Three Days at Boot Key (Marathon, FL)

Turtle Hosp- Anita

Anita gets around.

Vast amounts of time are spent (have I mentioned this before?) planning and trying to figure out where to go, what to do and how the seldom accurate weather forecasts play into those plans. Plans A & B are almost always a necessity.  First we were stopping at Key West, then not, then we did. I wanted to stop at Bahia Honda State Park on our way to Marathon and that looked not to be possible since we had to make it a couple hour day stop, not an overnight. Spending Monday night at Key West was going to allow us the chance to stop at Bahia Honda; 9 miles south of Boot Key and about 40 miles north of Key West. The park sounded lovely, trails beach and all we had to do was anchor off the beach near the entrance to the tiny harbor. What could go wrong?
Enter fog- just as we got the anchor up and had gone, oh maybe 1/10 mile, we could see it roll in and the two massive cruise ships became invisible.   We turned back and re-anchored. So much for the park, and then what if we were delayed too long?  Fog and clouds gave way to sun by 9:30, so off we went after a hot breakfast enjoyed all together. On get-up-early travel days, breakfast is cereal and fruit how and whenever the person wants- in Benj’s case it’s when he drags himself out of bed. For Russ it’s when we are safely underway.
Made it to Boot Key City Marina (have 226 moorings) by 4:30 and got a good mooring assignment; close to the dock where we could put the dinghy to walk to Publix and a reasonable distance from the marina facilities. Plenty of catamarans, mostly monohulls and a few trawlers. Chatted with the owners of the Privilege 43 near us; Maine Cats are an infrequent sighting, so we seem to spark interest from other cat owners.
We quickly got down to business and took care of the chores: laundry, showers, trip to Publix to once again lighten our wallets and work our muscles, multiple water jug fill ups and taking are of various on-line business. Breakfast Wed a.m. at the Stuffed Pig was delicious and fun. The perfect Keys kinda place. Benj settled in to a comfy seat in the marina’s multi-purpose common room and Skype’d to his heart’s content.
Thursday morning we walked less than a mile down the Overseas Highway (A1A) to the Turtle Hospital and Rehab.  Tara was our guide and a hands-on worker (for love not money) who gave us a passionate, enlightening and delightful tour. We learned about the five species of turtles typically handled by the hospital, four were currently in residence: Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Kemps Ridley and Green.  After the talk and presentation, Tara took us around to the operating and triage rooms, complete with scale, digital x-ray, intibating machine, CO2 laser and ventilator.  Meeting the turtles was the highlight. Each one who is recovering is in a tank of their own, the others are split between three sectioned-off areas in a cement pool that is fed from the Gulf waters.
Sparky is a Hawksbill who has become the hospital’s mascot and education tool. Anita, shown above was sent to the Turtle Hospital due to a neurological defect which causes her to always swim in circles. It doesn’t bother her but feeding is a problem and a very time consuming process. She will most likely become a permanent resident.

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