Thursday, February 16, 2012


Sadly, we did not find a gator on the swim platform this morning. But, we survived the Okeechobee Waterway and are now back on the east coast, securely docked in Stuart, FL.

Details (and hopefully pictures) to follow...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On the the Okeechobee

After one last Friday Night Happy Hour on Dock Four, we sadly threw off the lines and left St. Petersburg Saturday morning February 11th. We may have jumped the gun a bit, as the wind and waves made for a bumpy ride south to Sarasota Bay. Particularly difficult was the passage through LongBoat Pass where a sandbar and the bridge fenders seemed to want to say hello.

Sunday dawned cold and breezy as we made our way to Sarasota's Marina Jack where good friends Mike and Lan came aboard. We filled the afternoon with a walk along the waterfront and a power trip to the Ringling Museum. We all loved the miniature circus display - you could almost smell then sawdust and hear the ringmasters call.

After a cold weekend, the endless blue skies, crisp mornings and warm (but not too hot) afternoons have returned to Florida. The past few days have been just about perfect, weather wise and from a cruising standpoint: sea glass colored calm waters, dolphins catching a wave along the starboard side, salmon sunsets, starry nights, and just enough navigation and bridges to keep us on our toes.

While we were anchored off of Useppa Island on Monday night we dinghyed over to the Cabbage Inn where it is said Jimmy Buffet was inspired to write "Cheeseburger in Paradise". Amazingly, they do not offer their claim to fame at dinner, so back we went to Freedom for cocktails and the sunset on the Calypso Deck .

Valentine's day brought us to Ft. Myers and a fun dinner on board with Uncle Bill, Aunt Jane and A2. Sailing stories were told amid much laughter.

And now we are off to the much anticipated trip across the Caloosahatchie River and through Lake Okeechobee. The guides books caution us to check our swim platform before leaving the dock each morning - lest we bring an alligator along for the day's ride!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Snow Birds

There hasn't been much snow up north this winter, but friends and family have still flown down to escape the cold and clouds. Unfortunately, I have not gotten a picture of everyone (we get chatting and I forget to pull out the camera), but here are some pictures of a few of our guests:

My brother Peter and sister-in-law Mary soaking up the sun on our way back from Tarpon Springs.

Tim and Susan snuggling up through their Zac Brown Band Zamily initiation at the Florida State Fairgrounds on January 28th. What a great concert that was!

This little guy tried to stow away in the dinghy. Not technically a snow bird, but he did visit with us for a while. Alas, he was too small for dinner, so we sent him back to the Gulf of Mexico to get some more meat on his bones

Stay tuned -- I'll be updating the portrait gallery as time goes by.....

Friday, February 3, 2012

Life on Dock 4

4 SA104: AKA the Live-Abord Dock and our address at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina - home for the past three weeks. Although we are living aboard and moving about this winter, our Dock 4 live-aboard neighbors are here to stay. Some have just arrived in the past few months, and others have been here for years. It is just like any other neighborhood: some boats are big, some are small(er), some are power, some are sail, some are new and some are not-so. Welcome mats on the dock are a gentle reminder to wipe your feet, or even take off your shoes. Various types of chair, cushions, and house plants adorn the decks, giving a backyard feel. There are single adults, couples, families with children(from from elementary school age all the way to 20-something boomerangs) and lots of dogs and cats. Every morning we watch a steady parade of neighbors head up the dock to work, school, or walk the dog - men in suits, women carrying coffee mugs, students with wet hair and heavy backpacks. And the view can't be beat -- to the east: Tampa Bay, to the west: the highrises of St. Petersburg. Sunrise, Sunset. There is a real sense of community here on Dock 4. Every Friday night, one couple hosts a potluck Happy Hour on the dock beside their boat. It's a way for neighbors to catch up after the work week, and for newcomers like us to put names to faces. Sunny weekend afternoons are a natural for dockside conversations, as neighbors trade stories, maintenance woes, and news. The marina laundry room doubles as a community center. Big comfy couches, a television, snack machines, a microwave and overflowing shelves of previously-loved books provide a natural setting to meet and greet while waiting for your sheets to dry. Even dogs can be found lounging on the cool tile floor. For those boaters on small boats with few amenities it is a great place to stretch out, relax and catch up on the Jon Stewart Show. Even though Freedom has her own washer, dryer and TV, I must admit I too enjoy spending time there. Dock 4 at the Municipal Marina is adjacent to the Whitted Airport and the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Sailing Center-- both providing us with endless amounts of entertainment. The first prop plane speeds down the runway at 7:03AM, and the take offs and landings continue until well after dark some nights. Helicopters come and go too -- some for sightseeing trips and others on official business. For the past two hours a Coast Guard helicopter has practiced take offs, landings, touch and go's and hovering techniques. It is loud but interesting. (The airport runs a very popular restaurant at the the end of the runway, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and a great view). When we are not watching the planes from our perch on the Calypso Deck, we have the perfect vantage point from which to watch the Yacht Club sailors, young and old. This weekend the club is hosting their Valentines Regatta and today we can see about at least 100 Optimists (aka Bathtub Boats) racing on Tampa Bay. Every Wednesday morning the club's Salty Sisters head out for a race or two, and the high school teams can be seen 2 or 3 times a week. As much as we like moving about, and visiting new places, we are also drawn to this settled life at the dock. We'll be moving on in a week, but Freedom just might come back and sit a spell longer next year.