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Two If By Sea
What Flavor Do You Want?
05/08/2010, Bradenton Beach, Florida

Did someone mention ice cream? After our dinner Thursday night at The Moose Lodge, we all headed down the street for some ice cream. Everyone had a tough time making a decision, as you can tell. After dessert Ed and Trude saw us off on our dinghies as we headed back to our boats and they went back to their marina.

Did someone mention free trolley ride? We found it Friday morning and rode up and down Anna Maria Island, seeing the sights. It is a great island community, with no high rise condos. I'm not sure what the driver thought we were doing, but we had fun working it into our busy schedule. After lunch, we returned to the ice cream parlor for a treat in air conditioned comfort and, with the owner's consent, played Hand and Foot for a couple of hours. We had also noticed that later that night The SR 64 Bluegrass Band was playing in an outside venue. After watching the sunset(no green flash), we listened to great music for awhile. The banjo player could really play and had several solo segments in each song.

We pulled our anchors Saturday morning and headed to the Otter Key anchorage at Sarasota. We stayed here several weeks ago on our trip north and is a great place to stop. As expected, there was time for two games of Pegs 'N' Jokers in the afternoon.

Sunday morning will see us go separate ways, at least for the day. Patty and I are taking the ICW route back to Cape Haze, a trip of about seven hours. Tom and Maureen on Cantagree plan to try to go out Big Sarasota Pass and with NOAA's help, go down the Gulf to Boca Grande Pass and then up to Cape Haze, a trip of about nine hours. Because we don't anticipate being up here in the near future, and with the extra time involved, we're taking the "short cut". There will be a third boat waiting for us at Cape Haze and which is providing dinner. It seems like we are always eating. Maybe we are.

Moose Lodge
05/07/2010, Bradenton Beach, Florida

We have arrived at Bradenton Beach anchorage, at last, on Wednesday. It was a beautiful night and morning at DeSoto. Unfortunately, I failed to catch our dinner. No surprise there! As we neared our destination Thursday afternoon, we informed Tom and Maureen on Cantagree that they could take the lead going into this spot as it was Tom's suggestion that we stop here and because of the shallow depths, we did not want to be the first boat to run aground. Of course, if you remember, we've been down that road a few weeks past. They did an excellent job leading the way into a pool of deep water. The only problem was that there were a lot of other boats already there. After motoring around a bit we each found a suitable spot and dropped our anchors. Oh, did I forget to say that we did nudge the bottom once, but Patty skillfully backed us off the bottom?

This is a very attractive area with two or three blocks of shops and restaurants. Patty and I took our dinghy in to a dock, tied up, and then checked out the shopping area. We even found a wonderful ice cream store for a treat.

Before we arrived here, we had talked with Ed and Trude, who live on their boat, Caribbean Wind, at Regatta Pointe in nearby Palmetto. They had joined on with us for the initial trip to Gulfport and Caladesi. They suggested that the four of us join them at the local Moose Lodge for spaghetti night. How could we turn that down as it is just down the street from where we are anchored and is right on the Gulf. Gorgeous setting, but no green flash last night. Yes, under the right conditions, there is a green flash as the sun sets and drops below the horizon.

We are going to stay here Friday. There is a free trolley system that runs up and down the island so we know what we'll be doing. Oh, yes, there is the beach and those shops. Ice cream? Also, a bluegrass band is playing tomorrow night in an outside venue.

DeSoto Anchorage
05/05/2010, Palmetto, Florida

NOAA was messing with us again It was supposed to be 15 from the southwest, seas two to three feet. Therefore, our plan was to go out the pass near Gulfport, go south to Tampa Bay, go into the pass there and then on to Bradenton Beach. So, we went out the pass and had winds of 20 or more, out of the south, and seas of four to six feet at times. After a half hour of that, with the wind right on our nose, we decided to turn around and go the inland route, with smooth water, to Tampa Bay. Tom and Maureen continued on with the intended route. We did have rough, choppy water once we got to Tampa Bay, winds 20+, three foot swells at first, all on our nose. Patty and I immediately decided to go up the Manatee River to the DeSoto Cross anchorage, which would give us great protection from the southerly winds. When we were half way across the Bay, we talked with Tom and Maureen who had entered Tampa Bay on their route. They decided to join us at DeSoto. This was the right decision and we have had a beautiful afternoon/evening. I even got in a swim, cleaned the bottom of the boat, and tried my hand at fishing.

Patty and I used to live at Regatta Pointe Marina which is only a few miles up the river from DeSoto and used this anchorage periodically over three years. This is our first time back here in five years. We forgot how beautiful it is here, with great protection from southerly and westerly winds. Also, the explorer Hernando DeSoto landed here when exploring western Florida and there is a national monument here with movies, museum, etc. Good to be back!

Tomorrow we will try Bradenton Beach. I have been talking about it so much I hope not to be disappointed. Ed and Trudy may drive over and meet us and then we all will go to the Moose Lodge for spaghetti night. Oh, the cruising life!

Dinner At Backfin Blue
05/04/2010, Gulfport, Florida

It's been a quiet last day at Gulfport. After a long walk this morning and reading in the cockpit, we played Hand And Foot with Maureen and Tom this afternoon and discussed our sailing plans for tomorrow. With the right winds we will head out into the Gulf and sail down the coast to Tampa Bay and then go down the ICW to Bradenton Beach to anchor. Let's hope NOAA is smiling on us tomorrow and gives us the right wind.

We don't know when we might have internet access the next few days. We check every anchorage and with the booster antenna we have we seem to be able to find access somewhere.

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.

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