January 31, 2013

January 31, 2013 Day 265
Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers, FL
Total miles to date: 4560.6

We are still enjoying “just being here” in Fort Myers at Legacy Marina.  Joyce walked to the Farmers Market (a Thursday event here) this morning and came back loaded down with fresh fruits and vegetables.   Bill spent the day relaxing and reading. 

We joined about 30 boaters for a potluck dinner. This is a weekly event at the marina for all boaters (Loopers and non-Loopers). We had a great time and enjoyed meeting new people – and we were happy to see Larry and Caryl on Prime Time.  We were docked next to them at Joe Wheeler during the Rendezvous and had not seen them since. We had fun catching up on our travels.  We talked with Gold Loopers Diane and Louis Wade, Bella Luna, and Bob and Kathy Hunt, Sootsus at Sea. We also met Seventh Sun III - they are just starting the Loop. The food was good and we enjoyed the company!

January 30, 2013

January 30, 2013 Day 264

Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers, FL
Total miles to date: 4560.6

Today was a mixed day of working, running errands, and visiting with other boaters.  We began by returning the rental car.   After that we spent time walking around the docks meeting more Loopers.  This is a very large marina and there are several loopers here – many are gold loopers. 

We also stopped at the marina office to extend our stay here for a full week.  They are going to be booked full this weekend but fortunately there is room for us.  It was very windy today and we were happy to be docked!  There were a few boats that arrived and one of the larger ones had to make three attempts to get into a slip.

Joyce spent time doing laundry and even made a return trip to the grocery store. Publix is just a short walk and is very convenient!  We had dinner on board and spent a quiet evening reading and watching television. If the weather cooperates tomorrow we will go to the Farmers Market in the morning and a potluck at the marina’s Tiki Bar for dinner. We do like this area!

Loved the sunset tonight with the clouds
in the background - this is the view from our boat!

January 29, 2013

January 29, 2013 Day 263
Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers, FL
Total miles to date: 4560.6

This was one of the longest days and we did not move the boat!  It is all about being in a car all day and half the evening.  We took Tom and Linda to Punta Gorda in the rental car so they could pick up their car.  Then we brought the rental car back to Fort Myers – but not until we stopped at: Napa, Home Depot, Lowes, West Marine, a restaurant for lunch, an outlet mall, an indoor mall, Publix grocery store, and a gas station!  We will return the rental car tomorrow morning.

We enjoyed having Tom and Linda here for five days! We had so much fun! We hope we will see them again when they are cruising on Raydiance. 

Tom and Linda
We have decided to stay here at Legacy Marina for a week. There are several Gold Loopers here and many activities are available. We need some time to clean the boat also!

January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013 Day 262
Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers, FL
Total miles to date: 4560.6

We said goodbye to Sanibel Island this morning after breakfast and rather than go to Fort Myers Beach as originally planned, we decided to go to Fort Myers to Legacy Harbour Marina.  This is a very large full service marina and is within walking distance to downtown! We had a nice 2 ½ hour cruise but only saw a few dolphin today. 

After we got checked in, we went to lunch with Tom and Linda at a nearby restaurant for some great hamburgers.  The guys went back to the boat while Linda and Joyce walked around the marina looking for other Loopers.  We were not disappointed!  Joyce recognized Diane on Bella Luna, a Gold Looper whose blog she followed for a year. It was wonderful to meet Diane and Louis in person!

Another day - another beautiful sunset
We had docktails with Tom and Linda while watching the sun set. We have a lovely, unobstructed view from our boat. We had a late dinner on board and then played round three of hearts – a lively game!

When we checked into the marina today we made a two day reservation, but now we are thinking of staying for a week.  We like Fort Myers!

Tom and Linda will depart in the morning. They have rented a car and we will ride with them to Punta Gorda to retrieve their car, and we will bring the rental car back to Fort Myers.  It has been so much fun having them here with us for a few days and we will miss them!!

