Sunday, May 27, 2012

McKay Bay Nature Park & Tampa Lowry Park Zoo

The Admiral just spotted a woodpecker at McKay Bay Nature Park..she told me to not late!

This is the first Glossy Ibis we have ever seen, lots of White Ibis though everywhere.

This is the Manatee aquarium at Tampa Lowry Park Zoo

Siamang Gibbons my favorite, check out this video

Amazing how they swung through the air so easy.

The Baby white Rhino was fun to see.

Out on our evening walk, it is about 1/2 mile from our boat to the end of the outermost end of the marina seawall.

A different sunset every evening, always sets behind the Gandy Bridge that goes from Tamps to St. Pete

This is taken from the end of the marina seawall near the little rookery island.

This is looking across the marina towards the Yacht club facility in the center.

These 3 baby Blue Herons make a lot of noise asking mom for food.

This little blue heron is in its breeding colors.

This was the night of the Big Moon...I wondered how many of us was looking at it at the same time?
McKay Bay Nature Park Birding

This is what is says on the Tampa City website:

“McKay Bay Nature Park showcases McKay Bay as a national avian sanctuary, where bird- and wildlife-watching opportunities abound. A 0.17-mile boardwalk trail winds through the mangroves toward the extensive mudflats of McKay Bay. Many species of wading birds forage, particularly in winter months. Birds may also be viewed with spotting scopes from either the park's observation tower/education pavilion, located on the east side, or the bird-viewing station on the west side. A paved 1.25-mile multi-use path leads through the park and circles the peninsula to the south. A half-mile nature trail also traverses this 38-acre nature preserve.”

We drove over there to spend a day of birding. It is located just a few blocks south of Tampa on the industrial side. It is immediately adjacent to a asphalt recycling plant, the cities re-cycling plant, and a huge storage lot of city stuff like signs, portable barriers, etc.

When you enter the park it looks pretty nice but as you walk along the paved trail you get a good dose of industrial city stuff and smells. We were determined though to see the whole park and try to find some birds. It paid off as we turned a corner and there was three large detention ponds with lots of birds. We saw a Glossy Ibis that we have never seen before. The paved trail ended at McKay Bay where there was a lot of dirt moving machines reshaping large areas of terrain. We later learned this is all part of a diversion channel that diverts large amounts of rain runoff into McKay Bay to prevent flooding. On the way out we found a boardwalk trail. The boardwalk had seen better days and you had to watch your step as it wound through a very large section of mangroves. It was kinda freaky since a lot of the mangroves seemed dead (from pollution?) and we were the only ones right out in the middle of it. The Admiral saw a woodpecker high up on a palm tree far away and told me to be still. I moved and the woodpecker flew. I got in trouble. I wondered if the asphalt re-cycling plant was responsible for killing the mangroves? Anyway we were happy to see a couple of new birds and just as we were walking back to our little truck the Admiral spotted a couple of songbirds to make the trip complete. On the way back to the marina I decided to take a little detour and drive through Harbour Island which is also located almost downtown Tampa. I thought we could find a little park there to eat our picnic lunch. Nope, almost the whole island is gated The general public can only drive on and immediately drive right back off, there are of course a few blocks of restaurants and shops which we saved for another day. We took our picnic next door to Davis Island and had our picnic at the marina there.
The Admiral found the Tampa Bay Calendar website that list all the stuff going on around the area and of course we like to find almost free stuff to do since there is plenty of it around here. She decided we should go to the Tampa Lowry’s Park Zoo on $5 day

