We returned to Burnt Store on April 12, due, in part, to the forecast. Storms were predicted that week. Except for the afternoon of April 12, we were dry. Not that we are complaining, but the weather is the one variable we have no control over and we use the forecast to make our plans. We may have lost a few days on the water, but at least we, and the boat, were safe and not exposed to possible storms.
The other reason we returned was to be at Bill's memorial service. Patty and I first met Bill and Patty in 2004 at Regatta Pointe. We then went our separate ways. Bill and Patty cruised the Chesapeake, the Bahamas and Florida. Patty and I moved our boat to Punta Gorda/Burnt Store and cruised the Keys, Eastern Florida and the Gulf Coast. Throughout the next ten years, we would come across each other, crossing paths on the ICW north of Miami, near Ding Darling on Sanibel Island, and the fuel dock at Marina Jack's, Sarasota, Florida. We eventually spent two weeks with them on the mooring ball field at Sunset Bay Marina, in Stuart, Florida, before they headed to the Bahamas and went north to St. Augustine. During those ten years, we developed a close friendship and Bill, with his humor and willingness to help, will be missed more than Patty and I ever realized. Fair winds to you, Bill.
We had hoped to head back out the week following the service. Unfortunately, the weather dictated otherwise. Instead of April, it seemed like June with temperatures more than 10 degrees above average, high humidity and storms predicted daily. The weather finally broke as a result of a northerly coming through Florida last week. We took advantage of it and returned to Cape Haze for two nights. We experienced highs in the mid-70's, lows around 60, low humidity, and no one else in the anchorage. It cannot get any better. In fact, we both commented that Saturday may have been one of our favorite days at Cape Haze, where we have anchored over 110 nights in the past 12 years. Why did we return after just two nights--weather. This time it was wind, predicted to be 20 to 30 mph. This time they were correct and we are glad we came home.
I believe our cruising for this year is complete. Hopefully, we'll be able to head out for some day sails and, perhaps, for a couple of days, weather permitting. One thing we have learned over the years is that every year is different. We look forward to what next year will bring and where we'll be.
We are back at Burnt Store, hopefully for just a few days. The weather forecast, before this morning, called for showers and storms today and tomorrow. This morning, however, the forecast called for storms through Wednesday. After some discussion, we decided to head on back to Burnt Store. Although we love Cape Haze and the nearby beach at Don Pedro State Park, it's not so much fun in the rain. We were planning on coming back in a couple of days anyway.
We have been on the move for the last three days, with yesterday being about seven hours. Although not particularly long, whenever you are on the move, it requires your constant attention not only to the boat's position and course, but also the activity nearby. At night, we are thinking about the day's passage and weather forecast. It took its toll last night as we both slept 11 hours.
We will be here through April 18 when we will be attending a memorial service for a good friend and fellow sailor whom we first met about 10 years ago. We hope to head back out a few days later for another week. That's assuming the weather will cooperate.
Thursday, 4/9: before we left the marina, we stopped at the fuel dock to top off the tank. We discovered that it is a self-help dock, both docking and fueling. Burnt Store Marina allows me to work my own pumps, so, with Patty's help, we were off in no time.
Once again, after getting out into tampa bay, we pulled out the headsail and motorsailed at 6 1/2 knots back to the anchorage on the manatee river. Not having to contend with freighter, we made it in about three hours, one hour faster than going to st. Pete
Friday, 4/10: we pulled the hook at sunrise and headed for the anchorage at Otter Key, off Big Sarasota Pass. This is a spectacular anchorage with beautiful homes on Lido Key on one side and a mangrove key on the other side. It offers excellent protection and is rarely crowded. We first anchored there in 2004 and try to do so whenever passing through Sarasota.
Saturday, 4/11: after a quiet night, we left at sunrise and headed for Cape Haze. We left early enough that there was no boat traffic in the Sarasota area and we got through Venice by mid-morning, with light traffic.
After about five hours on the water and five miles from the last bridge we need to pass through, we were told that that bridge had been closed for the last two days. If that was still the case, our only option would be to anchor near the bridge and wait. Fortunately, the repairs had been completed, perhaps only temporarily. It groaned when operating, didn't open completely, and one span didn't go down all the way at first.
