Our exit from Tarpon Springs was uneventful. We cruised out into the St John’s Bay and headed south. It was a beautiful morning and the winds and seas were calm. Cool anchorages and tiny island beaches temped us to stop but onward we went. Eddie was my first mate stand in so I got to relax all day. Truely he was the stand in captain so Mac got to relax all day. Either way, we love when he is aboard since he is easy going and very knowledgeable! The day took us south past gorgeous homes , boats and beaches.
After a beautiful cruising day we began to look at anchorages for the night. Treasure Island is just north of Tampa Bay. All of us checking charts and having opinions on where to exit the GIWW to enter the cove had Mac at the helm when we bumped bottom. Just our luck to find the one spoil and it grabbed us pretty good. An hour of strategy and trying to drive Pelican off the spoil brought no results. Our first SeaTow experience in 30+ years proved to be a good one. I called them and they already had our location from the cell call. Ben the canook came in about 45 minutes and tugged on us for fifteen minutes. He told us he would give us two fifteen minute pulls. The tide was rising. He took another call and promised to return soon in hopes we’d have more water under us. We fixed drinks and watched the sunset. Ben came along about dark thirty and was successful on the first grab. Hallelujah!
We anchored and got comfy and began to cook some dinner. Along came Pete and Terry who had watched our situation unfold for the past two hours from their pool deck. They recommended moving to the center of the cove and offered to escort us. Turns out we were in the direct path that locals used to enter from the north. Thanks guys! Local knowledge is everything!
Saturday morning we headed out across Tampa Bay bound for Sarasota. The Sunshine Skyway was in view all morning. It is an amazing bridge that had us all discussing engineering as we gazed at it.
About half way across the bay Mac recognized a shrimp boat as a one he knew from our Mississippi waters. Sure enough we closed in on the Mattie Fay from Pascagoula. Mac hailed them for a chat and found they were here all winter.
It was a beautiful day. Several bridges slowed us down a bit and tons of local go-fast boats rocked our slow-boat world. The approach into Sarasota along Anna Maria Island and Bradenton was fabulously interesting but every boat in town was out that morning and it was obvious none of these skippers had ever captained a trawler.
An ornery linkage problem reared its ugly head once again so we had to stop and anchor before docking at Sarasota Yacht Club to fix it. Bill was waiting to help us get lines on and he was anxious to get us in as the winds were predicted to increase by evening.
Increase they did!! Sunday morning, just after putting Trigg’s into an Uber to go back to their car and head home, we got busy fighting to keep our dingy from crashing into the swim platform. Winds were growing by the minute and swells up to five feet were coming down the chute into the cove where SYC is located. We could not have been in a worse position for these conditions. We fought with the boat hook and four fenders tending the dingy through these swells until Griffin and Hunter, the clubs wonderful deckhands, finally got us secured by tying off to another vessel and a piling at our stern. They assured us this was not typical conditions for the area. This was a freakish tropical type system that had everyone in the marina scrambling to get secure. We passed the rest of the afternoon hunkered down with tornado warnings and steady rain.
It cleared off nicely in time for a lovely dinner with Bill and Meredith in their fabulous club. They shared the history of the clubhouse. The club had originally been built on land donated by John Ringling of Ringling Brothers Circus which was headquartered in Sarasota. In the years surrounding Bill’s time as commodore they tore down the original clubhouse and built the stunning new one. The decor is very impressive. What a treat it was to stay there!
Fortunately Monday was gorgeous and Bill and Meredith kindly loaned us a car to explore the area and do chores on land. We headed back onto Anna Maria Island and had lunch at the Sandbar. What a cool area Anna Maria Island is! Very vintage Florida but also a little touch of Seaside. We were glad we had gone back to see it.
As I write this we are anchored in Lemon Bay just north of Englewood. Today we plan to dingy around this area and get some sand between our toes. Gotta go!