Saturday, April 30, 2016

On Our Way to Get Some Milk

Gulfport Farmer's Market

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

We were out of milk, so we headed into town. But what did we find? Tuesday is Farmer's Market/Craft Fair day. The road was filled with various vendors selling anything from vegetables to hand-crafted earrings. We also saw a vendor selling visors for dogs. This area is unbelievably dog-friendly! After dinghying our goods back to the boat, we turned right around and went back to O'Maddy's for their cheap pizza and drinks. It was one of those magical afternoons...perfect weather, good view and awesome company.

Awwwww, so cute!

On our way back to the boat, we noticed a Com-Pac 23 (the same model as the original Wrinkles) parked at the dock. The guy was playing his trombone in the cockpit. You don't see that every day. The adventurous and brave couple had crossed the Gulf of Mexico in their trailerable sailboat.

Good thing storms were predicted for this afternoon, otherwise we would have been on the road already and missed this gorgeous day. With so many options, it is hard to decide where to go next. After perusing charts, websites and cruising guides, we decided to head for DeSoto Point on the Manatee river tomorrow.

Desoto Point Anchorage

Even a hike to buy milk can be a lot of fun!

 

 

Friday, April 29, 2016

"Keep Gulfport Weird"

Wrinkle's crew

Friday, April 22, 2016

Keep Gulfport Weird is the logo for this town. We decided to see what it was all about. We loaded our bikes into the dinghy (a first for us) and headed into town. The first road we took led us right to a park that was a nature conservancy. As soon as we entered we saw Ibis and Roseated Spoonbills walking through the shallows looking for food.

 

On the other side of the path was a turtle fuzzy with green algae. New to us were the common Gallinue. They have a smushed red beak and black body. Mom, dad and chicks were fun to watch.

Common Gallinue

 

The park road lead to the main drag where the usual businesses were found. However, the area between the Main Street and the beach was so much fun!

 

There were brick paved streets and several live oaks with hanging moss. The area is hard to describe. No two houses were alike. Some were cottages, some artsy, some 50's modern and others with a Greek influence. Nothing appeared to be less than 25-50 years old and there was a variety of socio-economic levels in close proximity to each other. One common thread was the proliferation of vegetation. Huge live oaks with Spanish moss hanging down, palm trees, bushes and vines. You name it....green is the common denominator here. Some yards were more polished than others, but they all had yards filled with foliage. Farther along our trek the sidewalk turned into another park with several sculptures along the path. Some were mosaic, others metal or glass. This park is where they have a bi-monthly art fair.

Iron Giant Proposing to Brenda

We loved this "weird" little town full of life and art. At the end of the day took our bikes and dinghy back to our anchorage. Once there we took a solar shower and fixed pork roast and potatoes in the pressure cooker. We watched a trail of storms move just to the northwest of us. We are getting used to being anchored again after too many nights in a marina.

 

 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Gulfport

Our first night in Gulfport was a little rocky. It takes a bit to get used to being at anchor again, but 25 knot switching winds don't help. Mike ended up sitting in the cockpit for most of the night keeping an eye on our anchor and holding. No problem for our Rocna anchor. Not so good for two of our neighbors. We think the west winds took them by surprise and the dinghies rallied to pull them back out and re-anchor.

Our first trek to land the next morning brought us right up to a dinghy dock by the Casino. Sorry Kim, not a gambling casino, but a large dance hall gathering place straight out of the 40's. It is adjacent to a large pier for day sailors,,,similar to the Memorial Union docks in Madison, Wisconsin. Gulfport makes it easy for boaters!

Right across the street from the beach are several open air restaurant/bars, each with its own personality. O'Maddy's was quite popular and had a great happy hour menu. We had a pizza, beer and rum punch for $18 plus tip. Next door is Salty's which has a large open courtyard with two giant Jenga games set up, a Ping pong table, a pool table and bean bag toss surrounded by plenty of comfortable seating. Brenda still can't beat Mike at ping pong! Further down was Neptune's where Hector amazed us with his guitar-playing abilities and then completely surprised us with his voice. Awesome! We have been missing live music.

