Monday, February 24, 2014

Dragging With Grace

N27°26’12.2, W082°40’49.0”

Our next anchorage was North Longboat Key.  Our first choice today was again, Egmont Key, but once we left the Manatee River (sans Manatees I might add…) and headed out onto South Tampa Bay, the dense fog convinced me that continuing out to the small barrier island, no matter how badly I wanted to see it... would be foolish.  We could hear ships sounding their fog horns and we could NOT see the flashing of the lighthouse from the North tip of Egmont Key… So, another lesson in not-getting-my-way was forced upon me… but I quickly perked up about our secondary choice… Longboat Key.

We felt our way across the bottom of Tampa Bay in the fog using our radar and Bruce on the bow.  After an eternity, we entered the ICW, still in fog, although not as thick.  We soon began to be able to see the channel markers at about 1/4 mile distance, and once we got well out of the Bay, the fog lifted almost completely.  We had some sunshine and warm, almost hot temps (not complaining) to see us to our anchorage.  The waters were beautiful deep green and conditions were benign.  It was shaping up to be a gorgeous day!

Notice boats pointing in all directions...
The reviews for Longboat Key in Active Captain were great, although it did mention that this was a popular weekend spot for the locals… Somehow we ended up here on a weekend, thinking that if we arrived early, we would have no trouble finding a spot.  Boy, were we wrong!  Our arrival at Longboat Key provided us with our first experience trying to navigate a crowded, unknown anchorage.  I’ve read so much about cruising, that I’m very conscious of not being “that cruiser” who blows into the anchorage and picks a spot with total disregard to those already anchored there…  I don’t want to put anybody on the defensive and I want to find a safe spot for us.

So… around and around and around we go, again.  The depths were fine, but for some reason, we just could NOT get our 55 lb. Delta to stick.  We have only had trouble once before, and it was our fault for not backing down to secure the set.  I wasn’t making that mistake again… but evidently, I was making a new one!  

After moving multiple times, we switched to our secondary anchor, a 35 lb. CQR.  We got it to stick, but then feeling uneasy with where we were in relation to the other boats in the field, we moved again.  I lost count after our sixth attempt… We finally ended up in our original spot, with a tenuous hold on the bottom using our primary anchor.  Bruce was wiped out, so we retired on the aft deck for sundowners… even though the dense fog that had plagued most of our day was rapidly returning.  

I tried to go over the day’s events in my mind.  What could I have done differently?  How did we go wrong?  How can we keep this from happen again.  As usual… all answers can be found from friends on our Facebook Page.  After relating our anchoring woes on our page, this advice floated to the surface of the thread, to be revered and remembered for hereafter in our minds:  From Judy on S/V Bebe

Silty bottoms :  Let out 2x scope, letting the boat drift—never putting into reverse.  Drink a beer.  Let out 2x more scope.  Drink a beer.  Let out 2x more scope.  Go hit the head.  Come back up and then put the boat into reverse and test it. Takes a minimum of 45 minutes for the anchor to sink into the soft silty sand bottom and set.  Do anything else and you will just plow a trough through the bottom and never set the anchor.

With the predicted winds to be nil, we felt secure with our set and got up the next day ready to leave the boat and go exploring a bit.  The fog lingered all morning, but we took advantage of a small window to try and catch some fish.  Bruce has had very little chance to fish since we got his fishing license, back in Pensacola…  I just love dinghying around any time… so we parked it off of Jewfish Key and I walked the shallows while Bruce threw a lure.

I found two giant shells, which I later determined to be Lightning Whelk.  I’ve seen this type of shell before back home, but much smaller and full of hermit crabs.  This big black (and edible?) beast seemed unafraid as I approached.  I left them alone, but watched and took some pictures.  

I peered into the shoreside mangroves until I got freaked out remembering that little black bush-crawling snake on DeSoto point… So we moved to try another fishing spot around the bend.

Still no fish, but Bruce found a third Whelk and brought it over to show me.  So, I did get to touch the slimy but strangely firm body of this snail… yuck.  We set the Whelk free and made a mad dash back to the boat as the fog had once again thickened to the point that we couldn’t see much in front of us.

Bunches of locals beached on the sandbar
After lunch and a short nap (cruisers get to take naps), we took the dinghy out for another spin.  We wanted to see what was around the corner and how Longboat Pass looked today.

