Sunset or Seaweed?

On this page we describe some cruising experiences that shouldn’t be missed (like a spectacular sunset!) Sunset in the Virgins and some other experiences that are better avoided (like seaweed in your propeller!) Seaweed. We hope these observations are helpful and informative.

Posted Tuesday September 6, 2005

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Sunset in the Virgins

First Watch Restaurant, Sarasota, FL

First Watch on Main St. is a short two-block walk from either Marina Jack’s or the Baypoint anchorage in Sarasota. The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, but what wonderful breakfasts and lunches they serve! We discovered this gem on our first visit to Sarasota in 2003, and we’ve continued to return whenever we’re in town. This year Mike joined us for Mother’s Day breakfast there and the special spinach omelet of the day was delicious. Jim and I ate lunch there recently and his reuben and my chicken salad melt were some of the best we’ve ever tasted. This tidy, unassuming eatery with a friendly, helpful staff is definitely worth a visit during any Sarasota sojourn.

Posted Sunday June 4, 2006

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Marathon Boat Yard, Marathon, FL

We’re really disappointed about identifying this boatyard as a “seaweed”. It had been highly recommended by some good friends after they had a minor engine problem that was resolved in a very timely manner. Our experience didn’t match theirs, however.

It all started when Jim decided to examine the exhaust mixing elbow for possible leaks. We took the part to the boatyard for inspection and possible repair, which they assured us they could do. Their inspection revealed some leaks, so a new elbow needed to be fabricated by a local welder. The part was ready the following day—so far so good. The elbow needed to be overwrapped with fiberglass and other insulation as a heat barrier, so we left it with the boatyard for that “one-hour” job. That was a Friday afternoon, and we knew it would be at least the following Monday until we could reinstall the mixing elbow and get our engine running once more. In the meantime, our engine-drive refrigeration was obviously non-functional, but we had been able to procure some dry ice for our freezer.

Monday came and went with no word about when the mixing elbow would be ready. On Tuesday afternoon we were told that the special resin needed to seal the fiberglass wrap had to be ordered and wouldn’t arrive until Friday—maybe. When I expressed surprise and distress that this “one-hour” job was taking so long, I was told that I should have mentioned when I left the part that we needed it ASAP. Then perhaps the boatyard could have suggested an alternative. What?!! We had been led to believe from the outset that this was a minor job requiring no more than an hour or two to complete. But somehow we were supposed to think to request that this hour or two be scheduled sometime within a week? For an engine part?? Well, what were we thinking? Somehow we expected productive management at the boatyard.

No, the resin didn’t come in on Friday, and, yes, it was another several days before we got the elbow back. When they did return it to us, it was missing the outer insulation, and it still needed some sanding and extra cure time. Jim took care of the sanding, and he decided to let the insulation wait. By the time the elbow went back on the engine we had long given up on the dry ice, realizing that we were spending more for the dry ice than the frozen food was worth. Some serious winds that had dislodged one of our anchors only added to our frustration with Marathon Boatyard. For several days we envisioned a nightmare of dragging anchors with no engine to reset them in the notorious silt and crowded conditions of Boot Key Harbor. Fortunately, our secondary anchor held, we were able to deploy a third with the dinghy, and the crowd had begun to dissipate.

As one of only two boatyards in Marathon, this facility would do well to provide better service to the considerable contingent of cruising boats which pass through Boot Key Harbor every year. It would seem that on any given day any number of boats might need some kind of service in order to move on to their next destinations. Given our experience, however, we’ll do all that we can to avoid that need in future visits to Boot Key Harbor.

Posted Sunday June 4, 2006

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