No. It's not that kind of shopping. It's for boat stuff, of course We had the opportunity to go to the Islamorada Nautical Flea Market – an amazing event that snarls traffic for miles. We were last there years ago. We started out long before sun-up with our friends Miami and Shelly from Yume. It's about an hour drive from Marathon, and our early departure paid off with a reasonably close parking space and time for an all-you-can-eat breakfast on site. We ate quickly, and proceeded to scour the aisles for the things on our list.
There were actually 2 nautical flea markets on that same Saturday. We just made it back in time to sift through the items at the Marathon Yacht Club Flea Market in the park next to the marina. We didn't find anything there, but it's always fun to look.
The last weekend in February is a local fundraiser, called National Pig Days, for 2 local centers: Kreative Kids Pre-School and Grace Jones Daycare. You may remember prior years' stories about the pig races, which are fun to watch. This year, we decided to offer to help out and were welcomed with open arms. Our duties started in the children's area watching bounce houses and evolved to more "complex" duties, such as making Sno-Cones and Cotton Candy. We managed to master our new tasks quickly, and eventually were given responsibility for the whole concession, while the others watched their leader being tossed around on a bucking pig (similar to the mechanical bull). At any rate, our efforts were greatly appreciated and we even got to enjoy a wonderful BBQ buffet as a reward. We also left with a shocking pink Pig Day T-shirt. You won't miss us with that on.
Dave's reconnection with Augie led to announcements on his charity's behalf in the harbor. Sure enough, there was a sailboat heading to Cuba who was willing to work with him. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at his house with his wife, daughter, and a couple of other boaters who were interested in helping with his mission to provide needed goods to the Cuban people.
The dinghy had been in the water over 3 weeks and it was overdue for a bottom cleaning. However, with a rare calm day, we had our eyes on Sombrero Reef and some snorkeling. When we woke to an even rarer foggy morning, we weren't deterred. By the time we were ready to go, it should be gone.
However, to our surprise the fog stayed until afternoon. Guess that meant the dinghy would get cleaned after all. Even with 3 weeks of growth, it was still pretty easy to remove it.
A couple of days later, we were visted by the Coast Guard. That is the Coast Guard Auxiliary, who came to do our annual boat inspection. When their pretty sizeable powerboat pulled up to raft to us, we were glad they had some pretty big fenders. Athough they had to lower them quite a bit to be effective. The inspection went smoothly. And this time, we learned from our mistakes in the past. We put the sticker on the tabernacle at the base of the mast. That way it's there whether the mast is up or not.
Shortly after arriving back in Hampton last Spring, Cathy received an e-mail notifying her that she was finally a winner in the Keys Fisheries Lobster Reuben contest, after entering for years without success. By guessing the correct number of reubens sold in the month of April, she had won a free lobster Reuben and a T-shirt. The problem was, she now had to wait almost a year to collect her prize. So, while the rest of country was focused on who had won the Oscars, Cathy and Dave were focused on redeeming their own prized lobster reuben. It was as good as always (maybe better because it was free) and now Cathy is "famous", with her name on the wall of the restaurant. Dave claims that he gave her the winning number, but that just shows there's power in the pen.
We took advantage of both formal and informal opportunities to learn more about boating and trailering and new destinations. The Marathon Boatyard offered an outboard maintenance seminar, which reinforced what Blake had shown us in the Spring. We joined an America's Great Loop Cruising Association gathering to learn more about traveling the loop on a trailered boat. That led to another get-together the following night with just trailer boaters at Marathon Marina. We managed to get some good tips about how to wash down the trailer when water is not readily available and some tips about other cruising destinations. One couple spent a couple months cruising Alaska. We'll see where all this might lead.
At the end of the night, we gathered to watch the sunset over the 7-Mile Bridge, which was pretty spectacular.