There is a huge sandbar where the local power boaters bring their families to spend the day frolicking in the clear waters.  There were dozens of boats there and the people looked like they were having such a good time. Florida must be just a wonderful place to grow up for boating families!   But I had to wonder... without holding tanks... where they were all using the restroom?…  

We found scads of locals beached along the shores of Longboat Key.  Fishing, swimming, generally enjoying this first warm day in a long time.  I found myself wishing that it was a week day…  More and more, I have begun avoiding masses of people, especially on the beach.  I long for Monday, just as much as I once longed for Friday…  perspectives change.  

The color change of the water was miraculous!
We took a short jaunt outside the mouth of the pass, ducking below the bridge with a weak incoming tide ensuring that we would have no trouble making it back into the pass…

The beach was still covered with people, so we finished off our tour and headed for shore.  We dropped off our trash and walked through this very inviting little town.  

We had been told that there were wild peacocks living here, and we didn’t have to walk long before we found them.  There were three peahens crossing the road coming over to our side.  While I was busily snapping pictures...

Object of Desire
Bruce spotted the object of their desires, a gorgeous male with full plumage sitting on the tree branch above our heads.  He seemed nervous that we were getting too close to his women, and on the verge of jumping down… so we moved on, not wanting to disturb him.  

We quickly found the beach access, nice again, as we are coming to expect of Florida.  The beautiful white sands beyond beckoned and we were drawn to the water’s edge for a stroll.

I even took my shirt off and walked in my shorts and swimsuit top to begin the process of banishing my pasty whiteness left by this cold winter.  It felt really good.  

I found a sand dollar and picked it up.  But, there is no need for sand dollars on the boat, so I gave it to a passing woman.

I am continually amazed by the lack of fear shown by the birds on the beaches in Florida.  They showed no concern as I crept closer for a good shot.  

The water was clear and clean and once again, I wished it were just a wee bit warmer… We could have walked that beach forever… but instead, turned back and found our way back to the dinghy.  We considered stopping at the waterfront restaurant, but giving their menu a once over… we found nothing to entice us, so we moved our party back to the boat.  

We anticipated increased winds overnight and both of us were a little worried, although we didn’t voice our concerns.  We noted our position again and again while sitting on the deck enjoying the rolling fog, until its gentle tendrils gave us a chill.  

We were early to bed and early to rise… although not of our own doing.  I heard the wind pick up at about 3 am.  The water slapping the dinghy’s hard bottom alerted me and soon the boat began to rock.  Sleeping was officially over.  Bruce went up and took a look around, surely that boat is closer…  I joined him and we both kept watch for about half an hour.  Yes, it’s getting closer.  We’ve got to move.  

The boat on our starboard side was alive as well.  They pulled in some scope and called it good.  I’m not sure how that works… but they didn’t have another boat behind them.  The wind had turned so that the boat that had been slightly to our starboard, was now directly behind.  And it wasn’t swinging.  

We started the engine and Bruce pulled in the anchor.  Once up, we both looked at each other…  Where should we go.  It’s still dark, but there is enough ambient light for us to see the other boats in the anchorage.  I began to slowly make our way to the back of the pack.  

Our new spot at the back of the pack
Yesterday, there was a boat here, but it’s gone now.  I took their spot and Bruce dropped the anchor gently.  We had Judy’s advice in mind as we let the boat settle… it was too early for a beer.  So once we began to swing normally, Bruce let out a bit more scope.  Then we settled.  Once again, more scope and we settle.  After a bit, I backed oh-so-gently and called it a night.  

I left Bruce in the cockpit on watch while I and the kitties went back to bed.  I felt secure in our new spot and there were no boats behind us.  Once daylight arrived, I got up and we saw no reason not to hit the road.  

I consulted the charts and found that we had an easy hop after a little shallow stretch, but the tide was rising, so I wasn’t too worried.  We made it past the hump and out across Sarasota Bay.  Our next destination - Marina Jack’s Mooring Field, downtown Sarasota.  It will be nice to be on the mooring ball for a few days. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

DeSoto Point

N27°31’23.9”, W082°38’27.5"

We left St. Petersburg the day after having our fridge repaired for the umpteenth time… hoping that it would be fine, but fearing that it was not.  It was still not cooling. We wanted to spend a couple of nights at anchor nearby so that if we needed to return for more repair, we wouldn’t have to backtrack very far.  

I was hoping for Egmont Key, but we diverted to plan B due to weather.  Plan B being a very lovely anchorage in the Manatee River off DeSoto Point.  When we arrived, there were several other boats already anchored, including a couple of boats that didn’t look like they moved much.  Being unfamiliar with the anchorage, and noticing the shallow bump right in the middle, I felt like we would benefit from cruising around the anchorage checking for swing room before we chose our spot.  

