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Two If By Sea
More Fun In Gulfport
05/03/2010, Gulfport, Florida

Air conditioning is a wonderful thing. The 90s are still here and the air conditioner is still on. We'll run it through the night, but open the boat up in the morning, when the temps are in the mid 70s with a nice breeze blowing into the boat. However, by 1:00 in the afternoon, back on. Oh, what a year.

As promised, off to the laundromat on Sunday. Hopefully, it will be the last time on the West Coast Swing. We also hit the grocery store for a few items. What was great is that we got a call from our Michigan friend, Jim, who was in Florida looking at possible boat purchases. To give him a lot of credit, he drove to Gulfport and met us at the laundromat, where we discussed the boats he has been looking at. We then headed back to the air conditioning and had a great visit. The only thing missing was his wife, Barb, who was visiting family up north.

We returned the rental car Monday morning and spent the rest of the day on the docks. After some cards in the afternoon, we went out to dinner at a fantastic restaurant in Gulfport, Backfin Blue - crab cakes and scallops. If we are ever back in this area, this is a must!

Tomorrow will be a quiet one as we prepare to leave on Wednesday. We intend to go to an anchorage at Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island, probably for a couple of nights. On the way we thought we would check out a couple of other anchorages for possible use in the future. After that, no plans. No sense planning too far into the future.

A Moment's Rest In Tarpon Springs
05/01/2010, Gulfport, Florida

When we arrived on Wednesday, we took a slip for two nights, thinking that we would then move on to somewhere else. However, on Thursday, we looked at the rates and realized that we could stay an entire week for what it costs for three nights, plus some. And because we did not have the opportunity to see Tarpon Springs or Dunedin, we could rent a car over the weekend and do that. Enterprise had its usual weekend special so that sealed the deal and we are still at Gulfport. With that decision made, we washed the boat, went for a good walk, played Pegs 'N' Jokers and went out for dinner.

We picked up our car Friday morning and headed up to Tarpon Springs, a Greek community famous for its sponge fishing industry. It was pretty touristy but we did have a great lunch. On the way up, we stopped off at Dunedin which was unbelievably cute, and was having a farmer's market at the time. We hope to go back by boat some time as the marina is right downtown. After leaving Tarpon Springs, we stopped off at St. Petersburg for some parts, instead of paying a shipping fee later. It's amazing how short the distances are when going by car, instead of by boat.

Saturday saw the heat arrive - 90+ degrees. Seems like we just jumped over the 80s. Only two mornings ago I was in a fleece. Because we had a car, we drove into St. Petersburg again and visited the Florida Holocaust Museum. Well worth it. There are several around the U.S. and we highly recommend it. When we got back to the boat, the air conditioner was started up. Seems early for that, but it has been a strange year weather-wise.

Tomorrow is the last day for the car. Off to the laundromat and the shops. Sounds exciting but necessary.

Some Jobs Never End
04/28/2010, Gulfport, Florida

Tuesday was very pleasant. We took our dinghies into a public dock and walked to the main area of Clearwater Beach. After some shopping and also checking out the marina there to get out of the predicted winds that evening, we had some lunch and then headed back to the boat. Someone had the idea to take a trolley ride through Clearwater so off we go in our dinghies to another dock and then jumped onto a trolley. When the driver asked where we wanted to go we just told him for a ride. We did the whole circuit, about 30 minutes. What a busy day.

And then the winds came. Surprise, surprise! Actually the evening was quiet but the predicted 25 mph winds began around 10:00 pm, with gusts over 25 mph. Around midnight, we were both up as the wind blowing through the rigging of the boat was unbelievable. It began to decrease around 2:00 am so back to sleep. We have all the confidence in our anchor, riding sail, and anchor sentinel, all which help to keep the boat secure during a blow and eliminate radical movement caused by the wind. But the noise!!

Patty and I made the decision that on Wednesday we would depart for Gulfport and take a slip at the marina for a couple of nights. Tom and Maureen agreed with that plan, as well. It was a great trip south, with cool temperatures and clear skies. One thing we needed to do is laundry so we took our carts and walked about nine blocks to the laundry.

Not sure what is planned for tomorrow. Will probably wash the boat, walk into town and have lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants in Gulfport. It's a great town and we're glad to be back.

