Sunday, July 20, 2014

 

NEW Sock Knitting Book!


Yippeeee! This brand-spanking new book from Interweave Press includes both an article I wrote about knitting with multiple stranded colors of yarn in socks and the corresponding Spectrum Socks pattern. Yes, I'm tickled to pieces.

I received my author's copy in the mail last week and haven't come down from the high yet. Sockupied: 20 Knit Projects to Satisfy your Sock Obsession is available online as a Pre-Order or Kindle download on Amazon, on the Interweave website and soon in book stores and at your local yarn shops.

If you already own the Sockupied Spring 2014 emag, then you already have my contributions. BUT if you prefer a nice paper book (like I do), then this one has that and a whole lot more.

Now I really must get to knitting my lastest sock design which are on my needles. Life is good

Sunday, July 06, 2014

 

The WHY we do this thing we do


Why do we bother to travel slowly, winding back and forth up the Intracoastal Waterway instead of heading out to sea and doing a straight through sail? Because, we get to spend our evenings and nights safely anchored in beautiful places like this.
video

In Northern Florida we watched the large PINK Roseate Spoonbill birds go about their daily business, and in Southern Georgia we spent the late afternoon watching the wild horses on Cumberland Island graze the shore grasses. Along the way we passed Bald Eagles sitting atop their nests in tall trees.

We left St. Augustine just days before Tropical Storm/Hurricane Arthur blew in. We traveled north during the "calm before the storm" enjoying the sunny weather. We went through drawbridges and under fixed bridges and only went aground once. What?

Yes, even within the very nice channel markers on the waterway it can get too shallow for our 5 1/2 foot draft. It's not supposed to be that way but it just is. We managed to quickly throttle up and back off of the "hump" or shoal. No biggie. The few miles of channel at the back side of Jekyll island is notoriously shallow. So for this section we planned on arriving about a half hour before high tide. This allowed us to move through it during mostly high tide. Yes, we saw 5 1/2 feet  on our depth gauge but we didn't feel any bump and made it safely through. Why again did we do this instead of going out to sea and around the island? Because of the unique opportunity we had to see the unspoiled beauty of the tidal marshes. Finally, on July 1st, we sailed under the big Sydney Lanier bridge and now are safely tucked into the Brunswick Landing Marina in Georgia.

Of course while Jonesy manned the helm, I sat in the cockpit and made myself useful by knitting through the long daylight hours. Unfortunately I managed to accidentally toss a bamboo double point needle overboard. But not before I finished these little pull-on skirts for the knit teddy bears for the kids in Kazakhstan.
These are knit with worsted weight yarns from the bottom up. To finish, a length of cord elastic is threaded through the last stitches and a ribbon can be woven through the eyelet round. Lazy daisy flowers can be stitched onto it too!


These are sized to fit a 9" circumference around the waist. Many of the children who have received these bears, and will in the future, are quite young so I wanted to make clothes that would be easy for them to dress their bears. Elastic and ribbing should work, and maybe a touch of Velcro.

And we all know that teddy bears also need some socks, so I knit up some sport weight ribbed socks too. No. I don't have a picture of my completed bear because I STILL haven't gotten up the nerve to embroider his eyes, nose and smile. That part intimidates me, but I'll get it done before he gets send to Kazakhstan.

Of course there were people-sized socks started and completed too along the way. These 3 pairs are from yarns donated to me to knit for the kids from Linda P. and Kris. Two are simple plain socks (well the yarn isn't plain) and the purple pair is knit from my Hug Me Socks pattern which makes a stretchy and textured fabric.

So, here we are in Brunswick - another town to learn where the grocery stores are, how to work the laundry machines in the marina and how to get around in general. I wonder if my friend Pam K.who lives here in Georgia felt a change in the "force" when we came back.

Back? Yep. We lived in Georgia up outside of Atlanta for 7 years back in the 80's and early 90's. So in a sense we are returning. But this time by sailboat.

We're living the slow life.

Friday, June 27, 2014

 

Storks, Cranes, and Blue-Tailed Skinks Oh My!

