Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Steinhatchee, FL, to Sarasota, FL!

Tuesday, November 23 -

Finally, after 4 days in Steinhatchee waiting for a time when the tides would be right for our exit, we took off for Cedar Key anchorage. "We took off" is a little less descriptive than it should be: The tide was going out at Steinhatchee and Segue was docked alongside a dock that was perpendicular to the tide flow. It would have been OK if we could have just taken off the lines and floated (rapidly) away from the dock...but there was another dock and an abandoned crab pot in our path. Oh, and we were bow into the dockage (so our propellers would be in the deepest water). We have less power and maneuverability when trying to go in reverse.

It was 6:30 AM, but we found someone in the office to come out and help us get out safely. The dock hand had to hold the stern in towards the dock until we got in position to take off. Always something new in docking...or un-docking.

Crab pots were out, and we were running pretty close into shore so we saw a good number of them. The water today, though, was beautiful! Smooth riding! So smooth, in fact, that we just couldn't stand to make the most of it. Mid trip we decided to go on down a little further to Yankeetown, FL, and spend the night at Yankeetown Marina. While making for a longer day today, it would shorten tomorrow's run.

The river into Yankeetown, the Withlacoochee River, was stunning. We felt like we really were in "old Florida" now.

The marina...well, that's another story. Let's just say I've come to compare it to Bobby's Fishing Camp on the TennTom, minus the catfish. The fee was $40/night, including electric and water (OK, one of the reviews on Active Captain already warned that you would be really lucky to find either). We talked with the manager earlier in the day and she told us we'd be docking next to a shrimp boat named Anna Maria. When we got there we saw the Anna Maria, but questioned which side to take and called out to her on the shore. She pointed to the outer position (not quite a slip...more a half dock) and, when asked whether bow in or stern, she said, "whichever you want!"

We docked and worked with the ties to account for what locals at the dock said would be a nearly 4 ft. tide. The crew from Anna Maria was very helpful, as was everyone we encountered that evening. As I walked Lucy up to the office to settle up (we planned to leave early again), one of the shrimpers called out that the manager had already left. It was 4:30. I asked when she got in on the next day and he said around 6 AM. OK, we'd settle in the morning. Anna Maria pulled out of the marina around 6 PM for a night out shrimping.

Wednesday, November 24-

As the shrimp boats were coming in...we were leaving. The manager never showed up so we left a check stuck into the crack of the door. If you come to this marina, just know what you're getting ahead of time and you'll be OK. It's a safe feeling place, a neighborhood street right beside the marina, but it's pretty much a rickety dock with no power or water.

We were headed out as the shrimp boats were coming back. Again today we had smooth waters on the Gulf.

Some crab pots, but they were actually easier to spot today than yesterday because of the angle of the sun and our course. We were hoping to get into Caladesi Island State Park for a day or two, provided they had a slip to fit our boat. We knew we could tie up to a t-dock, but that would cost $2/ft/day...and we weren't interested in spending that much. (Slips were available for our sized boat on a first come, first served basis.) We called a couple of marinas as backup and settled on Dunedin Municipal Marina if we couldn't get into Caladesi. When I talked to the ranger at Caladesi he sounded willing to work with us to find dockage.

There were plenty of spaces available when we arrived. Two of our boating friends, Blue Angel and Sea Estate, were already at the marina and we docked next to them.

Caladesi Island is gorgeous and accessible only by boat. A ferry runs between Clearwater and the island several times a day. The beach was voted Florida's Best in 2008. White, powdery sand and lots and lots of shells.

Being used to the Carolina beaches, it was neat to find totally different shells...and sand dollars that were still all in one piece! We walked the beach daily.

We ended up staying five nights at Caladesi, partly because of tide issues and partly because we got sort of hemmed in with boats on the opposite side of our dock. The "runways" between docks are a little close and if you have a long boat across from your long can make getting out a little difficult. Thanksgiving Day saw a few boat visitors (the ferry didn't run)...and even more boats came for the weekend.

Monday, November 29-
We left on Monday morning when the marina was pretty empty and we still had to wiggle our way out due to little turn room. With help from friends on the dock, however, we came out without injuring our boat or any one else.

We traveled about 55 miles today, crossing Tampa Bay and ending up at Sara Bay Marina in Sarasota, our home for a month. The marina is right on a bus route so we figured it would be a nice (and less expensive) alternative this time to Marina Jack's in downtown Sarasota. We'll visit with our friend Bob, catch up on various chores, play, and travel back to Knoxville around the 20th for Christmas visiting.