Sailing and travel tales

Marathon – good American blokes

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8 December 2010

Looks like we are here for another month, at least!
We still have things to do on the boat and still have to get to know the boat
better before sailing which means quite a few day trips in and out of the harbour.

Marathon is Ok if you don’t want to go shopping.

The restaurants are cheap enough when we
want to go out to eat – although we do mostly eat on the boat, often with one
or two other people. Catamarans tend to be “social centres” in marinas because
there is space on them. There is space in the cockpit for about 6 people to eat
around the outside table and inside 6 people easily fit around the table. One
of the people who often eats with us is a young man called Jamieson who has
been fitting the electronics and is an ex- Leopard charter captain (our
catamaran is a Leopard ). He is just over thirty, lives on his own yacht in the
marina and will help us a lot in learning to sail and manage this boat. He will
come with us on our day trips.

One of our other “regulars” for dinner is a half
indian (red indian) half European who is shortly to sail for The Phillipines
where his Phillipino wife is currently. Another man who drops by a bit has his
own catamaran and is shortly to sail home to Hawaii. He is 65 yrs old.

The harbour is fill of men alone so if I don’t
watch out I will be feeding lonely men every night , young and old. The oldest
one here is Captain Jack who is 78 yrs old. He is fit but does not go out
sailing in his yacht any more.

Then there is another young man in his early
thirties. A very nice young man, who has decided to take himself out into the
world in a yacht called “Perspective” with his golden labrador called Leroy for
company. He plans to go to Brazil where Zack told me there are 4 girls to every

The man beside us is called Barnacle Bill. He lives
permanently on the marina in his houseboat with his wife. She goes off to work
on shore at something every day and he jumps into his diving suit most days to
go scraping barnacles off the bottom of boats. He is in his 70’s ! He is quite
miffed with us that we do not want him to clean the bottom of our boat yet.
Andreas plans to do that himself when we are in cleaner waters. We do not expect
to find many barnacles because we painted the bottom with anti fouling before
we left Rock Harbor only 6 weeks ago. There really should not be any on the
boat if the antifouling paint is doing its job!

Here in Marathon marina there are more dogs than
children on the boats. People seem to have forgotten that dogs are very good swimmers. Many of these dogs sport life jackets.


The marina is starting to fill up a bit with
holidaymakers from Canada and northern USA. When we arrived it was mostly the
permanents in here. It is quite a contrast to where we were last year, Ft
Lauderdale, surrounded by the super launches, cats and yachts.


There are yachts of all shapes and ages  here. The owners are not allowed to leave
their boats unattended so most are in reasonable condition.

Written by teoranga

September 17, 2011 at 8:58 am

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Marathon … integrity lost

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17 November  2010

We are discovering that generally Americans in this
area (Florida)  lack integrity. They do  business in a way quite different from NZ and
Switzerland. They feed on you and then they recommend their friends so that they
can feed on you too. An kind of extreme form of business networking!

We found this when we were buying the boat and we are finding it now. When it comes to
business and money they cannot be trusted. There are some nice people who charge
fairly but then they recommend this person or that person to do this for us or that
for us and usually we find out later we have been truly ripped off. We should
have not trusted the recommendation. We should have shopped around more. I
think maybe there is a kind of kick back payment system operating which means the
referrer gets something for referring..

For example we found a couple of small holes in the
rubber dinghies inner cushion. Easy enough to fix really with PVC but the man fitting the electronics
on the boat said oh take it to so and so he does a good job and quickly. . So
Andreas took up the suggestion. US$100 later the dinghies inner cushion was
fixed . Next time we do it !

But the big stores are OK and cheap. It’s the small
companies and the individuals that are the problem.



20  November 2010

We are sitting around on the boat waiting on people
or orders half the time. Most things have to be ordered when you go shopping.
That is a sign of the times here. The shops are cutting back on their stock
holding as much as possible. They often ask you to prepay and they often expect
you to pay the freight to order a basic item in like light bulbs. Probably they
have ordered one or two others to put on their shelves at the same time, but you
wouldn’t know that.

