We are coming to the end of our month at Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor. It’s been a good month with our first “boat guests” in this saltie life, visits with old friends, and meeting new friends. Boot Key Harbor is a really great boating community with many year-long liveaboards and even more boaters stopping for a month or two, or just passing through. We have felt very welcomed, very much a part of this community.
As nice as the past month has been, we’re ready to move on. This season, Boot Key Harbor has an “edge” to it, mostly related to a rate increase (insignificant for a month’s mooring, but very significant for those who wish to anchor out and just want access to the dinghy dock and showers) at the city marina, and a lot of political wrangling regarding Florida’s pilot anchorage program. This entire area is covered in the pilot program, and basically the state government is trying to restrict where boaters (both live-aboards and those passing through) may anchor. I believe at the core, Florida communities are trying to get rid of the “derelict boats” anchored mostly permanently (or sunk) in their harbors. The problem is that this is affecting every boater living or passing through these waters, and there are those who feel more threatened than others. Unfortunately, there are few (no?) government officials who are boaters themselves, therefore understanding the implications from the cruiser’s point of view. All this has created anger and fear among some boaters who live here, thus “the edge.” At times it’s not been entirely pleasant, especially some of the vitriole over the evening (uncontrolled) radio “net.” There are times we’ve listened for entertainment value, but mostly we’ve tried to avoid it.
There have been comments made, stating that there are no derelict boats anchored in Boot Key Harbor. Personally, I beg to differ. I suppose the fact that the boats are (currently) floating means they’re not “derelict?”
The weather and culture of the Keys (every Parrothead’s dream) tends to attract those who are perhaps a bit unstable. Some of these folks are homeless, living in the wilds by the mangroves. Others pick up an old boat and anchor her near shore. It’s a cheap way to live, especially if you have access to a dock where you can get to shore.
I had to smile at a help wanted sign I saw the other day. It started out “Help Wanted: sane, stable…” I guess sane and stable aren’t always easy to come by?