Monday, December 19, 2016


     Friday night was rough for sleeping. Our transient dock space is unprotected from the canal coming in off Tampa Bay. The rollers from traffic help keep us awake. But Saturday dawns sunny, and we get an early breakfast. We are going to try out the bus to downtown to get to the museums as a means to see that we can get to church on time Sunday. We catch the bus, but are too early for the trolley connection that will get us to the first museum, notably "The DALI". We walk the last 1/4 mile to the museum, and get in the middle of some type of "aid run" at The University of South Florida. We are there and ready when the museum opens. The building is fascinating in itself, and reflects Dali's works.

The exhibits are on the third floor, which has a window wall overlooking the harbor. A docent is provided to explain the primary works of Dali. She does a very good job, and I get a little understanding of Dali's work.

We have lunch in an Italian eatery, and then move on to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. There are exhibits from locals there as well as a special exhibit of Eskimo art. They also have pieces from famous artists, but generally no more than one per artist. It is an impressive building also, but it is very conservative and solid feeling within in each of its exhibit halls.
      On Sunday we get up and think we will take the #4 bus to church. Wrong. It is not the same on Sunday. We walk to the church, about .7miles. We are late, about 12minutes. It is a large Methodist Church, with beautiful stained glass windows and a huge pipe organ. We do not hear the organ played this Sunday. The church has a local born musician who is in from his performing home in Nashville to do Christmas songs. Jody McBrayer is a very talented singer with a strong voice. It is a nice concert to hear.
      We walk back to the boat after church, stopping in the Publix supermarket to pick up a few things for us to have to eat on the boat. After lunch, we prep the boat to leave, and head to Sarasota. We get away a little later than planned, so we run SummerTime a little harder than normal.

As we leave Tampa Bay, and turn onto Sarasota Bay we hit a light sprinkle. It was not in the forecast. And a little farther down Sarasota Bay, we get another sprinkle, and this one turns into a rain storm. Barbara gets one of my raincoats from the locker for me to wear on the bridge. We get to Marina Jack at Sarasota waterfront about 5:45. It is getting dark, and we follow another boat into the marina. We are all tied up and checked in by 6:30. Barbara and I get tidied up, and go up to the "Deep Six Lounge & Piano Bar" to have dinner. It is one of three restaurants at the marina. We have a very nice dinner there while a person with a soft voice plays the piano and sings. Very nice evening.

       On Monday we get up and arrange for the marina's shuttle to carry us to "The Ringling". This is the State Art Museum of Florida donated to the State of Florida from John and Mable Ringling, of circus fame. We are in luck as on Monday the Art museum is free. We opt for the tickets to tour the Circus Museum, and the Miniatures Museum of the grounds also. We hop the tram to the Ringling Mansion and tour the gardens.

We did not opt for a tour of this house. It is very impressive on the outside. The gardens are fantastic, especially the rose garden. It is quite a showpiece.

The circus  museum has a guided tour. The most impressive part of it is the Pullman Car the Ringlings lived in while traveling with their circus. The miniatures is impressive. It is a model of the circus from the early 1900s when the circus went to 150 towns a year doing performances. The model covers everything from the trains, to the advertisers, the grounds set up personnel, the performers, and the staff that cared for the animals and performers. It is really impressive with a model of circus personnel that would be equivalent to a small town of about 1300 people entertaining a community.

Lastly we get to the Art Museum. It is a very impressive place. There are a lot of paintings by a lot of famous artists in this place.

We are running out of time, and breeze through it as the shuttle has a time to pick us up, and we need to be at the pick up point. We investigate places to eat when we get back to the boat. We choose to go downtown and check out two places. One is a French Bistro that we might go for a breakfast out. The other is a BarBQ restaurant that advertises for Carolina style pulled pork. We opt to eat dinner this evening at Nancy's BarBQ.