And we are stuck here until mid December waiting on
a radar … hard to believe having to wait for something like a radar in the
great USA ! Nothing fancy just a Garmin radar.

The time is filled with fixing.

One of the engines had two broken coupling bolts
between it and the propellor shaft and the other two bolts were almost worn
right through too. We went looking because the engine became very rattly on our
journey down from Rock Harbour. ( remember the other engine stopped on the way
down due to incorrect hosing used in the diesel lines from previous cheapsgate
repair work. Andreas has since replaced all the diesel hoses in both motors.)

The starter motors in both engines failed, then one
of the motors still wouldn’t start and Andreas found a bad connection somewhere
in the middle of the engine. He said there were wires going everywhere doing
nothing. Behind the electronics board was the same, a real mess of wires many
doing nothing.

This boat was offered for sale as regularly maintained and ready to go !                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             It was privately owned but had been leased to The Moorings to use as a charter boat.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The revelations of Calusa since we have finally got to use her means                                                                                                                                                                     I would never allow my boat to be chartered by such a company.

The fridge is also not working reliably even though
it was supposedly “fixed “as a condition of buying.

Most of the filters, water and oil, throughout the
boat needed cleaning and some were not even fitted correctly.

Next problems are the toilets needing replacement
of bits and pieces … YUK !!!

Look on this link. We are starting to hit back at
the man who ripped us off in Rock Harbor.

This thread is located at:

It is interesting to see how other people have

Written by teoranga

September 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm

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Marathon ..waiting, waiting, waiting

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It’s pretty hard work living on a marina.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To go to shore you have to jump in the dinghy. In a marina you use the shore facilities
like in a camping ground; the laundry, the showers and whenever possible the
toilets. So you have to plan everything a bit better. We are now getting the
groceries and whatever Andreas needs to fix things on the bicycles. We have
little backpacks and I have a front basket on the handlebars, but when you are
buying in your drinking water, your beer and your wine the loads get pretty


We paid for a locker on shore which means we can
hold things there  so they don’t all have
to go backwards and forwards across the water to the boat.

We are here at Marathon for at least another month
waiting on the radar. It’s hard to imagine having to wait a month for something
in USA isn’t it.? There was very big annual boat show in Annapolis about 3
weeks ago and another big one at Ft Lauderdale a week later.

I suspect they must have sold lots of radars there. Bad timing on our part.

Never mind Andreas just keeps on fixing things on the boat and will eventually  take it out
for sailing practise as soon as the fixing is done … if fixing ever gets done!

Because we are waiting on tradesmen and goods to arrive so much of the time Andreas
and I are often literally twiddling our fingers . Such a change of lifestyle for us !

You come to realise after so much inactivity that a busy life is not such a bad thing.

We are on the “pathway” to the shore and if Andreas doesn’t watch out

he is going to become like the little man in the cuckoo clock,                                                                                                                                                                        popping out every time a dingy goes by to see who it is this time !

I can always find an endless amount of cleaning and polishing to do.

When the boat is finally “moving” I guess if we start twiddling our fingers, we’ll just sail on.

We could end up home by June not just at Curacao !

I am a bit tired of the “hot” and the weather being almost changeless, fine day, fine day, fine day.

I am very tired of being bitten constantly by mosquitos and the little tiny flying bugs called
noseeums. We can’t cool off with a swim in this harbour. We shower and do the
laundry on land and take the computer over to the marina centre to do a long
session. I guess when we actually start sailing / cruising things will improve.
To begin with the bugs will not fly out to sea to bite me.