LIGHTNER MUSEUM & SHOPS
Our mandatory "Get out of Florida" date of July 1st is fast approaching. We aren't used to having to be somewhere by a certain date so it is looming over us like a tax filing deadline. Why do we have to leave? Because the insurance on our boat is not valid south of Latitude 31 due to the risk of "named storms" (tropical storms) and hurricanes during the summer months. We need to have safe harbor which we've stated to the insurers will be in a marina in Brunswick, Georgia.

But, we're doing our best to enjoy our last few weeks here in Florida (just like we used to enjoy Sundays when we had to go to work on Monday morning). You just have to clear  your head of the thoughts of what's coming next and enjoy the present. Jonesy loves life in a marina and I like to Go-See-Do and be on the hook. So, where are we now?

We're almost north enough, but not quite - we are in St. Augustine Florida. This is an ancient city (at New World standards), the oldest in the Americas. St. Augustine is a tourist destination due to the historic fort and beautiful old buildings and of course the shopping and dining experiences aimed at tourists to grab their dollars.
LAUNDRY, A/C, WIFI AND LOUNGING

Now for us, it was a chance to meet new doctors (thanks Obamacare) update our meds, shop in (my first) Hobby Lobby craft store, and get our laundry done. We picked up a mooring ball at the City Marina and have been enjoying the sea breezes and chuckling at the tidal flows.

Usually, a boat will face into the wind which is why all the hatch openings face to the front of the boat. But the tidal currents are so strong here in the mooring field that our boat is pushed to face up "stream" regardless of where the light breeze is coming from. Thus, we struggle a little bit to get cooling air into the salon of the boat. We've experienced this before in La Paz, Baja California Mexico.
JONESY WALKS THE BEACH
 A wonderful solution is to leave the boat and go somewhere cooler! That's not always as fun and relaxing as hanging on on the local beaches. The City Marina has a very nice AIR CONDITIONED coin-op laundry area and Cruiser's Lounge complete with free wifi.  There we met some of the crew from the 170ft. sailing ship El Galeon which is a replica of the Spanish ships that sailed this area in the early 1500's. This ship is a real working ship - it really sails

While out riding the bus on our many trips around this part of Florida we've seen a pair of Sandhill Cranes and a Wood Stork. Yep, they were just right there on the side of the roads for all to see! The large cranes winter in Florida, then migrate to points north for the summer months. I guess these were stragglers (like us). The stork stays in the warm south year round. We see blue-tailed skinks everywhere. Their tails are so brightly colored it's hard to miss them.
WOOLWORTH'S "SELF SERVICE" Air Conditioned

Here's some nostalgia - check out these engraved door handles on a bank in central St. Augustine - Woolworth's! These days there isn't a single store to buy general merchandise in this area as all the buildings have been converted into art galleries, restaurants, bars, and tourist cha-cha marts. This old city has gone through many changes over hundreds of years; changing nationalities in its colonial days, the most exclusive and expensive resort hotels in the nation at one time, to apparently to having a functioning middle-America downtown. Now it is a tourist spot - what will be next?
 Knitting Content

Yes! I completed my challenge to knit 52 pairs of socks in 52 weeks. In fact I finished a month early. What a relief! Here is pair #52 which is knit with yarn donated by Tina in Vero Beach (Knit Picks Simply Stripes). I used the slip-knot cast on for this pair because 1) Tina introduced me to it and 2) it is very stretchy and neat.

DIFFERENT STRIPES
Now these diagonal patterning socks are from a brand new pattern from Linda Pahdoco that I test knitted for the Six Sox Knitalong Yahoo group. I love how they change the look of self-patterning yarns and they were really fun to knit.

Oh, and another pair of monster socks were completed. For these I stuck to yarns in the red/burgundy/pink color tones. At each change in
yarn I worked 2 rounds of simple 1x1 stranded color work.

And finally here are pair #53 which officially made me an "over-achiever" on the Ravelry group for the challenge.  Ha! I think that must be the first time I've ever been called that!

