Monday, April 21, 2014


Marathon Living

Jonesy and his old lady cart
Our life on the boat in Marathon, FL has settled down into a comfortable routine. We've located the grocery stores, Kmart and Wendy's (I love their apple, pecan, blue cheese chicken and real green lettuce salad). These are the places that we walk, walk, walk to every couple of days. It's over a mile each way but as you can see in the photo, it is absolutely FLAT and there is a nice sidewalk. The scenery is blah and very noisy along the highway, but we are so grateful to have a place to walk safely at a good clip.

That's a long way to haul our goodies back to the dinghy dock so we braved going into Kmart (sad dying store) and bought an old-lady cart. See, we're "seniors" so we can officially use one of these in public. Having a cart means that we can also take advantage of the Buy-One-Get-One-Free sales. You know, in Central America there aren't sales like this in the grocery stores. The prices are basically the same every day. Sensibly, little jars of stuff cost less than big jars. The biggest "deal" you can expect is to get a plastic cup or dish taped onto the side of your laundry soap as a freebie. Even post-holiday themed goodies are not discounted.

Here in the states, when say, French's Mustard is on sale, we pay less per container for the giant size than any of the smaller sizes. It's been kinda fun, but then our small fridge is a limiting factor. But the money we save on these items helps to counteract the gut-wrenching shock of the fresh produce prices when compared to Central America! We've been told that those prices will get somewhat lower as we head north out of the keys. Let's hope so as we do love our fruits and veggies.
I knit in Key West

For entertainment we picked up the local commuter bus for a ride down to Key West. It's only $1.50 for seniors for a 45-mile ride - and we got to go over the famous 7-mile bridge and see all the little keys along the way. It's a beautiful ride that I highly recommend if you're in the area and a bargain even at the younger people price.

It was lovely being in Key West again as it really does have a very different atmosphere than Marathon. Key West has lots of big shade trees which makes walking along the streets so comfortable. After lunch at Harpoon Harry's diner, we sat and watched the free-range chickens and I knit. There had been a tremendous rain storm the night before (but not up in Marathon) so the city was freshly washed and the plants glowed.

Key West Rooster and chicks
Yipppeee! We sold (cheap, cheap) all of our Central America and Belize cruising guide books and charts this morning to another couple on a catamaran. That's a lot of weight and cubic inches leaving our boat. We weren't even sad a bit...we've had our adventures in that part of the world and are looking forward to different types of experiences along the Eastern Seaboard of the US.

In the meantime, I knit. The pink, green, and white socks on the last blog post are just about done and should be ready to photograph tomorrow. As my take-along project that travels with me at all times, this little pair of monster socks are ready to go. The yarns were donated by a fellow knitter for the kids in Kazakhstan. I changed yarns every 5 rounds - that made a lot of yarn tails to weave in later. I'm warped though as I love to do this type of finishing work. It reminds me of doing needlepoint or crewel embroidery because of the careful stitching and amount of concentration required to have a good result.
Denise Wild Ones #2

OK, I've got to get dressed now as we're going to dinghy over to the club (ware)house for a couple of hours. I have signed up for another Craftsy class, this one to learn how to do shuttle tatting. The class videos require lot of computer usage of bits and bytes. We pay by the downloaded bit for our wifi on the boat so we go use the free wifi that's available to us as part of our anchoring fee when we need to watch videos.

Also on Craftsy, I have taken a sweater sizing course and I need to watch it again so that I can upload all of the calculations in to my MS Excel spread sheet. If you haven't discovered the many different courses on Craftsy yet I highly recommend that you take a look at their offerings. I'd love to take a cake decorating class just for fun too.

Oh, and at the club house we'll be meeting up with the folks who bought our cruising guides to chat about our experiences in Central America and share tips.

Life is good.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Marathon and Pat

Pat, the Patio Tomato Boat Plant
Meet our first boat plant! It's PAT the Plant. Since we'll be cruising on the intercoastal waterway where there aren't (supposed to be) big waves, we think (as in Terry really wanted it and Jonesy rolled his eyes and acquiesced) we can manage a plant onboard in the cockpit. This is a "Patio" tomato plant, thus the name Pat. Why did we pick up a tomato plant and not something prettier? Well, we've been paying about $1.25 for each tomato down here in the keys and they don't even taste very good. Pat was $2 so if we get 2 tomatoes we'll be ahead and happy. Yes, Pat will get a bigger home pot when we use up the coffee in the plastic Folgers container. I love to stick my fingers in the soil around Pat's roots and am excited to be "gardening" again. Jonesy will love the tomatoes in his salads, tacos and sandwiches too.