Written by teoranga

September 6, 2011 at 10:49 am

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Marathon : Barnacles and things

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22 November 2010

Fish jump around us all the time flop and pop, flop and pop but
nobody except the birds try and catch them. They say they are mostly catfish –
and you don,t catch and eat catfish in a marina because they are bottom
feeders. The only thing we are putting into the marina water is our cooking / dishwashing
water and I try and keep that to a minimum – by washing the dishes every second
day. I had half a bottle of milk turn on me (because the fridge is also on
restricted power) It took ages to actually curdle and then I put that in the
toilet – which goes into a holding tank and gets pump out once a week by a pooh
covered operator ( well he was this week anyway – a bit sprayed with it YUK!)

We are just sitting about nicely. Andreas cleaned the bottom of the dingy today.
It’s been in the water for three weeks and it was already really coated with
little barnacles especially on the stern . He scraped them off.

This marina is bad for rapid attachment of barnacles and we are moored next door
to Barnacle Bill who lives in a house boat here permanently.

Guess what his job is ? You got it,cleaning boat bottoms.

Barnacles are food on the table for him. If you do it yourself you need
to wear a good thick diving suit because they say there are little shrimp
things that jump on you and as they say get into every orifice !

The power systems on the boat are not adequate for
what we will need. Right now we have a Honda 2000 generator going almost
constantly to keep the boat’s systems powered up. Andreas
bought this Honda 2000 this week to boost up the boats batteries so we can keep
the fridge, the lights, the computer and the cell phones charged up, the water
pumps, the radios, the fans, the gas stove starter, and the navigational equipment

The boat is light on power producing facilities probably because
it was a charter boat before and people chartering boats like this usually
travel about on the motors. They do not sail much. The motors charge the batteries
and make hot water when they are running. This means that the sails are in good
order and we will mainly be sailing, which means no motors running, no power. When
you are tied up to a mooring it is not a good idea to run the boat’s motor to
charge batteries, neighbours don’t like it!

So the next thing to happen here is that we will be installing solar panels to
make power for us.

Written by teoranga

September 4, 2011 at 11:30 am

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Marathon …..the Overseas Highway

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The land here on the Florida Keys is extremely expensive. I find this amazing                                                                                                                                       considering “Global Warming ” theories and changing weather patterns in this area.                                                                                                                          Certainly I would not sink my money here!

The old Florida railway was an extraordinary project. Even now it
is awesome to see and consider. They called it the 8th wonder of the world
around the time it was built in the early 1900,s.

Did you ever hear anything about it?

A  small section got destroyed by a hurricane in the 1930,s and                                                                                                                                                                        they decided not to repair it. It was the time of the big Depression.                                                                                                                                                             Flagler had originally anticipated that Key West would grow into a big port                                                                                                                                            because of  it’s proximity to the Panama canal and Cuba but                                                                                                                                                                               the port had not grown as aniticpated.

The great railroad was left in disrepair but parts of it were
utilised and replaced by this 4 lane motorway, The Overseas Highway – going the
whole way down to Key West.

I think it would have been better to have kept the rail systems
and only allowed residents in with cars. The road is too busy and noisy now.

Everybody seems to been really scratching for a living down here. Most
of the buildings and shops are pretty shabby. Even the main road going through
the City of Marathon (6000 people ) has no curbing – well actually they are in
the process of slowly changing that now. Between the road and the footpath is
either rough grass of loose coral gravel. After the foot/bike path it can be
back to rough grass, trees or coral gravel .. or maybe some badly laid concrete
or tarseal as a parking lot in front of usually one story shops. So it is quite dusty
and the road through is very busy so very fumey when biking along. It is also
dead flat so Andreas does not mind biking now to get things.

There are some wealthier subdivisions along the coast but still the
infra structure supporting them is shabby . You really can be  quite proud of the way NZ has been put
together. Florida has been settled for about the same length of time as NZ. It
was the last mainland state to be settled because the environment was so
hostile. First came the black Americans – I guess the freed slaves. Then
Henry Flagler  built the railroad from St Augustins in the top east hand
corner of Florida right down to the Southern tip of Florida. That brought the
white settlers in and more latterly the Cubans, Hispanics, Mexicans, and South
Americans. Now more people speak Spanish than English here but that
is not a problem to us most of the time because most of them speak some English
as well.


