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!


  1. Nothing wrong with doing the "free" stuff ... they're usually the best anyway. We have friends that live in the St. Pete/Tampa area ... love it there.

    Caught up on your latest posts and glad you got the insurance and pet permits worked out. Bahamas is getting close1

    1. I guess theres a fine line between enjoying what's free and not getting to experience the places we travel fully. We've been to St. Pete before and did plenty then. The free stuff was fun, and I can't honestly say how the days passed... but they did! It was a nice rest and we left there with a pretty good feeling about the place.