January 27, 2013

January 27, 2013 Day 261
Sanibel Marina, Sanibel Island, FL
Total miles to date: 4541.8

Today was an active day on Sanibel Island!   We had a nice brunch on board Carried Away (scrambled eggs, scrapple, blueberry muffins, strawberries, and mimosas) about 10:00.  (The marina delivered muffins to the boat!)  After brunch, we got organized and took a taxi to the bike rental shop. 

Just returned the bikes!
Gramma Dots Restaurant
The four of us rented bikes and took advantage of the bike paths that are plentiful on the island.  The bike paths were crowded as biking is very popular here. We rode about 10 miles which for us was a workout. We had not ridden bikes in several years.  Joyce was getting tired at the end and walked the bike the final mile.  We obviously need to get in shape. We took another taxi back to the marina.  There is no public transportation such as the trolleys we have found in other communities.

We rested a while and then walked all of 50 feet to Gramma Dots, the restaurant at the marina. It is very popular and once again, we had good seafood! We came back to the boat and played cards again. 

Bill and Tom worked on plotting the course for tomorrow. We will go to Fort Myers Beach and hopefully pick up a mooring ball.  If not, we will go to a marina.

January 26, 2013

January 26, 2013 Day 260
Sanibel Marina, Sanibel Island, FL
Total miles to date: 4541.8

Another day in the sun and on the water with friends, Tom and Linda. We left our anchorage at Useppa Island at 9:40 and had a fun ride to Sanibel Island. Linda and Joyce once again spent time on the bow of the boat watching the dolphins. 
Sanibel lighthouse at the far end of the beach

We arrived at the Sanibel Marina at 12:20 and docked right across from their well known restaurant, Gramma Dots.  After checking in, we took a ¾ mile hike to the beach.  Tom and Bill eventually walked back to the boat while Linda and Joyce spent more time walking on the beach, and of course picking up many shells.  Then they found a very nice gift shop and then a very nice ice cream shop! 
Our beautiful marina

After spending some time just relaxing in the late afternoon, we had dinner on board.  After dinner we enjoyed playing hearts.  A rematch may be required! 

We will stay here another day and rent bikes tomorrow to check out more of this beautiful island.

January 25, 2013 Day 259
Anchor off Useppa Island, FL
Total miles to date: 4517.8

This was another beautiful day on the water. We left Punta Gorda at 10:15 and arrived at our anchorage off Useppa Island around 2:00.  Joyce and Linda spent time on the bow watching the dolphins. They never cease to amaze us. 

Dinner with tom and Linda (Raydiance)
at Cabbage Key Inn.  The walls and ceiling are lined with dollar bills.

Our anchorage was right across from Cabbage Key and we took the dinghy over for dinner to the Cabbage Key Inn.  One of its claims to fame is that Jimmy Buffet wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise here.  The restaurant also has about $70,000 in one dollar bills, signed by their donors, taped to the walls. 

Joyce and Linda took a walk on the nature trail and then walked up the look-out tower to watch the sunset. Bill and Tom enjoyed a beer while waiting for them.  Then we all enjoyed a very nice seafood dinner! We took the dinghy back to the boat glad that we had a full moon to guide us.

Tomorrow’s destination is Sanibel Island!

Friendly island!

Beautiful view from the top of the water tower!

January 25, 2013

January 22-24, 2013 Day 258
Laishley Park Municipal Marina, Punta Gorda, FL
Total miles to date: 4491.2

After a total of three days at anchor in Pelican Bay, we left around 8:30 for a warm sunny leisurely cruise to Punta Gorda. We arrived at Laishley Park Marina at 11:45 and docked next to two Loopers, Paddy Wagon and Done Dreamin.  The marina lies on the shore of the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor, the second largest harbor in Florida.  Punta Gorda was severely damaged by Hurricane Charlie in 2004. This marina was rebuilt in 2007.  The whole area around it is beautifully restored.

We were happy to see Linda and Tom, when they arrived after lunch!  We first met them on the Loop when we anchored in the Sassafras River in Maryland and then traveled with them for a while in Canada. They left their boat, Raydiance, in Michigan for the winter and will resume their boating next summer.  We also caught up with them at their homeport at Kenlake Marina in Kentucky this fall!  In the meantime, we are happy they drove to Florida and could join us for during their trip for a few days.