The pulled pork is pulled pork. The Brunswick Stew is very good, though not quite what we are used to. Barbara's chicken is cooked, but not with any particular barbeque flavors. I have ribs also, and they are superb, dry rubbed style. We both had more than we needed to eat. We stop at Edy's ice cream on the way back and each gets a cone. And we have a conversation with the operator about our country's current politics and our new President elect.
      We get up on Wednesday morning and make SummerTime ready to leave. I fill the water tank. I also hiked back up town to the Whole Foods to get a 1/2 gallon of milk to put on the boat for breakfast and other things. We leave the marina about 10:25, headed for Cayo Costa to anchor for the night. This is another Florida State Park on a barrier beach. It is a rather uneventful trip down the Florida Intracoastal Waterway.

There are slow zones aplenty, some over a mile long. In the faster zones, we are entertained by the dolphins. The dolphins in this area have a new method of entertaining us. They surf in the wake, then leap, and land broadside with a big slapping noise. It gets your attention the first few times they do it.

We get to Venice, and Venice Beach. There is an opening to the ocean here. It is a short opening to the Gulf, with an island where it joins the waterway.

And the waterway goes from being dredged sounds to a dug canal with rock lining. The slow speed zones end here. I speed up as we have been falling behind our planned arrival with all of the "Slow Minimum Wake, Idle Speed" zones. They are there to protect the manatees. The dug canal does not have a low speed requirement, so we make good time out of it. We come to an open bay area and make more good time. We get to Cayo Costa about 4pm. There are 7 other boats in the published anchorage when we get there. Before dark, 4 other boats come into the little bay by the park to anchor. It is a peaceful night, little wind, and the moon rises bright, nearly full.
        There is fog on Wednesday morning when I wake. It starts to burn off quickly. I talk to Barbara about going ashore to check out the beach, and possibly do some shelling. We have 60miles to our next stop, Naples. Barbara thinks we should get started to Naples, and skip the shelling this time. So we leave a pretty little bay behind. One of the sailboats in the anchorage follows us out. We set out speed to 1900rpm, our normal cruise speed of about 8.1kt..We are headed to mile zero of the waterway, near Sanibel, where we will go out onto the Gulf.

About 5 miles from the Pass, we start to run into fog. At first it is patchy. Then it gets dense. I check my visibility by measuring to a distant object I can see with the GPS. In the dense area, visibility is about 1/2mi.

As we get near the bridge across San Carlos Pass, the sky starts to open up. It is short lived. In about 2 miles after the bridge, we run into dense fog again. Barbara and I confer, and we decide to continue our journey with the limited visibility. It is supposed to burn off. The GPS and the buoys are together, and we are hitting our "marks" for the course I had plotted to Naples. We decide to keep on in the fog based on how our navigating is going good. And if we were out of sight of land, we would have no visual references anyways. We get hailed in the fog by another boat coming into the inlet. They are using the targets on their "AIS" to learn, and dentify boats in their area, and contact them. We tell them that they will have more visibility when they get to the bridge. They tell us we will have increased visibility about 10 miles down our 29 mile Gulf run. Sure enough in about 10 miles the fog burns off. We can see the buildings on the beach at Naples Park.