You can see from our track that we did quite a bit of motoring around before settling… but once we put the anchor down, we held very well and felt very secure here.  The anchorage was open to the Manatee river for a distance but it never got rolly, even on the bad weather day.  The winds piped up during our stay to a gust of 26 knots and we hardly moved.

Three days stretched out before us to fill as we pleased... We read a lot and we explored... We walked the beach and got our feet wet.  

Implements of War
The claim to fame for this anchorage is DeSoto National Memorial.  We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours there learning a bit of history about the area.  

This is all I could get him to put on...
The park had a display of items from the period giving us a brief glimpse into what life might have been like back in the 1500s.  Visitors were invited to take a look at the items once the educational presentation was done.  We had an opportunity to handle a suit of armor but Bruce wouldn't put on the breastplate...

In addition to the outside exhibits, there is a movie similar to what you might remember from your junior high days which depicts DeSoto's trek leading his army throughout the lower Eastern portion of the US, ultimately leading to his death from battle wounds.

The entire expedition was futile.

Peaceful nature trails wound around the point.
The park has a maze of nature trails weaving though the island flora.  We strolled hand in hand along the sand pathways hearing things rustling in the bushes just off the trail.  I'm sure it was just a bunch of lizards.

All along the trail we found these cheesie fiberglass indians and soldiers.  The look on the faces of these characters was priceless...  It's the little things.

My favorite part of exploring any new place, keeps coming back to the wildlife we encounter.  I just can’t get enough of seeing birds up close in their natural habitat.  

Snakes on Islands + No Bueno!

We explored the shoreline around DeSoto Point in the dinghy just wishing that it was a little bit warmer… so we could jump in and maybe do some snorkeling…. soon, very soon.

We drifted while Bruce throws a fishing lure, just gazing down into the clear waters.  Catching a glimpse of a starfish or a ray just makes my day.

Sunbathing with my favorite feline...
The days just seemed to blend together with the only irritant being that our fridge was still not well.  But after more phone calls, and maybe just the teeniest tirade on my part… we hope it’s now working better. 

The Anchorage From The Point

The Cats Are Worried

Oh No!!!  What if we can't get into the Bahamas with our Parents!!!???  Jezabelle and Jetsam have just found out that they may be considered Persona-Non-Grata in the Bahamas!!!

The Beginning:  January 29th  Luckily for them, I've known this for some time...  We've been making such slow time in getting this far, that it seems I needed a wake-up call about the Bahamas Pet Permit.  A casual question amongst pet owners at dinner the other night spawned a frenzy to get our ducks (er) cats in a row, so to speak.

Since regulations change with the winds, I waited until it was actually TIME to get started before I did much research about the requirements for bringing pets into the Bahamas.  Plus, I've got such wonderful real-time resources in the Women Who Sail Facebook group.   I've got  "friends" who are entering the Bahamas with their pets literally as I write this, who can be consulted about what they did to prepare and how it all went.

Turns out, the website has some pretty clear and precise instructions for importing cats and dogs.  The requirements are simple and the form is short.  Since we'll be heading South soon, the time to apply for our permit is NOW!  I downloaded the Permit request form and printed copies for ourselves and for our dock mates.  These forms can be sent by regular mail, but in the interest of heading off bureaucratic gyrations at the pass... we chose to Fed-Ex our forms.  The cost of $55 was spread amongst the three of us, so it wasn't that bad, and the forms, along with our money orders for $15 per pet, got there next day.

Next obstacle was how to get the Permits returned to us.  We have no address and no fax.  Advice from Facebook friends comes to the rescue again.  I set up an eFax # so that permits can be sent to us via fax, but we'll receive them as an email.  Very cool!  There was even a Free offer going on that waived the activation fee!  I quickly set up our fax number and we're set!  I had to enter credit card information, but it won't be charged unless we go past the free trial month without canceling the subscription.

The Middle: Our Fed-Ex went out on January 29th and we actually received a faxed response on January 31st!  Oh JOY!  But wait... We sent our applications for six pets and only got faxes with three permits...  I sent an email requesting the remaining three permits and promptly received a fax containing duplicates of two previously received permits.

The Next Week and a half... Long (and exhaustingly frustrating) story short... I sent half a dozen emails (unanswered) and made half a dozen attempts to send a faxed letter.  No faxes went through as the number went unanswered, day and night... no answer.

