05/30/2011, Little Sarasota Bay
We departed the St Pete Municpal Marina at 8:10 and motor sailed down Tampa Bay and out under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It is just as impressive from below as above. Due to the amount of traffic, we went out in the Gulf and motor sailed to New Pass in Sarasota. We got there and the tide was low and the markers missing so when the depth got to 6 feet we retreated and went to Big Pass. With a help from Boat US Towboat, we were able to find the temporary markers and work our way in the pass. We motored up Sarasota Bay to near the Ringling Museum to anchor for the night.
Memorial Day was beautiful on Sarasota Bay. We motored over to the Sarasota Sailing Club mooring field and anchored at the edge of it and dinghied in to the Mote Marine tour boat dock. A little pleading and we were allowed to tie up and hit the aquarium. Very nice but not like some of the big ones around the country. Mote is focused on environmental improvement and species protection. After visiting you put more money in the pot and feel better for having gone. Also visited the SOS (Save our Seabirds) bird sanctuary where they treat and sustain injuried birds.
After that we had lunch and motored up Sarasota Bay to Little Sarasota Bay to spend the night. June 1st will probably see us motorsail down the GIWW to Venice and then slip out into the Gulf to reenter Charlotte Harbor at Boca Grande. We'll spend the last night of the trip at Cayo Costa, my normal cruising location before heading back up Charlotte Harbor and home.
05/28/2011, St. Petersburg
Monday the 23rd, we got up, fueled up, paid up and left the Sea Hag Marina with our No-See-Ums screens still down. They worked well but we didn't push it since as soon as we docked the little buggers were after us. We left the screens down all the way out to the marker in the Gulf 2.7 miles from shore.
Winds were light from the South all morning and finally switched to the SW about 2 pm so we got a sail boost for the last 10 miles to Cedar Key. It was a 48 mile day but the seas were calm so it was just a relaxing motorboat ride. We anchored off the municipal boat ramp and put down the screens. After a quick shower, wewere off to dinner ashore. Our dinner at the Rusty Rim was OK and that is about all you can say about the town.
Tuesday was another long day as we sailed south to Anclote Key near Tarpon Springs. We anchored off the key and got up Wednesday and motored into Tarpon Springs which is up the Anclote River. We docked at the Tarpon Springs Landing which was OK. Good dock, great location and nothing else for it. Hiked a mile and back to get groceries and then went shopping in Tarpon Springs. It was like being back in Greece with much of the same gifts available--mostly from China. Had a great big Greek dinner and waddled back to the boat.
Thursday the 26th we motored 14 miles to Caladise State Park to enjoy the beach. Best beach in the USA in 2008. Nothing real great in 2011. Liked the panhandle beaches better. However we did get some shells to bring home.
Friday we motor-sailed down Clearwater Beach and went through Pass-a-grill (North Pass) and into Boca Ceiga Bay. We anchored on the Tampa Bay side of the North end of the Sunshine Skyway for an early stop and restfull evening.
Saturday we motored up to St Petersburg Municpal Marina and docked for the night. At the marina we met Jeff Green who we last saw last year at Green Turtle Key in the Bahamas. He and his Catalina 30 are homesteading here while he decides if this the place to stay. We also went to the new Salvadore Dali Museum. It is fantastic if you are a Dali fan. They have all the 90 pieces of the museum on display this year. Hard to believe how good he was and how crazy. Dali's quote was " What is the difference between Dali and a madman? I am not Mad!"
Off to dinner downtown with Jeff and then tomorrow we sail toward Sarasota's Mote Marine.
05/22/2011, Steinhatchee, FL
The 20th we got up early to go downtown Panama City to the Bagel Maker and got bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. Good bagels. Their theme is "What flys over the Bay? Bagels." We left the dock about 8 am and headed up East Bay for the GIWW that cuts through the low lands to Appalachacola. We went through most of canal and anchored at Saul creek near where the Applachacola River enters the GIWW. We had the screens up around the cockpit and it was pleasant reading in the cockpit after sundown. Then I noticed a bunch of little bugs crawling under the netting and we closed up the boat and went below.
In the morning we looked in the cockpit and the little green bugs were up to an inch deep in corners and between the screening and other canvas. Ugh! It took two hours of soap and water to get the cockpit usable. We upped anchor and motored to Applachacola where we docked at the city marina. We used their hose to scrub down the whole boat and wash the screens. Then we went to town and visited the Dr. Gorrie museum. He invented commercial refrigeration in 1855 to help people with yellow fever or malaria. His idea was to make ice to cool the patient's room to make them more comfortable. His invention never took off as the ice shippers ganged up against his ideas. He died shortly thereafter but his compressor system is similar to what makes refrigeration and air conditioning work today.
We left Appalachacola about 3 pm and motor-sailed to Dog Island where we anchored in prepartion for the 70 mile crossing to mainland Florida at Steinhatchee. There was a collection of sailboats there and more followed us in. Some had just crossed from mainland Florida, others were locals enjoying the weekend. We were invited over to a boat to party but declined, too many folks and we had to get up early. We called Dean and left him our "Float Plan" in case something happened. "Leaving East Pass at Dog Island, direct to Steinhatchee, Sea Hag Marina, should arrive in 12 hours, notify Coast Guard if we haven't called by 10."
Sunday the 22nd we got underway at 6:45 in a ¼ mile visability due to fog. Using GPS and keeping land in sight, we went out the channel and off across the Gulf of Mexico (really Alapatchee Bay) to Steinhatchee. Saw little traffic but a lot of bottle-nose dolphins. They loved playing in the bow wave and we had up to 7 playing around the boat. The fog burned off about 10 am and the sun came out around 11. Sails went up at 1 pm and down at 6 as the wind died. It was a 71 nautical mile day at a bit over 5 knots. We got to Steinhatchee and tied up at the Sea Hag Marina because it is the only place in town. No place to anchor except out in the Gulf. As calm as it is, we could have. But we wouldn't have been able to update this blog.
Monday we leave for Cedar Key another small town on the coast.