Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Bit More of Florida Before We Are Home

Well photo magic happened yesterday when we were underway with no wifi; so I guess, because we had such a strong Verizon signal my phone pics made the jump into my iPad!
So I digress a week to our visit to the Ringling museums.
The "Kissing Statue" just on the land side of our Marina. Al shrunk!!

This is the Ringling lavish and colorful house.

These pics are of a huge display of an entire miniature circus that was hand made by a circus fan.
InSpeyered 2 sitting on a mooring ball outside of Sarasota.

Victory Lap (the one with the cute white Bimini) sitting with 2 other mini Boston Whalers at the dingy dock at the Sarasota marina.  She enjoyed some bonding time with other baby Whalers while we went on our walk!
Me walking the beach of Cayo Costa on the Gulf side. Note I am now taping my ankle and it helps!

Sadly leaving the anchorage of Cayo Costa.  Note how close we are to shore which is the deeper water, 5-7 feet below the boat, whereas, when we came in and avoided the shore, we almost ran aground again because the sand shifts and we had 1ft below the boat. 
Here we are in a busy, wide open waterway around Ft. Meyers with heavy Sunday traffic! Yuck!

But my buddy dolphins continue to follow us and make high jumps just for my pleasure!! 
So today we are working our way across Florida from the West to the East coasts and we have to climb a bit higher than sea level so we must go through small locks.  These are different than the ones we went into on the TennTom; these actually open gates to let water flow in so they are more turbulent but kinda fun as well. Tomorrow we have 3 locks and the Okeechobee Lake to cross.  Then only 15 miles after that to get to Stuart, FL to stop for a bit! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Bit of This and That!

We have been either on anchor or on a mooring ball for the past 5 nights and one more tonight which means no wifi and no moving pictures from my phone to the iPad.  So I have decided to post without them to give a bit of an update. On Sunday 12/6 we headed south toward Sarasota.  We stopped at an anchorage about 10 miles from there because of time and found ourselves aground because we misread directions, water, and the channel markers but good old Boat US pulled us off the sand and we anchored safely with no problem.  Al has always said "there are 2 types of boaters, those that have run aground and those that will".

I also need to make a comment about the speeding situation!  Cap Al is more conservative than I even  want him to be and he went from a really slow area to an area that allowed "resuming to safe speed" which is a subjective concept.  We had been rocked many times by "Go Fast" boats all day!  So he gradually increased speed and suddenly a cop boat was at our side as we approached  a bridge that was tricky to get under.  Long story, short, this cop was having a bad day, he finally let us get under the bridge safely and then yelled some more at us on the other side until he let us go.  Completely unprofessional and wrong!!  It left me completely shook up and was unfounded!

Lastly, yes we did leave one of our antenna up as we approached a low bridge but that was just memory error.  We lowered all 3 attenae many times and just slipped up once.  I still trust my Cap!
This is looking from the ICW toward the Gulf side (or West) toward Longboat Key and

This is the view toward the East which is Sarasota.  While in Sarasota, we walked 4+ miles to see the Ringling circus museum and their home and art museum.  Had some pics of that but no real loss!
Another unbelievable sunset looking at Longboat Key! Each day we usually get a walk in so we used that on Tuesday to hit up Whole Foods in Sarasota and continue heading south.  We anchored one night in a neighborhood cove and then landed just East of Cayo Costa.

We went through all kinds of bridges and passed lots of small islands.
We even passed a steam powered little boat that looked like a little toy! 
We passed so many dolphins that provided unbelievable entertainment and then ended up near Cayo Costa which I have already mentioned in the dolphin post.  Any pics of the beach are on my phone but know, we have been over to the beach for the past 3 days and are very happy and relaxed!!  Tomorrow we begin a 4 day cruise across 160 miles of West FL. to East FL.   We will leave the boat at Stuart boatyard while we enjoy Christmas at home.  More in about a month!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A really nice day!

Wednesday December 9, 2015

Woke up when we wanted,
Burned some diesel,
Dolfins a plenty,
Sunny, near 80F,
Rode in Victory Lap to Cayo Costa State Park,
Exercise walk on trails,  strolled white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico,
Relaxing evening,
In bed early.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dolphins Are Beautiful!!!

I have waited to post for a few days because I have pictures on my phone that need to sync with my iPad and I haven't taken the time to do that.  But this is a special post dedicated to the beautiful creatures that jump and play in these waters.  No need for words, just pictures from yesterday and this morning:

I have more pictures to post but since we are on anchor the service is poor and many pictures are slow to move to google photos for posting.  So will include some later.  In the mean time, I have a bathing suit on while I sit on the flybrige and this is what I see!

After we eat a lunch which will happen after the Captain wakes from his noon nap, we will go explore Cayo Costa, a barrier island with more white sand beach to walk and more shells to collect!  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Full Disclosure

The First Mate was kind in her posting covering Sunday December 6th, however the Captain feels the following three milestones should also be included.

1. Pulled over for speeding.
2. Hit fiberglass vhf radio antenna on highway bridge crossing.
3. Ran aground.

That is it.  (Details may be forthcoming on request, at my discretion.) Over.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Fun Bunch of Days!