We spent the afternoon visiting and also going to Publix to provision the boat since we had their car available!  After docktails, we drove around Punta Gorda and finally settled on The Celtic Ray, an Irish Pub for dinner and enjoyed our Shepherds and Guinness Pies.

We came back to the boat and discussed our travel plans for the next few days. We decided to leave here tomorrow (Friday) and go to an anchorage off Useppa Island.  From there we will go to Sanibel and then Fort Myers. We are looking forward to enjoying Tom and Linda’s company and this marvelous weather – near 80 degrees!!








January 21, 2013

January 21, 2013 Day 255
Pelican Bay, Cayo Costa State Park, FL
Total miles to date: 4466.9

At 11:00 we left our slip at the Boca Grande Marina and cruised a very short distance of 4.5 miles to Pelican Bay to an anchorage.  We had read that this was a popular spot and confirmed it when we saw at least 20 boats anchored here.  It is a beautiful bay and has room for many boats!   

Pelican Bay borders Cayo Costa State Park, an island reachable only by boat. There is a tour/ferry boat that drops off visitors and others come by dinghy or very small boats.  The 2400 acre park is on one of Florida’s largest unspoiled barrier islands. Cayo Costa, the name given to the island by Spanish traders means “Key by the Coast”.  The park offers hiking, camping, fishing, shelling, and swimming.  There is a free tram that takes visitors to the beach from the ranger station.  Bicycles can also be rented.

Obey the warning!
Walking the beach
After lunch we took the dinghy over to the island, paid our $2.00/person fee to visit the island and then took the tram to the beach. We spent almost an hour walking along the beach, picking up a few shells and watching the shore birds.  Then we took a path to a lagoon and walked along it for a while.  There are signs warning people not to swim in this area because of alligators, so Joyce did not feel too comfortable walking along this marshy pond!  The ranger told us an alligator was spotted earlier today!  We caught the tram back to the bayside of the island and then took our dinghy back to our boat. There are two other Looper boats here and we visited them each from our dinghy. 

We will stay here another day which seems to be the pattern of several boaters we met – no one is in a hurry to leave this beautiful spot!  If the weather is good we may go back to the park and rent bicycles tomorrow …and avoid the alligators!

January 20, 2013 Day 254
Boca Grande Marina, Boca Grande, FL
Total miles to date: 4462.4

We said goodbye to Venice this morning, knowing it is a place we would put on our “need to see again” list.  We left shortly after 10:00 and headed back out into the Gulf ICW, which at this point is very narrow!  Our destination: Boca Grande, a trip just over 30 miles. 

We had a smooth cruising day, even though there were lots of little boats out with passengers. We decided it was a real Sunday driving day. It is also a holiday weekend with Martin Luther King Day tomorrow.  We had to have two bridges open for us – one that opens on demand and one that opens every 15 minutes on the weekend – no problems there!  We finally saw several dolphins today!  We hope this will continue!  The water also cleared and we got farther south, and there were fewer dead fish in the water. This was all due to the effect of the red tide that happened a few days before we reached Venice.  The red tide happens when there is a great deal of algae in the water. The level of oxygen decreases causing the fish to die.  Not a pretty sight (or smell).

This big boat "Banyan"that  docked next to us,
left as soon as we arrived!
We arrived at Boca Grande Marina about 2:15. There were a few “big boats” here, but two of them left as we arrived.  The third boat, Hilarium, with a length overall of 133 feet, and a crew of eight, left late at night.  We assumed they needed to wait for high tide as the entrance to the marina is shallow.

The Gasparilla Inn
A step back in time?
Boca Grande is a small upscale community on Gasparilla Island, known for visits by the rich and famous. (Both of the George Bush families and Jeb Bush family come here for example.  After checking in we went for a walk into the town. (We turned down the offer from the marina to rent a golf cart for $50.00) The island is so narrow we reached the gulf side in a short time. Then we walked back to the ICW side, after stopping to see the Gasparilla Inn. It is a beautiful, stately old inn that dates back to the 1920’s.  We did not attempt to go inside as there were many people coming out in semi-formal wear, so there was obviously an event happening!  There are several nice restaurants here, but we chose to eat on board.

