MARATHON KEY AND KEY WEST (NOT!) CRUISE
Friday morning dawned with bright sunshine and almost flat seas as 8 Marco Bay Yacht Club boats set out for Faro Blanco Marina Resort on Marathon Key. It was, perhaps, one of our finest days on the water. (This part of the article is being written on the second day of our trip, so we hope the seas hold out for the rest of the trip). The Herndons on TenneSea Waltz started out early in the morning and were the first to arrive. They were followed by the “fast” boats led by the Cooks on Cookin’ and included the Gelfands on My Turn, the Skillerns on Sea Ya’ll and the Mounts on Nauti Buoy. Shortly after they were docked, the Browns on Therapy III and Sachers on Sachmo arrived. The final boat, the Kernans on Wanderer V, completed our boating group. We were joined shortly after by Shirley Southard and Kerry Heckenlaible who drove down. Their husbands hitchhiked down on Wanderer V and Sea Ya’ll.
After a rocky start with the marina personnel who were nice enough to give us our slip assignments days ahead of time, and then proceeded to change them over and over again right up to when we arrived at the dock (please don’t ask Brent about it), things were finally straightened out, we were all docked close together, and a magical night began.
Unbeknownst to us, the marina owners were sponsoring a promotional weekend event run by Super Yachts to introduce the beautifully, totally redone marina and resort to boating brokers and owners returning from the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, and invited all of us to take part in all of the events. The evening started with drinks and gourmet passed hors d’oeuvres under a beautiful tent complete with chandeliers, white tablecloths and lovely centerpieces. Shortly thereafter a 6 piece band started entertaining us. Dinner at 8 consisted of fried whole fish, key lime chicken, paella with lobster tails, side dishes, salads, etc. etc. etc.
Some of our ladies were called upon to help the bandleader start a circa 1950’s Johnson outboard motor which had been converted to a margarita machine. For more to this story, you’ll have to ask Paula or Jo Ann. The marina staff and the other participants were all very friendly and we were again invited to partake of all the weekend events.
Bob Herndon, Barry Gelfand & John Kernan signed up for the next day’s fishing tournament and came in second place with 83+ pounds of Amberjack, Dolphin and Tripletail, all 3 of them having a successful day. They were awarded a plaque and a beautiful large painting, both of which they re-awarded to their boat captain. They were nice enough to share the fish with the rest of us.
Paula and Judy signed up for wave runner rides but the seas were a bit rough on Saturday afternoon and they decided to chill out instead.
The ladies all enjoyed breakfast and then shopping right in the marina building at a Trunk Show featuring clothing, hats, sunglasses, jewelry, snakeskin accessories and Lucite items. Lunch was a burger barbecue with all the trimmings, followed mid-afternoon by finger sandwiches, fruit skewers, and mini desserts. The bar was open the entire day.
Some of us had an early dinner at Barracuda Grill, several couples went to Keys Fisheries for stone crab claws (a tradition for some) and others took part in the marina cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres. We were all back in time to do a Yacht Crawl tour ,of some magnificent boats from the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, while entertained on the dock with steel drums and rum punch and more hors d’oeuvres on the yachts. For those who hadn’t had dinner, a plated dinner was served and followed by a casino night. It was a late night for some of us, way past Marco midnight!
Sunday morning was cloudy. We all enjoyed the final event of the Marina Weekend, a delicious brunch, then walked a short distance and enjoyed an educational tour of The Turtle Hospital, a wonderful organization that rescues, rehabilitates and releases Sea Turtles back into the Gulf. The rain began as we returned to the boats and we all spent a relaxing, lazy afternoon. Dinner was at the Hideaway Café on Grassy Key for all 20 of us. Noisy but delicious characterized our dinner which was, nevertheless, enjoyed by all.
Due to the weather and sea forecast for late in the week, the 3 boats that planned to go on to Key West cancelled that part of the trip and decided to remain in Marathon. Our land cruiser with the Southards and Heckenlaibles returned to Marco on Monday. We were glad that they joined us for the weekend and hope they had as much fun as we did having them.
Monday and Tuesday afternoons found the remaining ladies playing canasta and Mah Jongg and most of the men playing Mexican Train dominoes in a lovely room at our disposal in the marina building. Monday dinner for 10 was right there in the marina restaurant, the Lighthouse Grill, while the other 6 went for an “all things conch” dinner and a movie.
Our farewell dinner Tuesday night was a short taxi ride away to Frank’s Grill, a storefront Italian and Fish restaurant that proved excellent (both the dinners and the cannolis, which were taken back to the boats) and will certainly be on our list for our next trip to Marathon.
Wanderer V and TenneSea Waltz returned to Marco on Tuesday and the rest of our boats returned on Wednesday. While the seas weren’t flat as they had been on our cruise down, they were not bad….except for the multitude of crab pots we needed to dodge for most of the trip. It seemed like the number of crab pots multiplied during our stay in Marathon. (If we could only get Bob Herndon to eat fewer stone crab claws, we could probably get the fishermen to pull up a good number of the crab pots on our routes!!)
Faro Blanco Marina is a wonderful destination for both boaters and those desiring to explore the Keys by land. There is a hotel right on the grounds as well as several other hotels nearby for our land cruisers. The captains enjoyed the fact that, other than fuel, dockage charges (which were a bit high), and their first mates’ shopping purchases, they had no other costs for most of the weekend. All food and beverages (Friday evening through brunch on Sunday) were compliments of Faro Blanco, an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
All in all, this proved to be one of our most memorable and enjoyable cruises. Thanks to our cruise team for all their planning for months prior to the trip as well as on site.
(Be sure to see accompanying photos.)
MARATHON KEY AND KEY WEST (NOT!) CRUISE