Well a good 12 hours of sleep does wonders and we are happy with boat travel once more!  We turned our Tuesday walk (12/1) into a visit to Clearwater beach.  Beautiful white sand and lapping waves.  I called our good friend Glenda who was on vacation in Clearwater many months ago for a recommendation for a lunch place. And here we are for a late afternoon repose.
Wednesday I felt compelled to finally finish the jigsaw puzzle to end the Thanksgiving week and to neaten up the salon because we had guests coming.  So before our walk I did it!!
Luckily, we have a nice table that opens up to allow a 1000 piece puzzle to fit.  And back in the box it went!  We then, Wednesday morning, went back north 6 miles to a great marina in Dunedin which offered a special price for loopers for a very nice slip in a clean and friendly place.  We had mail sent to the son of an old buddy from Firestone that we wanted to meet up with and also Al's college roomate and wife planned to visit us there.  But when we arrived we learned that a wonderful Christmas boat parade with an all day BBQ was scheduled for this past Saturday, so we signed up to stay 4 nights.  Sooo nice to not have a schedule!!  We spent a wonderful day on Thursday on Caldesi Island, a dingy ride from our marina.  

Another beautiful, white sand beach with Randy (Al's college roomate) and wife Nancy as we walked along the windy Gulf shore. 
Our friends from Sandrobber also took their dingy over to the island and Sandy and I went on an extra walk along a wildlife trail and the only species we encountered was an orbweaver spider.  Friday was a day for some shopping and a trip to Tarpon Springs for some Greek food!  Then Saturday happened!
This boat was perpendicular to ours, decked to the hilt for the parade!  More parade pics:

Not in good order but fun pics all the same!
Our Santa was actually a young man from Gallatin, TN who now dives and cleans boat bottoms and does other under water repairs while living here in Dunedin, FL.   He was happy to meet up with other folks from near his home port. A great kick off to the holiday season!! 
Today, we passed by the Sunshine Bridge in Tampa Bay on our way to Longboat Key area.

A little house and a great big house in the Florida ICW. Tonight we sit in an anchorage near Sarasota and are very relaxed and content.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

And Now For The Rest of The Story!

We headed out of East Pass with low rolling waves so to be cautious I chewed up a Bonnine Tablet to head off any feelings of motion sickness.  We were pshyched!
Dolphins escorted us to the pass so I chalked that up as a good omen that King Neptune was blessing our journey!  I sent a text to Al's sister and to Erik as we left so they would have enough information to notify the Coast Guard if we didn't arrive in Clearwater by evening on Monday. That is a standard safety precaution for open water crossing.
Heading to the buoys marking the Pass.
The Garmin showing the line we were headed on via Mr. Auto Pilot (on the left) and the location of our boat buddies in relation to our boat (on the right).  When it got dark, the screen was our way to know everything we needed to stay safe while traveling with other boats near by.  We set ourselves about 1/4 mile apart as a safe distance.  All night we could also see any other boats within miles of us.  Our radios were set to 16, the universal hailing frequency and we also had one scanning channels to listen in on other boats chatting to keep up with them and also to keep us from getting bored!  We knew of at least 2 other groups of boats on the loop that left just after us.  It was kinda fun to travel knowing so many boats were out there with us.
The white dot is Liquid Assets bringing up the rear just as the sun was beginning to set.
It is hard to see, but as the sun was below the horizon, the wind picked up and so did the waves to a 1-2 foot sea.  That was ok but meant we were in constant rolling motion.  I took the first nap early and then fixed a late dinner for Al when the rocking got more intense and I could not sleep.  It was difficult to heat the hearty beef barley soup we had so we only had half bowls to avoid the slop.  Al took his break and managed to shower without falling over but the wind continued to intensify and the waves picked up enough to slap water over the bow.  The night is a blurr to me so I can't give you great detail.  I remember I had the helm at 4am because it was our turn for our every half hour radio call and the other 2 captains began the discussion of changing course because we could no longer stand or walk in the boat without 2 hands on firm surfaces at all times.  Al was trying to rest but couldn't sleep with the rocking so between 4 and 5am, we both took watch.  The three captains finally came up with a plan to turn toward Tarpon Springs to take us due east which put the waves on our bow rather than on our beam (sideways rocking is much harder to tolerate and tosses the boat more).  So, one by one we each took a turn to Port with the last boat turning first to avoid running into each other in the moonlit night
Finally the sun began to rise and you can see the saltwater wash on our windshield from the waves all night.  At this point we were kinda numb but still awake. While it was dark, we used the inside helm but once the sun rose, Al went back up to the flybridge and almost slipped off because it was so wet and we still had rolling waves on the bow.  I stayed put holding on to the helm station to steady myself.  It was a very good work out for our core muscles because the balance challenges were contstant.  So that is why my poor little ankle is a bit sore still today!
This is our boat going under the bridge on the ICW as we headed further south to get to Clearwater. Finally we are out of the Gulf and the waves.  One friend who lives here told Al this morning that the weather reports for Sunday night were dead wrong and we can attest to that!
Here we sit in the calm water of the ICW nestled between the white and dark blue boats. After 12 hours of sleep last night, we are ready to take on a lovely beach walk and put this crossing story behind us!