We love St Petersburg
As the cold and snow hit Cleveland, a cold front also passed through the west coast of Florida. High temperatures in the 60s and lows as low as the high 30s came through hitting a 20 year record low for the area. This delayed our trip to St Pete by a few days, which meant no extra time to explore Sarasota on the way.
We left Sunday afternoon with the high tide. Monday morning the tide would have been almost two feet below datum and we would not have been able to leave the marina. We had a beautiful sail across Charlotte Harbor and anchored at (you guessed it) Cape Haze. Because the weather was so cool we used the generator to power the heat in the evening when we got to Cape Haze and again in the am when we got up Monday morning. Unfortunately, while the generator was running Monday morning the cockpit, which had the full enclosure down to try and keep out the wind, started to fill with steam. We looked out the companion way into the cockpit and it looked like we had a cloud in the enclosure. We quickly shut down the generator and Bob started to diagnose the problem.
It seems that we should have replaced the impeller on the generator in the fall when we first got on the boat even though we barely used it last year. The hot temperatures during the summer had fried the impeller, causing it to fall apart. Although it worked bringing in some cooling water Sunday night, by Monday morning it was useless and the heat had caused the antifreeze to evaporate. Thus the cloud.
Bob spent the better part of our trip to Sarasota in the sail locker replacing the impeller and the antifreeze. We now know better.
After pulling up the anchor, we motored up the ICW to Sarasota and grabbed a mooring ball at Marina Jack. Once we got to Sarasota things went smoothly. We had a delicious dinner with Jeff Nash at the Marina overlooking the water followed by a peaceful night on the ball. We headed off the next morning for St Pete and arrived at the municipal marina about 3:00 pm.
St Petersburg Pier
What a pleasant surprise. The last time we docked in St Petersburg we stayed at the Harborage, a privately owned marina just south of the downtown. The marina was so full they shoehorned boats in so that we had a difficult time getting out when it came our time to go. The marina at the Venoy Hotel looked to be the same situation so I was assuming that the municipal marina would also be a tight fit. What we found was the exact opposite situation. The transient dock was one long fixed dock with plenty of turn around space. They put us at the south end, farthest from the opening and we had 6 very peaceful nights. The location could not have been better as we were just steps from the pier and we had an amazing view of the city at night.
The view of the city from the boat.
The next six days were chocked full. We met Jaime and Russ (dock neighbors from Burnt Store) for drinks at Fresco and then had lunch the next day with Bob’s cousin Debby Taub and her husband Brian also at Fresco. We had tried for three years to hook up with them in either Tampa, where they live, or St Pete and this year we finally did it.
Michael and Bill in St Pete.
One of the main reasons we were in St Pete was to see our sailing buddies Michael and Bill, who were there to escape the Maine winter. We also hooked up with friends from Cleveland, Hazel and Neil Brown and Rebekah and David Ashpis, who were staying in Clearwater. We all shared a delicious lunch out on the patio at The Great Catch – Thank you Jamie for the recommendation.
Left to right - David, Rebekah, Michael, Jamie, Russ, Sheila, Bob, Bill, Hazel and Neil.
We toured both the Holocaust Museum and the Art Museum which is right across from the marina. The Holocaust Museum is small compared to the one in Washington DC for sure but it has a three dimensional (hologram looking) survivor on video to whom you can direct questions. It is very life like if not a bit creepy. We had a docent at the art museum which added a lot to the experience.
There was a car show on the grass right across from the St Pete Yacht Club, which I enjoyed even though I am not a car person. We visited our favorite breweries, 3 Daughters and Green Bench and added a new one, PAW, to the mix. We played Pickelball at Crescent Lake Park and got to visit with Chris and Robin, sailing friends from our trip to the Bahamas.
All this plus lots of steps each day and bike riding meant great sleeping. St Pete is a bike friendly town with many of the streets having dedicated bike lanes.
Bob, Sheila and Bill in front of the PAW.
We had originally wanted to stop at Egmont Island on the way back to visit the fort there but because of impending rain, we decided to forgo the fort this time and go as quickly as possible up the ICW back to Burnt Store. The first day we made it to Little Sarasota bay, just south of Sarasota, where we had a peaceful anchorage. I participated with my book club while fireworks went off to our west and we got a call that Karen had been in a car accident after hitting a patch of black ice on a bridge west of Cleveland. Thankfully she suffered only a minor concussion as her side air bag inflated. We have yet to hear about the car as Progressive has not been attentive/responsive in moving things along. I am very disappointed in them as a company.
Her Diamond approaching a lift bridge.
After we left Little Sarasota Bay we had multiple bridges to contend with. Everything went fine until the Hatchet bridge right before Venice. We had to wait a bit for the opening and I drifted just a few feet out of the channel to the west and the depth quickly went from 7 feet to 1 foot. Bob tried to back us out but couldn’t budge us. Thus our first call for a tow to TowBoat US. I was so upset with myself. After waiting about an hour (the tow guy came from Sarasota) he pulled the bow about three feet and we were out of the mud. He told us that this was a very popular spot – which made me feel a bit better.
Once through the Hatchet Bridge the rain started to fall. The next five hours we were snug in the cockpit as the rain continued to fall and the wind blew all the way back to Burnt Store. We were so thankful for our enclosure and the back curtain that we had added a few years ago.
Here we are snug in the cockpit.
We arrived at our home dock about 5:00 pm with great memories of our third trip to St Pete and glad to be back home.
More to come…….