We watched parts of each of the NFL playoff games and Joyce finally got caught up on the blog!  We are still unhappy that we cannot post photos to the blog now. Bill thinks we may have reached a size limit? We will try to resolve that. 

We will leave Boca Grande in the morning and head to an anchorage for a couple of days. 

January 20, 2013

January 16-19, 2013 Day 250-253
Venice Yacht Club, Venice, FL
Total miles to date: 4432.1

We left Sarasota at 9:30am on Wednesday and headed to Venice, a trip of just over 17 miles, under a sunny sky and with a calm sea! We planned to make a reservation at a local marina, but when Paul called his cousin, John to make arrangements to see him, John suggested we might stay at the Venice Yacht Club where he is a member.  We arrived at 12:30 and John and his wife Pam stopped to visit the four of us on Carried Away and then invited us to have lunch with them at the club.  They were also so kind to lend us their car while we were there! 

Dinner at Sharky's with Kathy & Paul, and Pam & John
Many colorful turtles line the streets
of downtown Venice!
We drove to the lovely downtown of Venice and walked through many shops. Venice is an historic town and does not have big hotels lining the beachfront. It has many parks, bike paths, good beach access, and tree lined streets.  Colorful turtles adorn the street corners in the shopping area.  We felt very comfortable here!

We went back to the club with Kathy and Paul and once again met John and Pam, this time for happy hour. From there we all went to dinner at Sharky’s, a local seafood favorite on the beach. The grouper was perfect!
The next day we did some more shopping and then had our boating friends Lisa and Ron (who live in Venice) over for docktails.  We first met them in Canada last summer and it was good to see them again. We plan to travel with them next summer in Canada.  We went out to dinner with them and had great seafood!

On Friday, we drove to Fort Myers and toured the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Edison’s home (that he designed) was built in 1885 and his family enjoyed their winter visits there until 1947. Ford purchased his home in 1916 so he could be near his friend and mentor. The trees on the property are plentiful and are all identified. The banyan trees continue to amaze us!  We also saw lime, grapefruit, papaya, mango, bamboo, and many types of palm trees.  Edison used many of the trees for his experiments.   Edison, Ford, and Harvey Firestone formed the Edison Botanic Research Corporation in 1927 to support their efforts to produce a fast growing domestic source of natural rubber.  We left the Edison and Ford Estates and had lunch near the Legacy Marina.  (We will return here by boat next week.)  From there we drove to Punta Gorda and went to a gallery of local artists and craftsmen. We found a nice piece of pottery to take back to Carried Away. This shop is next to the Laishley Park Marina where we will also return by boat next week. We returned to Venice early to meet John and Pam, who joined us on our boat for docktails.   

Kathy and Paul had to leave us on Saturday morning and return to Atlanta.  (Paul’s cousin John drove them back to Bradenton Beach to pick up their car.)  It was so hard to say goodbye!  It was wonderful having them join us. We had such a fun time boating, visiting museums, shopping, and just visiting with each other! We also had fun playing cards at night!  Paul spoiled us by fixing breakfast one morning! Kathy and Paul are wine enthusiasts and brought some very nice bottles of wine with them which we thoroughly enjoyed.  They have raised our standards!  We look forward to having them join us again in the future. 

Saturday afternoon Lisa and Ron picked us up and took us back to their home for a delicious lunch.  We were happy to play with their dog Gizmo, who we had fun with last summer on their boat!  After lunch, we spent some time discussing the boating trip to Canada next summer. The plan is to do the Down East Loop together which will take us east from Montreal to Quebec City to Nova Scotia and down the east coast of the US.  Ron and Lisa generously drove us to a couple of stores to finish provisioning the boat. They also drove us to the beach before taking us back to our boat.

Saturday night was spent planning our route for the next few days as we will leave Venice on Sunday morning.  We have thoroughly enjoyed our visit here in this lovely beach community, seeing old friends and making new friends and sharing it all with Joyce’s sister and brother-in-law!