This last pair shown today was knit with a mystery yarn donated by Linda P. The pink/yellow/purple yarn was already very pretty so I didn't use any special stitch patterns and just knit a plain sock. This pair lived in my shopping tote that I carry with me everywhere. We spend a lot of time riding or waiting for the little Sunshine Buses so I get quite a bit of knitting done during our land travels. We've even got to know some of the other riders on the bus and had a nice beach outing yesterday with a local gal.

Yes. I do have more socks on the needles, but now that I've reached my 52 sock goal I am also joyfully diving into other fiberly pursuits. Like what?

Crochet! Hardanger embroidery! Tatting! I purchased a set of 4 bookmarks from Nordic Needle which provide a step-by-step guide to learn the art of hardanger embroidery. Each kit comes with the bookmark already made with attached lace, the needles needed, a needle treader, and both types of thread to complete the project. This is the way I needed a kit like this because I wouldn't have a clue as to what needle to use.

So, I've finished the first bookmark and am now working on the second one. The instructions are very clear and complete so I haven't had any problems (except for my own counting errors). I don't get to cut out the peek-a-boo windows for which hardanger is famous for until the 4th bookmark after I've learned all the stitches. That's fine with me - I think they are lovely just like they are anyway.


HARDANGER - COUNTED THREAD EMBROIDERY
We'll be dropping the lines from our mooring ball early Sunday morning for our 3-day trip up to Brunswick, Georgia. This cruising on the Intracoastal Waterway is low-key compared to ocean cruising. We get to stop in the evening and drop the anchor to rest instead of staying up all night on watch. There are no big seas to contend with either. Of course it still does take a lot of planning and chart studying and yes, we have to pay attention to the channel markers all day and not stray. We're liking it.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

 

Knitters are the Knicest!

THANK YOU VAL of Vero Beach!
See these 100gr balls of delicious Regia World Circus sock yarn? Yes, there's four of them. Each ball easily provides enough yarn for a pair of adult socks with lots of leftover yarn to help me piece together a few pairs of smaller monster socks too.

This collection of yarn was generously donated to me by a knitter that I "met" online through Ravelry.com. Val (is her name) knew that I knit socks for my favorite charity, the Motherless Child Foundation and she had some yarn in her stash that needed a home. When she realized that I was traveling through her winter-home area of Vero Beach, and even though we couldn't meet up in person as she had already gone north, she had her friend hand-deliver these yarns to me! Yes. Knitters are the knicest.

But that's not all. I met Val's friend, Tina, at a knitting get-together (along with many other kind folks). Then, at our 2nd meeting, Tina surprised me with yarn donations from her stash! Not only did I get to sit and knit and chat with fiberly folks, but I went home with bags of yarn which were full of future entertainment for me and warm socks for kids in cold areas.

Tina also introduced me to a very unique cast on method that is SUPER STRETCHY and wonderful for the cuffs of socks. So many knitters make that one cast on row so tight that they can't even get their hand knit socks on over their heels. So sad. In the last few years I've been using the German Twisted (Old Norwegian) method with good results.

THANK YOU Tina of Vero Beach!
This Jeny's Stretchy Slipknot Cast On is a little difficult to learn at first and took me several tries to make it neat-looking, but it was well worth the effort. Not only can it be stretched over even the largest heel/instep but it also results in a nice edging which isn't sloppy loose like the results of other cast on methods.

The first ball I lovingly fondled from Tina's stash called out to me to be knit into mittens...soft, warm mittens. The kids in the orphanages of Kazakhstan need mittens too (it gets to -40 degrees there!) I was writing up the tutorial for my Mitten Knit-along on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo Group, and I needed a mitten-in-progress to photograph. How do these things all work out so great anyway?

The Mitten KAL is running right now through the end of June 2014 so if you've ever wanted to learn how to knit an adult sized mitten with fingering weight or sock yarns this is your chance! The pattern is free during the KAL and will be for sale later on Ravelry.

You know the old saying that things always come in sets of 3? Well the donations of yarn for my charity sock knitting really did just that. In the mail I received a big FLUFFY package of sock yarns donated by a friend of mine from knitting camp (Linda P.). I am overwhelmed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of these knitters who share from their personal stashes of woolly wonderfulness.

