Thursday, March 29, 2012

Going to the Motherland

I had to take a break from waxing the topsides so I could stretch out and rest my poor body so I took a few pics around the Marina. This is another special order vessel, not sure where is is going but it seems to have bullet proof windows and I knocked on the hull and it is not metal but it is something very tough!

This Osprey has been hanging out on the Sabre next to us every day.

This will be our Marina for 7 months, our slip is just behind the catamaran sailboat in the center and next to the sport fisherman on the right. The building behind is the yacht club facility with 2 outdoor pools, one just for adults and a bar by that one, a downstairs cafe, a upstairs restaurant, and a complete gym and spa downstairs.

I got El Dingy out to clean and run the outboard for a couple of days, motor started on first pull..Amazing!

This is the 85' motor yacht that is moored directly behind us. He is also staying through till the end of the upcoming Hurricane season. The problem is he blocks the WiFi signal. I bought a extra long USB cord for my wifi antenna and I plan to haul the antenna up the flag halyard to the 1st spreader. Hope it works!

I stopped by Lake Travis to see the lake, it had just rained 4-5inches in the watershed so the lake had just gone up 5' but it is still very low. All the white parts should be underwater up to the tree/green line.

This is the entrance to Commanders Point Marina out to the basin area, that water is low.

I took these pictures just above Marshall Ford Marina which you can see here. The Marinas have to stretch out the docks as the water goes down so everyone can still get there boats out.

This is Commander point marina, I have never seen it this low and it just went up 5'!

Paul, the Marina manager and jack of all trades has to re-configure the marina as it either moves up or down with the water levels.

These are the steps leading down to the marina..a long way down. When the lake is full it is just a few steps to the docks.

This is Paul re-adjusting the ramp to get out onto the dock.

I had to go out and check on all my friends boats, this is Bills Pearson 33, always looking Bristol!

This is Rick's Catalina 34, I noticed he has removed his Jungle Gym from the stern and added proper dingy davits.

There are so many fun stories about this Dana 24' I just like to look at it and reminisce.

Looking out onto the basin from the marina, still plenty of room to get out.

Here is looking up the steps, you can see where Paul has added on to the steps with a downhill sidewalk. The 1st three sections were completed when we were still at the marina, but the next three sections were done during the latest drought.

Whole Foods was doing a shrimp boil out on the sidewalk so we had to taste it. Sorry not as good as the Lions Club
shrimp boil in Gulfport Fl. They cooked these guys just a bit to long.

Before the Experience Jimi Hendrix show we went to a restaurant down around 2nd street that our son suggested. The Tacos were great, here is a oyster taco on the right and a steak one on the left. These were excellent.

I took this pic with the I phone, we saw around 30 great musicians during this show but Jimi was not there. The show was in the New Austin City Limits Theatre and you can tell they spent all the money on the sound system and acoustics. Not a bad seat in the house!

This was our little cottage during this Austin stay, very near our old neighborhood, close to everything in Central Austin and easy to get everywhere else.

Well what do you write about when your not cruising? I just figure that for those out there who may be contemplating on doing such a thing that the parts that are not about fun and adventure must be thrown in so it is understood it is not sailing fantasy every day. We needed to go back to Austin to take care of some business and we have been delayed since the Austin business dates just would not line up with our cruising dates. So we have altered our plans to stay in the Tampa Bay area till the end of this next hurricane season. We just did not feel good about using the 2 months we will have left before the start of Hurricane season to rush around the rest of Florida and some of the best cruising grounds. We instead will take some day and overnight trips to enjoy the Tampa Bay area from Tarpon Springs to Sarasota. This will give us plenty to do for the 7 months and we will be staying in Westshore Marina and Yacht Club, the most Hurricane safe area I could find in the entire area. After having our boat go through Ike it is a essential for us for our own peace of mind to find the safest place to stay. Even though the locals say the area seems to miss all the Hurricanes I can not believe that with our very weird weather systems these days that you can trust the history of weather anywhere as an indication of future weather patterns. The Admiral will be especially pleased with the upscale amenities of this marina. The marina I think was originally planned for property owners only but the economy and cash flow hit everywhere so they are accepting vessels that can pay the monthly slip rent/fees. I spent about 3 days preparing WS to be left without daily attention. The marina has full time security and I made sure the office had all the info they needed before departing to Austin,Texas to meet up with the Admiral. They assured me they would keep an eye on her daily and would call if anything was out of the ordinary. Florida marinas are just different this way from those in Texas. It is a character of the huge boating community in Florida.

