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Spotlight on Marathon City Marina

Photo by Connie McBride
Photo by Connie McBride

The Florida Keys have long been a destination for landlubbers and boaters alike. Marathon, situated in the Middle Keys, is a perfect stopping spot to prepare to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas, to take a break on the way to Key West, or as a destination point. With its large mooring field and cruiser-friendly accommodations, Marathon City Marina is the focal point of hundreds of boaters every year, but this year those returning to the City Marina should expect some changes.

Richard Tanner, long time Ports Director, recently retired. His position was filled by former marina technician Sean Cannon. Cannon, who has worked at the City Marina for eight and a half years, had hoped to move up when Tanner vacated the position.

“I had already started doing a lot of his job before he left so I could work my way into it, and I didn’t have to all the sudden be overwhelmed, though it is an overwhelming job,” Cannon says.

“I thought that I’d be best overall to keep things going the way they have been going instead of bringing somebody new in. Nobody knows the harbor better than me, the mooring system better than me, or the pump out system better than me so I figured I was a good fit.”

Marathon City Marina offers mariners several choices of accommodations, but the rates for all services have increased dramatically this year. For boaters who prefer seawall dockage, rates vary from $2.25 per foot for daily, $12.75 per foot for weekly, and $19.75 per foot for monthly dockage in season. Alternatively, there are over 200 mooring balls to accommodate boats up to 45 feet and 18 balls available for vessels up to 60 feet. The charge for the mooring balls is $22 daily, $110 weekly, and $300 monthly.

The largest increase was for the use of the marina’s dinghy dock and facilities by those who are anchored in Boot Key Harbor. Despite the introduction of recent legislation to try to change anchoring laws in several Florida counties, for now, anchoring is still allowed, though space is restricted because of the mooring field. Since reservations are not accepted for dockage or the mooring balls, many boaters choose to anchor in the harbor while they wait for an opening. For those vessels, Marathon City Marina also offers daily, weekly, and monthly dinghy dockage for $22, $85, and $225 respectively.

Cannon explains the rate increases, “We are working on going over the rates that were set to make sure it wasn’t out of line, that everybody’s paying their fair share. It takes a lot of money to run this marina, mooring system, pump outs, and everything. Our revenue has to meet our expenses, plus we have to start saving money for new buildings, new boats, new docks. There was absolutely no money going in for the future. It wasn’t until recently we were even making ends meet. Everything is aging. We needed to put in money for the future.”

Whether anchored out, on a mooring ball, or at the seawall, the above rates include use of the two dinghy docks, a weekly pump out, showers, use of the laundry room, parking for one vehicle, and bicycle storage. Storage units are available for monthly rental; water is five cents per gallon; and there is a $5 charge for overnight use of space in either of the two large bays. This space can be used free of charge for projects that can be completed during business hours. There are large tables and stands available to facilitate outboard engine work, or repairing sails or canvas, and a lift to raise your dinghy out of the water for repairs or cleaning. The marina accepts mail for boaters and offers a large lending library as well as oil and fuel recycling.

Though there still seems to be some question about how the anchoring pilot program will turn out, Cannon has made a commitment to the cruisers who come to the City Marina. “I just want to make sure it doesn’t change, especially not with the pilot program. I don’t want to chase out the cruisers. I want to keep people wanting to come here all the time. I was afraid that they would start to toughen things up, besides raise the rates, which we’re working on, but if they made it no anchoring, we wouldn’t have room for everybody. We’d be kicking people out. That’s one of the reasons I took the position, to make sure that doesn’t happen. There’s only so much I can do, but that’s one of my goals: to make sure the cruisers keep coming. I want to keep everybody happy to keep coming here.”

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