THANK YOU Linda P. of OK

The timing couldn't have been better! My personal stash of sock yarns is very low right now and I have just about worked my way through some past donations. The director of the Motherless Child Foundation just returned from another delivery trip to Kazakhstan and confirmed that the need for socks and other warm items continues and is greatly appreciated.

So I'm able to knit on because knitters are the nicest folks. Life is good.


Monday, June 02, 2014

 

All the way to the Moon

So, here we are now cruising the surface of the moon on our Lunar Rover. I knit.

Not? Oh. Well, we DID tour the Kennedy Space Center the other day which has been on our Bucket List for many years - more on that later.

We spent two weeks in lovely Vero Beach. We loved it there and now know why other cruisers have called it "velcro beach". You could really get stuck there.

The City Marina facility is the best that we've seen - shady picnic and BBQ areas, large, secure dinghy dock, friendly staff, and all the needed amenities for cruisers. The city of Vero Beach runs a FREE bus service that stops both at the dinghy dock and the cruiser's lounge every hour. The long white sand beach is within easy walking distance through a beautiful neighborhood, plus the bus also stops at the beach which is great when you get worn out from beach walking and need a lift back. There's a farmer's market on Saturday mornings, a charming yarn store (Knitty Gritty) and even get-togethers with friendly knitters at the Panera Bread cafe. What's not to love? We certainly are enjoying all the conveniences of life in the USA.
Niki Wiki on a mooring in Vero Beach, FL

Here's a photo of our boat taken from the big bridge we went under to get to Vero so you can see that there are natural areas too. We were in Vero during the beginning of the low season so we had a mooring all to ourselves and several even were unoccupied. During the high season they actually raft boats together to share a mooring ball because this place is so popular. Sounds a little too chummy to me.

But, we have to keep our eyes on the calendar to be sure that we are north of Florida (latitude 31) by the first of July, so too soon it was time to head up the Intracoastal Waterway to our next destination.
Vero Beach - walk, walk, walk forever
My view of the shores of the ICW for 2 days

TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA

It was a short 2-day trip up the Indian River (which makes up this part of the ICW) to the City Marina in Titusville. Cruising up the river is much easier and more scenic than doing ocean passages! All along both sides of this wide river are houses, many of them with their private docks. We saw small, older fishing get-away cabins right next door to sprawling mansions with manicured landscaping.

The waters were so calm because we were entirely protected from the ocean waves and most of the winds by the barrier islands or strips of land. The channel itself is well-marked so it was like driving on an open highway at 5 miles per hour. Occasionally, we encountered another sailboat but mostly we had motorboats of all sizes traveling with us.

And yes, we did drop the hook and spent the night sleeping during this passage unlike our big-seas passages. People have often asked us what we do at night when we sail from one place to another and wonder if we drop the anchor to sleep.
Osprey (Fish Hawk) nest on a pole and in the background

Nope. When out at sea that is impossible and we have to have someone awake and watching the helm at all times. On the ICW, we can stop at many different places and drop the hook. That's because it is very shallow water. We are loving this easy cruising!
Jonesy watching an Atlas rocket launch

Another reason why we were in a bit of a hurry to get up to Titusville is that there was a launch of an Atlas Rocket scheduled from the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force station. There was no need to travel anywhere because we could see it right from our boat! The roar was exciting! Up, up and away on a secret mission!

So, I mentioned our trip to the Kennedy Space Center earlier. We had a wonderful day there! The space shuttle Atlantis is now kept there inside a special display building so that we had the opportunity to get up close to it.

Jonesy with the Space Shuttle Atlantis
As part of our entry fee ($46 for seniors) we got a very informative bus tour of the different launch pads. Along the way the driver pointed out an alligator lurking in a canal and a GIANT bald eagle nest that is ab out 50 years old and is still being used. And of course we saw plenty of osprey, egrets and herons.

Some of you may not know that Jonesy spend his early years on an Air Force base as his dad was a test pilot. This was during the time of the "Right Stuff" and some of these pilots went on to become the first astronauts. Then in later years we both worked in the Rockwell Intl. Palmdale, CA facility which also housed the Space Shuttle Program (we were on the B1-B program).