When I got to Austin I had to drop the Admiral off for a Hair appointment so I spent the afternoon driving out to our old sailing waters of Lake Travis. I wanted to see the lake levels for myself and Commanders Point marina where we had our Catalina 30. The watershed just had 4-5 inches of good rain the night before and added 5' to the depth of the lake so I was interested in seeing how high the water was. I was surprised to see it lower than I had ever seen the lake. Since this is the primary source for water for Austin I wondered what will happen if the drought continues. Central Texas is known for floods and drought and this last drought is not a record like the one that lasted about ten years from the 40's to the early 50's but the difference is there are millions more people who depend on the water source.
As I walked down the stairs at Commanders Point I saw the marina manager doing what he is always doing as the lake level falls or rises, he was cables that anchor the floating docks and the ramps that connect the docks to the shore. We had a fun conversation about the marina folks and it was interesting to learn he had spent a bit of his childhood sailing the Tamps Bay area. I went to check on my old sailing friends boats and they all look good remembering the fun times with this very Austin sailing culture.

Our son's family lives in Austin so we had a great opportunity to catch up with them and our grandchildren. He had tickets waiting for us to see "Experience Hendrix". Music is primary to any activity in Austin, and we were thrilled to get to go see the new Austin City Limits Moody Auditorium. The line up included Billy Cox (Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys), Brad Whitford (Aerosmith), David Hidalgo & Cesar Rosas (Los Lobos), Doyle Bramhall II, Dweezil Zappa, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mato (from Indienous), Robby Krieger (The Doors), Robert Randolph, The Slide Brothers & Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughn’s drummer Chris Layton and several others that I guessed just showed up which is not unusual in Austin. It was an incredible night of Hendrix music both in it nearest to possible original form and in many individual interpretations of his music. Jimi was not there however but a very fun night.
We made soccer practice and soccer games with our grandkids, a great treat for us. Even though Austin's population has grown dramatically it is still a small town in many ways, I ran into Terry Conlan a soccer friend who I coached with for several years. All this combined had me thinking about my years of coaching kids of all ages, thoughts that have not surfaced at all in the last several years since we left Austin and set our sights on cruising.

Yesterday we went to a free Water festival hosted by LCRA and learned all about the Colorado river system and all the Highland lakes. Then last night we went to the Salvage Vanguard Theatre on Manor Road to see a recital presented as part of the requirements of a Doctor of Musical Arts at University of Texas. Ian Dicke and Steven Snowden were the Doctoral students presenting their nine very different compositions with 26 different performers. This is just 1 more reason we love Austin so much, you can see something completely creative, new, incredibly presented for free. The Admiral and I discussed how you could describes experiencing the performances of these compositions. We used phrases like Naked Music, New Music Waiting for the Event, Music in the Raw, Music searching for its purpose? If you come to Austin checkout for all sorts of free entertaining fun and check out the link connected to the title of this posting for the calender to the Salvage Vanguard Theatre, you are bound to see something different here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Where is Mr. Miyagi When You Need Him?

Here are Bill and Pam on right in the heart of St. Petersburg where they moore their Morgan in the Municipal Marina. I spent a very nice day with them in Gulfport where we went to a Lions Club Shrimp Boil and then to O.Maddy's for drinks. A great spot to hang out on the Gulfport Waterfront. Click the title of this blog for a link.

Poliglow is Great if your boat is on a Lake but don't use it in a Saltwater environment!

3M is my wax of choice. Hard work but it looks great and last a full year.

You can see the reflection of the dock line hanging over the side after the 1st coat.

Here is a pic after the second coat, the reflection of the water across the topsides.

She looks much better now!

Now I need Mr. Miyagi for his magic hands for my aching muscles after the Wax on Wax Off!