Mike doing "research" for his wood carving

 

The street running perpendicular to the beach is lined with quaint sidewalk caf├ęs, restaurants and boutiques. Absolutely no chain stores! We had a wonderful afternoon just taking in the sights and enjoying the beautiful weather and being on our own again (although we miss our Clearwater crew immensely). We'll probably be here a few days!

 

 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Final Days in Clearwater

Proper beach dancing attire

For just a minute we need to jump back in time to Clearwater. We didn't share about the awesome festival that Clearwater held on the beach (to honor our leaving?). There were three days of festivities, but the best for us were the free dances held on the beach.

Eileen enjoying life

The first night was a reggae band with members from all over the Caribbean. We couldn't hold still..the music was jivin' mon. There was one barely four year old boy next to us who really had some moves! All of us around him were cheering him on. When the lead singer asked for volunteers for a dance contest, he ran right up front and started shaking. Wow could that little guy go! We see a dancing career in young Enrique's future.

Tom, Molly, Stacey, James

The second night was a funk rock band out of Orlando. Their first set has us dancing again. What fun to feel the sand in our toes (sorry Tina) while the Gulf breeze kept us cool. At 9 o'clock the band started playing "I Just Want To Celebrate" and then the fireworks started. Literally. There was a 20 minute fireworks display being set off from the end of Pier 60. Incredible!!

On Sunday evening, the night before everyone was scheduled to leave and go their separate ways, we had a pot luck dinner on the dock. Glass Slipper prepared a London Broil on the grill. Mike grilled the Mahi Mahi that the fishing boat near us donated. Liza, Wrinkles and Nemeid provided salads, Enchantress supplied potato salad, Island Tyme brought brownies and Tom and Molly brought Mac and cheese and Key Lime Pie. All the food was set out in Glass Slipper's cockpit for a serve yourself feast. Lots of laughing and some tears as we prepared to say goodbye to this incredible group of people. It will be hard to beat the comraderie we felt here.

Buffet dock party
Mahi Mahi

 

 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Clearwater to Gulfport

Don and Gail's Island Tyme

We did it....we actually pulled out of Clearwater. Six of our fellow dock mates left yesterday to cross the Gulf heading north. Sad to see them go. Goodbye hugs and tears are the hardest parts of this cruising life. We left this morning with Don and Gail of Island Tyme heading farther south. They had hoped to leave yesterday, but the wind was not cooperating. There was some conversation again this morning about the wind being wrong, but we decided we just had to get moving along. At 10 am we pulled away from the docks. Lots of good memories!!

Clearwater Beach Marina

We both pulled out like old pros and were soon chugging down the channel. Winds looked promising as we passed the entry buoy, so we pulled up all our sails. This was our first time with the staysail fully rigged. It worked like a charm and the new snatch block was just what we needed to keep the staysail trimmed. We were able to hold about 3.5 knots in the light winds. Then we dipped below 3 knots and dodging crabpots became a little tricky. Mike went to fire up the engine, but nothing happened. Hmmmm...this happened once before. Mike opened the engine compartment, jiggled a few things, and presto...we had a running engine! Guess Mike gets to install that shiny new starter after all.

Island Tyme leaving Clearwater

The wind was supposed to stay from the east, but you guessed it, it turned right on our nose. We fully believe that whatever direction a sailboat hopes to go will be directly into the wind. We kept our sails up for motor assist and our speed quickly climbed over 5 knots. It was so nice without the motor, but, oh well, we wanted to reach Gulfport before dark. As we turned east toward the North Channel we watched Don and Gail sail over the horizon heading south to their destination. We know we will see our good friends again later this summer, but it was still hard to watch them disappear.

Near Pass-A-Grille

The water in the Gulf was a gorgeous clear emerald green against a bright blue and white sky. We even had a visit from a few dolphins. We enjoyed a motorsail at 5.8 knots which was a nice change of pace from the slow progress all day. Even though we would only cover 30 miles today, it seemed like a long trip. We must be out of practice.

