Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What happened to June?

Port Tarpon Marina, Anclote River, Tarpon Springs, Florida
It's been almost a month since we arrived in Florida on the 7th of June.  Navigating barrier islands and now keys is becoming more comfortable.  From the first sigh of relief at anchoring just inside Anclote Key after the gulf crossing to  being here in this beautiful water surrounded by mangroves, a lot of 'ciphering has gone on.  Deciphering tide charts and map symbology  for water (what's with all those wreck symbols??!) is getting easier for all.  
Dale amusing herself with the bosun's chair
Wow, Tarpon Springs has really yummy tasting water!  So happy that we discovered the icky tasting water was really the water from Port Aransas and not our water tank.  
Tarpon Springs is known for its large Greek community and natural sponges.  We toured town by dinghy.... how fun to get all over by river.  We enjoyed tiki bars, spongedocks, Greek food, the interesting boats, kitchy decor from earlier eras and pleasant weather.  It rained on us as soon as we tied up our boat.  Perfect timing and wind.  Dan masterfully sailed our catamaran right up the river. 
Dan's views from the mast:
Looking north

Looking east

Looking west
The new capacitor for the generator arrived on Tuesday so we left that day to anchor out south of Anclote Key.  After 4 days we bid adieu to that river-y town enjoying every fathom!

Sailed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay
Disconcerting depth perception..... it just looked so close to the top of our mast....

Next stop, St. Petersburg
a totally urban experience!
It took all day to get to St. Pete, arriving about 7pm.  The kids wasted no time in getting out their bikes as it was still light.  There are several parks that border the harbor and have wide sidewalks.  Fun to walk and ride around.  There is a municipal pier with an upside down pyramid looking building at the end with many restaurants, etc.  
The best part is that our friends Alexzula and Hank live there and they came to visit!
Hank & Zula
Enjoyed yummy food and colorful folk at Cody's with Hank & Zula.  Are you jealous, Mario?  Thanks so much you two!  So good to see you after so long.

Hope you didn't get washed away with all the rain that St. Pete received.  Don't you think it's cozy being in the boat during a rain?

Colorful biminis in the marina

Yep, this is where the kids earned their sailing permits from Daddy's School of Sailing 
Dale and Ray have really enjoyed being able to sail around solo in Pearl.

More of Dan's views from the mast
Let's see, what was fixed this time?  Mr Fixit installed another wind speed and direction indicator at the top of the mast, and he replaced a dead battery charger.
There were lots of fun things to see in St. Pete but we sailed off on Saturday, catching the last bit of current leaving Tampa Bay.
We sailed overnight to Ft. Myers, arriving about 7pm on Sunday.  We missed the current this time!  Had to tack and tack, tryed to motor but to no avail.  Sailing got us there.  Sometimes mother nature just plans for you!

Next:  the manatee!

Hope you are all well!

Fascinating Discovery

Our sail from Ft. Myers to Key West was uneventful, nothing broke, no crazy storms.  In fact the sea looked like glass most of the way and we slowly motored.  There was one exception.  Early in the morning of the second day, I was on watch.  Everyone else was sound asleep and I was enjoying a gorgeous sunrise and trying to figure out how to conserve electricity, because there was no wind at all, and we were electric motoring.  To starboard, on the horizon, I noticed what looked like a capsized boat with a red life raft tied to one end.  With binoculars, at that distance, it still wasn't clear, so I changed course 90 degrees and headed straight for the mystery object.  After about 20 minutes it became clear that the object was indeed a capsized vessel, but what I had thought was a life raft was actually the aft section of the hull which was painted red.  I woke Marty and the kids and called the coast guard.  The coast guard responded to my hailing on VHF, but for some reason we lost contact and couldn't re-establish.  We slowly approached the upside down boat.  It appeared to have been upside down for some time.  It was a strange craft.  About 25ft long, no sailing keel, funny rudder, and a home built shaped hull, which I assumed was plywood cored.  Not worth all the work it would take for me to right it, and tow it to Key West, so salvage was dismissed in my mind. Not to mention the thought of long dead bodies inside the boat...yikes...spooky.  On the side of the boat was "www.atlantic-odyssey.com".  We tried to hail the coast guard again without success.  Wrote down the coordinates and sailed on for Key West.  As we approached Key West we contacted the coast guard and let them know what we had found.  Then Marty got online and found out the story of this vessel that never made it to port.  The "Sara G" was a row boat manned by a crew of rowers trying to cross the Atlantic under human power.  They capsized in a rogue wave hundreds of miles from shore in the Atlantic and were very lucky to be rescued by a ship.  Check out the story at http://www.atlantic-odyssey.com/  How did this boat get all the way around Florida and many miles north?  Who knows?  To give you an idea of where it was, you can draw a straight line from Ft. Myers to Key West and half way down the line is about where we made the discovery.  
This watery world we live on is full of mysteries.  
Time for another margarita.  Cheers,