We took this day to explore the facilities and what was within walking distance. We enjoyed breakfast in a local restaurant. They had Bloody Mary's for $2 which was cheaper than the milk. So, there you go. No plans for the day, so why not?
Here's how a mooring ball works. There are floating balls that are anchored and spread out to keep boats a safe distance apart. You bring your boat up to a numbered ball and grab the line that is attached to it and bring that line back to your boat. (We have also run one of our lines through their loop, but they wanted us to use their line here.) Then you head up to the office and pay for the night. It is much cheaper than a slip in a marina, and a step above anchoring.
Slips run an average of $2.00/ foot. But we are hearing that will get much higher in the more touristy areas. So for our 43 foot boat, you spend $86/night. The nightly rate is cheaper if you stay for a week or a month. For that money, you have the peace and mind of a safe night tied to a dock. There are showers and coin laundry facilities (and you get what you pay for so they can vary). Usually there is a restaurant on site or close by. Sometimes a convenience store. Some marinas are working marinas if you need work done on your boat. Others are strictly resort type places. Your slip has a power source you can plug into. You can recharge the batteries and use any power you want. And each slip generally has a water spigot, so you refill your tanks. Most have a fuel dock and a pump out station. Some have wifi. And a few even have a courtesy car for you to use (haven't seen that since we left AL).
When you anchor, you always have to check your anchor to be sure it is holding. And you have to watch that other boat's anchors are holding and they aren't slipping towards your boat. It's free, but you have no facilities. So you have to conserve your water and electricity. You can run your generator to recharge the batteries, but that uses fuel. We plan to anchor as much as possible.
Now with a mooring ball, we pay $15/night. We have access to their showers and coin laundry, but we have to go by dinghy to shore. They do have a free pump out service that comes to our boat, but we need to make a reservation. I think we could get water, but we would have to fill jugs. We haven't had to do that yet, but I think that's more common in the Caribbean. We just ordered a water maker, so that will give us more freedom to anchor for longer periods of time. I'll go into that more when Dave is installing it in a couple weeks.
The Mangelsens and Hartleys stayed at Salty Sam's marina another night after sailing out on the Gulf today. They invited us over for happy hour and dinner. We brought a couple things to share and had another fun evening at their boat. I drove the dinghy there for the experience. Tonight, Karen won LRC and I won 31.