The last hour of the passage through the Englewood area was a nightmare with small boats and jet skis everywhere with no concern for speed or wake size.
Anyway, we made great time overall and are anchored at Cape Haze. Because of predicted showers and thunderstorms, we don't know how long we'll stay. It is still a great spot and the reception of the Masters on CBS is excellent. Why leave?
(Picture - Dali Museum)
Shortly after lunch on Wednesday, we hopped onto the local trolley and went to the new Dali Museum. The building itself is reported as a must-see. We had seen the exhibit over ten years ago and did not want to see it again; but, the building was quite a structure.
For dinner, we decided to take advantage of local fare and went to Moon Under Water, highly recommended by Clairborne Young and our trolley driver. It was in the design of a British pub and was excellent.
Today, we head back, going first to the Manatee River, then Otter Key, and on to Cape Haze. Weather through Saturday is predicted to be mild, but on the warm side. Let's hope NOAA has this one right.
(Picture - Two If By Sea on the transient dock with St. Pete in the background)
Overall, this is a large marina, consisting of three basins. The north basin now consists of 12 mooring balls, only a few of which are being used. The central basin, where we are, is relatively small with less than 100 slips and a 500-foot wall/dock for transients. The south basin is larger with close to 500 slips. The central basin reminds us of Regatta Pointe as there is a wide range of boats in varying degrees of maintgenance and size. The transient dock, full upon our arriving, is now practically empty.
Yesterday morning, we took a walk down the St. Pete Pier to the inverted pyramid building at the end. Once a popular, crowded facility with restaurants and retail shops, it is now completely closed. However, it is not being allowed to fall into disrepair. It is clean, no graffiti on the pier walls or on the building itself. There is 24-hour security, as well.
In the afternoon, we headed into town and walked down toward the yacht club, a beautiful facility taking up a small city block. Can't imagine the cost of membership.
We did walk by and inot a Kilwins ice cream store with a 50% coupon in my pocket. We resisted the temptation and walked back out. However, on the way back to the boat, we walked by, and into, Hops and Props which offers a variety of local brews. I felt obligated to support a local vendor with a pint of Green Bench IPA from Green Bench Brewery in St. Pete. Did I mention the alcohol rating of 7.3%? After our strenuous day, a nap was in order in the cockpit, to get ready for cocktail hour.
Wednesday will be our last day here. We plan to take the trolley down to the Dali Museum. We've been there before, but the new building is supposed to be spectacular. Then, later, out to dinner for our last night.
(Picture - Part of the Chihuly Exhibit)
We left the anchorage on the Manatee River around 8:30 am to head up to the St. Pete Municipal Marina, a distance of about 17 miles. Although we previously lived at Regatta Pointe Marina for three years when we first came to Florida, we never came up to this part of Tampa Bay. Because this was new water for us and being uncertain about the breeze, we estimated that this passage would take about four hours. However, once we got out into Tampa Bay, with the wind ENE around 10k and with the incoming tide, we pulled out the head sail and were averaging 6 ½ knots.
All was good, but as we approached the 175' Sunshine Skyway Bridge, we noticed a tanker coming in from the Gulf. We continued to watch its progress and agreed it would be at the bridge at the same time as we. Not good. Therefore, we headed up and put the engine in neutral, slowing us down and allowing he tanker to pass well in front of us. Other than this short delay, we would have made it here in a little over three hours. It is all deep water to just outside the marina and, hopefully, we will have another good sail back to the Manatee River on Thursday. It is interesting to note that, having been gone only five days, we have sailed more this trip than we did in over two months last year.
We are on the transient dock here along with a variety of other boats. The dockmaster and another boater were waiting for us as we approached and guided un into the spot between two other boats. The marina is located on the pier at the foot of downtown St. Pete and all it has to offer. After lunch, we walked to the Chihuly exhibit. Very impressive. We did manage to find an ice cream shop afterwards.
We are here for two more days. Oh, for those interested, our new television antenna worked perfectly for The Voice and the NCAA finals.