Before long, we see the buildings at Naples. We have run today at about 2000rpm, or 8.7kt, nearly 9mph. We are staying on time to get to the Naples City Docks at just before 4. At 3:30 we enter the channel off the Gulf and into the Naples City Basin. We get to the City Dock where we have a reservation at about 4pm. We fuel SummerTime for the first time since Tarpon Springs. We have put in a total of 25.5hr of travel, and covered 208miles on 92.3gal of diesel since Tarpon Springs. We move from the fuel dock to our slip. We are next to a mid 2000s Mainship 34 who also just came into the harbor. We recognize the boat name as one of the names being hailed while in the fog. They are from Maine and came down the east coast and crossed to Florida's west coast on The Lake Okeechobee route. We square everything away, and walk down the pier to "The Dock", a Naples eating establishment since 1976. It is unique, being open aired, just half walls on three sides with plastic curtains to pull down if the weather becomes inhospitable. We each have a fish dinner, different, and follow it with a dessert. I get key lime pie, and Barbara since I will not share, orders the chocolate cake. After the first mouthful, she will not share. It seems to be iced with fudge, rich in cocoa flavor, and thicker than the two cake layers. She is in chocolate Nirvana. After dinner we walk along the shops and look at the window displays.
        Thursday I work on planning our crossing to The Keys. I also started to contact marinas to se if there are slips available for the upcoming week. The City of Marathon has one slip, it is first come, first serve, so it is out. We will not be in a location to leave from for 2 more days. But the dockmaster gives me the names of two more marinas that might have slips. One of them is not in the Guidebooks, and I contact them. They have slips available, but are on a different key. I also contact another marina by "Email". Barbara is doing the whites laundry. I go to confer with her. I am going to wait for an answer to my "Email" from the second marina. They are closer to where we need to be to provision, and less expensive. The hydraulic lines I repaired in Carabelle are leaking, so when Barbara gets back, I utilize her to activate switches so I can see where the leak is. As it turns out I did not get two of the compression fittings on the plastic tubing tight enough. After several attempts, we get the fittings sealed. We have a quite evening and she works on our Christmas letter. We are way behind in the things we normally do before Christmas. During the evening, we hear bumps. I get up and move a fender. And the bumps occur again. I realize the bow pulpit which overhangs the edge of the pier is hitting an adjacent pile due to the fact the wind has changed directions since we tied up. I shorten the starboard bow line, and the pulpit can not move to the pile now. I think. In the night, I hear the same bump noise. I get up at 3:30 in the morning and go to check. The tide is falling, and the shortened line has a reduced angle and is now long enough to allow the bow pulpit to hit the pile. I move the line to another tie position and go back to bed. That fixes the problem.
       On Friday, I work on planning the crossing some more. I also contact Sombrero Marina in Marathon. They have a slip in the Marathon harbor, and will hold it for me on Saturday. They leave at noon on Saturday, and SummerTime can not cover the miles in this crossing before noon. They are going to call and give me directions. I complete planning our route. We ready the boat to leave Naples at about 11. We fill the water tank so we will have water when we anchor, in particular we want to have a full tank of water on board in case we have to duck into an uninhabited creek for any reason and anchor for a few days. We are going to be crossing outside the west boundaries of Everglades National Park, and there are no settlements on that edge of the park to duck into. We crank Mr. Perkins, and motor over to the fuel dock to get our holding tank pumped out at 11. The other Mainship's owners help us get away. They are going to follow us on the inside route to Marco Island as our older Mainship draws less water by about 1/2 ft or more. SummerTime will be the trial boat for adequate water depth. Her shallow draw depth (3ft) is one of the reasons we chose her. It is a different route through the mangroves for most of the distance.

And there are some shallow areas when we first leave the Naples harbor area. I am glad we waited for the rising tide, as twice we stir up the bottom with our prop wash. And the wind is blowing at about 15mph, so the outside (Gulf) route would have been a bumpy, and probably wet ride. iIn one of the slow zones to protect Manatees, a group of small boats gets held up by us. They pass us when the slow speed zone ends. One of them is the first boat of its kind I have ever seen.

We get to Marco Island, and "Wild Flower" departs to the marina where they will spend the winter months. We continue on by Marco on the inland route. It is shallow right after the main highway bridge, and then in the mangroves, we hit water 10ft deep and more. We get to Goodland, a little fishing community about1:45, and cruise on by to our anchorage. We arrive at our anchorage about 2. We can see the opening into the Gulf that we will leave out of on Saturday morning. I spend the afternoon programming the GPS with our route, and checking all the mechanicals to make sure we are good to travel. We run the generator long enough to cook dinner and top the batteries back off. We turn in early anticipating an early rise and departure to Marathon, or Boot Key Harbor in The Keys.


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