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Old 20-07-2020, 10:03   #1
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Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

Boot Key Harbor between Boot Key and Key Vaca has a marina run by the city of Marathon. I know there are strange things happening due to COVID-19 but this seems strange even taking that into account.

The BKH face book had a thread about a guy moving his boat from bayside to the harbor with the initial post from the boat's skipper. The skipper claims he was motoring into the open anchorage while towing a dinghy when he was approached by the city's pumpout boat and the driver of the pumpout boat started questioning him. The skipper said he was anchoring and the pumpout boat was distracting him and endangering both boats. The pumpout boat driver continued to approach the boat trying to anchor and continued the questioning.

While it is not clear from the posts the exact time line the pumpout boat driver called the Monroe County Sheriff and FWC who both responded and basically said what happened was a nothing burger and left. The sheriff deputy recognized the boat from seeing it bayside and seemed to know things were legit.

I was always taught to never approach a boat with out good reason and never approach a boat in the process of anchoring. I have spent lots of time in BKH and know every once in a while they get a pumpout boat driver who has to be replaced; but it is very uncommon. In any case a lot of the posts on face book were in support of not bothering a boat trying to anchor and questioned why the sheriff and FWC was called. There are more facts in the facebook thread and probably facts left out.

But for some reason comments on the facebook thread have been turned off after there were a few posts wondering why there has not been any response for any city marina employee. I have a soft spot for the city marina and think it is a great place to stay and prep to leave for the Bahamas or cruising the Keys. It worries me a little than the city marina has made no effort to explain why the pumpout boat would approach a boat trying to anchor and get into a harsh verbal exchange with the skipper of that boat; less yet why the sheriff and FWC was called only to leave taking no action once they became aware of the situation.

Seems to me the city marina has some explaining to do. If you have a facebook account here is a link to the closed thread.
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Old 20-07-2020, 10:12   #2
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

I know with the Covid issue there has been a large turn over of people for various jobs. Might just be a new employee that isn't experienced around boats.



Facebook here in the keys has gotten a little tense in the last few weeks. I see there's an admin post about having to clean up comments due to language etc. Probably why they turned off comments.
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Old 20-07-2020, 10:30   #3
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

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Originally Posted by dwedeking2 View Post
I know with the Covid issue there has been a large turn over of people for various jobs. Might just be a new employee that isn't experienced around boats.



Facebook here in the keys has gotten a little tense in the last few weeks. I see there's an admin post about having to clean up comments due to language etc. Probably why they turned off comments.
While I get the COVID-19 angle that does not seem to be the case here. One post there said something about political comments, did not see anything about language.

The thing is admins can delete comments for language and not shut down the thread. Like I posted from everything posted this seemed more like harassment than a legit action; especially with the sheriff deputy and FWC being called only to leave once the situation became clearer.

But what worries me most is why the city marina has not presented their side of the story. As long as I was in BKH I never saw a pumpout boat or the utility boat the harbor master uses approach any boat that was not on a ball or anchored. If there has been a change in procedure it should be made clear to cruisers. But one problem is there are so many petty incidents the marina would be worked to death checking on all of them.
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Old 20-07-2020, 11:17   #4
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

Very Ironic...

I would rather hove to off the Keys during a named storm than give Marathon City Marina a penny. That being said (of course I feel better now that I vented) here is what happened to me.

Two months ago (May), I was working my way north from Panama via Grand Cayman and Mexico. I did a two week self quarantine in Key West anchorage then moved on. I had a new anchor at West Marine Marathon waiting for me to pick up. As I was approaching BKH I telephoned Marathon City Marina on the off chance I could get a mooring for the night. I was very very very rudely (did I say very) told that you are not welcome here in Marathon. Mind you, I was a vessel in transit needing an anchor. I later pulled up to the dinghy dock, with my mask on. I socially distanced myself from the office door to "ask a question". I never got the opportunity to ask before I was told "You obviously are not a guest here, you need to leave, didn't you see the signs?" (There were no signs).

Being a retired government employee, there is no excuse for this behavior, pandemic or not. I then wrote a letter to the Mayor with a CC to the City council, city manager, and all marina staff. Crickets, not one reply or apology from any of them.

My best guess is that these people are deathly afraid of this virus and are reacting the way they think is best not realizing how rude they are. I bet the pump-out guy was trying to tell the guy anchoring to leave.
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Old 20-07-2020, 11:51   #5
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

I came to BKH right before the pandemic broke out. I was planning to stay a couple of weeks and then head down to KW and to further ports, but alas, the virus changed my plans. Anyway, I've been "stuck" here for a while now and I'll make some observations to contribute to this thread.

First, I would say that boot key harbor's community has a sort of dismorphia. There are many posts on the FB group and many comments on the Nets about how loving/helpful the BKH community is. But on the other hand, many people also jump in from time to time complaining about how someone or something has upset them and how there is a lot of "judgement" and how the harbor is changing. Basically you have a war of worlds taking place on FB and you rarely get the "whole" story. People love to puke their drama onto the internet for all to see.

I've seen both sides of the marina staff. I have seen the marina staff be absolutely brutal towards people, but they've never been so towards me. That said, I've followed the rules, asked when I didn't understand something, pay on time, don't make trouble, and make myself generally agreeable. Many other patrons do not.