Because it’s so flat and the vegetation all the same it’s not really an
inspiring place to live in forever, from our point our view.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No wonder they are such big “foodies” and drinkers.

The usual domestic (as opposed to marine shops ) shopping is very
limited in choice. For example I am looking out for plastic ware, bowls,
containers, storage etc and there is virtually no choice and I can,t find
exactly what I want. Its very frustrating. At home there is a huge range of
plastic ware in the Payless Plastic, The Plastic Box company, The Warehouse etc
you can find something to fit any situation.

The supermarkets have rows and rows of personal care items – soaps,
shampoos etc…. where ours would be lucky to have one row. Yet I can,t find a
natural bristle body brush to make my itches go away. (Thats what I find best
when I get itchy at home ) If I was at home I know exactly where to go and buy
one in Whangarei !

Written by teoranga

September 3, 2011 at 11:36 am

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Marathon – Boot Key Harbor

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9 November 2010

We are now moored in the City Marina in Marathon and life is a lot
better now that Sam is out of it. I am going to go to the government
environmental body in this area and give them the details of our experience at
Rock Harbor. Most people think that Sam will have just pocketed the money and
no one will come in and dig out the diesel in the ground. So I will make sure
the authorities are aware and then leave it to America to sort out their own.

Marathon is on a strip of land in some place about 150 mtrs between the
two seas and some places maybe 400 metres. Again the “Overseas” Highway running
down the centre and shops and houses each side to the beaches. America here is
very relaxed and fairly rough and unfinished and a bit untidy.

We bought two very cheap bicycles, US $ 60 each from the Kmart here. We
will carry them on the boat as we travel down the Caribbean so we can explore
more cheaply.

We took our first grocery shopping trip on the bikes today but kind of
overloaded ourselves because Andreas just could not walk passed a wine deal
which required one to purchase 6 bottles of wine!!

12 November 2010

We dinghied down the harbour last night with a couple from another boat
and had a US$10 beer and meal of barbecued chicken wings and blue vein cheese sauce,
while the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico Gulf. It held it’s colour so long
after the sun had gone that I suggested that the oil wells were now on fire.

The social life in this marina is pretty hectic. The marina is about a
quarter full and many of the people tied up here are pretty much permanents. It’s
a real Peyton Place. When we end up chatting with somebody new they already
know something about us! Interestingly most of the people here now are of our
age group. There are lots of old hippies, still in hippie mode some of them,
living aboard and on land in The Keys.

There are a lot of old men mum’s age too. I think they escaped from
their wives some time ago and are happily living tied up on their boats now.

Beside the hippie types there are a lot of
very odd people about, even the ones who are in business, shop keepers etc. Some
real “characters” abound. (a bit like Kaeo ) There are also quite a few Blue
Heelers about as well !  I think of it as
the last wild outpost of USA and I am sure it is the last stand of pirates (
like Sam ) and societies misfits..

Soon the locals will be joined by people from northern parts of USA and
from Canada who will come down and fill the marina up before Xmas. Winter is
the main holiday season for Florida.  It’s too hot in summer.

Written by teoranga

September 2, 2011 at 11:42 am

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To Marathon

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As they were placing Calusa back into
the water at Rock Harbor an eagle flew onto the top of the mast and whistled a
bit. He stayed there for about 2 mins and then flew off. It was a very strange
thing. I asked one of the guys putting the boat in if it was a sign of things
to come. He said it was a good sign.

I sure hope so. This is the beginning
of our “life” with Calusa. It is the first time (other than a very short
excursion with the sales team in Ft Lauderdale) we are going seriously sailing
on Calusa. It is the beginning of our sailing adventure.

5 November 2010

We waited overnight to catch the high tide at
6.30 am the next morning.

Our friends joined us in the morning and we had to wait until it was light

enough to move – about 7.00am.