Gulfport anchorage

At 5 pm we dropped our 44 lb. Rocna anchor in 9 feet of water. Ahhhhhhhhh, that is better. A tasty supper aboard and a beautiful sunset capped off the day as we relaxed in the cockpit at our Gulfport anchorage.

 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Even Chores Can Be An Adventure

Needing parts to install a replacement inverter, we decided to combine the trip with some other necessary chores. Some might think a 14 mile ride on itty-bitty folding bikes would be something to dread. Since we enjoy biking and some exercise we look at this as an adventure. Brenda made up some sandwiches and filled up our water bottles for a picnic lunch during our ride. Two bikes, two backpacks, suntan lotion and away we go.

We stopped at two auto parts stores for boat thingies, Michael's to purchase some Velcro and then headed off to the worst store in the world to Mike. Yes, the cell phone shop. We have older Verizon issued cell phones and wanted to see if we could get a cheaper plan with more data. The best we could do without signing up for a contract (not happening) was to reduce our plan by $27/month and gain about 4 gigs of data. It wasn't as good as we hoped for, but it was free which we liked.

Since our tummies were starting to growl we looked for a nice shady spot to eat our picnic lunch. Very near the Verizon store there is a small park dedicated to saving a beautiful Camphor tree. The park has nice benches spread out in the shade of this amazing tree. What a perfect spot to park our bikes and enjoy our lunch.

Refreshed and ready to pedal some more, we headed to West Marine for the final parts Mike needed to complete the inverter install. Success! We had everything on our list and it was time to make our way back home to Wrinkles. We needed to rest up for tonight's group outing to a free beach concert. Reggae music on the beach! Sweet! More about that later.

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Check Another One Off The List

Cruising is many things to many people. We are still working on what it means to us. We have a "bucket list" of experiences that might be included in that definition. One of those items is to partake in a dockside gathering where someone plays a guitar and the attendees sing along....kind of like a campfire sing-a-long. We are happy to report that we can check that item off our list.

A couple nights ago, James and Stacey on Glass Slipper, provided the entertainment and ambiance. Stacey has a disco chandelier on board that she brought dockside to provide the perfect lighting. It should be noted that the light was hung from a boat hook attached to a dock piling. Kind of "Cruiser Chic".

James pulled out his guitar and amazed us with his voice and playing abilities. We had to help out with some of the words, but that was part of the fun! Don aboard Island Tyme even added a nice percussion section tapping out the rhythms on a 5 gallon plastic bucket.

This crew has been so much fun to spend time with. We are avoiding any conversations that involve moving on. We sure will miss all these fun folks, but the memories will last forever.

 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What Do We Do All Day?

Dinghy Cruising (Don, Gail, Stacey, James)
A common question asked is, "What do you guys do all day?" All we can say is the weeks fly by while we are busy having fun. Some days we have plans with other cruisers to walk the beach, go out to eat, go fishing, take the bus system to another town/West Marine/marine salvage yard, enjoy a happy hour, eat aboard one of the boats, have a dock party, go dinghy cruising........... Some days we just get up and decide what to do. Read a book, watch Netflix, undertake a boat project, carve a piece of wood, do the laundry, go to the grocery store or nothing at all.

Canal Cruising

Finding our own little paradise island
Lunch and drinks in the shade
Brenda, Eileen, James, Mary (front to back)

Gumbo night on Enchantress

We had Gumbo Night aboard Lee and Eileen's Choey Lee. Eileen is from the New Orleans area and makes what is possibly the best gumbo in the world. L to R (Mike, Brenda, Lee, Stacey, James, Mary, David)

Jessie and Brenda

We even get a rare treat once in a while when friends come to find us. Wayne and Jessie (Wisconsinites) joined us for a fun day of hiking, lunch and chatting. Later today a sailing friend from Illinois is coming by for a short visit.

See, we're not just out here goofing off. We have a busy schedule.