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.

What a day!

Just a quick update for now. We are in Gulfport, have wi-fi and will do a big update later. For now I just wanted to share an incident we experienced on the way from Clearwater to Gulfport.
About an hour out of Clearwater, we spotted a Coast Guard patrol boat speeding across our path. We thought they were in hot pursuit of some terrorists so we got out of their way. Next thing I know, they've pulled up along side us. I went on deck to ask "What's up?" and they asked if we've ever been boarded. I said "No," so they asked me to heave to and let them come aboard.
They were actually very polite, did a cursory search of the boat, checked all the safety equipment - fire extinguishers, PFD's, etc. The only thing they found wrong was the fact that I didn't have a "Discharge of Garbage Prohibited" decal on the boat. They gave me a form to show to any future patrols to indicate that I have been boarded and found "OK."
It was a bit intimidating to have the armed CG guys aboard. It left me nervous and in need of a beer for the rest of the day.

We finally got in to Gulfport around 3:45 or so, and I got to have my beer. Now it's time to throw the ribs on the grill and make some dinner.
I'll update more with some pics later.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Finally - Internet access!

Sorry we haven't been posting any updates - it seems Florida is a bit behind in the digital revolution. Most marinas do not have wi-fi, and those that are listed in the books as having it either don't, or it isn't working.
Today we arrived at The Landings at Tarpon Spings. They do have wi-fi, but we have to go to the office to use it. So today's update will be brief.
After leaving Steinhatchee, we did another overnighthaul to Crystal River. We saw manatees, met up with the crew of "DD" again, and just before leaving, spent the night at a beautiful anchorage at the end of the Crystal River.
From there we did another 55 miles drung the day to Tarpon Springs. We made it into Tarpon Springs right before a rather violent weather front came through. Just after dark there was wind and rain and a whole lot of howling and banging.
Now we're hanging out in Tarpon to sample the Greek food and buy some sponges.
I'll write more as time allows.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sailing across the Gulf.

We did it!
We crossed the Gulf. We left Carrabelle about 3 PM on Thursday, sailed all night and arrived in the little fishing village of Steinhatchee about 9 AM Friday morning. Other than dodging crab pots all night, the crossing was uneventful. We sailed until about midnight when the wind slacked off, then motored the rest of the way. By about 2 in the morning the Gulf was like glass.
We stocked the cockpit with sandwiches, coffee and energy drinks. We took turns cat napping while the other steered. We had a portable FM radio with us tuned to a TV station. We listened to Letterman, and the late night shows to help us stay alert.
Now we're really tired and are planning a few days rest and waiting for good weather to move on down the coast. There are white caps out today, so we don't want to try our next passage. Our next stop will be Crystal River, about 75 miles from here. That will be another overnighter, so we really need to rest up.
Here are a couple of pics of the crossing - a Gulf sunset and a Gulf sunrise.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Huge news!

Up until now, I have stayed away from politics on this blog. But this news is too big to ignore.
I just heard that Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) has formed a committee to explore a run for the Presidency on the Republican ticket. If it turns out that he does run, I may have to reconsider my "drop out" status.
There is one, and only one, person in the US today who can truly make progress in turning this country around and that one person is Ron Paul. In years past he's refused to seek higher office saying he can do better work at the Congressional level. This year, looking at the socialist candidate, Hillary, we have to seek out one person who can stop her. Ron Paul is that one.
I have pretty much given up any hope that the US can be saved. We've been crumbling into the socialist quagmire for nearly 100 years now. It's one reason I decided to drop out and become a "boat bum."
If by some chance, Ron Paul should become the next President, there will still be hope for freedom. It won't be certain, but it will be a hopeful sign. If he is not the next President, the country is doomed. Extreme opinion? Yes, but one born of long study.
I had the opportunity to spend several hours in conversation with Dr. Paul in 1988. He is an extremely bright man, and a very plain talker. He is an expert on the Constitution and an expert economist in addition to being a medical doctor.
If you oppose the War in Iraq, if you think Hillary would drag the country to its destruction, support Ron Paul.

Old Florida

We're sitting here in Carrabelle, FL waiting for clear weather out on the Gulf so we can make a safe crossing. In the mean time we are exploring the area. This area is really a slice of "Old Florida." There are a few condos, but mostly it's old cottages, ramshackle docks with old rusty shrimp boats. We also ran across what the locals claim is the world's smallest police station.
We ran across a flower Bev couldn't identify. If anyone knows what it is, let us know.
I tried out my new Jolly Roger that I bought in Appalachicola. Prepare to be boarded! Arrrgh!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Updates for January 13 & 14, 2007.
On the evening of the 12th, the Admiral and I walked from the boat to the "Dock of the Bay" restaurant (see picture this post) to hear "Endless Summer," a Buffetesque duo. They were quite good, in spite of not always remembering the lyrics. I, of course, helped them along by singing with them.
It was Ladies' night and drinks were free for the ladies. Of course, Bev had one too many vodka martinis and as a result has no memory of the evening. She did, however, manage to board the boat safely. She'll have to take my word for it.
In the morning we headed out for Appalachacola. This was to be about a 60 mile trip so we decided to take two days. We spent most of the afternoon scouting out a suitable anchorage. It was getting late in the day when we found a spot marked on the charts as "The Kink." It was really just a little jog in the "ditch" but it was wide enough that we could anchor and still leave room for any traffic to get by us. We cooked the last of our filet mignon steaks along with some potatoes and green beans, cracked a few Rolling Rocks and had a delightful, quiet evening.
In the morning we ran the last leg of the way to Appachacola. We passed another sailboat, "Spirit." They were motoring along the ditch the same as we were, but even slower, if you can imagine.
As we got near the turn off to Scipio Creek we spotted "Vagabond Gypsy," a boat we first saw at Dog River in Mobile. They were anchored out. They don't have their masts up, but still cut a striking figure on the water. The boat is all wood and has a "pirate ship" transome with multiple windows. A really neat boat.
We arrived in Appalachacola about 1:00 this afternoon. As we approached the marina someone called out from the shore "Is that a Bolger AS-29?" After we landed, they walked over and spent some time chatting with us and asking all sorts of questions about the boat. Bev gave them the tour.
Here are a few pics of the last 2 days. And no, the picture of the trees is not upside down. It's the reflection in the water. If you look very closely, you can see a jet contrail between the trees.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Updates for Jan 9, 10 & 12

