Thursday, March 6, 2014

Happier Thoughts (and Pictures) from Marathon.

The Crowd at Sombrero Beach.

View from the temporary office.

Sombrero Beach Dinghy Anchorage.

Not caught by us.  On the dock at Lazy Days.

Key West Icon.

The Limo at Lori Lei's in Islamorada.

Manatee Sleeping at the City Marina Dinghy Dock.

Porpoise Fishing in the Morning.

Early Riser.

View from the Living Room.

Sharing the Pool.

Our new front window.

That manatee, again.

Resting or Fishing?

Soccer under the Lights at City Park.

Our fine feathered friend.  A daily visitor to the pool.

Sue and Dean from s/v Autumn Borne, Buffalo, NY.

Morning light.

Our last Endurance Sunset before start of The Saga.

Our new Sunset view.

Just temporary, I'm afraid.

Visiting Harry at the Little White House, Key West.

He's still a jokester.

How do we give this up?!

The Saga.

Monday, February 24. All is well. Nephew Craig picks me up for a day of fishing at Fiesta Key. He and my niece, Tina, and my brother John (UJ), are down for a week or so of fishing off Craig's 21 foot Eastern Center Cockpit.  Good day for me learning to fish the way they do in The Keys - with live shrimp.  We catch a few.  I take home a nice fillet of Black Snapper.

Tuesday, February 25. Butter sautéed Snapper for breakfast. Great. Did I say, great? It was. Then back to Fiesta Key for an 0700 rendezvous with Craig and UJ for a day of offshore fishing in and around Hawk Channel looking for the big ones.  We trolled all the way down to Vaca Key (near Marathon) with nary a hint that fish live in this hot, calm, flat, clear water.  We dealt with this disappointment by doing some reef fishing (catching a bunch of good sized Jacks) and then some fishing at the Channel #5 Bridge (UJ started pulling them up on the first cast).  A good day.  So far.

Craig and Tina drove me the 22 miles back to Marathon. Tess was not at the dinghy dock waiting for me. Does she despise fishermen? Not unless they bring fish onto her boat.  Tess arrives after a short wait. "There is something we need to discuss." Yikes! Finally she realizes that the cold, wet snow is more alluring than the warm tropical breezes that I force her to live in.  This may be the end.

But, no. It's these tortillas that we need to discuss.  Look! Unless your Ambien induced sleep-eating caused you to do this (I have never had an Ambien), then we have an "issue".

These tortillas?

Not chewed on by me.  I swear!

An issue, we have.  Life slows. Then stops.  No.  No, I said. We have...No, I said. No. No. No. It can't be. We don't. We can't. Can we? Is it possible? Are we dirty? Are we bad? Does the world hate us? Do we, really? Do we? Have a .... Can I say it? Can I even think it? Do we? A.... No. No! No! No!

A rodent? Aboard? Endurance? Our boat? Our home? Our life?

Look again.  It can't be true! We review our recent life. Then, ... it hits us. Boca Chita! We were so smug. A hard to get into anchorage. No, a snug harbor. Tied to the bulkhead. Safe in a 52 knot storm. That's 60 MPH to you landlubbers! We had a grand time.

Those holes in the ground? Not "rodents"? Those holes in the coconuts? Not "rodents"? Could they? Would they?

Is it possible that an animal (let's not jump to conclusions), found refuge during the storm as we did? We did leave our companionway open to enjoy the warm, if stormy, weather.  Oh. No!

So, we met immediately with Shawn, the Dockmaster. At least six so far this year, he says.  I have a Have-A-Heart trap in the pickup. We take it. We also go to see Ann behind the desk, to extend our one week stay for another thirty days (30 days for the price of 17). “Loving Marathon?”, Ann asks.  We suggest, in most maybe language, an "issue". “Oh,” she says, “We were almost killed. Ate through our propane line before we even knew we had, ... an ‘issue’,” she says.

