About Us

My photo
Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Randi Comes Cruising

Hi All, Ben here...

We took a couple of days off in Clearwater after crossing the Gulf of Mexico all night, and hung around the town for some "R&R".  I don't know what that means, but I hope it includes a bunch of walks and a decent dog park. 
The wharf is the happening place to be in Clearwater around four o'clock each afternoon, because they have a daily craft fair, and lots of entertainers on the street and in the park next to it.  We saw a couple of guys dancing and spinning on their heads on the ground, and another guy making balloon dogs.  Can you believe that?  ... dog balloons?
The next day we said goodbye to Eddie and Janice in their boat "Eagle's Nest".  They're going to Fort Myers for a few weeks. We'll meet up with them again in a week at Legacy Harbor Marina.
In the afternoon we rented a car and went to Tarpon Springs where we were told there is a big Greek population with good food and a wine called Retsina that Jeff wanted to have.   It reminded him of a Greek friend from work in CA who used to share a couple glasses with him at lunch. Jeff got Izzy to order a glass too before he told her the history of this stuff.
Seems that the Greeks used pine resin to seal their wine bottles, giving  the wine a strong (and rather upleasant) flavor. Most of the people had gotten used to the taste of the awful stuff by the time the Romans invaded and were about to steal all their wine supply. The smart Greeks mixed the resin into all the wine.   The Romans weren't used to this odd flavor, and found the wine "undrinkable", leaving it all behind for the Greeks.
Izzy said she agrees with the Romans, so Jeff got both glasses of wine.  (another smart Greek?)

The Greeks originally settled here many years ago to harvest the sea sponges that grow in this area much like they grow around Greece.   Everywhere you look in this town there are sponges...all types and sizes are here for sale or hanging as decorations.

We spotted a whoe pile of those crab pot buoys that we have to dodge as we steer our boat into the harbors here in Florida.
Wonder which one we'll hit next.
Jeff was interested in checking out the shrimp boat that was docked beside the crab pot buoys.  It had its nets all ready for the next trip out to sea. 

I was waiting patiently in the car for the promised stop at the local dog park.  I hope they'll get their pictures and get back in the car so we can get there before dark.

I'm not sure what this has to do with Greek food or sponges, but Jeff liked it.

So we finally got to the dog park, and it was EMPTY!  Not a dog in sight. 
Just this pitiful fire hydrant
What kind of dog park is that?  Izzy tried to get me to run around with her, but it's just not the same.  I think she felt sorry that they spent so much time looking at the shrimp boat while I stayed in the car.  I got a bone later to make up for it.
That night Jeff and Izzy met Looper friends Sharon and Fred Clarkson from "Perfect Remedy", who have finished the loop and are living in Clearwater.  We first met them in Charleston last April at the Looper  Rendezvous.   Some other Looper friends were also visiting with them -  Pookie and Evan from "Pookie II".  They all went out for a fun dinner to tell boat stories.  Jeff brought me a doggie bag!
The next day we continued to St.Petersburg so we could meet up with our CA friend, Randi.  This is "The Pier" at the entrance to the harbor in St. Petersburg, and near the marina where we stayed.

And this is the pretty downtown of St. Petersburg with all its lights.   I took this after dinner at night from the back of our boat while Jeff and Izzy were watching TV.
In the morning, Randi arrived with her step-sister and husband, Cissy and Larry.  Randi had been visiting with them in Orlando, and they brought her over to St. Pete so she could join us for a week of cruising.  I was hoping she'd bring my friend Bella along, but instead she brought me some good treats.  Bella would have been a better treat.  She's so little that we could have made a life vest for her out of one of our beer

It was cold and rainy when they arrived.  I guess Bella would have been cold too, and Izzy would have made her wear that sweater that makes her look fat.  Maybe she's happier back in sunny CA.  Randi was hoping for warm Florida weather for her vacation.  Disappointed!  

They managed to get off to a good start anyway by going to the local restaurant / bar and having lunch and wine. 

Our friends, Chris and David  in California had been watching the weather forecasts, so they sent some sunshine along with Randi.  It's still raining though – might take a while for it to “load”.  We'll just leave it over the Loop map and maybe it'll warm things up.  Can't hurt,eh?