After a glorious month experiencing Key West it was time to move north if we are to get out of Florida before hurricanes threaten. That, plus our insurance agreement makes us have to be above 31 degrees lattitude which is into Georgia by the 1st of July. We left behind a new friend who is on a motorhoming adventure with his young family. Sometimes, but rather rarely, we meet folks who are simply on the same wavelength as us and are instant friends. We wish safe travels to Karl and family!

Jonesy in Crowded Boot Key Harbor
With just a short daytime motorsail we arrived in Boot Key Harbor in Marathon (The central Florida keys). This place is crowded with boats - as in hundreds of boats in slips, moored, and anchored. There were no moorings currently available for larger boats like ours and a long waiting list, so we've anchored. Unfortunately, there are a lot of anchored boats too - and many of them have put out TWO anchors so they don't swing in the wind like we do on our one anchor.

When the wind came up (as in 40 knots) during a recent weather front we got perilously close to another

boat and had to pull up anchor and find another place to go. Not fun at all in the wind, waves, tight quarters and shoals/shallows everywhere! I had a potty mouth about the whole thing (been watching "Dexter" shows and we've been joking about one of the character's swearing so that word just came out at a stressful time). Then, we had to re-anchor yet again the next day as we discovered that where we had landed during the high-drama was too shallow. Thankfully, one of the boats near us left (nice folks by the way) which gave us the room we needed to re-anchor AND put out a second anchor.

So, now we don't swing as much anymore. All it takes is one neightboring boat to set out a second bow anchor (or a stern anchor) to screw up the coordination of an anchorage. It forces everyone else to follow suit or else leave. I'm not sure I much like neighbors, but I'd better get used to it as that's how it's going to be for us over the next few years.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign...
We're getting adjusted to all the rules and regulations of living in the USA. For so many years we have depended on our own sense about what we should and shouldn't do. Now, we have in-our-faces signs telling us what to do. Ugh. Maybe it's just the Marathon City Marina that has so many rather unfriendly signs.
Brown socks in "Hug Me" pattern

The redeeming factor of the Marathon City Marina is that it has wonderful facilities for boaters. There are plenty of dinghy docks, wifi, laundry, showers, and a large community area for gathering together. We've already had a package delivered directly here (new walking shoes for me!) which made life so much easier for us. Now I have some needlework supplies on their way (tatting shuttle and needle).

Of course there has been a lot of sock knitting lately. A request for brown and grey socks for one of the teenagers at the orphanages in Kazakhstan went out and I volunteered. No, I didn't have the right colors onboard, but I did have a "sock blank" and dyes so I created my own hand-dyed yarn. Yes, the result was a muddy set of brown tones but that was my goal. I added some sturdy grey yarn for the cast on- heel and toes. Voila! Big boy socks.

Preknit sock "blank" dyed in browns
What? Another request for socks for a graduating teen in Kazakhstan? OK! I even had some yarns in the requested colors and they were so cheerful; spring green, white and pink. After working with the mud tones it was such a joy to work with some bright colors again.

How should I knit these socks? I started with a picot hemmed cuff, then a touch of stranded color work, and just like the last socks for a teen in Kaz, I'm working a touch of lace - this time a rosebud lace as an insert on the sides. Next up is more stranded colorwork. Here's a photo of the progress up into the lace on the leg.
Sveta Socks

We just bought our set of over-sized paper charts for the next couple of months of travel ($125! Yikes, that's a lot of yarn) and have started poring over them. Planning the day hops from harbor to harbor is a big part of the fun of cruising. Plus it's so gratifying to actually get to go where you have seen only on paper. Of course, Jonesy always "Google Maps" (that's a new verb) our future destinations to get a good idea of the lay of the land and sea, but actually being someplace new is what this cruising life is all about. We even get a kick out of the ugly places just because they give us a lot to talk about with each other. Life is good.

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