04/29/2010 | Gil & Carol
you're still having too much fun!!! We, on the other hand, are splitting logs and washing windows! Hmmm...which one sounds better? Our jealousy grows!
Passing Storm
04/27/2010, Clearwater Beach

During the storm Sunday night, the weather gurus predicted that the front would move through our area by morning and move on down Florida during the day. As you can tell, once again, the prediction was right. This picture was taken Monday morning, looking southeast. We had clear skies all day, although the wind really picked up, which is usual behind a northerly cold front as it passes through.

Our plan upon leaving Caladesi was to go to Dunedin Municipal Marina for a couple of nights. We needed to do laundry, etc. and get some protection form the predicted winds. What a spring in Florida. Very unusual. However, that marina had no slips that were protected. So, Plan "B" was to go to another marina that told us there was room for us. We went into that marina and discovered that those slips were completely exposed to the winds. Next, Plan "C" and we headed to the Mandalay Channel at Clearwater Beach. This a good spot, with deep water, although the winds increased during the night, resulting in a rocky evening. In the afternoon, we did dinghy into shore and went to Publix for a few items. Later that afternoon, eight boats from the Punta Gorda Sailing Club came in the anchorage. Tom and Maureen are also members, so there was the necessary reunion cocktail hour on a 42 foot Manta catamaran. Quite the boat. Some were heading home to Punta Gorda and some were going up to Caladesi.

The prediction is for even higher winds this afternoon and night, although the winds are light this morning. We are trying to get hold of Dunedin to see if there is room or may head to Clearwater marina. Can't do too many windy nights in a row.

Talking With The Natives
04/26/2010, Caladesi Island State Park

The decision to stay over was the right decision. The wind started to increase over the weekend and with all the boats that come in Caladesi for the weekend, I'm not certain we could have gotten out of our slip. This marina of approximately 100 slips filled up with power boats of all descriptions and sizes. The fairways or lanes between the various docks are narrow, before you consider the boats that stick out into the fairways. So, the decision was right and we took advantage of the island. There were more walks on the beach and a chance to visit with a local resident, who, unfortunately was not very talkative.

In addition to the weekend boats, with kids and dogs, there were also three ferries that go back and forth to the mainland with day passengers. They bring coolers, chairs, umbrellas, and everything else you can imagine. Some of the boats belonged to a boat club and, of course, this required a fair amount of partying and "loud" discussions. Actually, Caladesi is a great destination spot, especially during the week, and offers excellent protection from excessive wind and weather.

NOAA predicted thunderstorms and high winds for Sunday evening and night. NOAA was spot on, once again. It poured and blew for a couple of hours. Lots of lightning and thunder. We were able to watch the progress of the front as it moved down the coast of Florida and were relieved when it passed on through. That is certainly the advantage of having television on board.

We plan to move on Monday morning at high tide to make sure the water is deep enough for us to leave the marina and cross the shallow bay

Walking The Beach
04/26/2010, Caladesi Island State Park

Today is the 26th and we have moved on and have wifi access once again. This entry covers the first few days at Caladesi and we will get current later today or tomorrow.

It was an early start on Tuesday morning, the 20th. We wanted to take advantage of high tide going into Caladesi Island State Park because the controlling depth at low tide is five feet or less. Our boat draws about four and one-half feet so there is not much room for error. Such is boating in western Florida. We headed up the ICW and hoped to go out Johns Pass to do some sailing in the Gulf. Unfortunately the bridge through the Pass was closed for repairs, which required us to continue on in the ICW to the Park. It was a beautiful ride up through Clearwater Beach with little boat traffic and quiet water.

The Park maintains 108 slips with power and water included for the sum of 50 cents a foot, for a total of $18.00 per day. You can not go wrong at that price. The beach on the Gulf has been named the second best beach in the United States. As you can tell, it's not too crowded, although boats have been arriving on Friday and the marina is almost full. There is also a great concession stand with sandwiches, burgers, and, of course, ice cream. Our days here are taken up with walks on the beach and on the nature trails. It seems every afternoon finds us playing Hand and Foot or Pegs 'n' Jokers in one of the pavilions. Life is good. You can volunteer here and get free slip rent and you only have to work 10 hours per week. Might not be that bad. Next year???

Our friend NOAA is predicting some adverse weather Sunday. Therefore, we have extended our stay until Monday morning. Ed and Trude left here Friday morning to get back to Regatta Pointe before the weather changes as Trude needs to go back to work on Monday. We will leave here with Tom and Maureen Monday for a short hope to Dunedin. We will probably take a slip there for two nights to do laundry and may take a bus up to Tarpon Springs.

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Who: Patty and David Power
Port: Punta Gorda, Florida
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