The Zoo was Voted #1 by Parents Magazine and had to wonder about that. I had never heard of the Tampa zoo anyway. Well I now know why it was voted number1 by Parents Magazine…it is because of $5.00 day when every baby momma and baby daddy and all there children (aka lots of germs) within a 100 mile range show up. We managed to bob and weave our way through the maze of strollers to find the areas of this really large Zoo that would interest us. We loved the Manatee exhibit. You could see them and their babies in a huge underwater viewing area. The Baby White Rhino was fun to see as well, it is now 11 months old. The entire African section was huge and all the animals looked very healthy with babies in most of the species groups. Since we have yet to see Pink Flamingos in the wild they were fun and we got to see Sandhill Cranes up close, we have only seen large flocks flying in the distance. My favorite, which definitely made this one of the best zoos I have seen, were the Siamang Gibbons:
These guys put on a big show and a zoo volunteer explained to us all about the sounds that were coming from these animals. The parents were teaching their young their families song. These monkeys were swinging high through the air with great ease. I love monkey’s and when they put on a show like this it made my day. I explained to the Admiral that when I was about 7 years (1958) old my family took a month trip to Florida and as we were leaving Florida somewhere on the West coast we stopped at a beach souvenir shop. They had small baby alligators for $1 and little spider monkey’s for $5. I wanted that monkey, my mother almost let me have it but I think my dad nixed it as he probably wondered what it would be like traveling all the way back to Texas in a car with a monkey. I still want a monkey, it could go up the mast and fix things.
Evening walks on the Marina Seawall

Each evening when the sun is almost down we take a stroll out to the end of the marina seawall. The sea breeze is always up, it is cool, the birds are out for their evening meal and the sunsets are always worth it. There are lots of mangroves where the birds love to feed at low tide. We got to see a very Little Blue Heron in its breeding colors that we have never seen before. The little island at near the end of the seawall is a small rookery and the Admiral has discovered a nesting family of Great Blue Herons so she likes to check on their progress. We thought there were just 2 babies but we discovered last night there are three.

Coming in the next Post:
Trip to Sarasota
Trip down
Lido Key
Siesta Key
Stormy night
Trip back

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May on Tampa Bay

We motored over to St. Pete just to check out the Bay

This pier that divides the Mooring field from the St. Pete Municipal Marina is a main attraction on the Waterfront.

NO. 850 is the Good stuff for polishing Stainless.

Add of Layer of Insulator Wax to protect the stainless from surface rust.

Our choice for the exterior teak.

The Stainless and Teak Caprail good for another year.

Tampa Museum of Art

I am standing just outside of the Tampa Museum of Art with the Hillsbourgh River in the Background and the University of Tampa. The Russian looking building in the Background is the old Tamps Bay Hotel that is now part of the Univ. of Tampa:

These downtown buildings are just across a huge Plaza from the Museum, the one on the right is known as the Beer Can Building and was just bought in a forclosure for $22 Million The new owners plan to restore it to it's former Heyday in the 50's. 

Check out these two baby Green Herons

This one is looking right at you!

This 68' Irwin is bound for Hawaii!

A couple of days after getting settled into our new slip at Westshore we took the boat out just to run the motor. The St. Petersburg skyline is in easy view so we just headed that way and 2 hours later we were there. Of course the wind was right out of the west and we had almost 2 knot flood tide so it was a good day to motor. We traveled at 1800 RPM,s at a speed of about 5.3 kts. This gave us a chance to learn some about the bay and it seems the best day sailing water is out in front of St. Petersburg with plenty of water with sufficient depth, much like Corpus Bay with 10-15’ of water. The wide bodies of water near our marina are mostly <10’ so we pretty much have to stay in the channels, there are some areas with deeper water but they are narrow and would not make for pleasant sailing. We toured the Municipal Marina’s anchorage and the Mooring field. The Admiral suggested we just take a mooring ball and stay a couple of days but after she checked the weather on her IPhone we decided it might be best to go back to our slip and plan a trip over when there was less rain in the forecast. The mooring balls are just $15.00 a night so this is a must do. With the currant on our side we mad 7.5 knots on the return but there was only about 2 knots of wind so we motored on.