Well I would be aboard for about 2 weeks while the Admiral returned to Austin for a Dr. appointment and spend some time with her parents. WS was looking like she needed some TLC after 1,126.2 Nm. of cruising so I made a short list of things to do while the Admiral is away. I also wanted to use the time to further explore the Tampa Bay area by truck. 1st on the list was to clean and wax the hull. I had made a horrible mistake and the 1st time I cleaned the hull, I applied a product called Poliglow. I had used Poliglow on our two previous boats with excellent results. It is a lot easier to apply and maintain than wax and it looks great. I did not know that it could not hold up to the harsh coastal environments though. After just 4 months the Poliglow started to wear away and I knew it was the wrong choice for such environments. The problem is it is not easy stuff to get off. I guy who details boats in Pensacola told me I would have to sand it off. Well I was not putting sand paper to the gelcoat on the topsides. So I figured I would just wait till most of it was worn off then use a 3M scrub pad to clean the rest off. By the time we got to Tampa Bay most had worn off & I wanted to get the ugly brown mustache stain off the bow that boats typically gather as they travel the muddy waters of the ICW. I also had a couple of boaters give me tips on how to remove the brown stain from the bow. One cruiser in Carrabelle advised to use Goof Off. I rarely like to use that stuff unless I have to remove some sticky adhesive. Another power boater here at our marina was using Muriatic Acid. He told me you have to be careful though as it can burn your skin, I wondered what it did to the water? I always use just biodegradable soap and water with a 3M pad to clean the topsides so I tried some Barkeepers Friend spread on the 3M pad to remove the brown stain and it worked great, I did not even have to rub very hard. It took 5 1/2 hours to clean the entire hull. I make good use of our Kayak to get at the areas where the is no dock to stand on which is about 3/4 of the topsides. I hang on to a suspended dockline to keep the kayak close and scrub or wax with the other hand. Excellent total body workout!

My muscels had not worked that hard in some time so I was thrilled when Bill called and asked if I wanted to go with him and Pam over to Gulfport for a Lions Club Shrimp Boil (fundraiser). This would give my body a day to recover before I started in with the Wax on/Wax off. Bill & Pam were our dock neighbors on H dock in Corpus Christi till they decided to move to St. Petersburg. Lynn and I have found a few of these great meals along the way on our cruise but usually they are Gumbo cook offs, always some type of fundraiser but lots of fun since all the locals turn out and you get a fun atmosphere. Well the atmosphere in the lions club was a bit crowded so Pam spoted a nice picnic table outside overlooking the bay in Gulfport. It was a beautiful 75 degree day and spring break was just getting started so the waterfront was starting to jump. Afterward we went to O'Maddy's on the water front for couple of drinks then back to their boat for a nice evening of conversation and meeting their dockmates. This was great since I got a close up of the municipal marina which is always a attractive option since it has downtown St. Petersberg right out of the cockpit.

Then next Day the process of Wax on Wax off started and continued for 4 days since my body could only take about 4 1/2 hours of this per day, which was long enough to get 1 side done. Since it required two coats I just finished today and I could really use Mr. Miyagi! I can just see him rub his hands together and then put Daniel Larusso's shoulder back in place. My Pectoralis Majors are completely and totally exhausted, sore and need help after 21 hours of this tlc for WS. The rest of my body is right behind.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Trying to Figure Out What to Do

This is the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, They have a large piece of the Municipal Marina just across the Street.

We were watching the 10pm news and learned you could go to this Coal Powered power plant and view the Manatees in their outflow channel to Tampa Bay. An unusual relationship between nature and a power plant. The Manatees seek shelter in the warmer waters in the outflow channel.

We must have seen 50 or more manatees, sometimes you just see their back, or their nose sticking out or their curved tail flipper coming out of the water. They had a really nice viewing area for the public to come in for free, we stayed about 3 hours here.

Caught this sunset from our marina where their after a lot of those fishing boats stacked 6 high in the dry stack storage building.

Another shot of the same sunset, you can see the mast of WS.

This is the view just off the bow of WS, little islands to kayak to.

We took a day trip over to Clearwater on a very windy day to get off the rocking boat. The beaches have lots of public access, The water was a lot like Port A's since the gulf was all churned up from 2 days of high winds.

The Clearwater Pass from the Gulf of Mexico is right at the second big building from the left.

This is the entrance from the Gulf at Clearwater, I always like to see a pass from the land side in the event we ever use it to come in from the Gulf.

After clearing the Pass you travel under this bridge and you are at the GICW.

While the Admiral make a run to Austin to make a Dr. Appointment I made took a day to go check out all the Tampa Bay area Marinas, This is St. Petersburg Municipal. It has fixed docks but it's location is adjacent to a very vibrant downtown and would be a great place to stay for a while.

