Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lazy Girl!!!

My, my, my…..I have been a lazy girl! Falling down on my blogging!!! Let me catch up. After leaving Tarpon Springs we headed for Bradenton up the Manatee River.
When we reached Bradenton we decided to get a slip at the Twin Dolphins Marina. This is a very nice marina….got the royal treatment! This marina is located in the old downtown area. We enjoyed walking around the area and found some local places to get a good hamburger and tasty dinner! I also found an antique/thrift store which I spent more than one day browsing through.
Here we met up with Al and Melinda again, a couple we met in Tarpon Springs who actually live in Apalachacola, and are spending the winter exploring south Florida in their cabin cruiser. We had dinner with them a couple of times and Melinda and I took a taxi to Wallyworld to stock up on supplies.
I liked Bradenton, the people were friendly and the area we were staying was charming. The night before we left they had the Christmas Boat Light Parade. I tried to take a few pictures but none turned out.
After leaving Bradenton we headed for Punta Gorda. Punta Gorda is located at the mouth of Peace River about twenty miles up Charlotte Harbor. We did not stay at the famous Burnt Store Marina, but opted to tie up at Fishermen’s Village Marina. We borrowed the marina bicycles and cruised around town. Very lovely old homes in the area to look at! We stayed only a few days and decided to continue our passage south. A few hours outside Charlotte Harbor, along the inside we spotted an island that looked interesting and inviting! We decided to call it a short day and drop anchor for the night. Since it was early we took the dinghy on shore and explored the island, which was actually a bird sanctuary and park. There we found the best shelling area ever. I collected so many shells that I had to leave some behind. I also found sea-urchins and starfish. I plucked two out of the water and kept them…I have since then been riddled with guilt for letting them die so I could keep them. I vowed to never remove another starfish from their happy watery home!!!
The next day we headed to Ft. Meyers…planned to spend the night on the other side of the bridge and head off shore the following morning. Although we have 2008 Waterway guide it did not show the new fixed bridge right where we needed to go off shore. Of course this bridge was 70’ and we need 73’, 74’ optimum, to go under. We turned around and went back to our little island for the night and went off shore the following morning at Charlotte Harbor.

Our plan was to head to Marco Island for the night and leave early the next morning for Key West. Our friends, Ronda and Derry decided to meet us there and spend Christmas with us. My next post will be Key West….can’t wait to get there and see Tami and Thane.

I will add pictures ASAP!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Cheer

I have a lot of pictures and adventures to update, but today I thought I would just do a little Christmas Cheer.



I took this picture in Brandenton. They were many lights right beside the boat at the Twin Dolphin Marina located along the city street where the City Hall was. I thought the snow family was cute!




I found this little tree in an Antique Mall in Punta Gorda...I decorated it with things I had on the boat, little drink umbrellas (yes I keep those handy to impress our guest) my collection of starfish bought at a local shop in Port A, wine glass markers and last but not least....American flags on little picks left over from the 4th of July party at the City Marina several years ago. The poinsettia is an artificial one I bought at Wally World along with the little angel looking over the baby Jesus....after all he is what Christmas is all about.

God Bless you all and a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Next Adventure

This is a shot of the marina we stayed at in Panama City. There is a trick in getting a shot like this.



A view from the helm.

We left Panama City on December 2 and headed for Apalachicola. We anchored out at Dog Island that night and went into Carabelle the following morning. I was really bummed…our mast was waaaaaay to high to get under the bridges at Apalachicola so we thought we could rent a car in Carabelle and go back. Apalachicola is famous for their variety of oysters and as a side note…their antique shops. YAHOO I was in hog heaven!!! Oh well.

Entering Carabelle.


