Exploring Florida’s Gulf Coast

Days 161-165; December 6-11. At Turtle Cove Marina we embraced turtle speed and very slowly moved along the inter-coastal from Tarpon Springs to Gulfport, just north of St. Petersburg FL. Total miles traveled: 2,097.

Backing up, I want to add a couple of stories. First is an additional comment about our Gulf Crossing. We recently learned that during the four day weather window available (November 29 – December 2) at least 37 boats crossed the Gulf with us. Since approximately 150 boats complete the Loop each year, 25% of the boats were in our Crossing and we know all of them, at least by boat name – they are our  community away from home.

The final day in Tarpon Springs we decided to take the Jolly Trolley into Clearwater ($2.50/day-pass each), thinking this would be a simple round trip excursion to some of the highlights we had picked out on their map. Suffice it to say I felt like a tourist for the first time since leaving home in June. In the end it turned out to be a five-hour trek on pretty uncomfortable trolley bench seats but we did get a tiny sense of Clearwater – the home of Scientology! Later we attended Carols at the Cathedral (St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox), a terrific musical adventure into the Christmas spirit. If ever you are in Tarpon Springs the first Sunday in December. . .

The next morning we left our comfortable resort slip and best boat buddies saying good-bye, sharing memories and hugs with Vicki and Ron onboard Sea to See. Vicki reported that she was in withdrawal and I countered that I was in denial as we have been mostly together since leaving Chicago on September 2nd.   We followed them back out to the ICWW for the first few miles when they peeled off to stay in a Clearwater marina as both have doc appointments this week for hopefully minor (knee and back) tune ups and family holiday visits in Clearwater and central Florida!

We continued moving along the inter-coastal, an interesting change from the river system, Panhandle waterway, and Gulf where we experienced rural beauty and peaceful anchorages (read as lots of water and trees). Now there is constant diversion and a different beauty exists but clearly not the peace of the first 160 days. To our starboard are the barrier islands that break the waves from the Gulf and to our port is the mainland/playland of Florida. The steady stream of homes, condos, and businesses span a range but most are high-end and many are beyond spectacular. The waterfront hotels offer marina slips to boaters including all hotel amenities.

We anchored two nights in bays just off the ICWW – free and quiet. Both had easy access to grass for Sammy. The first night we were in the high rent district of Bellaire Bluffs and the second night we were 50 yards off an American Legion restaurant/bar where we sang to continuous live 60’s music all afternoon. Just down the way the local McDonald’s offered a dinghy dock capable of mooring more than 30 little boats with a one hour parking limit. We have to imagine what this place looks like in high season?

The Namaste has come upon a half dozen highway bridges spanning the ICWW under which we could not proceed as our mast is 45’ and most of these bridges are 24’ creating a 21’ problem, even at low tide. It is a unique feeling when these huge bridges split in the middle and lift their arms for us to pass. Most bridge tenders open upon signal but others have a set lift schedule, yet another daily puzzle to master.

On December 9th as we drank our coffee and remembered the birth day of our lovely granddaughter Lexi (17), we were greeted by an early morning dolphin show. In case you are wondering, dolphins have longer noses, bigger mouths, more curved dorsal fins, and longer leaner bodies than porpoises. Dolphins are by far the most prevalent so I suspect that is what we are seeing. The avian live is also ever-changing so add huge Osprey to what we have already identified.

Fortunately before we up-anchored we realized the opportunity to use our Tow-Boat US insurance. The engine wouldn’t start for the first time since leaving Boyne City. The story is longer than this but basically the alternator belt had worked loose and the engine hadn’t charged the batteries the previous day. Then we ran the refrigerator and lights all evening creating a morning low voltage situation.

We are currently in the Gulfport Marina with a happy engine. Jim and I walked three hours this morning along the water having breakfast at Stella’s. We will enjoy the weekend here with Debbie and Tom Littlepage before tucking in the Namaste and flying home for the holidays. Please stay tuned for our holiday post!

Boat Name of the Day: Slow M’ocean

Bad Boat Name of the Day: Funk ‘n Around

Quote of the Day: The Art of Zen: Zen Things (appropriate for the holiday season)

1.Do one thing at a time.

2.Do it slowly and deliberately

3.Do it completely.

4.Do less.

5.Put space between things.

6.Develop rituals.

7.Designate time for certain things

8.Smile and serve others

9.Make cleaning and cooking become meditation.

10.Think about what is necessary.

11.Live simply

Congrats and Go Green to the MSU Football, Basketball and Debate teams!!!

 

 

Tiki Bar for great conversations in the Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs.

 

 

Tourist fun!

 

Beautiful Clearwater Beach!

IMG_2832

 

 

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral  Merry Christmas

 

Yet another spectacular sunset while  at anchor near St. Petersburg.

Yet another spectacular sunset while at anchor near St. Petersburg.

Boca Ciega Bay at Gulfport FL.  Great place, slightly weird.

2 thoughts on “Exploring Florida’s Gulf Coast

  1. Hey Jo and Jim, all I can say is WOW! You folks are so inspiring…makes us want to get up off our rocking chairs & take a walk…you are such amazing role models…I’m so looking forward to seeing JoAnn in person on Thursday & will give hugs big enough for her to share with you, Jim…so glad the trip has gone so well…and bravo to both of you for accomplishing this incredible feat! xoxo, Penny

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