We spent the three months of the winter of 2002 on anchor
in Boot Key Harbor in Marathon in the Florida Keys
. One of the many great attractions there was the "Sombrero Resort" Dockside Lounge. In those days they had a food
special every night; some nights were a taco night, some a burger night. Food
and drinks were downright cheap
like $2.00 Margaritas. Live entertainment almost every night. For a reasonable fee you could tie up your dink and, as a "regular", Sombrero would receive your mail and allow you to checkout/exchange books
and videos from their cruiser's library. Water
was available for five cents a gallon; cheap
considering that you have to pay for water all through the keys. We "dinked" many a jerry can of water to where our boat was anchored.
But ... to the point of this post. Across the street behind the dumpster was the legendary Sombrero "Free Table". Cruisers would leave broken or un-wanted gear
... scroungers (like me) would pick up stuff. There was a sign posted on the wall to the effect "Anything on the table the day the trash hauler came would go into the dumpster". This Free Table was a gold mine!
There was a fairly beat up dink usually tied at the dock
. I talked to the owner who said he got the dinghy
free from a cruiser passing through. He got the mis-matched oars, a couple life jackets, a two horsepower kicker
(that he fixed), a gas can, hose and squeeze-bulb all from the Free Table. Even half a can of pretty good marine
enamel ... which he used to christen the dink with the name "Free Table."
During the time we were there I scrounged a nice bulkhead clock, a five inch fluid filled sailboat binnacle compass
, three Jabsco
reciprocating type bilge/water pumps (by mixing and matching working motors, un-cracked housings and working valves I wound up with two A-OK pumps), two extra life vests, a five gallon collapsible water container, some un-used paint brushes
and paint, tools of all description, some buckets, enough new "Sunbrella" fabric
to make a wheel
cover, two winch
covers and a propane grill
cover ... Sunbrella fabric
in the right shade! What are the odds? Kaylynne got a folding bicycle (lower hinge busted, but easily fixed with a "C"-clamp), "Corel" dishes, a complete service
for six, in a matching style, some pots and pans, some new and almost new clothing
... size four ... her size! Again ... what are the odds? It was like Christmas
every day! They don't make free tables like that any more.
I'd like to go back to Boot Key Harbor again. But unconfirmed rumor has it that Sombrero does not welcome cruisers the way they used too and it wouldn't be the same. Anyone been there recently?