Saturday, December 8, 2012

Great Loop Stats

This morning we left the Sailing Squadron and returned to our home port , Sara Bay Marina, in north Sarasota Bay. We will be living on the boat for a few weeks since we rented our home during the trip.

  GREAT LOOP STATS  
  March 4, 2012 – December 7, 2012 Total Days 277    
  Trip Days (Excludes Visits Home) 264  
         Travel Days 142  
         Stay Days for Exploration 101  
        Weather Days (unable to travel) 21  
  Number of Countries Visited 2  
  Number of States Visited 18  
  Miles Traveled 5,812  
  Gallons of Fuel 672 $2,975  
  Number of Nights in Marinas 124 $5,945  
  Number of Nights on Mooring Balls 7  
  Number of Nights at Anchor / Free Docks 133  
  Blog Posts 217  
  Blog Views 15,864  
   
  Average Total Costs Per Day  $101  
         

  After the holidays, our goal will be to figure out what retirement means - it will be interesting to discover what the future holds for us.

Tomorrow we will post some of our favorite photos from the trip as a way to wean ourselves off the daily process of uploading/editing photos, writing the log, posting the blog and maintaining spreadsheets that chronicle the trip and expenses. 
 
Jean and Ron

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crossed Our Wake - 5,812 Miles


Trip Day:
   264
Latitude:
  27°20.25' N 
Locks Today:
   0
Miles Today:
     34
Longitude:
082°34.38'W
Locks Total:
108
Total Miles:
5,812
Location:
Sarasota Sailing Squadron 



 

 
The plan was to take a stunning photo of the sunrise with the Skyway Bridge in the foreground.  Good plan, but Mother Nature dealt us a view of the Skyway obscured by a heavy cloud of fog.  Timing is everything! 
 
 We crossed Tampa Bay, out of sight of land, and then sailed down the ICW with just enough visibility to see the next set of markers in the channel. 
 
 
 The further south we traveled the more familiar our surroundings of Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, north Sarasota Bay, the John Ringling Ca’ d’ Zan Mansion, then the city skyline and bridge were in view.  What an amazing feeling to be home in this beautiful city with its long coastline and clear skies. 


























Ron turned the boat west and headed into the Sarasota Sailing Squadron.   We tied to the dock in the same  position we occupied last March 4th when we hosted our Bon Voyage party where family and friends bid us goodbye.     

277 days have passed since the boat was at this GPS position.  We have crossed our wake knowing we will always remember our adventure and never regret the 9 1/2 months we spent on the boat testing ourselves, tracing history, making new friends,  and exploring the waterways.
 
Trip statistics will follow in tomorrow's post .  .  .

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Skyway Bridge in Sight


Trip Day:
   263
Latitude:
  27°42.53' N 
Locks Today:
   0
Miles Today:
     35
Longitude:
082°41.07'W
Locks Total:
108
Total Miles:
5,778
Location:
Skyway Bridge Causeway 

What appeared to be a sailing class entertained us as we left the marina.  Watching the     developing shoreline, passing under the bridges to the beach causeways we marveled at the scenery.  Although it was becoming familiar territory, we were seeing it through the eyes of the traveler with fresh views of the stunning beauty of this coast.  And all the while the porpoise and the sea birds welcomed us as we motor-sailed down the channel. 
 

 
For the first time in a very long time we had to wait for bridges that only opened at scheduled times—one wait was for twenty
minutes—but we couldn’t
complain too much since nature kept us entertained.  We made our way south past Clearwater, Indian Rocks Beach, Madeira Beach, St. Pete Beach,  and along the ICW to anchor near the approach of the Skyway Bridge. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Only forty miles from home .  .  . bittersweet.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5th

Trip Day:
   262
Latitude:
  28°00.80' N 
Locks Today:
   0
Miles Today:
     17
Longitude:
082°47.59'W
Locks Total:
108
Total Miles:
5,743
Location:
Dunedin, FL – Municipal Marina 
It was a lazy morning opportunity waiting for our friend, Sandy, to  arrive to sail with us from Tarpon Springs to Dunedin.  Sandy was a frequent visitor to our home back in the 70s when we lived in Dunedin.  He was Ron’s hero back in the day when he lived about his 25’ sailboat, living the dream.  So it was good to visit with Sandy and give him the opportunity to be behind the wheel again while the memories flowed and we reminisced about the good ole days as we passed Anclote Key headed south. 

Once secured along the wall at the Dunedin Marina, which is where we slipped our smaller sailboat when the kids were little, we went ashore for lunch.  We were very impressed with the downtown area which was vibrant with businesses and restaurants.  It was obvious the local Chamber of Commerce has managed to stay current and  attract tourists and the locals as well to the downtown district. 
 
The “Rails to Trails” bike route ran along side the train depot on Main Street. Dunedin is still the wonderful community we fondly remember. 
With the help of Sandy’s  sister, he retrieved his car from Tarpon Springs and then played tourist guide for us.  First stop, our old house on Valencia Drive, just one house off the waterway along Edgewater Drive.  The neighborhood was still well maintained and the house appeared to be in good shape.  We always loved that house and could still picture the kids climbing the big oak in the backyard.

