Spring Cruise 2021 – Week 3

Marathon Key sunset

Day 15 – 18, Sunday March 7 through Wednesday March 10.

The wind blew and blew, well over 30 knots each day. In fact the Plantation Yacht Harbor marina had the star and stripes flying on the flag pole the day we arrived and replaced it with a read flag for the duration of our stay!

The marina is part of Founder’s Park. This is a facility owned by the City of Islamorada. Islamorada is actually made up of six of the Florida Keys. If interested click here for more on the “village.

There is a craft village right by the park called Rain Village which is a small artists community. Though it is better know for the giant lobster outside by the Overseas Highway – known as Big Betsy! We went there for coffee and for some of their famous lobster rolls. As we sat at the picnic tables dozens of tourists stopped, jumped out of their vehicles, snapped pics of them with the lobster, and took off southbound!

Lobster roll!

We launched the dinghy while in the slip with the intention of snorkeling the coral right outside the marina. Folks at the marina had told us it was great snorkeling and a favorite spot of the tour boats in the area. Unfortunately the wind kept blowing, which reduced the air and water temperatures, so we never got the opportunity. We brought the dinghy back on board unused!

There was yoga on the beach every day so Sian went up to the office and prepaid for every day we were going to be there and joined the 15-20 ladies every morning on the beach. While she was doing that Paul took Bella for an hour at the dog park where she wrestled with the many other pooches and got plenty dirty in the process!

Islamorada has a free bus system called Freebee. We downloaded the App which allows you to tell the drivers where you wanted picked up and dropped off. But, while we had to pay for it, we preferred to use Uber as it was much quicker and user-friendly.

We ate on board every night but Tuesday, when we walked to Marker 88 restaurant and had a very nice seafood dinner, before Ubering back to the marina. We were later told that we could have dingy’d to the restaurant, but we really wouldn’t have wanted to make that trip for the first time in the dark!

Marker 88 sunset

One issue (and could have been pretty critical) we had while at the marina was that their pump out system went down. They were waiting on a company out of St. Petersburg to get it fixed but didn’t have a definite ETA. We hadn’t pumped out in ten days, so we really wanted to get the holding tank cleared. The whole of the Keys is a no discharge area. On Tuesday they brought in the city pump truck, connected it to the system, and processed every boat – thank goodness we were first!

Overall we had a pretty lazy time of it. We ignored most boat chores apart from cleaning the boat and painting the depth markers on the anchor chain as the previous paint job had worn off. Most evenings we sat in the Pilothouse and watched the sunsets right off our bow!

Plantation Key sunset

On Wednesday the wind started to clock more to the east and ease off somewhat. The forecast called for more improvement through the rest of the week. So we made plans to depart Plantation on Thursday, and run down to Marathon. Our original plan was to exit the bay through Snake Creek and run down Hawk’s Channel and anchor in Boot Harbor. Since the wind was forecast from the east and wave action in the five foot range we decided to stay inside and use the ICW, as shallow as it is. And then tie up at a pretty new marina and resort – Marlin Bay.

Day 19. Thursday March 11.

Since it was only 35 statute miles (30.5KM) from Plantation Yacht Harbor to the turn for our next marina in Marathon we had decided on a mid morning departure, which would allow for a breakfast in the slip plus allow Sian one more yoga session on the beach!

However Sian decided that we should get a jump on the day and get going after Bella’s walk and breakfast. Bella had developed a weeping from her left eye so we decided that it would not be a good idea going to the dog park today. It may have been dirt and dust from the park when she wrestled with the other dogs. We looked to Dr. Google for home remedies for Bellas weepy eye and treated her with a salt water rinse ever hour or so. So, no dog park, no yoga, we were off the dock before nine and heading back out in the Florida Bay to intersect the ICW and head south to our next stop in Marathon.

The wind was still blowing around 20 knots from the north east but because it was on our stern we had a very comfortable ride, though we did pass through some real skinny water -including a well known two mile stretch from Cotton Key to Steamboat Channel where at times we only had a half a foot under the keel!

Skinny water!

We got to green marker 17 off Marathon and turned to steer 160 degrees toward Marlin Bay Resort and Marina. Once sideways to the wind we realized how hard it was blowing. The entry to the marina basin was about 40 foot wide, which seemed fine for our 15 ft beam, and we crabbed though it and safely tied up in slip 26. An indication of how hard it was blowing – the marina had four, count them, FOUR, hands on the the dock to help us tie up! We had zero issues backing in and tying up to the piles.

Sian preparing to tie up at Marlin Bay

The resort is in the early stage of development, Based on the model in the marina office it is around 20% developed. However the pool and bar area is excellent. We went up for a couple of sundowners and chatted to the bar lady about the development.

Day 20. March 12.

Bella’s eye was still weeping significantly this morning so Sian called a local Vet and got her an afternoon appointment. The vet examined her and gave us drops and an ointment to help clear it up.

It was still blowing hard so we decided to add an additional day to our stay in Marathon, planning on leaving on Sunday now. We used the resort’s swimming pool and hot tub, before walking over to the Fisheries Market nearby where we heard their stone crab legs were worth the walk. We got there to find a long line and full tables so returned to Sonas. Tonight Sian made a delicious Sicilian fish stew.

Marlin Bay Resort and Marina

Day 21. March 13.

Bella’s eye is clearing up – hurray! We took a walk this morning to the post office for Sian to post a card to her aunt in England and Paul to post his tax check to the IRS -boo!

When we got back Paul took a walk to the north marina basin as a couple we had previously cruised with told us that they kept their boat there. Paul found it and sent them a photo showing all was well! He also saw the marina staff hard at work clearing out the turtle grass that was a constant nuisance in the marina. One marina basin was completely covered in it, which sent a nice composting smell over part of the marina. The marina had installed bubblers across the entrance to try and keep the grass out but it obviously wasn’t working.

Bubblers at the marina entrance

We again used the pool at the resort before showering and heading off to the Florida Keys Steak and Lobster House. We had used Trip Advisor and saw that this was the number one recommended restaurant in Marathon – and it just happened to be a one block walk for the marina! The food and service were excellent!

Week three was now complete – and the wind still hasn’t died down!

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