2013 Month long trip to Florida - February 3rd to March 7th
On this trip we trailered the “Y KNOT” to Florida and lived aboard for 26 nights. We also visited family and friends, staying with them a few nights.
From Indiana we traveled to Charleston, SC to visit our daughter and her husband. The fan belt idler pulley failed, two hours from Charleston, requiring us to stay an extra day. Next we traveled the short distance to Savannah, GA to visit my brother and his wife and finally on to Florida. We started our cruise at Twin Dolphin Marina in Bradenton, Fl by spending a week getting settled and visiting my parents and another brother and his wife who winter in Bradenton. Bradenton has a wonderful river walk that you can ride a bicycle or walk for several miles along the Manatee river. My brother gave us two bicycles which allowed us to ride the 4 miles between the marina and my parents’ house.
The first day of cruising we motored out the Manatee River into Tampa Bay and down the ICW to Sarasota, stopping at Marina Jack. The wind was either on our nose or non existent. Wow, there were Rolls Royce and Maybach cars in the parking lot of Marina Jack, and 200 ft. yachts in the berths!
The next day we traveled the short 15 miles to The Crow's Nest Restaurant and Marina on the channel leading to the Gulf in Venice. We walked on the beach, watched the sunset, then ate at the restaurant.
The next day we went out in the Gulf and motored down to Boca Grand pass. The weather was supposed to have wind out of the North East at 8-10 but out on the Gulf, it was glassy.
That night we rafted up with friends from our boat club in Celina, OH in Pelican Bay, just inside Boca Grand pass. Our friends live on their trawler in the winter at Fisherman's Village Marina in Punta Gorda but have an S2 sailboat they spend weekends on in Celina, OH.
We dinghyed ashore to visit Cayo Costa State Park, walking a mile across the island to the beach on the Gulf side. The barrier island is uninhabited other than the park facilities. The only access to the island is by water. The next day we motored over to Cabbage Key and ate supper at the Cabbage Key Inn, where Jimmy Buffet is supposed to have got the inspiration to write "Cheeseburger in Paradise". The "Inn" built in the late 1920's has dollar bills fastened to every square inch of the ceiling and the walls. Each bill has the person who placed it there's name on it. The practice got started during the great depression when a patron took out a dollar bill, wrote his name on it and thumb tacked to the wall, saying, “If I loose everything, I know I can come back here and have one last drink!” We stayed the night at the dock.
The next day we motor sailed up Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda and Laishley's Marina. We had planned to meet Lou Spagna and his wife Deb who have attended several Watkins Raft-ups, but they had left the week before for points south on their boat. Lou however arranged for us to use his slip for free! So we stayed 5 free nights! The first night we had supper with Bruce and Jean Allen, whom are former Watkins 25 owners who live in Punta Gorda.
On February 26th there was a Reunion for all St. Mary’s Boat Club members who were in the Florida area at Chuck and Mary Hohman’s. A good time was had by all.
We enjoyed the "River Walk" and most of the sights in Punta Gorda before heading back north.
The first night of the return trip, we stopped a Gasparilla Marina in Placida. We ate at a nice seafood restaurant a half mile walk away which was next door to the wharf where the fishing boats dock.
The second night we again stayed at Marina Jack in Sarasota. This time we birthed next to "Big City", a $20 million dollar yacht with a crew of 8 or 9 that you can rent for $125,000 per week! Our boat is too small to be the tender for this yacht! The yacht "Big City" has it's own website if you want more details: www.bigcity.com
The final day was a motor sail, back to Bradenton where we spend a few days unwinding from our cruise before heading home.
On the last day, after we had our boat hoisted out and put back on the trailer, we drove up to Safety Harbor and met Frank Fitzhenry and his wife Pattie on their boat Better Days. Better Days has been a Boat of the Month on the Watkins website. Sadly Frank and Pattie have "Better Days" up for sale. It is an excellent example of a W29, having many upgrades. While visiting with Frank and Pattie, they showed us two Watkins 27's which were in their marina. These three Watkins boats were the only one's we had came across on our month long travels in Florida. Frank and Pattie treated us to supper at a great local Italian restaurant where we talked for hours.
All in all we had a great time. Some days it was so cold out on the water that we wore long johns, two pairs of pants and sweat shirts under our foulies. Other days were shorts and tee shirt weather. The wind was almost always against us. A day sail from Bradenton, out into the Gulf and back with my brother and his wife was one day we truly sailed without the engine. The other time was when we went from Cabbage Key to Punta Gorda, on Charlotte Harbor. Several items can be crossed off the bucket list: Cabbage Key Inn, Crow's Nest in Venice, Pelican Bay, Cayo Costa State Park, etc. We ran aground 3 times during our trip, even though we wrote down each marker in a note book as we passed them on the ICW. Each time we ran aground we found that we had missed going around a marker and took a shortcut across water that was too thin. I used a cell phone app that showed exactly where we were on the nautical chart but some times my concentration faded. It is frustrating to follow a zig zag path of markers when you are miles from the nearest shore. Those birds standing up in the water that must be only a few inches deep, 50 yards to your right keep reminding you why you have to do it. Next time I plan to use a tablet version of the Navigation program which will give me a larger viewing screen. I am sorry but mangroves are not beautiful, no matter what folks claim.
I wish we could have stayed longer. It was very depressing to have to put the truck in 4 wheel drive to get through the snow drifts in our driveway, the evening we returned home!
John & Cindi Myers
S/V Y Knot, a 1986 W25