There is a very narrow dredged out channel, about 400 meters long to the

deeper water. 20 meters from the deeper water Calusa grounded! This channel is
overdue for dredging and the end posts are not coloured and are not placed so
that it is clear which side to pass them.
We had to wait till the next tide in the evening.

So we drank a lot of beer. (I couldn’t, I am on allergy medication still.) and
generally enjoyed ourselves while Mike worked out how to free us.

The strategy worked and we floated free on the
next high tide then went out into the deep and anchored being too late / dark
to continue safely.

At 2.00 am the wind was singing, or more like
whining, in the rigging. A violent little squall was going through and the wind
was blowing up to 30 miles an hour.

We got up and found that the boat had dragged anchor
and we were not far off hitting another moored boat. All hands on deck and we
motored back into the dark and deep and re anchored.

Mike said we need a much longer anchor chain ASAP.
Our 220 ft chain turned out to be only 80 ft. The boat surveyor did not check the
validity of this sales claim and neither did we.

A yacht slipped close by in the dark seeking
shelter also. The squall

moved on and we went back to bed… until about 4.40 am when another one came
in. This time we held firm.

As soon as it was light we got under way on the two motors and the foresail. The
weather was too unpredictable to put up the main sail. Not only was it chopping
and changing too much but also we had to run the gauntlet of the cray pot
buoys. The best way was through the cray pots buoys;
otherwise we had to go out past the reef into the Gulf stream.

In these conditions we learned to use
the helm well, the autopilot, and how to watch out and communicate well like: one
o’clock, 50 mtrs, 12.30, 100mtrs. It took two pairs of eyes most of the time.
Some people just run over the cray pot buoys but we did not want to have
anything tangle in our props so best to practise steering the boat.

Half way down the port engine died so we had to be even more vigilant at

missing the cray pot buoys. The whole forty miles is covered in them. It

would have been hopeless to try and sail that route at night.  Andreas

revived the diesel engine by replacing the diesel fuel hoses with real diesel fuel
hoses. The wonderful “regularly maintained “(another sales claim)  Calusa did not have real diesel fuel hoses.
What she had, had gone soft and sticky. Another point missed by the surveyor of
the boat. The engine died again but Andreas restarted it again. This time he
thinks it was air in the system.

So finally we reach Marathon and we thought our trials and tribulations were
over….but… this morning we went to track down where the new parasailor
Andreas had bought in Germany before he left was. It was marked for a “yacht in
transit”  but it is held up by US customs who want a US tax ID number to release it because it cost XXXX amount not just X amount, even though it is for a “yacht in transit. “

DHL was about to send it back to Germany but I think we have managed

to catch it before it left. I have arranged for the use of someone else’s US

tax ID number. It should not cost anything tax wise because we are a “yacht

in transit.”

Written by teoranga

August 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

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Key Largo – Like a duck to water

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We went into the water finally today and are tied up on the boatyards dock.
We leave at 7.00am tomorrow just after full tide for Marathon.


What a hassle of a day.

The boat yard owner wanted a cash payment for our yard expenses and the
costs of the proposed diesel cleanup ( that is not yet cleaned up) He wouldn’t
take the Mastercard. You can only draw out US $ 300 a day cash on your Mastercard
if you do not have and American bank account. Finally he did say we could send via
telegraphic transfer, knowing that would take a day or more. He rang the bank
for a bank account number – he didn,t ask his office worker … funny I thought.
We took the bank details directly to his bank along with his invoice and Andreas’s
gold Mastercard .

We told the bank manager we wanted to pay the invoice but that Sam had wanted it
in cash and that the boat insurance company required it to be on the Mastercard.
The bank manager oblidged and in a matter of minutes it was in Sam’s bank
account. We had great pleasure in going back to Sam and telling him the “Cash”
was in his bank account and gave him the receipt the bank manager gave us to
give to him. Then Calusa went into the water.