January 15, 2013 Day 249
Marina Jack, Sarasota, FL
Total miles to date: 4417.7

We left Bradenton Beach on Tuesday morning and headed down the Gulf ICW to Sarasota. Finally – Kathy got to ride on the boat!  We had a nice cruise on a sunny day!  We had to wait for a couple of bridges to open but we were in no hurry.  Kathy and Joyce rode on the bow for a while to get some sun and hopefully to see some dolphin!  (There was only one dolphin that was seen briefly.)  We did marvel at the beautiful stately homes that line the ICW and could not pick a favorite. 

Kathy enjoyed relaxing on the bow
on the way to Sarasota
One of the things we got to see (again) was the Ringling Estate that we had visited the day before!  The estate is just north of Sarasota and Bill got us in close enough to take pictures with high power camera lenses that he and Paul both used.  Kathy and Joyce were content finding it with the binoculars.

The elegant entrance to Marina Jack
that connects it to the city of Sarasota
We arrived at Marina Jack in Sarasota at 10:45 am. Marina Jack is an upscale marina that borders downtown Sarasota.  Joyce and Kathy took advantage of the downtown nearby and walked through the area. It is very urban with high rise condos and office buildings but with many small shops and restaurants that also line the streets.  We poked around some of the shops and boutiques then headed to Whole Foods to pick up bread and wine – what else?  When we got back, we did some laundry. While we were out, Bill and Paul worked on the shifter that had given us problems docking this morning. (Everything is not all play!) 

After docktails on Carried Away, we decided to have dinner at the Marina Jack Restaurant on site and enjoyed our meal.  You can’t go wrong eating at a marina while the sun is setting on the water.

Beautiful sunset at Marina Jack in Sarasota

January 13-14, 2013 Day 247-248
Bradenton Beach Marina, Bradenton Beach, FL
Total miles to date: 4403.0

Bill and Paul brought the boat to Bradenton Beach -
Kathy and Joyce were watching from the dock as they approached!
On Sunday morning, since our efforts to find long term parking for Kathy and Paul’s car were not successful, we decided to take a new approach.  Kathy and Joyce drove the car to Bradenton Beach, while and Bill and Paul drove the boat!  We only had 24 miles to travel so of course the girls arrived first and were able to check out two marinas and selected their favorite.  We decided to stay there two days.  The marina staff was kind enough to let Kathy and Paul keep their car there for over a week in a secure parking lot at no charge!! Bradenton Beach is on Anna Maria Island between Holmes Beach and Longboat Key.  We had a relaxing afternoon followed by docktails and dinner onboard, and made plans for the following day.

On Monday morning we drove the length of Anna Maria Island and walked on the beach.  This is a small island that is mostly residential. There are shops and restaurants but no high rise hotels or condos which makes it fairly low key.

The back of the Ringling Mansion
Next, we took advantage of still having Kathy and Paul’s car and drove to Sarasota to tour the 66 acre Ringling Estate. This included the 22,000 s.f. mansion of John and Mable Ringling, aptly called a Venetian Palace, situated on Sarasota Bay.  Prior to touring the mansion, we walked through Mable Ringling’s beautiful rose garden. The estate also includes an extensive art museum with works by Rubens, van Dyck, and Velasquez.  We also toured the Tibbals Learning Center which includes the Howard Bros. Circus model, a replica of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus from 1919-1938. This occupies 3800 s.f. and contains eight main tents, 152 wagons, 800 animals, 1300 circus performers and workers, and a 59 car train. It is an incredible display and was all hand carved by Howard Tibbals over many years. He still works on it to this day.  We also toured the Circus Museum which documents the history of the circus and includes hand carved circus wagons, costumes, performers’ props, playbills, and John and Mable Ringling’s private train car (staterooms, lounge, kitchen, and more) designed for their own travel. The Ringling Estate should not be missed by anyone traveling through Sarasota and was the highlight of our day. 

