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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Run Aground #2 & many more to come!

Our pleasant visit in Clearwater had to end and we had made new friends (Jeff and Dee Lake, their dog Jake & macaw Bubba).

While in Clearwater, we rode the bus to Tarpon Springs. We had read and been told about Tarpon Springs being the sponge capital of the US. We didn't want to cruise there, so we took the next best thing...the bus! Blue Yonder, Pete and Ana and Monkey Girl, Bill (Laura had been there many times) and Crawdad hopped on the bus for the hour trip. We were well rewarded with sponges to carry on the bus back. Good place to visit once, though we had a fabulous lunch at Hellas (fond memories of Detroit Hellas, since closed) for spinach pie.

We cruised across Tampa Bay (great weather again, hurrah!) and into Boca Ciega Bay, following the ICW. We decided to stop in Gulfport at the Boca Ciega Yacht Club, as they were really nice, but the info was sketchy. We decided to "inch in" and we ran aground! Fortunately we were able to back out and proceeded to the local municipal Marina in Gulfport. Off with the bikes and we were on our way into town. Nice town and a few good restaurants. We had a fine dinner of Mahi, Mahi and headed back to the boat on our bikes in the dark. Luckily, Laura and Bill have lights on their bicycles. (Note to self, pick up bike lights).

We were parked next to one of the "tanks" of the waterways. A Nordhaven. You could cross the ocean and back and not feel a thing!

The next morning we headed out across Boca Ciega Bay toward Anna Maria Island. Fortunately Bill was watching as we headed the wrong way. It is good to travel at least in pairs.

We stopped an anchored by Jewfish Key at Longbeach, FL. Monkey Girl inched in and as we waited for her to test the depths (she draws 3.5 ft - we draw 4 ft 2 inches.) As we watched her, we floated out of the narrow channel and guess what! We ran aground again!. Jim is becoming an expert at getting us back on track. We proceeded in and had a wonderful time. We took the trolley (free) into Anna Marie Island and walked the pier. A fisherman was cleaning his fish (what the heck were they?).

As the season continues, it becomes dark earlier and earlier. When anchored the boys get their last trip to shore about 5PM, so it is a long night until 730 the next morning. They seem to understand and go to sleep early, as do we! I am usually awake by 6AM. (What's with that!)

As we continue along the ICW, we see many fabulous homes and some of a more modest nature. We traveled until we came to Venice. Venice Yacht Club rejected us as they only accept Florida Yacht Club Members for reciprocity. For those of you who aren't familiar with Yacht Clubs, the Clubs typically offer a place for the boat and use of their club, because you belong to another yacht club. We stayed at the Yacht Club in Fairhope and had a fabulous time. They were exceptionally friendly in Fairhope. We have found in Florida the yacht clubs are not as friendly. They usually allow other Florida Yacht Clubs, but not from other states. Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit, where I belong extends reciprocity to traveling boaters, but I imagine they don't receive as many requests as a Florida-based Yacht Club.

ANYWAY, we cruised up the Venice Yacht Club, knowing the FREE city wall was just beyond. We could not find it until a local person pointed it out to us. The signs were in place, stating we were not allowed to stay at the dock from midnight to 6am. Ignore the signs! We broke out our bikes and rode around the Island of Venice. Very nice and we had a great dinner at an Italian Restaurant.

We are feeling a bit melancholy as we are near the end of travel with Monkey Girl. We have traveled together for a number of weeks and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company, but we understand they are traveling to Charlotte Harbor to visit Laura's brother and we off to Englewood to visit with Jim's Mother, Betty.

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