Friday, February 10, 2012

I can't lie to you.  We are really liking this retirement gig.  Life in the Florida Keys is very nice.  There is a real community here, a sense of belonging.  Even though the people here are passing through but for a short time, we have grown fond of the many friends we have made and truly believe we will be 'buds' for a long time to come.

I think one of the catalysts that brings people together is the proximity of one boat to the next.  Marinas are tight spots and you cannot help but get to know your neighbor.  As such, you are compelled to get out and meet each other.  Back home, our house sits back in the woods on a little over an acre of ground.  We can go months without seeing one of our neighbors.  Here on the docks, you see everyone almost every day.  And if that is not enough for you, there is a happy hour every afternoon at five where all the boaters gather on the beach, sharing a drink and some stories as the sun goes down.

One of the things we wanted to do this year while in Marathon was to try out a few of the different marinas on the island.  There are many and each has its own flavor.  The first place we tried was called Sombrero Dockside.  Probably in the best location on the water, Sombrero is known for its lively clientel and popular bar and grill.  Each night at the bar there would be live entertainment.  The genres ranged from country to pop with one night reserved for karaoke (ugh!).  Most times, the music was quite good, but sometimes it was just plain bad.  Unfortunately for us, we were two slips removed from the stage which meant we heard every note that was played.  It was if they were playing in our basement.  This is okay if it was only a few nights a week.  At Sombrero, in season, there is music every night.  I don't think we could have made it the whole winter.

Luckily for us, we were able to get a slip at one of the other marinas we were wanting to try out.  Across the road on the bayside of the island sits Banana Bay.  As loud and boisterous as Sombrero was, Banana Bay is quiet and serene.  With a scant 27 slips, Banana Bay is a tight knit community of boaters who value thier privacy.  While there are still the nightly gatherings on the beach for happy hour, the conversations are shorter and pointed more towards banal things like the weather and the tide.   We have made one friend here that we hope visits more often:

This is an eight foot manatee that hangs around the marina, looking for a kind soul to offer her some fresh water.  It is amazing how large and docile these animals are.  She lumbers in every other day or so, hangs around for an hour or so and then is back on her way.  Its fun to watch her as she roll over from her back to her belly as the kids squeal in delight.

So as the days amble by here at "shuffleboard city," we are spending most of our time working on the boat.  (theres a surprise!)  The big project this season is to repaint the 'house'.  The 'house is the part of the boat that is out of the water and not the hull.  It comprises the flybridge and foward decks, along with the dinghy deck.  It has been a lot bigger job than we thought it was going to be.  Maya was looking a little tired in the paint department and I am glad to say that her new coats have made a great difference.

We are gearing up for our big 10 week Bahamas cruise later in the year.  We can't wait for that!  For now though, we are enjoying the weather and all the good friends we have made.  I am going to make it a point to get out in the neighborhood a little more when we get back to Cincinnati.  I wonder what they would think if we had happy hour nightly out on Treeknoll?

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