Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Some pics of the last few days

As promised here are a few pics of the last few days.
We spent some time in Tarpon Springs. It is the "sponge capital of the world." More natural sponges are harvested in the Gulf than anywhere else, and most of the harvest is brought to Tarpon Springs for wholesale distribution. The town has a very large Greek population.
Soon after the discovery of sponges in the Gulf, the Greek migration began. The Greeks have a long history of sponge diving, and they flocked to the area around Tarpon Springs to take advantage of the rich sponge beds near there.
We spent a day browsing the shops and sampling the food along the waterfront area. We tried gyro, souvlaki, baklava and even broiled octopus. We bought sponges of various sizes and shapes, including one called a "Flower Pot Sponge." As it's name implies it is shaped sort of like a bowl, or pot. It is said you can actually grow herbs by planting the seeds in the sponge. A little water from time to time to keep the sponge moist and - voila' - instant herb garden. We'll try it as soon as we can find some seeds.
We visited the aquarium and Bev got to see (and touch) her first 'gator. We watched the sharks being fed - by hand - by a scuba diver who shared their tank. Not my idea of a fun day on the job.
While in Tarpon, we got a visit from Bill and Jamie, a guy and his daughter, who follow our exploits via this blog. They got the tour and posed for a picture.
We left Tarpon Springs yesterday and went to Clearwater. We met some great folks on a boat called "Gypsy Cat." (Hi! Sandy and Donny!)(Sandra Dee and Donny Osmond - a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.)
They have an interesting tale. One day a few weeks ago they were chatting about getting parrot as a pet. That same day a young macaw flew into the marina, grabbed onto a rail and hung on for dear life. It seems he had been abandoned by his owner and left to fend for himself in the wild. Sandy and Donny took him to a vet to have him checked out. They also put out a call for any "wants or warrants" on the bird to see if the previous owner was looking for him. Getting no response, they took him home and named him Pete.
After checking the weather forecast we decided to move on and so today we left Clearwater for Gulfport.
In addition to our adventure with the Coast Guard, we also had to wait one and a half hours for one of the draw bridges on the Intracoastal waterway to be repaired. We arrived at the bridge just as another boat was calling for it to open. The bridge tender stopped traffic and tried to raise the bridge, but it wouldn't budge. She had to call for repairs.
While we waited, we dropped the anchor so we didn't have to keep the engine running. During the time it took to repair the bridge, one boat gave up and went to McDonalds, while two more boats arrived and waited with us. When the bridge finally opened, it looked like a small armada sailing through.
Tomorrow is looking like choppy water out on the bay, so we might (or might not) stay put and explore Gulfport and St. Pete. We'll see what the weather brings when we get up in the morning.
For now, here are a few pics for you to enjoy.

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