Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dinghy to Trolley to Bus to Trolley to Taxi to Bus To Dinghy

Statue in downtown Sarasota

We are finding out how different it is to live without a car. While in Longboat Key we needed to fix a couple items on the boat before we could move on. Our 31 year old depth sounder called it a career and stopped displaying anything. Our battery bank also needed upgrading very soon. We located a West Marine in nearby downtown Sarasota which only required us to dinghy 1 mile, hop a trolley, change to a bus and walk to the West Marine. We purchased a Norcross Hawkeye D10D depth sounder, a 90 ah deep cycle battery and a 5 gallon diesel jerry jug. The battery certainly tested the strength of Mike's backpack.

We questioned whether the bus would let us on with a bright yellow diesel jug, but hoped with a receipt showing it was brand new and obviously empty they would let us pass. Of course the driver said no to our jug and we had to hire a taxi to the central bus station. By the way, that taxi was first pirate sighting we have had this trip. $40.60 for a few mile trip. Argh! We purchased some black trash bags and put our "rectangular boat part" into one so the next bus driver wouldn't object to our possessions. We didn't mention the 60 lb battery in our backpack. We enjoyed the trolley and bus ride tour of downtown Sarasota. The transit system down here works pretty well for us carless people.

The following morning we took The Ernie T a couple miles north to fill our two diesel jugs and top off the dinghy gas can. We motored back to the boat and filled Wrinkles tanks before picking up the anchor and motoring out the channel and back through the Longboat Pass bridge. The wind was predicted to be perfect for a beam reach all the way to Clearwater. We put up the sails in 8-10 knots of wind and enjoyed an hour of sailing at about 6 knots. Wrinkles is fun to sail and it was wonderful to be out in the Gulf with the motor off. As the winds built to 10-12 knots Wrinkles kicked up her heels and gleefully sailed at 6.5 to 7 knots. Now this is fun!

After three hours of sailing Brenda saw an ugly black front catching us from dead astern. Down came the sails as the winds picked up to 24 mph and the waves quickly reached 5-6'. OK, time for a different destination. Brenda had selected the North Channel into Pass-A-Grille near St. Petersburg as our plan B stop. In order to get there our poor little Yanmar was at nearly full throttle and struggling to maintain two knots against the wind and waves on our nose. The channel looks like a piece of cake with good channel markers and 15-20' of water all the way to the Pass-A-Grille Marina. We followed the channel perfectly and even called the marina for any local knowledge available on the pass. The guy just laughed at us and said the pass was easy with no issues. About then the new depth sounder chirped a low water warning which is set at 5'. Seriously! We actually touched bottom briefly in the channel which is charted at 18' deep. Yes, it was low tide, but who cares when the depths are charted at 18' and the tide is only 2'? Maybe 18 - 2 = 4 in this area.

Wrinkles in the background

The good news was the deeper water reappeared and the rest of the channel was nice and deep. When we arrived at the marina the gentleman said, "Oh, that area does shoal sometimes." We side tied to the marinas dock and both started grinning. Two or three days in a quiet marina while we wait out the lousy weather. The Wharf restaurant only 150 yards from Wrinkles' bow sounded awfully good to us, so we wandered over for a nice meal and some iced beverages. Sweet!




  1. Love your writing, Admiral B! I feel like I'm there, sans PBR!

  2. What a trip! I could write a week long lesson plan just on that adventure. I guess once a teacher always a teacher.