That night we got together with another Looper friend, Maurice, who  lives in St. Petersburg.
He's a member of the St.Petersburg Yacht Club, so we all went there for dinner.
This is his little twenty-one foot Ranger that he lived in for a year as he completed the Loop. 
Everyone must have had a good time at dinner because the next day, Maurice joined us on our boat for our trip south to Venice, Florida.
Good thing Maurice came along...he gave Jeff a few tips on using the auto pilot – to avoid the wacky and mysterious "Folgers steering" that we seem to have sometimes when Izzy turns on the coffee pot.   
Jeff was glad to have the extra help of Randi at the helm too. 
and it gave him someone else to blame (other than me) when he got us stuck in the sand beside the dredge that afternoon.  I'm sure he blamed Randi or Maurice.
 This is what we call "gardening" - oh well, there goes the new bottom paint already.
We arrived in Venice and tied up at the FREE city dock right across from the Venice Yacht Club, and more importantly, right beside a nice little park where I can walk.
New city rules the next week eliminated the free use.  Timing is everything!
Izzy's high school friend Mary C., was spending a couple of months in Venice with her husband Dick, so they met us at the boat , then on for dinner at the Crow's Nest where Jeff miraculously got them a table inspite of the fact that they didn't have any reservations.  Here are Mary C. and Izzy catching up on the past forty years of life. That's 280 dog years.....
Somehow they all managed to get a ride back to the boat in this golf cart.  Probably a good thing.
Here are Mary C and Dick.
Here's Maurice giving me last minute instructions on the auto pilot incase Jeff forgets what to do. 

Randi took me for lots of walks.  It was cold, so Izzy made her wear gloves and this hat.  I'm glad she didn't make me wear my boots.
As we were having our breakfast, the park ranger came up to talk to us.  I think Izzy bribed him with that piece of warm coffee cake so we could stay a little longer.

Maurice had to go back to St.Petersburg, so he caught a ride from Venice, and said good-bye after exchanging gifts with Randi.  Here she is in her new St. Petersburg Yacht Club Valentine's Regatta shirt, and Maurice in his new Mount Gay Rum hat. 
Our next stop was Boca Grande.  A cute little town that was great for bikes and dog walking.  There's a street that is lined with banyon trees where there are lots of squirrels and geckos.
Jeff got a little tangled up in the roots of one.

There's a great lighthouse here
that's especially pretty at night
This osprey nest was on the top of a tall post, and I think the couple were arguing about the arrangement of the furniture

Inspite of the cold, it was "5 o'clock-somewhere-time" on the flybridge, so we toasted the end of another fun day with Randi on the Loop

On our way to Burnt Store the next day, we saw a whole line up of those white pelicans sitting on the exposed rocks.  This must be where they were going when I saw them in big flocks on the river around St.Louis.
There was a sailboat race starting when we arrived at Burnt Store, so we had to wait to get into the narrow and shallow channel.
We put the dinghy down and took a ride around the harbor to look at the other boats.  There are lots of Manatee signs around here.
Bet you thought we saw this Manatee here, didn't you?  Well we didn't, but Randi wanted me to put a picture in anyway.  If we had seen one it would have looked like this.
Here's a picture of Randi going in to pay for our most expensive night at a marina at Tween Waters on Captiva.  I think she was hoping for a free dock that night instead. She wanted me to put this picture in too.
There was a great beach across the road from the harbor.  That's why they call that place "Tween Waters" .  There are lots of shells here, and the beach is wide and clean, but the water is still cold. 
We walked down the road to a restaruant, and passed this funny chair in front of a shop.  We couldn't resist a picture opportunity. I took this one of Randi, Izzy and Jeff.
We arrived at the Mucky Duck for a sunset dinner looking out on the beach.

The next morning Randi and Izzy collected shells on the beach.
Our next stop was Fort Myers where Jeff was going to pack up and go on his motorcycle trip to Mexico, and where Randi was going to catch her plane back to CA.  The Legacy Marina is where our friends Eddie and Janice are staying for a couple of weeks, so we met up with them again.  This is sunset in Fort Myers
Jeff left for the airport, so Izzy and Randy went to the art fair and bought jewelry, then walked downtown for dinner at Morgans. 
Randi's flight was REAL early, so Izzy borrowed Eddie and Janice's car and took her to the airport while I slept in.  Randi said she'd come back again for another trip and take me for more walks.  I'll write again when we're on the move.  Meanwhile I'm the official licensed watch dog for Izzy and have to get my napping in so I'll be alert for the night shift.