Carrabelle was just a small fishing village with no taxi or rental cars. A local would drive you back to Apalachicola for BIG BUCKS!!!! We decided to let it go and explore Carrabelle. There were two other cruiser boats tied up at the marina, nice folks, helped us dock. Later the Captain and I walked across the street to the IGA grocery store and the other two couples were there also. We all agreed that the IGA was the local entertainment! Kinda like Port A’s IGA! Everything was even overpriced soooooo I really felt at home!
One of the couples, Karen and Denny, had planned to walk over to the Fuzzy Oyster for dinner that night and we decided to join them. It was a quite for a Thursday night, but it showed signs of being quit the rowdy local hangout. The d├ęcor was….hmmmm, well interesting! The oysters were yummy (I had two dozen for dinner) and our dinner partners were great people. Their boat was from Michigan and had been owned by the governor of Michigan before them, named the First Lady,…they renamed her but First Lady stuck in my head so I don’t remember her new name. It was a cruiser not a sailboat….but a very nice boat! They were headed south also.
We planned on staying in Carrabelle the next day because there was another norther coming in. Everyone (except me, I was snoozing) went to a meeting at the marina office the following morning at 6:30 to meet with the local weather guru. It was going to calm down later that afternoon so we decided to leave around 3:00 and do a night crossing over to Tarpon Springs.

The crossing was easy (for a change)…we sailed all night without the motor which made for a peaceful time…almost....until!

THE GHOST RUNNER

I took the helm about 2030 so the captain could get some sleep. The radar was clear…the sails were full and peace had broken out in the world….okay not the last part. Anyway, around 2400 I noticed way in the distance two little pinpricks of light which flashed for a couple of seconds on the radar. I got the binos to see a little better but they were too far away. No problem, the radar was clear. Just as I was putting the binos down I saw a bright light off the starboard side. I looked at the radar and it was still clear. I grabbed the binos to try to get a better sense of what it was. It looked like a sailboat with their spreader lights on. Hmmmmmmm……still not on the radar. Was I hallucinating? The light got brighter and looked to be coming right at us off the starboard. Decision time! Do I wake the Captain or handle this myself. While I was debating with myself the boat came closer. I dropped the binos and prepared to make tactical maneuvers! The sailboat turned and I watched it silently glide by. The sails were down, the spreader lights were on and I saw no one at the helm. But the boat had turned and was falling fast behind us. It still did not show up on the radar, not even when it had dropped several miles behind. So you see….we have lived in haunted houses and now we were sailing the haunted seas!

Okay....this is a sunrise picture, sneaky of me...just when you were getting bored with my sunset pictures, I throw this one in. Just keeping you on your toes!!!



Around 0900 we made it to Anclote Island and dropped the anchor. Decided to stay there for the day and night and go into Tarpon Springs the next morning. That night the wind picked up and it was rock and roll time and stayed that way until we made it into the channel for Tarpon Springs.

TARPON SPRINGS



The nuclear plant at the mouth of the Anclote River going into Tarpon Springs.

I just fell in love with this little town. It is the Sponge Capital of the world. In the early 1900’s 500 Greek divers and their families came here to work in the sponge industry and settled the town which is still very Greek to this day. Everywhere we went the people spoke Greek and English. Although, it is considered that there are two Tarpon Springs, the sponge docks, endless Greek restaurants and shops along Dodecanese Blvd and the historic downtown area. We did not make it to the downtown area but Dodecanese Blvd kept us occupied.
There were no slips big enough for us at the City Marina so we stayed across the river at The Landings Marina which had Captain Jack’s Seafood Restaurant… of course we ate lunch there then walked across the bridge to do the tourist thing! We visited endless sponge shops and ate Greek pastries at one of the many Greek bakeries. It was such a charming place and everyone was very friendly. Little old Greek men sporting Greek fishing hats were sitting in the park chatting…in Greek I am sure…most likely complaining about the tourist.


This mermaid was swimming above our heads as we ate lunch at Capt. Jack's


Me at Capt Jack's


The Captain at Capt Jack's


I think this was Capt Jack in another life.


Tarpon Landing Marina. I took this picture from the bridge.


This is a monument to the divers.


Captain in a dive suit.


I snapped a picture of baby sitting in a sponge from years ago. I just thought he was cute.


It does not take much to amuse me, so I found this sign amusing.

TIME TO EAT!!!

