Friday, 18 December 2015

St. Petersburg to Fort Myers

We left St Petersburg and headed toward Fort Myers Beach, Florida.  We said goodbye to our new friends, Ben and Jane from Jammin Jane and Tim and Carol from Liquid Assets.  We also said goodbye to Liz and Bob from Not Sew Easy that we met previously at the rendezvous at Joe Wheeler Park.

Heading back out to the ICW from Tampa Bay we passed some pretty big ships.
 Back on the ICW (Inter Costal Waterway).  It was a beautiful day and the homes along the ICW are fantastic! 

 We were getting close to Fort Myers and the pleasure boats passing us were getting much larger.  The wakes from these boats were huge and sent us rocking, but it was all good. 

Fort Myers Beach!
 We arrived at the Marina just in time to see this charter boat come in after a few hours out at sea.  We watched as the crew climbed up and tucked away the sails.  They are only standing on lines and they are not tethered to anything.  If they fall it's gonna hurt. 
When we arrived at the Marina we went stern in.  Steve loves his back porch but didn't like the view much because we were facing the dock.  We decided the next morning to turn the boat around.  It's a little tricky getting on and off....nothing we can't handle.....and the view is much better from the back porch.  
 When we first started this journey, we talked to another Looper that told us we would never be further than 5 miles from a Walmart when ever we hit land.  I remember thinking at the can that be true....but it is. 

So with Christmas approaching we thought we would venture in to Walmart....2.5 miles away.  There is a trolley from the Marina that takes you right to Walmart for 75 cents.  Back porch is all decked out for Christmas! 
 Fort Myers Beach is actually an island.  It runs approximately 8 - 10 miles.  The next day we took the dinghy and drove completely around the island.....or the key as they call it here. There were canals off the waterway that lead to homes with docks.  We took a detour up one of the canals to check out the homes.  Not many grew grass.  They were maintenance free with stones. 

 We found a floating coconut as there were many trees with many coconuts.  Little bit of trivia here.....did you know that more people die from coconuts falling out of trees than from shark attacks? 

Just as we got to the bottom of the island there were dolphins swimming all around.  We never get tired of watching them play.  We were so much closer in the dinghy. 

We stopped at the tip of  the island to give Dexter a little run.  The beaches here are dog friendly.  The beaches closer to our Marina are closer to restaurants and all the tourist activity so they don't allow dogs there.  Dexter was in heaven here.  

We went full circle and arrived back at the Marina only to find that we had friends we had met before.  Friends that we will always have a special bond with because we crossed the gulf with them.  Kay and Charlie from Plane to Sea and Bob and Lynn from American Pie. 
I decided I wanted to get to work on my coconut right away.  Cracked that baby! 
Steve said it looked like Wilson.  I thought it looked like it was singing.  Put some eyebrows and a moustache on him.  Now Steve thinks he looks like a seal. 
 We let the face live one night then the next morning I cracked it open to find nice white coconut meat. 
The next night we decided to have dinner together with American Pie and Plane to Sea.  After dinner we found this ice cream/fudge shop.  They make the fudge and chocolate there from scratch.  Charlie (Plane to Sea) bought some chocolate.   He bought 3/4 of a pound and it was $27  and change but worth every penny I'm sure.  

So excited for the next couple of weeks.  Our girls and their guys are visiting for Christmas.   So very grateful...every day....for our family that support us on this journey.  We look forward to seeing our girls and their guys but we will miss our family and friends that we won't be seeing this Christmas. 

The pink dot at the top of this maps represents our starting point and closer to the bottom is where we are today......waiting for our visitors.....One Bay at a Time.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Clearwater and St. Petersburg

Arrived in Clearwater and had a very early night.  Woke on Monday morning after having the best sleep ever!  It's amazing how well you sleep when you deprive your body for 36 hours.  I was a little worried about Dexter sleeping because he did sleep during a good part of our gulf crossing but he slept as long as we did. 

We woke up the next morning and went for a walk.  The bike trails in Clearwater are amazing.  They are nice and wide with not only a bike path but a pedestrian path. 
We decided that we would explore the path by bike the next day.  We talked to some other boaters that have done the loop more than once so they knew this area.  They told us that we could ride the bikes for miles on the paths.  We hopped on our bikes, out to explore.  This is the view from the bridge over the Inter Costal Waterway (ICW)

                              And this is the view of Clearwater from the bridge. 

