vendors that we enjoyed. At the end of our stay, we gave thanks to the powers that be for preserving us as we crossed US1 on our bikes several times a day.
There, caught up!