The previous 9 months of our great adventure have involved moving the boat from one wonderful location to another every few days, on the average. Most cruisers on the loop have historically found that southern Florida is a great place to stop for the winter months to enjoy the tropical climate before continuing up the east coast or jumping over to the Bahamas. After enjoying a little taste of warmer weather, it didn’t take us long to adopt that mindset. Florida’s west coast, the Keys and the Bahamas are the 3 most popular places to hang out until spring weather calls most cruisers northward. These areas are also winter homes for thousands of snowbird cruisers who regularly make the journey down the east coast from the northeast in September and October and then return home in April and May. After spending the holidays with family and friends in Key Largo and Islamorada, Stel and I decided to move the boat down to Boot Key Harbor for 2 months. Boot Key Harbor is located in the middle section of Keys called Marathon.

Estrellita is now attached to a mooring buoy among over 250 other boats within the same little harbor. For those of you not familiar with a mooring buoy, it is a large float that is securely anchored into the floor of a well protected body of water, arranged in a well-planned grid. Boats are connected to the buoys with room to swing, with confidence that they will not be pulled off the mooring by strong winds or currents. As Stel and I look out from the windows of the Estrellita, we see a neighborhood of boats about as far as we can see. As cruisers fill the mooring field during the winter, the harbor becomes a thriving community with plenty of well organized activities, services and opportunities to meet new friends.

Some may wonder what we are doing with our time these days. Well, we always have a long list of home improvement and maintenance projects on the Estrellita, so we spend an average of 3-4 hours a day at work on those! (We are finding this much more enjoyable than cutting grass and trimming shrubs!) There are endless bike paths in Marathon, so we have been doing a good bit of riding for exercise. We spend much more time reading, writing, exploring and interacting with our new neighbors in the harbor, as well as enjoying the fellowship of Calvary Baptist Church, which is a 15 minute bike ride from our boat. Over the last few years, Stel has had an great interest in studying about the health advantages of a plant-based diet. It has taken me a while to come fully on board, but we have found that learning, shopping and eating as a unified couple has real advantages, especially since we are together 24/7. We have had a great time realizing the benefits in reference to energy, weight control, blood chemistry and the pure enjoyment of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and getting away from meat, dairy products and processed foods. While Stel is in the galley trying out new recipes, I have picked up the guitar again and have been doing my best to serenade her with something that resembles a romantic melody. MUCH more practice required!

Friends from home have joined us in Marathon. Gene and Shannon Beckman flew down and spent 3 wonderful days with us in the sunshine and warmer weather. It was fun introducing them to our boat life and taking a day trip to Key West and then leisurely cruising up the coast on the Atlantic Ocean side. Thank you Gene and Shannon for making the trip to see us!!