Gulf Coast Continued – Gulf Port to Gasparilla

Days 195-201; January 8 – 14, 2016

Total Miles Traveled: 2278

Gulfport Marina to Seafood Shack Marina (Cortez) to Marina Jack’s mooring field (downtown Sarasota) to Fisherman’s Wharf (downtown Venice) to Gasparilla Marina (Port Charlotte)

Jim finished Namaste maintenance, we had dinner with Steve and Judy of the “Norne Gaest” and if I haven’t told you about them before, they have lived aboard for 13 years and are a wealth of knowledge. In addition to vital cruising information we learned more about compostable heads than I ever thought imaginable. On January 10 Namaste pulled away after her month-long stay at Gulf Port (with some last-minute chaos when the joy-stick momentarily came off of the bow thruster as Jo Ann spun to exit the fairway). We crossed the VERY shallow Boca Ciaga Bay using every navigational tool available including hand written notes from the locals which proved to be the most helpful of all! It was a gorgeous day making us feel happy to be back on the water and on our way.

We headed down the inter-coastal waterway to the Seafood Shack Marina in Cortez – a lovely place where we tied up right in front of their excellent restaurant. Here we met up once again with Vicki and Ron onboard Sea to See (our bestest boat buddies!) and were joined by Ron and Marilyn Steiner who are spending January on Anna Maria Island, about 2 miles from the marina. We shared food, stories and dogs. Sammy loved Steiner’s 9 month old Daisy Dog, Brutus (see pictures). They chased around the condo day one and the local dog park day two. Early one morning we walked several miles north on the beach, caught the free Trolley and rode to the tip of Anna Maria Island and back to the marina. Getting around is surprisingly easy when there is only one road that goes anywhere! It was a perfect Saturday morning! Before we left the Seafood Shack, an old schooner sunk right at the dock causing quite the excited response of the owner, fire department, police, coast guard and environmentalists! I suspect they will get it sorted out.

Another 15 miles or so down the inter-coastal road we came to Sarasota, staying just after the bridge at the city’s mooring field ($25/night) and marina ($100/night). Guess which we selected? This perfect spot was only slightly marred by the winds and cold weather that marched in. Namaste doesn’t have real heat unless plugged in at a marina but the propane cook stove works wonders. On the ball, we felt like we were back at Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie.   A motorcycle festival nearby even provided the music. Here we did laundry went to the Ringling Museum and used Uber to provision. Have I mentioned Uber? It is a handy app for getting around by private car.   We have never waited more than 8 minutes and the price is beyond reasonable, particularly when you need milk and eggs!

After two nights we let go of the mooring and headed south in search of warmer temperatures. It was sunny and bright if cool, as we moved on to the city of Venice. Boat traffic is friendly, polite and most watch their wakes.   We came upon an old Lyman runabout “Happy” just like the one my dad bought when I was in 6th grade and behind which I learned to water ski. It was a nostalgic moment for sure as we approached Venice near where he and my mom retired in 1975. Sadly he never owned a boat in Florida but I suspect he understands what we are doing and how much fun we are having. We think of him often and sometimes talk to him while pretending he is riding along with us on this adventure.

Fisherman’s Wharf Marina in Venice was a real treat as the nostalgia continued. We docked next to “Lydia” (Dwain and Jackie) before hustling off for the short walk to town, Venice Avenue. This is where my grandparents retired and owned a house in the early 1960’s. My memory (along with brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Missi’s) could not come up with the address where we visited them several times over the years but we delighted in purchasing Nate’s birthday gift at Nana’s Closet where I am certain my Grandma and Mom purchased gifts for our children. Shopping became dangerous so we continued walking to the deserted Venice Beach before heading back for a relaxing dinner with Dwain and Jackie at the Fisherman’s Wharf.

Finally, yesterday we headed south once again to Port Charlotte and the Gasparilla Marina. It was a cool and windy day with many bridges to call as we approached to either open, lift or turn to allow our passage. Five dolphins played all around for several minutes with one coming right up next to the boat teasing Sammy. As an added treat there are Osprey nesting on every marker along the channel. In Gasparilla we met our high school friends Shirley (cheerleaders together) and Dick (swim team together) Osborn. They picked us up for a lovely beachside dinner on Boca Grande and I am so sad I didn’t get a picture. Their grandson is playing hockey at MSU (#2) and they are the folks many years ago that encouraged us to join the hockey family!

Rain and high winds are predicted for the next couple of days so we will stay put here until Saturday (16th) to catch up on this blog, do home repairs, read and figure out the next leg of the trip. Be well!

Good Boat Names of the Day – I move on to boat name themes: “Never Home”, “Always Home”, and “No Zip Code”

Bad Boat Name of the Day: “Mayhem”

Quote of the Day: “Sometimes the reason good things are not happening to you is because you are the good thing that needs to happen to other people.” – Steven Aitchison

Birthdays:  January 15th – Happy 10th to our Liam! Wish we were there to celebrate with you. Love you and have fun!

IMG_3331Crossing Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Bridge

IMG_3341Early  Saturday morning walk along Anna Maria Island Beach (just north of Long Boat Key).

IMG_3360 Sammy and Brutus (Jo Ann and Marilyn Steiner too) at the dog park!

IMG_3342Sammy being completely ignored by the Great Blue Heron

IMG_3359Dinner with Ron and Marilyn, Ron and Vickie at the Seafood Shack.

IMG_3401 Osprey sitting on a nest at almost every marker.  Sometimes the male and female were both there!

IMG_3374The Namaste taken from our dinghy in Sarasota ” on the ball.”

IMG_3370Picture of downtown Sarasota from the Namaste.  Blue and white building (center) is Marina Jack’s.  They take their marina’s very seriously down here!  I’m thinking of the comparison to Bobby’s Fish Camp or Hoppie’s on the river.

IMG_3389Ringling Mansion and Museum.  Great visit to enjoy the grounds and appreciate the philanthropy of John and Mable to Sarasota.

IMG_3383Full dinghy dock in Sarasota

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