We carried on down the bike path for 5 miles from Clearwater to Dunedin.  The bike path actually runs right through Dunedin.  After this sweet man passed me he apologized for wrecking my picture.  I told him he made my picture much better.  Right at the corner of the Main Street and the bike path was a map of Dunedin.  We noticed the home of the Blue Jays spring training stadium.  We will look for that on our way back. 

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant right on the ICW.  Parked the bikes and had a beer and a bite to eat.  It was a beautiful Dec 2nd day.

Heading back after lunch we took  a detour off the bike path and found the Blue Jays stadium.  There was a gentleman outside trimming the hedges.  His name was Tony. When we saw him I told him we were Canadian and just came to check out our Blue Jays spring home.  He told us that he had a place in Parry Sound so he knew our area well.  I asked him if I could take his picture and then Steve said I should comment on my blog that we just happened to run in to one of the Blue Jays.  Tony said well if you're gonna do that I better put my clippers down.  Then Tony asked "would you like to go inside?"  YES!!!  So he took us inside the stadium.  The worst seats in this stadium would be the best seats at Rogers Centre.  It is very small, but very cool.  We thanked Tony and were on our way.

                                                                    The bull pen

The next day we went to the beach.  As we walked along the side of the Marina we passed all of the charter boats.  There are many deep sea fishing charters, dolphin watching charters, sea life charters.  There were many cleaning their catch in front of their boats.  These fish are King Fish.

The birds that watch as they clean their fish are almost tame they come so close and don't fly away as you approach.  I asked one fisherman if they would eat out of your hand and he said they would but he wouldn't try it because their beaks are so pointed they could stab you.

The sand on the beach is very fine white sand, similar to that at Pensacola.  Because the sand is so white it doesn't get hot so it never burns your feet.  The water was beautiful.  It was probably between 75 and 80 degrees. 

We left Clearwater after 4 days headed toward St. Petersburg.  We said goodbye to our friends that we crossed the gulf with Kay and Charlie on Plane to Sea.  Bob and Lynn from American Pie left the day before.  We will see Kay and Charlie again in Dec as they are staying in the same Marina as us in Fort Myers.

The homes along the ICW were amazing and huge!  Why does anyone need that much space?
We passed this hotel that had signs saying "deadly poison".  Likely being fumigated for bed bugs??

Then we came upon Ant and Sue's boat.  Remember the family from the Thanksgiving pictures in Carrabelle?  Ant also made the gulf crossing.  We were so happy to see his boat safe and sound.  He told us he was a little worried about weather because his houseboat is top heavy and if it ran in to any heavy weather hitting him on the beam he could very well roll.

Although St. Petersburg wasn't a long ride we decided to take 2 days to get there.  2 short days.  We stayed at an anchorage the first night.  The shore was close and there was a community centre with a park so good for Dexter.  I decided to have a shower and Steve said he was going to take Dexter to shore for a bit of exercise.  All showered I went to sit on the back deck.  I was surprised to see Steve in the water struggling to get up the wall and back to shore.  I asked him if he was OK...I don't think he answered me and I didn't know how he was ever going to get out of the water.   I felt helpless.  Thankfully the tide was high and he finally managed to pull himself out.  The walls were full of barnacles so there was nothing he could use but his arms to pull him out.  The kayak was full of water so very heavy to pull out.  You will notice Dexter's orange ball to the left of the kayak.  Dexter is just looking at Steve wondering why he isn't retrieving his ball I'm sure.  It's not until Steve was safe out of the water that I broke out the camera.....not that it didn't cross my mind to take pictures of him struggling to get out of the water but that would have been wrong. 

                        This park had a beautiful Christmas display that lit up at night. 

We arrived in St. Petersburg on Thursday Dec 3rd.  There is a boat show here this weekend.  We will check it out tomorrow.

The boat show was within walking distance to our boat.  We took a walk over and found a booth where they will embroider what ever you want on your hat.  What a great idea!!! we bought two!