It is time to get Wand’rin Star cleaned up for this next year and May is the deadline for getting these projects done since whatever cool weather we have is diminishing quick. I spent 3 days getting all the stainless on the exterior polished up and a protectorant applied to slow the onset of another round of surface rust. It is so salty in Corpus that this is at least an every 6 month job but the environment here is not near as harsh so I am thinking it should last a year. We use two Collinte products, one to polish with Collinite #850 to polish and remove the surface rust. This is a wax on wax off process and I just use a old sock like a glove to make the work go quick. Then we apply Collinite’s 845 Insulator wax as a protectrant and this is just a wax on job as you leave a thin film on the metal to ward off the salty air and water.

After the Stainless is complete then it is time to get after the teak Caprail. We use Cetol since it is a very effective protector and you only have to reapply a couple of coats each year. It is not as glossy or Classy as varnish but it is a lot less work and to me it makes the old boat look a bit salty and refined. I spent a day lightly sanding with #220 sand paper, cleaning, and taping off the rail Then a few hours each of the next two days applying first some touch up Cetol Marine to the areas where there were nicks, or scratches where the teak was exposed. Then two full coats of Cetol Gloss. I got the job done just as my knees explained to me that would no longer support my body, even a soft cushion to rest them on would not convince them to do any more. The next annual project is to thoroughly clean the nonskid on the deck and apply 2 coats a acrylic wax. I will wait for the knees to recover since this is another 2-3 day project.

While I have been busy with the maintenance of WS the Admiral has been birding. There is a very small Mangrove Island right in front of our marina just about 30’ from the outer dock/breakwater of the marina. Lynn has been observing what seems to be a rookery for Blue Herons and Green Herons. She spotter the two baby Green Herons looking a bit funny on the shore and a nesting Blue Heron. She could hear the baby Blue Herons but it was not possible to see them through the thick mangroves and the nest. We spent a day over at Weeden Island on a birding tour .We did see a couple of species we had never seen before but the birding right here around our marina is just as impressive. We do want to take our Kayak back to Weeden though since there are many Kayak trails through the mangroves over there that looks very interesting to me. I think we will take our small handheld Garmin as it looks like you could get lost easily in the mangroves there.
We took a Friday afternoon to go visit the Tampa Museum of Art. The museum is located right downtown along the Hillsbourgh River. We got to see the
Masterworks of 20th Century Sculpture from the Martin Z. Margulies Collection


The exhibits were cool to see but the museum had just ended their main exhibit and was preparing for the next one so we will go back next month to see the upcoming Sculptors on Paper exhibit. There is a large river walk and huge outdoor plaza where I am sure a lot of events are held. Across the river is the University of Tampa and a view of the Russian looking Architecture of the Old Tampa Bay Hotel that is now part of the university: we will have to make this another excursion into downtown Tampa.

We have begun to meet our dock mates and other boaters around the marina. These people are very friendly and if they see you working on your boat they stop and ask if you need anything to just ask. Almost all of the people here are part of the residential community here but there is one couple with a small 6 year old son and 11 month old Black Lab, Sasha here from Indiana. Jim, Lana, and Matthew are here in Tampa Bay getting some work done on their 68’ Irwin Cutter/Ketch. After the work is completed they plan on sailing to Hawaii. I am always amazed to see these huge sailboats that are cruised just with a crew of two. Checkout the Irwin 68 here on yachtworld: What a trip that is going to be!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Just Trying To Get Through Another Beautiful Day

The Admiral getting a tour of Gulfport

The Osprey's Lynn has been keeping a close eye on apparently have two babies

The ship yard just across the channel has two new Yachts ready for their new owners.
 The Blue one has already been delivered to it's new owner I guess, anyway it is gone. I am thinking the economy must be doing a lot better if they are building and selling this size vessel, or maybe these guys were never hurt by the economy?
The building in the center is The Bay Club, we will be hanging out here every day.

You can't see how big the vessel at the end of our dock is because the smaller one on the right is blocking the view.

This 85' SV was referred to Westshore YC by me. The owner asked us how we liked Tampa Harbor Marina and I told them it was great but if they planned an extended stay in Tampa Bay they might want to consider Westshore Yacht Club. Right after we pulled into our slip he reminded me that I was the one who had told him about Westshore.