Jonesy and his rockets
When the space shuttles would land on the dry lake out at Edwards Air Force Base we could hear the double sonic booms from inside our little house in the desert! So it was fun for us to see these things up close at the Space Center.

All of the staff at the Kennedy Space Center were so friendly and helpful which made our time there even more enjoyable. It was like they wanted to be working there! We appreciated their positive attitudes and smiles all day.

Yesterday, while I was doing laundry in the marina's A/C'd laundry room we had a thunderstorm with some rain.
Check out this photo of the Titusville Marina - what is that in the water? See those grey lumps, one at the concrete wall by the center downspout and one sticking up out of the water?

Well - that's a manatee! His/her head is at the concrete wall and that's the thick, wide tail sticking up. These critters know that if it rains there will be fresh water coming out of the downspouts. They position their mouths right under the spout and drink the fresh water. This got me wondering how they do it out in the natural areas...do they catch runoff from rocks or trees? Obviously, they like the fresh water.

Here's a close up photo. He/she is so ugly that it's cute! The chin was covered in thick bristles. What a treat to see one up so close!

Anyway, we'll be here in Titusville for another couple of days and then we need to head north some more. Next stop will be a single overnight anchoring off of Daytona Beach and then in to St. Augustine for do some more go-see-do activities!
Next post: knitting

Life is good.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

 

Hoist the Anchor, Anchor, Anchor, Beach Chair...

Anchor, anchor, beach chair, bimini frame
The day came when we had a great 3-day weather window for our travels north from Marathon up to Vero Beach. The winds were calm and the seas were small - just our style. It was time to hoist the anchor and go!

So, while I manned the helm in the cockpit, Jonesy hoisted the anchor - the electric winch groaned with the weight. That shouldn't be. What was up? Slowly, he pulled in the anchor chain until this mass appeared.

As we pulled in our anchor, we also hooked up and pulled in THREE other anchors, a beach chair and a large bimini frame!! This mangle of metal, rope and fabric could take a long time to unravel. We would have to put the dinhy back down in the water off of the back davits and get to work. Our trip would be delayed by hours, we risked getting ourselves injured on the job, and we may not make  it to our scheduled overnight anchorage spot before dark then.

Untangling the mess
As I stood on the bow looking at the snarled mess and realizing what we had caught, I noticed a neighboring sailboat skipper watching me struggle with this new dilema. Then I realized that one of the anchors was a beautiful 35lb CQR worth several hundred dollars. We'd gone treasure hunting and we didn't even know it! Hmmmm. We already have one onboard as one of our spares and really don't want to trip around another on deck. This is a great treasure though so I called out to our neighbor and asked if he wanted an anchor.

YES! He did want it - and he was just getting ready to hoist his (puny) anchor to sail off south. He jumped into his cockpit, started his engine as fast as a rabbit! Within only about 3 minutes he had snuggled his boat up to ours. Just as quickly our new friend got to work untangling the mess on our anchor chain. Working from below like this was the ideal way to tackle this job. He salvaged the 35lb anchor and lovingly placed it on his deck. Then he untangled the beach chair, the low-quality little anchor and the bimini frame and let them drop.
Easing his new anchor on deck

We would have preferred to remove them as they are hazards for future boaters, but we simply weren't in a position to bring it all aboard and we would have to take it ashore in our big boat. Bad timing. Both of us were drifting loose and needed to get underway during this morning calm. We thanked our new friend profusely - he thanked us for the anchor. It all worked out for everyone (except for the folks who lost these items).  As our anchor retriever motored away with a big grin on his face, we pulled in the last few feetof our anchor chain.

Yep. There was YET ANOTHER 35lb anchor on our chain, but this one slipped off as we pulled it in. So there are more anchors in Boot Key Harbor to be found. Why? We discovered that the rope (rode) was frayed on the one that we rescued so we have to assume that it snapped while in use at some time. The beach chair and bimini frame probably were blown off of boats during a big wind never to be seen again by their original owners. King Neptune claims a lot of our boating gear.