Relaxing at the Ringling Estate
We drove back to the Bradenton Beach Marina and once again had dinner on board.  One of the other boaters also brought us a sampler plate of fish she caught that day!  This completed our second night in Bradenton Beach and we made our final plans to go to Sarasota Tuesday morning – this time with all four of us onboard Carried Away!

January 19, 2013

January 8-12, 2013 Day 242-246
St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, St. Petersburg, FL
Total miles to date: 4378.9

We are finally finding time to update the blog after an uncharacteristic delay, for which we apologize.  Unfortunately we are still unable to upload our photos to the blog.  We spent three more days getting the boat ready for our guests, Joyce’s sister Kathy and her husband Paul.  We now have a new head in the aft cabin and a repaired head in the forward cabin.  Plumbing problems are becoming our nemesis. 

Kathy and Paul drove down from Atlanta and arrived on Friday, January 11.  It was so good to see them and have them join us on our journey!  We got them settled in and then enjoyed docktails on the sundeck.  We had dinner onboard and then planned our weekend.

Kathy and Paul at the Dali Museum
On Saturday, we drove to the St. Petersburg Farmers Market and were overwhelmed by the variety of food and other items.  We came home with fresh fruits and vegetables, mix for sangria, jalapeno/cranberry jelly, fresh bread with rosemary, and more!  From there we made a stop at Publix grocery store to further provision the boat.  After lunch we took the trolley around the downtown area and to the Dali Museum.  This museum is probably the highlight of St. Petersburg. We took a guided tour and were impressed by Salvadore Dali’s multidimensional work.  His surrealism paintings were truly amazing.

We walked back to the boat along the waterfront and then chose a seafood restaurant for dinner. We were not disappointed!


January 7, 2013

January 7, 2013 Day 241
St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, St. Petersburg, FL
Total miles to date: 4378.9

We were so happy to see Sarah and Brooks today (Our Time) when they knocked on our door.  We traveled with them through much of Canada and had only seen Brooks momentarily in Mobile since then.  They are just returning to St. Petersburg after being home for the holidays.  We had a good visit and will see them again this week.

We spent the day getting some chores done. It was a rainy day, so it was good to be indoors being productive.  Joyce worked on menu planning to prepare for our guests who will arrive on Friday!  We are looking forward to having Joyce’s sister and brother-in-law, Kathy and Paul, travel with us for a week!


January 6, 2013

January 6, 2013 Day 240
St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, St. Petersburg, FL
Total miles to date: 4378.9

We waited until late morning when the fog lifted and left our mooring ball to return to our dock at the marina.  We were able to pull in the same spot we had before – right behind Great Laker.

Bill changed the oil in the starboard engine while Joyce tackled the ever present laundry.  Afterwards, Bill was playing his banjo on the sundeck and two different guys stopped by and invited him to join the weekly Thursday afternoon jam session on the dock!  It is amazing how many banjo and guitar players he meets!

We had dinner on board, then watched television and played a game of scrabble this evening. 

January 5, 2013

January 5, 2013 Day 239
Mooring Ball, St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, St. Petersburg, FL
Total miles to date: 4378.9

We have enjoyed being on the mooring ball with a beautiful view of The Renaissance Vinoy Resort, the Museum of Fine Arts, and many other buildings that are part of downtown near the waterfront, the Pier, the bay – and all that offers!  We took the dinghy to the dinghy dock, walked to the Pier and although we were not impressed with the shops, we did enjoy the scene from the fifth level that has an outer viewing area of the bay and of downtown. We could easily see Carried Away on her mooring ball!  From there we took the trolley around the downtown area.  St. Petersburg is a vibrant city with many restaurants, hotels, museums, and historical buildings.  We are happy to be spending a week here!

Joyce was thrilled to find a hair salon that could fit her in today.  Bill waited in a nearby restaurant overlooking the water, so it was a win-win for both of us!

We took the dinghy back to the boat, and cooked out on the grill for dinner.

We will return to the dock at the marina tomorrow and remain there for a week.