Life in the Florida Keys?

We spent Tuesday night aboard with "an issue" and a loaded Have-a Heart. Did we sleep? Who knows.

Wednesday, February 26. Dawn comes with a new attitude.  This is our boat. This is not allowed. We can deal with this.  Insert foul language here.

Tess had already done a good deal of internet research. And spoken to many cruisers (half of whom said, "Here's my story"). And started speaking with or leaving messages for many professional exterminators. Responses included: We don't do Marathon. We don't do boats. We don’t do that type of “issue”. And of course, we don’t do return phone calls!  Luckily, a niece and nephew from another brother (so good to have so many!) oversee a Miami-based extermination company.  They know the worst of the stories, but answered early and with certainty.  Trap it, do your best, expect screaming and yelling when you finally get it!  Oh, God…did you need to get the rodents onto the ark?????

One more call returned who slowly explained that boats are just too “open ended” …these things swim.  If they find too little to make their home cozy, they leave the same way they arrived….you may never know, it may be already gone.  This advice…get cheap (big) spring traps from the grocery store. Many of them. With Jiff peanut butter.  And, ... don’t let it ruin your good time! Get off the boat. Let him or it or the issue, have the run of the place. With no other food source, but Jiff. We did. Seven traps.  With Jiff. And we left.

Trap replaces tortillas.

No room at the inn at Captain Jim Stengel's Harbour Cay Club. No digs in Marathon this time of year. George Conway? Don't bother him. “But.... We have ... an issue…” Tess whines. 

Is that condo still available? Of course!!!! Did I say, of course? Tess is ecstatic.  We had spent the day contemplating and investigating the rental of a van ( to empty the boat) [nothing available less than a 14’ truck]. A storage unit (to store our stuff) [tell ME they don’t have ‘issues’ there!]. A broker (to sell the damn boat - issue included) [J].

Now? Just five moorings away from where we (and it) live. There is a condo. Empty. At our disposal. Overlooking the harbor. With a dock. With a car. Is God or nature on our side? At least in part? Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!

We move to Sombrero Drive.  Fourth floor. The harbor. The pool. The many bedrooms. And office. And four bathrooms. And pool. And cable television. And internet. And George as our savior!

We move. We remove food. We remove what we called in law school, any “attractive nuisance” for "our issue". We set a fully array of traps.

The Galley.

The Forward Head.

The Anchor Locker
(wax paper used to lower traps done without snapping them or my fingers).

Morning one after full array. No luck. Morning two.  No luck. Morning three. No luck. And throughout we have seen no evidence of having an issue.  Apart from the tortillas (were vitamins confused with Ambien?) we have nothing. No scat. That is, no droppings (none were ever seen). No bugs (we did seem to have a small swarm prior to "that day"). Nothing. By day three we had emptied all storage compartments.  And access panels to all parts of the boat were opened and a full on investigation undertaken. No nothing. Nada. Rather see you than not at this point, you, you, you "issue"!!!!

The last exterminator says that he wants seven days fully arrayed.  But, based on where we are now, it's possible that our "issue" has gone on to greener pastures. The frustration is that "finding" means "finality". Not finding, means ... what?

Now. It is Wednesday. March 5. Seven days have passed. Still nothing. Fully arrayed. No scat. No bugs. No nothing. We have done what we could do.

No issue.  We are now in full on clean up mode. The anchor locker having been cleared and scrubbed, is now re-stowed. The bug bomb is done. All of the boat is up for a scrub. Everything aboard being cleaned and restored.

The Anchor Locker cleaned again.

We are moving back to normal. Can we ever convince ourselves to leave the luxury of this condominium? We can shower several times a day. We swim in the pool. We lounge in open spaces. We now are spoiled from the cruising life. 

We have several days of cleaning left. We may need an eviction notice.  But, our issue is (based upon all available data and professional consultation and crossed fingers) behind us.

Life. It's weird. But, still okay. Maybe, great.