Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Boot Key Harbor

The one and only time Joe and I had spent time in Boot Key Harbor was in 1986 when we sailed into the harbor via the mangrove lined labyrinth known as the Sister Creek entrance from Hawk Channel on the ocean side. We were much bolder then deciding to transit the channel in spite of shoaling. This time being older, less bolder and wiser we decided not to risk a grounding with Simple Life since depths in the channel are skinny at best.

There were no rental moorings in the harbor in the 80's, but over a hundred anchored boats, mostly live aboards were anchored in the harbor. I remember being enthralled at the thought of anchoring alongside all of the full time cruisers. At that time envisioning that someday we'd be part of that cruising community seemed a distant pipe dream. But, here we are and it appears that actively sought after dreams can prevail.

Our departure from Rodrigues Key off Key Largo had been at dawn. The sail south in Hawk Channel put us at the entrance to Boot Key Harbor at 3:30 in the afternoon. Simple Life motored into the harbor after rounding Boot Key through the channel near the Seven Mile Bridge. After passing the old bascule bridge we contacting the Marathon City Marina hoping for for a mooring assignment. There are no reservations. Ann, the administrative assistant at the office assigned our mooring, welcomed us and told us to come in to pick up our informational packet. It was time to become acquainted with our surroundings.

The following day our first order of business at 9:00 AM was to have a cup of coffee and tune in to the Boot Key Harbor Cruisers' Net. Each morning sailors in the harbor tune their VHF radios to the Cruiser's Net on channel 68. The Net is moderated by a few volunteers who facilitate discussions on harbor news, such as "things that go missing in the middle of the night." So far, two dinghies have managed to escape their owner's confines during the week. Last week after midnight, a parrot flew away from its owner's boat and caused quite a commotion in the harbor as it landed on numerous nearby boats before it was returned to its rightful owner. Occasionally, missing items require the involvement of our local sheriff who recently managed to capture a thief who'd been hiding an array of stolen outboards, generators and even a dinghy inside his boat in the harbor. He was arrested on felony stolen goods charges. Residents of the harbor felt relieved after learning of his capture.

Most mornings the chatter on the net is of a lighter nature, consisting of times and locations for yoga classes, tiki hut gatherings, seminars related to cruising as well as an "items from the bilge" section where cruisers buy, sell, trade and give away an assortment of merchandise to interested parties.

This is how we procured our two second-hand bicycles which were previously owned by departing cruisers. The net usually lasts until 9:30 when it's wrapped up with a few trivia questions. In addition, the Boot Key Harbor Cruisers' Net Facebook page is updated daily with information and topics pertaining to the community in the harbor as well as gossip and events taking place in nearby Keys.

Live music jams are organized under the tiki at the City Marina every Saturday evening. Musicians living in the harbor are encouraged to perform and all ages are welcomed.

Last Saturday in addition to the regular performers, the audience welcomed a couple of young new-comers from S/V Madison LynScot. To the delighted audience of about 65 cruisers, Colby and his eight year old sister Peyton sang and performed a couple of their original tunes. In addition numerous other cruising musicians performed a wide range of musical genres. The amount of talent in the harbor rivaled any professional musical performance.

So far it seems as though we're going to enjoy living in the harbor for awhile. How long is awhile? We never know! But, for now we'll be here enjoying whatever comes our way. We'll have a rest after the journey south. The city of Marathon has great amenities such as nearby grocery shopping, handy bars, restaurants and numerous marine related businesses. Even Simple Life will be getting a bottom cleaning and few well deserved upgrades, too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad