There is a lot of junk that ends up in the water in any harbor. We saw that on our clean-up day back in the Hampton River. However, we had our first opportunity to participate in a clean-up day here in Boot Key Harbor on the first Saturday of March. It was a dinghy clean-up and we were assigned an area west of the harbor, along Boot Key, where the mangroves are thick and greedily hoard all the debris that the prevailing east winds will send them. We motored toward the outer edge of our territory where Sisters Creek begins. Before we made it all the way there we found our first prize: some ice bags and beer boxes from a small mangrove island at the edge of the harbor.
After the success of February's Storytelling get-together, we helped organize a second one. Dave regaled the crowd with his story of how we started out with little experience, yet managed to get insurance on our 36ft boat. One of the more moving stories was one Miami told about his family's 3-day search for their dog, Goose, who had become lost on an uninhabited island off the coast of Georgia. (You can read this story on Yume's blog through this link. )
Boaters, like most people, love to tell stories and some of us have more to tell than others. Captain Jack is one of those. At 93, he's been on boats for much of his life, currently living aboard his 28ft sailboat, Fantasea, at the marina. Along with Miami and Shelly, we helped organize a night to hear Jack's stories. Miami brought his sound system ashore and (after some food, of course) interviewed Captain Jack about his life and adventures. Captain Jack quickly got into it, taking us from a high rise in Chicago, to a farm in Indiana, to a boiler room in an Army ship in the South Pacific, to St. Petersburg, where he bought his first sailboat, and finally to southeast FL and Marathon. And it was fun taking the journey with him.
Dave started making announcements for volunteers on the morning Net in late February. Since the volunteers would call the Chamber of Commerce directly, we never knew how effective the recruiting efforts were. However, as the time for the festival arrived, we were about to find out. Due to a turnover in the Chamber's staff only a couple of weeks before the festival, Dave decided we needed to step in to help.
The Chamber of Commerce is 5 miles away from the marina, a distance too far for most boaters, since most have no car. Dave had offered to deliver the T-shirts, which are the entry ticket for the volunteers, to the boaters in the harbor. All they had to do was give the Chamber their location in the harbor. With the change in staff, this information was not being collected. So, we announced on the net that anyone who had volunteered contact us. Wow! We had over 50 people on 30 boats. It took us most of an afternoon to deliver all the shirts, but by the day before the festival started, they were all in the volunteers' hands.
New Chartplotter mount
Over the holidays, they had worked on it for hours. Dave and his brother-in-law (also a Dave) were tackling the problem of how to redesign our chartplotter mount to accommodate the new tachometer. Brother-in-law Dave had a workshop full of power tools, the skills to use them, and an engineering background for solving these problems. So, it wasn't surprising that in the process of adding the tach, they had worked out an ingenious system to remove the klunky clamps that had held the chartplotter in place while underway. (You had to make sure you ducked low when going down the companionway stairs.) Once in Marathon, we were ready to put the solution in place.
"Cathy on Orion Jr can do canvas work". Cathy was looking at the VHF radio during the morning net, wondering if she had just heard right. Someone was looking to get some repairs done and the local canvasmaker wasn't available for a few days. Our friends on Natalie had just volunteered our services. Ummm. At any rate, Cathy was at work again. This time she was repairing tears in enclosure panels and cushions. It was a full day's work, but the customer seemed to be happy in the end. She had the use of her sewing machine for a few projects for us as well, making a cover for the trailer winch and new shades to completely surround the cockpit. This will help if we need to take showers there to give us some privacy.
We headed out for a day sail and ended up snorkeling out at Sombrero Reef. We sailed most of the way there and back on a beautiful day. Cathy got to use her new Dive float for the first time, which let her wander farther from the boat.