We have had an amazing and eventful 8 months here in the Florida Keys, but the time has finally come for us to leave and start our sailing adventure! We've been running a lot of errands in the last few weeks, luckily with a Mazda CX5 to get us around in! You really do need a car if you want to get anything done in Marathon because everything is strung out along one long road - US Highway 1. Driving a mid-sized SUV means we can easily fit things in the back when we have to buy bigger parts for the boat without feeling like we're driving a small tank around! It has also been the perfect errand runner for simple things like grocery shopping and going to the laundromat.
Before we leave, we really want to give a little round-up of what it is like to live here in Boot Key Harbor, as it has been one of the best little communities we have ever come across and is the place we have taken our first sailboat from an old, neglected vessel back to blue-water ready cruising home.
The Marathon City Marina and the harbor as a whole is truly a community in itself, with communal spaces and workshops, tiki huts for socializing on shore and regular parties and events hosted by local sailors and transients alike.
From the moment Jonathan arrived here to start working on our sailboat, S/V Empress, he has had no end of help and advice from more experienced sailors, like "Diesel" Don Shuler and Captain Michael "Mike" Barber to name just a couple.
It's also in Boot Key City Marina where we felt that we have a new family.. don't get us wrong, we traveled all over the world (visited 100 countries in the last 4 years) made a lot of friends but nothing can compare the friendships we made in this marina. We will miss you, Kevin & Theo; Captain Mike & Vickie: Deana & Diesel Don (with cutie Rudder & Tiller); Carolyn & Dave (and cutie Paz) ; Mark (and Charlotte), Captain Jason, Sandry & Daniel ; Bryan & Melanie, Alex of Seatek (esp for the fish head for my soup) ; Marine John (who also helped us on our dinghy before we left) ; Derek (who also looked after our S/V Empress bottom) ; Terry (who gave me my first-ever sailing book) ; Michael & Jenia; David & Hannya ; British Allan (one of the other British there who always have funny banters with Jonathan) ; Steve (our neighbor from S/V Harmless and for doing a energy cleansing treament on our sailboat); Katie & Austin (who are not from the mooring field but locals) ; Marina staff (all of you who are really nice to us! you're the best) and a lot more.. some of them I just know the faces or because they always see me working at the Marina office! Till next time, I will cook more Filipino food when we see each other again! <3 Jonathan made more friends than me so I can't mention all the names here since he stayed longer than I am, I was traveling for work while he based himself there fixing our sailboat)
The facilities at the marina and all the staff, including Sean Cannon (the Harbor Master/ Ports Director), who live and work here make life simple and enjoyable; hot showers, fast WiFi, dinghy docks, workshops and a communal library! Also, the Monroe Library is just 10-minute walk away.
When Hurricane Irma blew through the Florida Keys back in September 2017 the eye of the storm passed with several miles of Boot Key Harbor, devastating almost everything in its path, less than a quarter of the 300 boats sheltering there were destroyed and the whole area was littered with debris. The marina staff and local residents came together a huge way to put everything back together and help get the harbor back to what it should be.
Carolyn Shearlock of The Boat Galley (who eventually became a mentor to me) started arranging free dinners and harbor clean-ups and d where over a dozen small boats and dinghies at a time pulled rubbish from the water, the mangroves and the shoreline.
In several cleanups over the course of a few weeks, things were already looking a lot better!
We even joined forces a couple of times to gather food and supplies from generous donors to put on meals and cookouts for all the local residents to take a much needed break from all the cleaning and rebuilding.
It’s easy to see why we have stayed here for so long and why many who arrive here never leave, but for us it’s definitely time to strike out, raise our sails and start the next part of our journey.
Thank you Boot Key Harbor, we’ll miss you and maybe one day we’ll be back… maybe... =)
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