St. Petersburg Beach to Sarasota

Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

We woke up before light while anchored near St. Petersburg Beach and got an early start to the day. By the time the first rays of light were on the horizon, we were lifting the anchor. As soon as it was up, Regis took off, while I secured the anchor. A dolphin showed up immediately as the boat started to move, halting my progress. I watched the dolphin until it departed and then finished the task. I will never tire of watching them.

On Sunday, the waterway was congested with boats. As we left on Monday morning, we saw few boats. The water was calm, and it was quiet and peaceful. We started to see more wildlife and continued to see more birds as we worked our way south on the intracoastal waterway. This is the stuff I like best. It was a pleasant ride to Sarasota.

Shortly after leaving our anchor site, the water was calm with few boats.
We continued to receive dolphin escorts. At one time, a mother and her baby showed up. Too cute.
We are beginning to see white pelicans which spend the winter in Florida.
Brown pelicans and double-crested cormorants perched on what appears to be the remains of a boat.

There are numerous bridges along the intracoastal waterway (ICW) and Regis’ boat is too tall to go under some of the bridges, requiring us to request or wait for a bridge opening to pass. Regis told me the boat is 24 feet high and Sunday and Monday we traversed the ICW at mostly low tide, which helped with bridge clearance. The bridges have a gauge near the water showing the clearance under the bridge to the waterline. Most of these markers are either difficult to see, broken, or encrusted with enough stuff that the numbers are unreadable at low tide. We usually have to get close to the bridge before we can read the gauge with the binoculars. The charts tell us the height at mean high tide which is often enough information to know we can make it. Sometimes, it is too close to know without checking the water level in relation to the bridge. On one bridge, I read the water level at almost 20 feet. The bridge had an additional 4-foot clearance in the center. That made it less than 24 feet. Regis said he was going for it and to watch the mast. As he approached the bridge, I was certain he was going to hit and tried to get him to stop but he plowed through. The mast was a few inches below the top of the bridge. I recovered from my panic to Regis telling me the height of the boat is really 23 1/2 feet but he uses 24 to be safe. I was ready to exit the boat for the nearest airport. Following is a short video of two bridge openings.

These bridge opening videos have been sped up.

After passing through one of the bridges, we saw the Sarasota police hauling this “sunken” sailboat. They had attached air bags to get it off the bottom. The coast guard has been warning about a specific sunken boat since we got on the Gulf of Mexico and another unmanned one.

We arrived in Sarasota in amazing weather. We are in a beautiful marina with a great restaurant. After we arrived, we both got showers and headed to the restaurant for a wonderful meal looking out over the water. Then, Regis walked to Whole Foods for stuff to take with us on the boat (water and proteins) and I did the wash. After running two loads of wash through the dryers for almost an hour, they were both almost as wet as when I put them in the dryer. We wound up stringing the laundry all over the boat to dry it. Although efficient, it looked tacky.

Sunset in Sarasota.

Krakens (Collies) Update: By Jason

Sunday, we went out again for a morning walk, then over to the restaurant for attempt number three. Raven snagged what looked like a pinecone along the way. “Drop it” was not working so I shoved my finger into his mouth to get whatever he had found. It was not a pinecone. It was poop. Gross! Thankfully the park bathrooms were only about 30 feet away, so I dashed over to wash my hands. Unfortunately, they were out of soap. Damn that dog. Off to the restaurant for a real bathroom and a good hand scrubbing.

Restaurant behavior is improving. They’re still a little antsy when we first get in. I think they want to explore and meet every unknown person there. They are calming down even more quickly now. One remaining challenge is them getting excited about every new person who walks in the door. One of the workers dogs was there as well. They all said their hello’s, which went smoothly, but later the dog laid within eyesight of Clover. She was not happy about that and started whining and biting at her leash. Raven remained calm. She was not super obnoxious about it, so we got to finish our meal and head back.

The afternoon was spent hanging up the holiday lights. That was generally smooth sailing. They spent the entire afternoon out in the yard with us, never going in for a nap. Clover decided it was time to start pruning the Japanese coral bark maple. That is not the gardening choice I would have made. There is a good chunk snapped off the winter daphne as well but I’m pretty sure that one is just from rough housing. I am sure the solar lights that line the walking path are a lost cause. They are strewn throughout the yard now, in separate pieces, and crushed. Oh well. We do not get enough sunlight for them to work in the winter anyway. The holiday lights will have to do. Given the lack of naps all day long they unsurprisingly slept like rocks for the rest of the evening.

Monday, we transitioned back to a work schedule. It was an uneventful day today. Clover decided she was ready to get up around 6:30am. I explained to her that that was far too early for a Monday morning. She seems to have accepted that… for today at least. We will see how the remaining week goes.

Clover and Raven lying out in the dark.

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