We enjoyed our trip down memory lane; Dunedin was a good fit for us. 

Early evening our niece, Theresa, who lives in Dunedin came to the marina and was welcomed aboard.  The girls were off to dinner leaving the boys to find their own spot to eat.  Theresa and I caught up on family news, kids away at college news, the boat trip escapades and promises to stay in touch.  Another great day with family and friends!

 
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

OPA!


Trip Day:
   261
Latitude:
  28°09.49' N 
Locks Today:
   0
Miles Today:
      0
Longitude:
082°45.46'W
Locks Total:
108
Total Miles:
5,726
Location:
Tarpon Springs – Tarpon Landing  
Like it or not (NOT) this morning had to be a work session.  We both worked outside the boat which just felt so dirty to us.  Ron tackled the deck with his trusty bucket and scrub brush while I washed down the cockpit isinglass enclosure.  With warmer temperatures we have decided to pack away the enclosure and enjoy the wide-open cockpit which we haven’t done in months.  

By noon we change into “going ashore clothes” and took off on our bikes across the bridge to the main drag.  First stop Mykonos for what else but a real Tarpon Springs Gyro!

Walking the dock was a must after our larger-than-normal lunch.  One would think that would be a good idea, which it was until our route brought us square in the middle of the bakery section.  Well, no trip to Tarpon springs would be complete without sampling the baklava, so we indulged.  


The docks and boats were decked out for the holidays and we enjoyed our stroll, resisting the gift shops as we passed by the hawkers trying to attract tourist to the sponge diver and dolphin tours.  A two mile ride to the grocery story landed us back on the boat with supplies with time remaining for a lazy afternoon. 





Dinner ashore was simple; Sagataki and Greek Salad for two.  It would take several days for us to get our fill of the wonderful choices of Greek food, but tomorrow we head south again saving ourselves the extra pounds. 

 

 



MONDAY, DECEMBER 3rd - TARPON SPRINGS

The Crystal River Power Plant lit up the sky all night with its 24/7 operating schedule.
We headed out the channel with the rising sun following the markers over three miles out into the Gulf.  We had planned to turn south then, but the five and six feet charted depths caused us to veer southwest for deeper water. 



We ran the coast ten miles out in 12-15 feet and out of sight of land.  When  Anclote Key was in sight we set our heading more southeasterly toward the entrance of the   Anclote River Channel.  When we reached the channel mid afternoon, the tourist boats were returning their passengers to the docks making it easy to spot the first mark.
There was no mistaking that we were in Tarpon Springs as we followed the river and took in the harbor sights.  It was a beehive of activity with boats of all sizes and purposes. 












Yes, it is a tourist town, but a town with Greek history and generations of traditions and roots. 

It has always amazed me that the families have been able to keep their culture alive and still practice customs from long ago.   

 

 

 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Swimming with the Gentle Giants



Trip Day:
   259
Latitude:
  28°55.50' N 
Locks Today:
   0
Miles Today:
      8
Longitude:
082°41.50'W
Locks Total:
108
Total Miles:
5,662
Location:
Shell Island – Leaving Crystal River  


We couldn’t leave Crystal River without the ultimate experience of swimming with the manatees.  With over 20 natural springs in the area ,the constant water temperature of 72 degrees is a perfect winter refuge  for the manatees.

The tour company was very careful to  follow the laws regarding passive interaction with these  gentle giants. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We were not allowed to dive down to the    manatees—only float on the surface and allow them to approach us.     They seemed to enjoy having us gently rub the   marine growth off their backs.  One turned over for a good belly rub as well. 

 

 They seemed to enjoy having us gently rub the   marine growth off their backs.  One turned over for a good belly rub as well. 

 








When we were in Jurassic Spring where mother and baby were hanging out we heard the clicking sounds of their communication.  We were very respectful of mother and baby. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 








 This was an amazing experience we hope to share with the grandkids soon. 



Leaving the habitat of the gentle giants, we returned to our world by taking care of four loads of laundry and a quick grocery run before returning the rental car.  Late in the day we headed out the long channel to anchor off a small island just before going into the gulf. 
 
This will save us over an hour tomorrow when we head to Tarpon Springs.

 
 
 
 
We were the upstream salmons—all the other boats were returning to the marina as we headed toward the gulf.  Along the way, we spotted this little pig along the shore –this was a first!

 

Our little island anchorage was lovely and we     noticed campers had the same idea.  The night sky was amazing—the stars just  sparkled! 

 

I could report a minor glitch of a dragging anchor when the current changed, being aground for a short time until the tide change, then repositioning the boat at midnight, but why ruin a perfect day!


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1st

What a great day we had in Gainesville!  We got an early start in our rental car and arrived at the O’Dome by 7:30 a.m.  It didn’t take us long to find a group of Sarasota YMCA Shark     parents and before too long Morgan’s group finished warm ups and filed into the bleachers.  Morgan acknowledged us—a good sign!  Soon after we met up with Chad and Alicia.  Both girls did really well at the meet -making the cut for several events to swim at the upcoming Florida Age Group Championships.  Dinner with a group while watching the SEC Championship game rounded out the day!