Orion Jr doesn't have that much wood on it, but it does have enough to keep us busy. Top priority each winter is to protect the wood on her exterior. Given the exposure of the wood on deck to the intense Florida summer sun (at least those parts we can't effectively stow or cover up), we have to ensure several coats of varnish (or polyurethane) are applied each winter to ensure the wood looks good when we return in the fall. That includes the tiller handle, the companionway boards, the grabrails and some trim around the companionway and its hatch. In addition to the original woodwork, last winter we had created a new substitute companionway board out of plywood with vents in it to allow air circulation during the summer. It sits in place of the lower 3 companionway boards. What we hadn't anticipated was how much the sun would darken the top 2 boards that remained in place over the summer. So, rather than have them continue to suffer abuse this summer, we decided to make another substitute board for the top half of the companionway. This would also have a vent in it, increasing the air flow even more and allowing us to stow all the original boards out of the summer sun.
Not all of Jr's wood is on deck, of course. Having taken some time to refinish the anchor locker door in the V-berth, it was bugging us that this now made the rest of the wood in that compartment look dismal by comparison. What trim was remaining, however couldn't be taken outside and sanded and varnished. It would have to be done in place, causing sawdust to go everywhere in the boat. Given the mess that would be created while we have to live in the same space, we had not been sure when we could ever tackle this. We finally decided to just bite the bullet and deal with the mess and inconvenience of turning the V-berth upside down for a couple of days to get it done. It was a mess, but the results look great and made the trial of getting it done worthwhile.
But there was one more project to be done. We were anticipating the arrival of a guest who would join us for our trip back up the west coast. To make sleeping in the main saloon more comfortable, we had a board cut to fill the gap between the settees. This would support a cushion to span the gap and make for a more comfortable night's sleep side to side across the main saloon, instead of fore to aft on our shortened settees. With a few coats of poyurethane on this board, all the wood work for this seasons seems to be done.
The highlight of the winter season in Marathon is its Seafood Festival, now in its 37th year. We volunteered again at the food tent, breading fish and serving the finished product to hundreds of customers. It was a beautiful day, cool and breezy and we had a great time doing it again. We were joined this year by Pat and Fred, Bill and Bette (from Sea Mist), and Lynn and Larry from Two Morrows. After several hours preparing, serving (and eating), we headed back to the boat, exhausted, but happy to have not only seen the festival but joined in the community that was making it happen.
Obviously, the Seafood Festival was one of the big items on Fred's and our list for Marathon, but we had other stops to make as well. We went to Keys Fisheries for fresh lobster on the bayside of Marathon. On Sunday after church, we had breakfast at the American Legion. We made the long walk up to the Chinese buffet at Panda House and the much shorter walk to Hurricane for one of their $5 lunches. We also spent time on things not on the list, like socializing with Two Morrows, Sea Mist, Carpe Diem, Tarwathie and some new friends, Bill and Susan on Grace. Cathy stopped in to see how the pine needle baskets were going and to make limited progress on her own. Dave and Fred helped Larry on Two Morrows drop his sail one calm afternoon, so it could be repaired. There were Meet 'n' Greets, re-connecting with Captain Jack, Sunday services at the United Methodist Church, and a turkey fry fundraiser. We didn't sample everything Marathon had to offer, but we're doing our best to do what we can.
We have tried for several years to make a trip to the Dry Tortugas, the island 70 miles west of Key West, that is a national park dominated by Fort Jefferson. Our first year, on Orion, we were stopped by Dave's bout with iritis. Three years later, still on Orion, we never found the weather that seemed to be reasonable to get there and, more importantly, get back. Once we transitioned to Jr, the long trip and the likelihood of large seas and wind on the nose made the islands seem pretty much unreachable. With Pat and Fred making the Keys their destination this year, they were determined to take Marianna there. They also graciously invited us to join them on Marianna. We accepted and started looking for th weather to make the trip, with hopes to leave as soon as possible after the Seafood Festival.
Preparations for departure included :
- making space for guests on Marianna
- provisioning with enough food and water for 4 people for a week to 10 days, since you can't expect to find either in the Dry Tortugas
- moving supplies from Orionj Jr to Marianna,
- shutting down Jr , so we would be leaving her in a secure state for the same period\
- planning routes, including looking for protected anchorages along the way, and
- deciding what conditions would allow us to make the trip with comfort and till be able to see and do things while we were there.
- We began preparing in earnest during the week leading up to the Seafood Festival. By week's end, we were starting to see the window on Monday. We prepared for Monday, only to see the forecast change. Now it would be Wednesday at the earliest. Then Thursday. We finally cut the knot and moved aboard Marianna on Wednesday night. When Thursday dawned with winds howling outside, we reluctantly decided that this wouldn't be the day. But we were losing confidence that we would find the window. With advice from weather router Chris Parker, and a forecast for brisk Northeast winds that were to settle down during the trip, we voted to leave on Friday and make the trip. It wasn't a forecast that we would ever have tried on Orion Jr, but Marianna should be able to handle it just fine.
- At least , that 's the plan.