So I bit the bullet and placed the cell phone call to the Bahamas, having no idea what THAT will cost us...  I spoke to a woman, gave her my information, which she (maybe wrote down) and I hoped.  Next day, nothing.  So I called again, same routine as if I had never spoken to them at all.  Smile in my voice, respectful conversation, very sorry to bother you, please re-fax the forms for Swart and XXX.


I made several more attempts at phone contact over the next two days which resulted in "disconnected" calls.  Seriously!! They're hanging UP on me!!!  What do I DO!?  I'm becoming desperate!  I've gotta get a grip!

So, I calm down and think about it philosophically... Maybe this is a lesson in "Island Time".  Maybe they are so "chill" over there, they can't deal with people like me who want I's dotted and T's crossed... like YESterday!  So, they're not really punishing me... no, they are teaching me a lesson.  I should learn from this, come at it from a different angle, be resourceful...  not slit my WRISTS!!!!

(yes, this IS the short story...)

Just after the fecal culture... notice her tail!
February 8:  The problem is the vaccinations.  They have to be a month in advance of entry, so it's time to get them.  But the secretary at the Vet's office said they couldn't complete the health attestation form without the permit number.  I made the appointment anyway and took my forms to the Vet, along with one of the permits we HAVE received, so that she could see the requirements, and so attest that we had received these vaccines.

Ready to make a break for it!
The Vet was very nice, and completed the forms after making sure we had all the required vaccines and exams.  Cha Ching!  So I feel a little better now.  At least THAT is out of the way and we won't have to scramble to find a vet and transport the cats by dinghy and public bus...  Relief!

February 10th:  So now, how to get those permits?  I sent out the missing three applications again by Priority Mail, with a letter (and a little "something extra") requesting that they re-fax these three as we only received the other three... and we wait...

The End:  Saturday February 22nd:  Before the last Priority Mail I sent has even had a chance to arrive in the Bahamas... My daughter called me to say that the Pet Permits have been mailed to our home... In Texas...  So, she packed them up and sent them (along with other things) to us via Fed Ex for another $36 so that we wouldn't have to delay our departure from Sarasota.

I was able to cancel the e-Fax account before any charges were applied, so THAT was free.  The whole thing cost us $77 plus the cost of Fed Ex to us and the vet bill... which don't really count.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Friday, February 21, 2014

V-222 A Ghost Story of the Great Lakes - a Book Review

We are currently at anchor off DeSoto Point, near Bradenton, Florida with the gusty winds and forecast rain giving us little incentive to go ashore.  We are kind of stuck here it seems, while we wait to see if we are going to need further assistance of the Refrigerator Repairman variety.  I am tentatively thinking now that we may be on our way South soon...

My worries that my mind would never settle down enough to allow me to get any reading done, have been allayed.  Or, maybe I have just found a book that was entertaining enough to hold my easily diverted   attention.  V-222 A Ghost Story of the Great Lakes, by Ed Helenski has done just that.

No matter where you stand on the subject of Ghosts... if you're a sailor who likes a little bit of romance, you should enjoy this book.  It is entertaining for sure, and reasonably accurate from the standpoint of all things sailing.  There have been a lot of comments heard around the dock these days about a certain movie now playing, that depicts a sailor for whom things are going badly... The hubbub has been that anyone who knows anything about sailing, will find the movie intolerably flawed and too far from reality to be enjoyed.  This book, I promise you, will not incite such comments from any but the most hard-nosed of fault finders.

I know that many of my Blog Readers are here because they want to know more about the sailing lifestyle and have an interest in sailing in general.  Many of you may be women who are new to sailing and to you, I believe this book would be of particular interest.  The main character goes from being a total non-sailor, to being able to single hand her new-to-her pocket cruiser, a McGregor Venture 222.  

The story brings numerous events together to support the title, while the Sailor-to-Be sails along her learning curve using many familiar sailing terms very accurately.  The book was obviously written by someone who has been around the Lake a time or two... It is because of this, that I was able to relax my own natural objections to all things Hocus-Pocus and allow myself to be led along at a gentle pace without being spooked into bolting!

I won't give the story away, but I will say that for the very low asking price in the Amazon Kindle Store, this book could provide the nautical minded person, be they Newbie or Old Salt, several hours of light and familiar entertainment.  So now that I've finished the book, what will I do with the rest of my windy and rainy day?  Maybe a wet dinghy ride!

