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Marathon was a delightful visit.  In addition to the piers and slips for boats, there were little two-story houses floating on the water with walkways to the pier.  When we arrived, it was a quiet place, but people started to arrive for the Labor Day weekend.  We met several couples further along their adventures than we are.  The man in the next slip next to us said he was only sorry he didn't begin sooner.  Boat people are quite open and talkative, sharing their experiences and offering their opinions.

We planned to leave Marathon Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m., but the office didn't open until 8:00.  We made special arrangements for someone to come in at 7:30, but he didn't know how to use the credit card machine.  After 45 minutes, I wrote him a check and we were on our way, well rested.

We left the harbor channel and got to our first waypoint.  The water was choppy but the weather pleasant.  However, in Bob's constant checking of the engine gauges, he noticed that the water temperature was too high.  He killed the engine and went below.  I tried to steer the boat as it drifted.  Given the choppy water, the boat was rockin' and rollin' all over the place.

Bob discovered that the raw water strainer was full of seaweed.  While he was in the engine room trying to take the strainer apart and clean it, the motion of the boat kept throwing him into the hot engine, burning his bare sweaty feet.   Bob cleaned the strainer but he couldn't get it reassembled because, instead of the wing nut coming off, the whole shaft had come out.  When he tried to get the shaft to screw back in, he realized that sand had filled the threaded hole.  When he was finally able to screw the shaft in, it wasn't tight enough to seal the lid.  He used extra washers under the wing nut to make a temporary seal.  What a sweet sound, the engine starting!  Feelings of success and seasickness swept over Bob as I drove.  The crisis of the day was over.

We continued our journey, but about three hours later, as Joan was driving, the engine just died.  Bob was asleep but woke with a start when I yelled.  Not twice in one day!  This time, Bob dropped the anchor.  He dove on the propeller to see if we had snagged a fishing line.  Nope.  He checked the oil.  That was fine.  He decided it must be fuel.  Again, he went below to deal with the problem as the boat pitched and pulled on the anchor rode.  It was getting to be mid-afternoon and there was no quick resolution to the problem.  I called Boat US on my cell phone and then called Towboat US on the VHF radio.  Given that it was Labor Day weekend, business was booming and they didn't have time for a ding-bat woman who didn't know what she wanted.  Should we return to Marathon, 3 1/2 hours back, or should we be towed to an anchorage in hopes that Bob could make the repairs himself?  What if he couldn't fix it?  I was so indecisive that they made the decision for me and said they only had time to tow us to an anchorage.  Two young men with two 200 hp engines came and towed us to an area and helped us anchor.  They charged the "bad weather" rate which rather surprised us since the weather was not bad, only winds and choppy seas.  Fortunately, insurance covered the tow and I called that night to increase my limit to the maximum.  Thank goodness for cell phones and credit cards.  I did call the credit card company and put a freeze on the card I used over the phone that night so no unscrupulous eavesdropper could fraudulently use the information. I have since closed that account and requested a new account number and credit card.

The evening was beautiful but slightly windy, rather a blessing since it meant no mosquitoes.  The moon was almost full and the silvery moonlight reflected across the water.   Words cannot describe the beauty of moonlit waters.

The next morning, Bob changed THREE fuel filters, and miraculously, the engine started.  Now, I hold my breath each time the engine emits a slightly different sound.

We had just left Long Key bight when we noticed ominous weather ahead.  It was very dark where we were headed and the dark clouds were moving toward us.  Bob turned on the radar.  The GPS was already on.  As the wind picked up, the waves became white-topped and the first raindrops were huge, fat ones.  Fog enshrouded us and we could barely see the bow of the boat.  Senses of sight and sound become much heightened.  I was totally disoriented.  It seemed as if we were going in circles.  The GPS has two lines on its screen with a little boat-shape showing whether we are in the "road."  It indicated we were right on course.  The radar showed that the storm was not very big and that there were no other boats in the area.  Some reassurance, anyway.   The fog lessened around the boat although the wind was still howling and the rain falling steadily.  The rain continued softly as the wind abated and the fog dissipated.  The temperature was noticeably cooler as we moved past our first storm.

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