Sailing past Miami Beach with socks on the needles
The first leg of our trip was just a day-sail up to Rodriguez Key near Key Largo. Here we simply anchored to sleep that first night. But the weather had deteriorated so we decided to spend the day here just enjoying the peace and quiet and get a second night's rest. The plan was to leave at dawn the next day.

But Jonesy couldn't stay asleep and at 2:30 am decided that it was time to hoist the anchor again and sail north. I've learned over our 8 years of cruising not only to trust his judgement, but also that everybody is happier if I play along nicely when he's a "man on a mission". After all, the most I had to do was be awake enough to man the helm as he raised the anchor and then I could crawl back into the bunk once we were underway...which I did.

Sun setting over South Florida coastline
We motor-sailed along - right past Biscayne Bay, the big high rise hotels and condos of Miami, and Miami Beach. These are highly congested boating areas which we had no interest in seeing up close. I knit all day and when it was time for Jonesy to get some rest (7pm) it was time for me to don my headlamp, take over the helm, and knit some more.

The winds and seas were calm enough that Jonesy managed to sleep until 3am (only waking up about 3 times to ask "you OK?") My only source of entertainment was my knitting and the few large ships outside of Palm Beach which popped up on my radar. I did have to change course so as not to collide with one which was at anchor. This barely interrupted my knitting mojo.

Soon it was my turn to sleep and Jonesy took over the watch. He woke me up in the morning so that I could see our approach to the Fort Pierce inlet and our FIRST time on the Intracoastal Waterway!

It was certainly a day of "firsts". We called our first draw bridge operator and had him open the bridge for our first passage through a drawbridge - just for us! We were the only boat on this part of the ICW. Cars had to stop for us too!

But our thoughts quickly turned to the next two bridges as these were "fixed" bridges that we had to go under. See, our mast is about 61 feet tall off the water and these bridges were about 64 1/2 feet tall over the water. Remember there are tidal considerations too. We "knew" we should be able to pass under them but we still were filled with anxiety - especially as we approached the bridges. It just didn't LOOK like we would make it.

As we got closer, Jonesy hollered at me to "Hang On!" because I was dancing about the foredeck taking photos (the "before" photos as in before the mast was torn out of the deck and we destroyed state property). He was really concerned about the possibility that our antenna - or the top of the mast - would smack against the concrete.

What does it look like to you? Scary right? No matter what angle I tried to look up it certainly didn't appear as if we were even close to being able to pass under the bridge.
There are markers on the sides which show how many feet are between the top of the water and the underside of the bridge. These read 64 1/2 feet so we slowly crawled forward. We had to steer a little bit to one side as these markers don't include the foot or so of a lamp which hangs down in the center of the bridge. Cars were going over the bridge....would we cause a pile-up? Would cars tumble in the water with innocent people screaming? Would we have to watch when the people walking their dogs fell headfirst into the murky waters?

Stay tuned for next week when we see if Jonesy and Terry caused major destruction with the good ship Niki Wiki.

Nope. I wouldn't do that to you.

As I tightly gripped onto the boat to brace myself for the impact and held my breath, we silently slipped under the bridge. Not even our antenna tapped the roof. Not a sound except that of our trusty Perkins engine.

We had put our trust in the folks who built and manage these bridges and the ICW and our faith was well placed. Jonesy and I high-fived each other and giggled all the way to the next bridge.

The second bridge was also our marker for the place to turn into the City Marina of Vero Beach. This time we had more confidence that we'd clear, but it was still un-nerving. We motored right under the bridge and immediately turned into the mooring field. We radio'd the marina and they promptly
Turning into the Vero Beach City Marina
answered and assigned us to a mooring. Ahhhhh.

KNITTING CONTENT

Socks, socks and more socks have been completed as I work towards my goal of 52 pairs in 52 weeks. Below are photos of pairs #44, 45, 46 and 47. All are smaller sized socks and are knit with yarns donated by fellow knitters. The kids in the Orphanages in Kazakhstan will have warm feet this coming winter.