Luxuries Have Become The Hardships - A Rant

Fixing your boat in exotic places.  That’s what everybody says about Cruising…  But not us.  That quote is about OTHER people… We did it right.  We moved aboard almost a year before we tossed the dock lines so that we would break everything beFORE we left…  

Yeah.  Right.  That’s what we thought.  

Back when I had a job, and quite a bit more unencumbered cash flow, we replaced the luxury items on our boat like the air conditioners and the refrigeration system.  Yes, we could have continued pouring money into the ones we had, but we figured that if we had NEW ones, we wouldn’t have to worry about it for quite a while.  That was turned out to be completely wrong!!!!

As we sit here in a beautiful and peaceful anchorage with sundowners in our hands.  The gentle winds are just beginning to get cool enough to think about going inside… The gulls chase one another off in the distance and we can hear the increasing crescendo of the crickets from the nearby shore.  Peace has fallen with the departure of that one lone Jet-Skier and we are enjoying life… well… almost.

We sit here and find ourselves having to make a conscious effort to enjoy our surroundings and push from our minds the now familiar worry about our refrigerator.  The luxury of refrigeration has become our biggest hardship, seconded only by the lack of warmth that our two very expensive AC/Heating units were supposed to provide.

Since we left home on September 30th, we have had our AC units and our fridge “fixed” in Pensacola, Clearwater Beach, and St. Petersburg.  We have spent many a cold night before we got to Pensacola because we were traveling and couldn’t find a repairman…  We have listened to one after another of them tell us how shoddy the workmanship of the prior workmen had been… but THEY would do it RIGHT!  Yeah, and here we are again with our fridge barely holding a charge…

So my mind has come up with the common denominator here… society.  It seems that whenever we come in contact with the “real world”, we end up with the short end of the stick.  Repairmen who don’t repair, insurance agents who don’t call you back, permits that never come…  And everything costs an arm and a leg!  Which would be OK if the service was good or the product worthy!  

Our best moments have been when we were freezing our tushes off and the needed repairs and insurance changes, and permits were just a future project.  Yes, when we get there, we’ll just call up a repairman, he’ll come out and fix us right up.  Oh, and we’ll call our insurance agent, tell her we need coverage for the Bahamas, and she’ll fix us right up.  and when we need those permits, we’ll call up the Bahamas Department of Agriculture and they’ll fix us right up!

They WILL fix us right up… because that’s what they DO.  That’s their JOB!  They are the EXPERTS!  Right!?  No, its a Big. Fat. WRONG!  

Nobody does their job anymore.  Back when I had a job, I was very conscientious about the work I did.  It wasn’t my job, it was what I DO!  My inability to control the work of others and my frustrations with incompetence and the irresponsibility of others was a driving factor in our decision to go cruising.  

We wanted to get outta there!  Before my mind imploded from the decreasing level of competence that can now be found everywhere.  The world is turning too fast, nobody can keep up with the work load, there’s too much to do and too little time and everything is just a mess!  I want off!  So…..

We stepped off.  We found peace and quiet and control.  Only the weather has been uncooperative.  We are happy when we can be masters of our domain.  Unfortunately for us, those little luxuries that we chose to bring with us, are causing us FITS!  And yet, my mind continues to rise from the doldrums and hope springs eternal… THIS time, when we go back to civilization and get our fridge serviced… it will WORK!  And we won’t have any more trouble from here on out.  <sigh>

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Boring In St. Pete

Breakfast by the pool each morning...
No, It wasn’t St. Petersburg’s fault.  WE were the boring ones.  Things don’t always go so well when you’re cruising.  This past month in Clearwater Beach was supposed to be a time for taking care of some boat repairs and some personal business.  None of which was completed while we were there…

The week our boat was in the boatyard was spent doing battle with our insurance company over changing our policy to one that would include the Bahamas… and trying desperately to get our Pet Permits out of the Bahamas Department of Agriculture.  Both simple processes that went horribly wrong!

Vinoy Mooring Field Downtown St. Pete
Once the boat was splashed, we tucked our tails and limped over to hang out in the Vinoy Mooring field for a few days to let the dust settle.  We were both bummed out.  We should have been glad that our income tax return and $15 paid our yard bill… but somehow that didn’t seem to produce more than a weak and rueful smile…  Well, it could have been worse right?