We asked many of the locals which Greek Restaurant was the best…most were not committed to any particular one, being that they were all owned by the same families, everyone said they were all the best. We came across one, Mama’s, which had a sign out front that said there would be a belly dancer performing tonight. So we figured we would go to the one with the live entertainment and how could you go wrong with a place named Mama’s???
After we took our afternoon naps…cruising is hard work!...We duded up and walked back to town to Mama’s. Everyone told us to try the flaming cheese, which we did, we ordered stuff off the menu that we could not pronounce, but was pretty tasty!


The Captain napping.


Our Greek dinner.

There was live Greek music during dinner and after we ate the belly dancer began to perform.
The Captain got into the spirit and decided to join her!!!!

I
HAVE
PICTURES
TO
PROVE
THIS





As you can see he enjoyed himself!

We stayed one more day and I browsed around the shops by myself and we ate dinner at Capt Jack’s that night. Another boat had come in during the day and the couple, Al and Melinda, from that boat was setting at the next table. We stared chatting with them and we all decided to have one table. They were a hoot! They actually lived on their boat in Apalachicola but had decided to go south for several months. He was a retired Air Force guy and she was a nurse. Now here is the funny part! They actually knew a guy that Why Knot knows. I was not up on this story about the guy who bought a boat to replace the one he lost in Ike, sight unseen, in Apalachicola. I guess the boat was not what it had been sold as and needed lots of work. Al actually helped the guy get the boat ready so he could take it back to Clear Lake. Al called him on his cell and asked him if he knew Why Knot and the guy did and had heard all about us! Small World.

We left Tarpon Springs this morning and going down the inside. The Captain has the helm and I am down here working on my blog. ALERT!!! Captain needs me on deck to watch as we go under a bridge that was not on the chart??? YIKES!!!
Okay, I’m back! That was no fun! Nowhere on the bridge did it say how high it was so we squeaked under it very slooooooooow! You see this cruising is a full time job!
Anyway, I think I will get my nose out of the computer and watch the sights as they go by on our way to our next destination. Geeeze!!! Another bridge. Gotta Go!

Stay tuned for future updates.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving on the Hook


We arrived in Pensacola November 24th. We stayed at the Palafax Pier and Marina for a couple of days. Downtown Pensacola was like a ghost town. We tried to have dinner at the hot spot called Seville Square but the place was closed down. Locals told us it was the economy and the slow time of year. Being that there was not much to see we decided to head over to a place the locals told us about for anchoring out...a nice quite spot by an old military fort, Fort McRae and close by Fort Pickens. We wanted to spend Thanksgiving Day on the hook and could not have picked a better place or more perfect weather.

Thanksgiving morning I got ambitious and made beignets for breakfast. I bought a box of mix while we were in New Orleans and saved it for a special day. What could be more special then Thanksgiving? After all we are very thankful for our families, friends and being Americans. We also needed some good fortification for our upcoming exploration of the the old forts and the beach.




We were located at the YOU ARE HERE spot on the map.



This was a park sign that gave some information about the old fort. If you click on the picture it will enlarge so you can read about the history.



We saw a flounder snoozing next to the shore and took his picture.


Me by a cannon at Fort Pickens. The fort sustained serious damage during Hurricane Ivan and will open again to the public in August of 09.


The Captain by a cannon at Fort Pickens.



These were houses at Fort Pickens that were all boarded up. I guess they were old Army housing or Park Ranger housing, not sure which or maybe both.


This was another spectacular sunset!!! We had a wonderful day and did take more pictures but it takes forever to get them to down load!

We are now in Panama City...have been here since Friday night. The weather turned bad with rain and high winds so we are holed up at Bayfront Marina along with a lot of other cruisers who headed for safety for a couple of days. The wind should lay down tonight and we plan on heading out tomorrow. I forgot my camera when we went ashore so no pics. Besides, this place reminds me of Port A on steroids. It is very nice and we did spend sometime at the Boardwalk area and I talked the Captain into going to a movie. We saw Australia...on a sailing mast scale of one to ten it is a 4.5. Hugh Jackson lived up to the sexiest man of the year title and Nicole Kidman was gorgeous as always. The little boy in the movie reminded me of Sebastion...the little boy who lived on a catamaran with his mom and dad at Island Moorings before they moved to Mexico.

So that's the update for now. Miss you all.