Jonesy watches the US Navy's Blue Angels
Oh! The Blue Angels are performing right now for us. Time for me to join Jonesy out on the deck to watch our free air show again today.

Life is good.







Sunday, May 04, 2014

 

Drifting away in the keys

SVETA's Socks 
Where do the days go? Time seems fly by so quickly, yet we have no time pressures to get things done or go anywhere. I've been spending most of my days sitting up in the cockpit just watching the tides rise and fall around the mangrove covered key. It's easy to get lost here and just drift through days, months and even years.

As you can see from the photo, I have spent some of my time finishing up the socks for Sveta at the orphanage in Kazakhstan. I liked how they turned out so I wrote up the pattern for other hand knitters and it is being tested by my fearless test-knitters right now. I'm so humbled by not only their willingness to wade through my rough draft, but also by their superior choices of colors and application of these colors to their projects.

All 7 pairs of socks that I knit for the kids who are aging-out of the orphanages have been shipped to the organization's director in the states and will be hand-carried to Kazakhstan in a couple of weeks along with everyone else's contributions. Now it's time to concentrate on the other 500 needed pairs for December.

Local Pawn shop
We've been observing the people around us here in the Florida Keys with special attention paid to those who are also on boats. This anchorage in Marathon is restricted TO liveaboards. Boats must be occupied - no wet storage is allowed. This is unusual in the world of boating, but it does take care of the problem of derelict and abandoned boats.

So who lives on these boats? Well, there are some folks like us who are in transit and just passing through, but there are also boaters who live aboard during "the season" here. After the winter months they put their boats in dry storage and return to their homes up north for the nice weather.
City of Marathon Marina club house
But a large number of the boats here are permanent homes. These people are taking advantage of the relative low cost of being on a mooring compared to the high cost of land housing. Some are working folks, some have families, others are living on pensions, some are simply free spirits while there are a few just plain bums with the usual issues - it's a mixed crowd.

Here's a photo of the inside of the community club house for us boaters. There's free wifi, two TV viewing mini-theaters (at the back of the room), a large library and a mail distribution area. With the laundry room, hot showers and room to park your car and bicycle, this would be a nice place to live if you are on a limited income ($200/mo). So while some of us are on adventures, most of the folks here are simply living - living simply.

City of Marathon Marina club house Library
We've seen kids get dropped off here by the local school bus, and there's a large gaggle of home-schooled boat kids who congregate together in the TV theatres to watch their assigned Discovery channel programs. Oh, and of course they use the electrical power outlets to power up their gaming systems. The local Monroe county library is within walking distance and the marina itself is located in a large city park with complete sporting fields set ups. Not a bad life at all.

So you can see that this really is an interesting place. We attended a potluck get together, have done a lot of walking, and enjoy listening to the songs of the single male mockingbirds at night. At night? Yep. Bachelor mocking birds sing at night. During the day we see manatees occasionally, hear and see ospreys and even had a red-winged blackbird hang out on the boat. Once in a while a dolphin will surface to get a breath of air and continue the hunt for local fishies.

We've toured around a bit in our dinghy. There are many mobile/manufactured homes lining the man made canals and cluttering the islands. There are also big beach houses along the larger channels. We passed these on our way out to Sombrero Beach recently.

The beaches of the keys on this side are all protected by the reefs just a few miles out. This breaks the swells from the Atlantic ocean and makes the waves tiny - perfect for babies, dogs, and old folks.
Sombrero Beach
Naturally, it being April and the day, and water, was warm, there were quite a few of all three types at the beach that day.

We parked our dinghy at the designated spot and wandered along the white sands of the crescent shaped beach. Walking barefoot on wet sand provides us with free (and enjoyable) foot scrubbing!

Dinghy/Kayak parking
Although it was hot in the sun, all we had to do was slip into the shade of a palm tree and the cool breeze off of the ocean would quickly dry our glistening foreheads. We spent our afternoon watching the kids chase little fish in the shallows and dogs fetching toys. So it happened again. Time simply drifted by.




Life is good.
Dog playing at Sombrero Beach



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