Coming into BKH was eye opening. In the channel on the way in, I sighted no less than 5 sunk vessels, 8 vessels aground, probably about 10 that were floating but rafted up with others that looked like they hadn't moved in months. Forgive me, but the place looks quite like a derelict slum. The ambience was only confirmed during our first few nights in the harbor where we witnessed boats with woefully inadequate ground tackle dragging into each other in light winds, we often hear loud profanity shouted around the harbor, and at one point we watched an altercation. The sound of the harbor is generally the loud hum of generators and it is a very common smell to pass a boat and catch the whiff of someone that has not cleaned their skin in a long time. The mooring balls are nicer, but the outskirts of the harbor are shocking.

I understand that these people may be in hard times, however, I do not forgive many of them. It costs nothing to keep your deck clean and your body washed, regardless of the situation. It costs nothing to not shout, "I'm going to f*cking kill you!" over and over at midnight for nights on end to many different visitors. It does not cost anything to be a good neighbor.

Now this is painting with a broad brush. There are many good folks here in the harbor as well. Yet the fact remains that it is largely a dump. I believe the marina employees face the brunt of this conglomeration of vagrants and have grown hard over their rub with them. I've seen this before when I lived in New Orleans (which has a huge homeless population). Even people that arrived to help the homeless would often leave jaded.

I don't really have a dog in this fight either way. I'll be leaving BKH when I can and I doubt I'll ever return, but I also suspect that post on the FB page had a lot more going on than the poster said. And at this point, unless someone has witnessed it, I'd say we're just not going to know. I've never personally witnessed the pumpout captains to be anything but professional around here, but then, tempers flare between the different communities at times.
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Old 20-07-2020, 12:47   #6
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

Last winter the FWC was holding seminars in Florida on what to do with derelict vessels. And how they would identify at-risk boats. they came up with something like making the boat run a quarter of a mile course under its own power. I hope they proceed with this and make a law, this will help all legitimate cruisers
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Old 20-07-2020, 14:44   #7
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

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Last winter the FWC was holding seminars in Florida on what to do with derelict vessels. And how they would identify at-risk boats. they came up with something like making the boat run a quarter of a mile course under its own power. I hope they proceed with this and make a law, this will help all legitimate cruisers
I hate interference and government busy work more than most people, but I cannot help but agree in instances like what is going on down here. However, what will they do with all the vessels that cannot pass the "test"? And should vessels that are on paid balls or docks have to move as well or just anchor outs? Devilish details.
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Old 20-07-2020, 14:46   #8
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

the FWC representative stated that they will not be inspecting any boats that are in the marina or on a paid mooring as this only applies to boats that are at anchor.
I don't know exactly how the lawl is worded ,but once a vessel is declared derelict it can no longer be in state waters. It must be removed from the water and if repairs are made it must be inspected by the FWC
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Old 20-07-2020, 14:47   #9
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

I should restate that as on a city mooring
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Old 20-07-2020, 15:34   #10
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

The Keys have gone to hell.

This pandemic has played havoc with people's lives and their livelihood, especially those in the tourist industry.....ie, the Keys. Nerves are frayed, and tempers are quick to flare.

It's paranoia times 10. You can't look at anyone and not wonder what's up here ??

Not just the Keys, but practically everywhere you go. This pandemic has bred distrust and animosity most everywhere.

It takes a cool head and temperament to navigate these waters.
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Old 20-07-2020, 16:10   #11
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

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The Keys have gone to hell.

This pandemic has played havoc with people's lives and their livelihood, especially those in the tourist industry.....ie, the Keys. Nerves are frayed, and tempers are quick to flare.

It's paranoia times 10. You can't look at anyone and not wonder what's up here ??

Not just the Keys, but practically everywhere you go. This pandemic has bred distrust and animosity most everywhere.

It u takes a cool head and temperament to navigate these waters.


Are you or have you physically been in the Keys since the pandemic? I call absolute BS to your claims.
We’ve been coming to the Keys for almost 30 years and are here now. The attitude of the people here is strong and I’ve never seen the harbor this calm during the hot summer months.
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Old 20-07-2020, 17:27   #12
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

I don't want to start a pissing war with you.....I've been to the Keys a bazillion times, including this year, and it's simply not the same place at this point in time.
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Old 20-07-2020, 17:55   #13
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

I can only wonder why in God’s name would anyone choose to be on a mooring that far South this time of year?
Between the Hurricane risk and the breath taking heat, who would stay, and why?

I believe the answer to that may explain any craziness, if there is in fact any, excessive heat drives people nuts.
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Old 20-07-2020, 17:56   #14
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

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Originally Posted by MicHughV View Post
I don't want to start a pissing war with you.....I've been to the Keys a bazillion times, including this year, and it's simply not the same place at this point in time.


No pissing war intended. But if you spent anytime here you would realize that your statement that “the Keys have gone to hell”, “nerves are frayed and tempers are quick to flare” and “ it’s paranoia times 10” are absolute loads of BS!
Sure it’s not the same place as it isn’t anywhere in the world right now.
Seems as if the people in the Keys at this point have a cool head and temperament to navigate their waters.
I’m here, have been here and am amazed at the way the people in the Keys are handling this.
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Old 20-07-2020, 18:04   #15
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Re: Strange story about Boot Key Harbor

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I can only wonder why in God’s name would anyone choose to be on a mooring that far South this time of year?
Between the Hurricane risk and the breath taking heat, who would stay, and why?

I believe the answer to that may explain any craziness, if there is in fact any, excessive heat drives people nuts.


Aren’t you in Jacksonville? It appears your daytime highs are hotter than in the Keys but your nightime lows are cooler.
As far as hurricanes go, you are still in Florida right?
With the little breeze we’ve had the heat doesn’t seem to oppressive.....yet
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