We noticed a sign that said you could purchase fresh shrimp at the Marina store for $2.50 a dozen or 5 dozen for $10.00.  What!!!  We are stopping there on our way back to the boat from the boat show.  Shrimp for dinner is what I'm thinking.
  We get to the Marina store and the guy there said yes we could buy 5 dozen fresh shrimp for $10.00.  And I said, they are eating shrimp right?....he answered well I eat them but I'm not licensed to sell them as food.  He sells them as bait.  If it sounds to good to be true.......Well wait a minute...he eats I said.......have you ever been sick from eating them?.....he said no.......I said, are they fresh?.......he said they're alive, can't get much fresher than that.  Steve....we're eating bait for dinner tonight!  He took us to where the shrimp are stored.  The water circulates from the ocean in to this bin so the shrimp stay very fresh.  This nice man said he is not supposed to sort the shrimp but was careful to pick out the big ones for us.....mmm.. bait!
  The shrimp were my idea.  Steve made it very clear he wanted nothing to do with them.  They had to be cooked and cleaned.  I told him I was OK with that I would do the cooking and cleaning of the shrimp.  However.........I didn't know they jumped everywhere until they died.  I had to get them in the pan quickly and cover the lid and even then I had to capture the odd escaped shrimp.  I had to pour a glass of liquid courage.  There were a few screams heard from our boat.....and laughter from Steve.

             Shrimp all cooked so the cleaning was no big deal.   Steve was all about the hats.

      I steamed them and then cleaned them.....the finished product.  Dinner was yummy!.....and Steve ate my that would make him??..........a good catch?

The next morning I ran in to another boater and his dog.  This man keeps his boat at this Marina and owns a Harley Davidson motorcycle.  He has a small dog, I would guess to be a miniature schnauzer of some kind.  This little dog loves to ride with him and is well suited with goggles and a Harley Davidson cap.
The Marina is close to the Downtown St Petersburg.  We could hear sirens from the boat so I took a walk up to the street to see what was going on.  It was the Santa Claus parade!

                                Even Sea Tow had a float-nice to see them but hope we never need them.

           I didn't wait for Santa although I was a little intrigued to see what he would be wearing on this 80 degree day.

The next day we were sitting on the dock just as the sun was setting.  This only lasted a few minutes but it was breath taking.
 We took the Trolley to St Pete's beach and John's Pass.  John's Pass is a cute little village with many shops and restaurants.  It's very touristy and was a really cool little village right on the ICW and then you just walk under a bridge and the beach is there. 
Once again the beaches were beautiful white sand. 

We were sitting very close to the ocean and there were people fishing there.  There was a guy that caught a baby shark.  He tossed it back but we got a picture before he threw it back. 
We were close to the ocean and put our feet in when we saw a stingray and I'm pretty sure a shark.  The fin came out of the water but it didn't jump.  I dolphin would have come up for a breath.  Steve wanted to go in the water but I didn't want to use our health insurance so he opted to stay out. 

                                                    The entrance to John's Pass

Today is our last day here in St. Pete's so we thought we would go for one last bike ride before we put the bikes away and journey on to our next destination.  In St. Pete's the sidewalks are their bike trails.  They are very wide and they do not like bicycles on the streets.  I love that because we feel very safe.  Our ride was right along the waterway.
The homes were beautiful 

A Christmas display along the way
Tomorrow we will leave here and stay at anchor for 2 nights on our way to Fort Myers Florida.  We plan to arrive in Fort Myers on Dec 12th and stay there for a month where we will celebrate Christmas with our girls and ring in the New Year. Fort Myers....but wait....this is where I thought the Clearwater/St Petersburg blog was done but no.  It was 8pm and I was going to have my boat shower.  When I got to our stateroom I heard music....not just in my head as many of you are thinking now......but Christmas Carols, and loud like a concert.  I got redressed and told Steve we had to go for a walk.  It was amazing.  There was a run for charity with live bands along the run singing Christmas Carols.  While we were out there observing Steve told me he noticed a strong Police presence earlier today looking in trees as there are many along the route. It all made sense to him now. So sad they have to be so afraid but they do.  There were hundreds of people running and more observing.....and today is Wednesday!!  While we walked the streets watching all of these people run and all of the volunteers that make an event like this happen I actually cried.  People in general are kind, very kind.
  ....and now on to Fort Myers as we continue to talk to strangers.  Strangers are some of the nicest people you will ever meet...."One Bay at a Time."