It's been great staying on a mooring ball in the harbor. We pay a weekly rate of $110, which gives us access to the dinghy dock, laundry facilities, showers, Wi-Fi, and bike racks. We decided to take our bikes with us when we left Texas, and we store them in the work room at the front of the boat when we are underway. It's not easy getting them out of the boat, re-assembled, onto the dinghy, and then onto land, but it's all worth the trouble when we stay in the same place for an extended period of time. We have been lucky and have seen a lot of wildlife in the harbor. We've seen tons of dolphins, a sting ray, jellyfish, a baby manatee, and some pretty big fish. There is one part of the harbor that is really shallow (2 or 3 feet), and we have seen some dolphins in that area cruising along with their dorsal fin sticking out. Pretty cool that we get to see them on a daily basis.
Last week David donned his snorkel gear to go have a look at the bottom of the boat. The task was originally assigned to me, but I chickened out. I have a very unrealistic fear that I will get eaten by a shark if I can't see what's around me. Anyway back to what I was saying. Every so often, the boat has to be hauled out of the water, pressure washed, sanded, and re-painted since organisms like barnacles, mussels and other marine critters attach themselves to the bottom. We knew when we bought the boat that it was probably due for a bottom job, but we wanted to wait until we could dive down and actually see how bad it was before deciding (they run around $1000 to $1500 if you pay someone to do it for you). Unfortunately, it didn't look good so we'll have to pony up and have one done. Since we do not have time to get it done while in the Keys, we are waiting until we get to Georgetown in the Bahamas. I bought the paint yesterday at West Marine and paid $340 for two gallons. Yes, you read that correctly. Talk about sticker shock! And it was not even the best marine paint that you can buy. However, it is better than paying $500 a gallon, which is what it would have cost if we bought it in the Bahamas. Everything is quite expensive there, including alcohol and food. I was told that a case of beer costs around $50. That's just crazy. I stocked up on all our favorite food, beer, and wine on my last grocery run.
When we first arrived in Boot Key Harbor, we heard our neighbors talking on the cruisers net about a program called the Local Boater Option. We paid a little visit to them to find out more about it, and it turns out that it was Carolyn and her husband Dave from http://theboatgalley.com/. It was kinda cool meeting them since I started reading her blog when we first decided to buy a boat. Anyway, if you sign up for the Local Boater Option, you have an easier time checking into the U.S. and U.S. territories. Instead of having to go to shore to check in with Customs, you just call and let them know you've arrived. Easy peasy. We decided to apply to the program since we will be visiting Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We both had to fill out an application online and then setup an interview with the Customs department in Key West, which is 58 miles from Marathon. Our interviews (if you can even call it that) were last Tuesday, and we took the bus to get there. I went in first since someone had to stay behind with the phones (no phones allowed in the building), gave the Customs official my passport, and ten minutes later I had my boaters card. No questions asked. After we were done, we did some sight-seeeing, and I have to say I LOVE KEY WEST. So much so that I told David I had found our new home after we are done with the cruising life. What do I love about it so much? The tree lined streets, the beautiful historic houses, the feral chickens that run around town (although I'm sure I'd get tired of all the cock-a-doodle-doos at the butt crack of dawn), Duval Street, the beach, and just the general relaxing atmosphere. We sampled some Key Lime pie at Kermit's and had a cocktail at Sloppy Joe's before heading to the beach at Fort Taylor. I had read some articles about the beaches in the Keys and wasn't expecting there to be much of a one. I was happily wrong. There was plenty of space to lay out, no seaweed, white sand (albeit a little rocky in some places), and pretty blue water. We didn't have our swim suits so we didn't stay long. After touring the fort, we hopped back on the bus and headed back to Marathon.
We also received our order of boat cards last week from Vista Print. They turned out really good in my opinion. I had never heard of these cards until we got here and people we met would hand us a card that had their boat name, email addresses, phone numbers, and blog address (if they had one). It's a great way to remember people because you meet so many new faces, and it's hard to keep track of names. Now I just need to find a good place to store the ones we received so I don't lose them.
The next time I post an entry we will hopefully be in the Bahamas. Just a few minutes ago, we looked at the weather and looks like we can leave tomorrow and be in Bimini in less than 24 hours. I am so freaking excited!!!!! I also wanted to say feel free to ask any questions or leave comments about any of our posts. Hope you enjoy the following pics.