January 9, 2007
Happy Birthday Ben!
We set sail (YES!SAIL) out of Pennsacola today. It was a fantastic day of sailing down the Bay and then into Santa Rosa Sound. The wind was at our backs the whole day. It felt great to finally glide along at 5 knots with no engine running.
We stopped at Ft. Walton Beach for the night. The marina was just in the process of recovering from Hurricane Ivan (2004?) and had only minimal facilities, but still had the nerve to charge a premium rate for overnight. We decided to move on in the morning.

January 10, 2007
We traveled another 15 miles or so to Sandestin Resort. This is a really neat place. It is a huge resort, 2400 acres, about 8 hotels, 63 holes of golf, a marina, tennis courts, etc. The highlight is Baytowne Village, a collection of shops and restaurants right on the resort property. We decided to stay 2 nights here so we could sample the wares at the various shops. We had gelato, jambalaya, etc. all very good. If you're ever in the market for a neat place to spend a week, put this place on your list.

January 12, 2007
We're trying to catch up to our friends Sandy and Billy on "Misconception." They've made it all the way to Carrabelle and are waiting for a weather window across the Gulf. Today, we made it to Panama City. About half of the trip was in "the ditch" (Bev doesn't like the handle "ditch" but it's what the locals call it so that's what I wrote) and the other half on bays, but the wind and current were both "on the nose" today so we motored it. We are staying at the Sun Harbor Marina and are going to see a Buffettesque band called "Endless Summer" and the bar here. Bev gets to drink free (ladies' night) so I guess I'll have to stay sober to make sure she gets back on the boat safely. (Bev thinks I'm such a gentleman - her don't know me bery well, do her?)
We saw more dolphins today, but they wouldn't hold still to have their picture taken.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Sorry about not updating for a while. We're in Pensacoloa, FL and the marina does not have internet connection. We're waiting here for the weather to clear, probably tomorrow.
We left LuLu's on Wednesday and went to Ingram Bayou and anchored overnight. Thursday morining we left there for Pensacola.
Friday we went to the National Museum of Naval Aviation. We saw some great old planes, including some that had been restored after spending 40 years at the bottom of the sea. Here are a few pics.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

So you think my boat is odd?

Here's a pic of "Earthrace," a biodiesel powered experimental boat from New Zeland. More on this later - we're going tour the boat right before we take off for Ingram Bayou.
Last night we went to LuLu's to hear Brent Burns, a local singer/songwriter. His origial songs are fun - "Livin's the life Jimmy Buffett only wrote about" "Trailerpark Sexy" "Too lazy to work, too nervous to steal." We bought 2 of his CD's.
Here also is a pic of the sky last night just before we left the boat to walk to LuLu's.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Beach!

Yesterday, Denny and Janice - friends of Sandy and Billy (from Misconception) - invited us to their condo on the beach for a New Years' Day dinner. We had a good time visiting with them, had a great pasta dinner and got to take a walk on the beach. We also saw our first Gulf sunset - from the balcony of the condo.
Thanks guys! It was fun.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Well it's 2007, January (I think) about 10:00 in the morning and the alcohol that occupied so much of my bloodstream last night has finally metabolized enough that I can stand, sort of.
As planned we went to LuLu's last night to ring in the New Year. The band was "Wet Willie," a Southern Rock group along the idea of Alabama or Lynard Skynard. They we good and had the whole house rockin'. (And LuLu's is a BIG place to when it rocks, it ROCKS!)
We met a new couple - don't ask me their names, those are lost in a fog somewhere in my brain. We were waiting at the bar for a table to become available when they offered to let us share theirs. So Bev and I, Billy and Sandy (from "Misconception") and two of their friends all crowded into a 4-seat table. We dragged chairs from everywhere to get 8 seats around the table.
Our server, Christian, was a hoot and kept the drinks and food flowing. (That's him in the purple hair.) At midnight he brought flutes of champagne around for us to drink a New Year's toast.
Today is a day to recover, tomorrow we'll make preparations to get under way, then stop in at LuLu's one last time to hear Brent Burns, the local "Buffettesque" singer/songwriter. Wednesday, we're off to an anchorage at either Ingram Bayou or Pirate's Cove. From their, it's points east as we make our way along the coast of Florida. Wish us luck as part of that section of the trip will involve a 90 mile overnight crossing of the Gulf from Carrabelle to Steinhatchee.