WS in her new home for the next 7 months

We are among the smaller vessels at this marina.

The guns at Fort De Soto

Breach loading Morters

Not sure if they ever fired these guns except for practice.

The Fort is being restored, not many lights so the rooms are dark.

Here you can see the restored doors.

The Sunshine Bridge is high but apparently not high enough for the newer cruise ships, you can see this one passing under at low tide just barely makes it!

That island in the background is Egmont Key, it is right at the opening to the gulf from Tampa Bay. We hope to spend a couple of nights at anchor there this summer.

The beaches at Fort De Soto park are really nice.

Can't wait to bring the Admiral here for a beach day.

We were at the Cinco de Mayo Celebration at our new Westshore Yacht Club  listening to a two piece band when we heard the lyrics " Just Trying To Get Through Another Beautiful Day" and we thought....that could be us. After getting the forward head and the Autopilot fixed I took a day off from projects and took a day trip to Fort De Soto which is a county park West of St. Petersberg on Tampa Bay. I found great beaches, a very interesting old fort they are still restoring and lots of birders wondering around. This will make a great destination for when the Admiral returns in a few days. You can see Egmont Key and all the vessels going out and returning from the Gulf of Mexico. Lots of pleasure craft of all kinds on this calm day both power and sail making that pass. From the other end of the park you can see the Sunshine Bridge and just as I got there a Cruise Liner was passing under the bridge. It looked almost as the smoke stack at the highest point of the ship may not make it under. I checked my tide tables and it was mean low tide for the day so I'm thinking they cut it pretty close. A couple of days later I heard on the 10 o'clock news that the bridge, even though it is not that old was not built high enough to accommodate the newer bigger cruise ships. So St. Petersberg is jockeying to build a new terminal on the other side of the bridge from Tampa to take the cruise ship business away.
After the Admiral returned from Texas we had just 2 days left at Tampa Harbor Marina so immediately after she got settled in we were moving the boat to our new slip at Westshore Yacht club. The winds were to pick up to 20-30 so we got up early while the winds were around 10 to make the shortest leg of our trip so far, about 1/4 mile away. I wanted to run the boat down the channel a bit to give the engine a run but as soon as I increased the RPM to move away from the dock I knew I had a prop full of barnacles. Pushing the RPM's to 2000 we just made 4.5 knots so I forgot about the run down the channel and turned around and went to our new slip.  Our choice was good as any of the prevailing southerly winds either west or east help us into our West pointed slip. Also we found out that the power was out on A,B, and C docks...It was good to be on E. Evidently they had a Main Breaker blow up and is was so special it would take a week to have a new one built. I wondered what all those huge yachts were going to do for shore power, well the next day a huge portable power unit was wired in until the new breaker could be installed. Lynn just happened to run into a diver who does all the bottom cleaning at this marina and Pat has already cleaned the hull and so now I look forward to getting out soon to explore Tampa Bay. We spent two days getting to know our new marina and the amenities of the Bay Club. The Admiral is convinced that my two days of visiting marinas around Tampa Bay paid off. Not only is this the most reasonable of all the marinas I visited but it offers the best hhurricane protection. Heavy built concrete floating docks all protected by the largest concrete breakwater in the area. It is like a huge seawall. Then there are the 5 star resort like features, bars, restaurant, gym, pools, spa, and being a gated community with 24-7 security the Admiral feels safe walking around the community alone. We have already enjoyed the Gym, sitting by the poolside with live music, complimentary drinks for the new members, and the great showers. A great spot to prepare for the next phase of our cruise. The Admiral has acquired the habit of taking her binoculars  wherever she goes in this community since the birding is a constant all around this marina. The Osprey nest she has been watching since we came to this area now has two babies clearly visible and learning to spread their wings. We just wonder when they will take their first flight.
The Admiral wanted to go over to St. Petersberg to get her hair done so I told her we might as well go visit Gulfport as long as we were over that way for the afternoon. It was fun sharing some of my discoveries with her and talking about the places we would like to visit by boat.