January 4, 2013 Day 238
Mooring Ball, St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, St. Petersburg, FL
Total miles to date: 4378.9

One of the local boaters was kind enough to offer us a ride to Publix so we could provision the boat this morning. Then we hopped a ride on the Trolley to get back to the marina – seniors ride for $.25 – not a bad fare!  (This is their downtown Looper Trolley – an appropriate name!)

 After lunch, Joyce finished a load of laundry and then we prepared the boat to move from the dock over to a mooring ball.  This was our first experience using a mooring ball and it went well.  We will be here two nights and then return to the transient dock for a week.  Bill liked being here so he could relax and play banjo on our sundeck.

 It is has been cloudy and overcast all day but we have avoided the rain!

(We are having trouble uploading photos to the blog  - will try to get that resolved.)

January 4, 2013

January 3, 2013 Day 237
St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, St. Petersburg, FL
Total miles to date: 4378.9

As planned, we pulled anchor from Clearwater Beach this morning and departed for St. Petersburg.  We left later than planned as we waited for the fog to lift. But, we had the current with us and made the trip in less than five hours, arriving at 2:45.  Our arrival was actually timed well – it started to rain shortly after we arrived!  Anne and Larry on Great Laker followed us all the way and are docked in front of us.  We also met Gold Loopers, Ray and Linda on The Second Noelle after we got tied up.
We followed the ICW which is fairly narrow much of the way, taking us past condos, hotels, and large and small homes, many with their own private docks. We also passed under several bridges but only needed to have one open for us.  We saw many dolphins today as they dived around the boat and jumped off our stern.

Since it was raining this afternoon, we did not get off the boat to go exploring. Hopefully we can run errands tomorrow morning. We will leave the dock around 3pm and go to a mooring ball for two days. Then we will return to our spot here at the marina and remain for a week. 

January 2, 2013

January 2, 2013 Day 236
At anchor, Clearwater Beach, FL
Total miles to date: 4341.3

This is our third day at anchor here in Clearwater Beach. We just take the dinghy to shore when we want to walk, shop, or visit others! It has been warm and sunny - in low to mid 70’s most of the time. Today we were walking out on Pier 60 in bright sun and then left to walk down by the shops when a huge fog bank rolled in.  What a change!

Many pelicans here!
We went back out tonight and met Gay and Mike (Irish Attitude) for a steak dinner.  Then we stopped for ice cream (there are plenty of opportunities near the beach!)  We went back to their boat and watched the 1st quarter of the Sugar Bowl before heading back to our boat in the dinghy. A dinghy ride in the dark was interesting!  We only had a flashlight and it was still a little foggy, but we made it back safely once we got oriented!

Clearwater Beach taken from Pier 60
We will depart tomorrow morning and head to St. Petersburg and remain there until January 13.  Joyce’s sister and brother-in-law (Kathy and Paul) will meet us there on the 11th and travel with us down the coast for a week. We have some parts being delivered to us on Monday and need to get everything installed first!

December 31, 2012 Day 234
At anchor, Clearwater Beach, FL
Total miles to date: 4341.3
Happy New Year everyone!  We have had another good day. We walked over to Craig Park this morning. It is a beautiful setting that surrounds Spring Bayou and is home to several manatees.  We watched them for quite a while and tried to photograph them as they barely surfaced, only to submerge again. They are large mammals and are protected by state and federal laws.

We walked back to the boat and said hello to Loopers on Paddy Wagon, Done Dreamin and Fandango. Then it was time to prepare to leave. We departed at 1:15 and followed Sea Hunt IV back out into the Anclote River then into the Gulf ICW.  We arrived in Clearwater Beach and anchored near the marina.  We watched many tourist boats go back and forth from our anchorage– the pirate ship, fishing charters, dolphin watching boats, excursion boats, etc.

At anchor Clearwater Beach near Sea Hunt IV
Arrgh - Pirates coming toward us!
Our plans to celebrate the New Year with Sea Hunt IV were altered when we discovered more plumbing problems.  Bill spent the evening working on them. 

Fortunately, we were able to watch a panoramic view of fireworks between 11:00 and midnight and welcomed in the New Year.  We took time to reflect on this amazing past year and look forward to continuing our journey in 2013.