Still feeling crabby
Cate already wrote about the trip from Fort Myers to Marathon. Here we sit ready to jump off for Bahamas the next weather window which looks to be coming up in a couple days. We ordered the HookaMax (12VDC w/2 50' hoses and regulators) the moment we got into Bahia Key harbor and it arrived a week later. We now have much better ammunition to use against the dreaded crab traps. I have never seen crab traps so densely packed as what we found just north of Marathon. The first trap we caught because we were not keeping a sharp enough lookout. The second one, a mere hour later, is just pitiful; even though we were both on full alert the floats were literally less than one boat length apart! We jogged to miss one only to run over another. Actually, we jogged, and seeing one directly in our new path, we put the engine in neutral until we saw the float pop up off our stern. When we went back into gear the thump thump screee sounds told us there had been more than one float under our boat. I know crab pots are someone's livelihood but can't they at least gie us a little pathway to get through them? Do they really have to stack them so close together?
Marathon key harbor actually lives up to its reputation as the most cruiser friendly harbor in the keys. Lots of shopping is easy walking distance: Publix grocery,Home Depot, West Marine, CVS & Walgreens, lots of bars and restaurants. A short bus ride away in Key West is an even greater selection. The ahem, new and improved, mooring ball rates are a bit steep at $118 a week including tax but anchoring out is little better since the marina charges only $20 less for just dinghy dock access - the joys of a captive audience. On the morning VHF net a couple days ago Sombrero Marina announced their summer monthly rate: $430 includes tax, electricity, water and use of their pool! Several folks moved off the moorings after that announcement.
We run across an old friend here in the harbor, Rudi on Cirrus. His is one of two pictures on the old web site boats met list and I had not seen him since 2004. Cate and I were kayaking around gawking at boats and I immediately recognized the boat. No one was aboard that day but a couple days later we finally got to see him and ended up having a great reunion over lunch at Hurricanes.
So how have things gone our first month cruising?
We blew our first monthly budget by $1300 but that was mostly the hookah. For power, our solar panels have been working great! Except for cloudy days, they happily keep up with the fridge, freezer, and making water a couple hours a day (~15-20 gallons). The watermaker has saved lots of ferrying of jug water. When we first started filling the tank with watermaker water, Cate said "this tastes funny". The taste she was referring to was the non-taste of reverse osmosis water! The fridge and freezer were problem children for a while. Once we got to warmer weather, it became obvious the built-in fridge wiring and circuit breaker were weak so I totally rewired that circuit. Then the freezer decided one day to stop keeping the ice cream solid frozen so I turned the dial up a notch. The next day it started quietly thawing all our provisions! Our plastic trash bag collection in the bin under the freezer was keeping air from getting to the compressor so the evaporator froze up. We moved the bags elsewhere, iced the freezer contents, and let it all thaw out. A few hours later it was repacked and humming along. Phew! That was a close one.
Another real trooper has been the Toqeedo electric outboard. We dinghy in to shore at least once a day and after 2 weeks in Marathon it still showed 40% charge remaining. If I can keep from having the magnetic key shell fall apart and lose the magnet, we will be very happy. We lost the first magnet overboard when the fob came open and the magnet dropped overboard. The replacement key I had luckily pre-purchased, worked but one night that fob decided to also fall apart. We were lucky to find the magnet still rolling around the bottom of the dinghy but I am probably going to try 5200 to hold the fob together next time.
To my workmates: Thanks for the waterproof backpack! That backpack goes most everywhere with us when ashore. We never know when we will get into sloppy conditions.
Someone once asked me about cruising and all the systems that have to be maintained. I replied that it was a lot like a municipality with very similar set of utilities and services required: water treatment, sewage, electric power, communications, transportation, entertainment, etc. Luckily I can still manage to maintain most everything.