The boat insurance saga continued on for our first two days in St. Petersburg.  It consumed my every thought, both waking and in my dreams.  I grew a few more grey hairs and I’m sure my blood pressure was higher than it’s been since quitting my job back in June.  But, after many phone calls, and a lot of repetitious conversations with multiple involved parties… we finally got our coverage and all is well…

The Bahamas Pet Permits?  Well, there again, more faxes, emails, phone calls, certified mail and just downright OMG moments!  I finally just gave up.  Maybe it’s a sign from the God-Of-Life-Lessons-Learned, trying to tell me that I can NOT always be in control of the situation and things do NOT always occur on my time schedule…  Maybe we just won’t GO to the Bahamas!  

Then, the refrigerator went out!  Yes, the same refrigerator we had fixed in Pensacola… and Clearwater Beach… is now being “repaired” again in St. Pete!  And when that guy left…we were hopeful.  But it would turn out that he failed to properly charge it and we had even more fits after we left St. Pete… but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Back to St. Pete!  The city provided a beautiful backdrop for all of our woes.

We would sit on the veranda (aft deck) each evening and try to remind ourselves that it will all eventually work out, and that we should be enjoying our time here…. Hey, it still beats working!  The people at the Municipal Marina, Tony especially, were so very accommodating and did a lot to restore our faith in human kind.

There was nothing Tony wouldn’t do for us.  He was sweet enough to let us use the pump out dock for our refrigerator repairs at no extra charge.  There is also a nice pump out boat that comes around to wherever you are and cleans things out nicely.  No charge if you’re on the mooring or in the marina.  There is a great dinghy dock that is locked and we felt very safe.  The basin is calm even in big winds, with just a gentle swell if the winds come from the East.  

With the continuous hemorrhage of money we are currently experiencing… we were not inclined to partake of the city’s many charms… so we opted to do the simple things that don’t cost much at all.  We took daily walks to enjoy the sights.  We had wonderful picnics in the park just off our doorstep.  That ended up being one of our most magical and memorable moments.  

Just as we sat down to open our sub sandwiches from Publix (Mojo Pork deli sub YUM), the bushes behind us began to rustle, indicating the arrival of a small army of critters.

Squirrels and many kinds of birds popped out and came to very close to us to beg for food.

Maybe we shouldn’t have contributed to the dependency of these animals on unhealthy human food… but we could not resist.  We shared our sandwiches as the birds and squirrels came to eat from our outstretched hands.  It was just the greatest thing!

We had a phone call from some very dear friends from back home, inviting us to dinner!  They were passing through and we went to Frescos Waterfront Grill, as it was close enough for a nighttime walk.  It was SO good to see Bill and Jan, I just can’t tell you how much it lifted our spirits.  We laughed just like old times and had some news of home.

That's Doug in the red
Coincidentally, we saw another of our friends from home here as well.  The NOOD Regatta was going on during the weekend and one of our friends from our racing days was here for the regatta.

We spent a couple of afternoons walking along the bulkhead where watched the boats racing on the bay and we spotted Doug on #10.
We chatted with some of the other racers on the beach.  We stopped by SPYC after the races were finished and spoke to our friend.  No pics of that. (I didn't want to appear to be a tourist to the SPYC people)

Flat Tampa Bay
We rode around in the dinghy a LOT! I missed getting pics of a unique dolphin encounter because I had the battery in the camera backwards and didn’t discover that it wasn’t dead until we returned to the boat…  But the pictures you would have seen were of a pod of dolphin following alongside our dinghy in the clear waters. They turned sideways and frolicked and we were just thrilled as always.  They probably would have disappeared much sooner had I tried to snap pictures of them… I’m really sorry you missed it!

Not a bad way to while away the time...
We never did get to any of the museums here… we didn’t even ride the Trolley… We just hung out on the beach and tried to soothe our frazzled nerves with the simple pleasures.  Even walking to the grocery seemed about all we could handle with everything else we had going on.  

We had a nice going-away dinner with our daughter and her husband, the evening the fridge repairman left.  Its still very strange to head south.  We are now under no time constraints.  We are free to stop and stay as little or as much as we wish.  The weather is warming up and soon, we will be in warmer waters.  Beaches beckon and we are glad to be on our way again, even though leaving the daughter is a little sad…

Don't feel too badly for us.  We have been to St. Pete before and vowed to return on our own boat.  We enjoyed the many attractions here on our last visit.  St. Petersburg is on our short list of places to live should we ever get tired of Cruising.

Goodbye St. Pete and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge
And so we sedately motored out across Tampa Bay and beneath the Sunshine Skyway Bridge… saying goodbye to the city we swore to revisit on our own boat…  feeling the stirrings of our optomism begin to come back…  Moving on towards new and unknown adventures will always do that to you!