This is the entrance to the Municipal marina from the Bay, easy to get right out in great sailing waters.

This is Harborage Marina at Bayboro about 1/2 mile West of the Municipal Marina.

They are a bit more $$ but they have floating docks. Much Better.

We sailed under The Sunshine Skyway Bridge on the way to Tampa Harbor but it is not near as impressive as it is driving over it. I tried to take a pic through the windshield but it didn't work to well so I snatched this off the Internet, I think it is 170' clearance. This bridge goes from St. Petersburg to the Bradenton Fl area where I was headed to see 2 marinas on the Manatee River.

This is the Regatta Point Marina, a huge facility where cruisers and liveaboards flock to. They cater to this community and have all sorts of amenities and activities to keep them coming back. They are fixed docks but very well maintained and very close to prime cruising waters from here to Sarasota.

If we come over here this would be the docks for us.

Straight across the river on the Bradenton side is the Twin Dolphins Marina, the most expensive I saw on this day trip but they are floating docks and one very well traveled cruiser told me the best of all the marinas in the area. He said the Bradenton/Sarasota area is the #1 retirement spot in the US.

All these Marinas over here have swimming pools and lots of resort type amenities.

This would be our dock here if we come this way.

Here is the Little truck that can. A 1997 with 225,000 miles. Just like a Timex.

On day 2 of my Marina survey I went to downtown Tampa and Davis Island. This is the Very Quaint Marjoire Park Marina, to bad no live aboards but what a neat spot to come for a few nights. Davis Island is all residential and in the shadow of all the high rise Tampa buildings.

A great view, the big ships do not come into this part of the channel, they are not far though.

This Little Green Heron was just killin time.

This is the channel leading out to Tampa Bay. Only recreational vessels in this part of the channel.

On the South end of Davis Island is this cove that has this rather large mooring field that is free to habit. All sorts of vessels in here right next to the Davis Island Yacht Club.

As you can see the mooring field is just a couple of miles from downtown Tampa.

Here is the Davis Island Yacht Club, there was a lot of activity there on a Thursday afternoon.

A local fisherman told me this vessel is over 128 years old a a young couple live aboard and work somewhere in Tampa.

I thought this was a Irwin just like our friends Dean and Aleta, but it is not a ketch, looks a lot like Adagio though.

This is a very Salty Fisher, a great Bluewater boat and I wondered how long she had been on this mooring

Just them I noticed there was a mast sticking out of the water and this diver was over there trying to raise the vessel. The fisherman told me this was the second vessel that week that had been raised from the bottom.

Well we are in the midst of trying to figure out just exactly what our best move is since we will be delayed probably till the end of April while the Admiral gets her Cataract Surgery completed and back in shape to be aboard a cruising sailboat. We will just have May and June to make it around Florida and up the East Coast into waters that are relatively safe for Hurricane season. This means we would be constantly moving and not really enjoying the trip since we would have to leave the best parts of Florida as soon as we get there. And we are finding out this is a great place to stay awhile and enjoy the local cruising waters near Tampa from Sarasota to Tarpon Springs.

I decided to take a couple of days while the Admiral is back in Austin to survey all the area marinas and research the possibility of just staying put in this area through the 2012 Hurricane Season, then we can continue on to the East coast next November. My trip to visit all the Tampa Bay area Marinas by land also offered the opportunity to gain the local knowledge we would need if we decided to commit to a 7 month stay in this area. Well it is clear there is plenty to keep us entertained here for a long time with lots of either very well developed destinations to almost secluded anchorages in every direction. Just have to pick the best marina community for a home base. The Manatee River is very attractive since it has two really impressive Marinas and just a short day cruise to Sarasota waters. St. Petersburg offers a very vibrant downtown area and easy cruising either North to Clearwater and Tarpon Springs. or South to Sarasota. There were two marinas in a very protected Little Manatee River on the Tampa Bay South West shore. Then you have to decide if the +'s around the marinas with fixed docks are worth it or just take the convience of the marinas with floating docks. Of the 6 marinas under consideration they are all relatively safe from storms. The two in the Little Manatee River offer the best protection but they are very secluded from even grocery stores. For now we have a very safe marina with floating docks and once we get through March we should know exactly what we want to do.