We took the couple who are helping us take Calusa
to Marathon out to dinner, went grocery shopping at 9.30 pm and came back to
the boat and unloaded the groceries into the boat. When Andreas was climbing
back on to the dock his glasses dropped down into the water. He can,t drive
without them. So off went his clothes (it was dark ) and on went the snorkle
and about 10 mins diving later he found his $400 glasses . Now we are taking
our last sleep on land for a good while.

Catch you next at Marathon, about 5 hrs sailing away.

Written by teoranga

August 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

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Key Largo … the end in sight

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30th October 2010

Today has been very hot and we ran with sweat from the moment we got up 7.00am till

we come back into the airconditioned motel room at 7.00pm.

We put the sails up today so in a few days we hope to be in the water…

Then we will go to Marathon further south along the Keys to a marina and tie up

while we finish what Andreas wants to finish on the boat before we start sailing to Bimini.

I am all over itchy and raw. Allergic to mosquito bites, fungus and mould and
stress and cleaners and anti fouling paint and the dirty polluted dusty
boatyard and God knows what else , maybe even the sun..maybe different bathing
soap … don’t know, but the mosquito bites started it off. I have been scratching
for days now and had to finally give in and buy some over the counter pills to
try and contain it but I am still not really improving much. Just hope it runs
its course soon because I do not know what else to do.

are a few photos from today.

The first one was about 7.00am by the sea at the end of the motel garden yesterday.
In the catamaran are friends we have made. They are a couple who lost
everything in the $ crash and built this catamaran in five and a half months on
their credit card… I think it is still on the credit card .They are so angry
with the banks and the USA government bail out of the banks that they have no
intention of paying it back. They are kind of sea gypsies now. He was a boat
builder and is an experienced around the world sailor. Mike helped us to put up
the main sail today and will assist us in taking the boat to Marathon.

This one is a picture looking back at the boatyard. You can’t see Calusa but
the mast is the third highest one along from me.

The third one is Rhonda and Andreas … both smokers

This one is us looking at the dredged channel, our way out, at low tide. We
can only get out at full tide.

Both Mike and Rhonda are going to help us sail Calusa down to Marathon on Monday evening. Hopefully we will be “released “by then. The insurance assessor came by today. We will pay up on Monday.

Written by teoranga

August 26, 2011 at 11:59 am

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Key Largo – day after day

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This is Jamie and Keith’s catamaran Kookaburra in the travel lift.

The travel lift operator is a young lady from Hawaii.

The travel lift is how we move about! Sam is quite cunning really. Our boat was placed into storage for 9 mths. But it was in a “storage” area of the yard.
That costs US $ 14 a day. Then when you want to work on your boat you have to
pay for the travel lift to move you to the other side of the road to the
“work ” area.. The area has a hard surface .. lots of broken up dusty
concrete. You can pollute like hell here because they kid themselves they can
scrape it all up from time to time and that deals with it.

The work area is $84 a day, something Sam omitted to tell us when we first inquired about the costs of staying in his boatyard.

Sam does not have a standard price sheet to hand out to customers. Sam just sits down at his computer and types up one he thinks you will pay. Then the other thing Sam does not tell his customers until too late, after they have been lifted out of
the water, is that they have to buy all materials used in his yard through him!

Sam also decided that we have to pay a further $42 a day to live on our boat while it is in his yard. One of the reasons why we chose to bring the boat here is because
when we visited Sam last December to see his yard he said we could live aboard
for a very small extra cost. So instead we are paying $60 a day to live in a nice
seaside resort across the road from the boatyard instead. We are also paying to
rent a car right now too. So it’s quite a dollar drain per day at the moment.
But we are saving on food .. it’s too hot and sticky to feel hungry so we are
living on apples, bread and swiss cheese ! We get a cheap – meal out every
second day maybe. But on the other hand we are drinking quite a bit of wine and
beer because we get so thirsty.. and stressed!

Written by teoranga

August 26, 2011 at 11:22 am

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