Monday, November 23, 2015

Tarpon Springs to Sarasota

As soon as we got into the main channel in the Anclote River I headed downstream to get back to the ICW. The wind was blowing 30 knots and it was rough as the dickens when we reached the open sound. But if we could just get down to Dunedin we would be in protected waters. It was about an hour ride, but we made it. As soon as we passed under the Dunedin bridge everything got better.

From then on, it was one bridge after another. I had no idea we would have to go through almost a dozen bridges today. Between the bridges and no wake zones it was taking us twice as long to get to Sarasota than expected. Then there was the bridge tender that told us his bridge was broken and he could not open for me. But the repair guy was there and working on it. Thankfully, they were able to open one side of the span about 15 minutes later, and I squeezed through. Then another bridge that informed us he only opened on the half hour and we had just missed the last opening. So another half hour wait there.

Then there were the many, many manatee no wake zones. We never saw any manatees but had to run at idle speed nonetheless.

I thought that since this was a weekday we would not have the hordes of crazy boaters to contend with. I was only partially correct. There were fewer of them, but still too many. These guys never slow down and blast past us mere feet away, often throwing huge wakes. It can be unnerving, and sometimes downright dangerous.

The ICW channel in many places here is very narrow, with depths on either side of less than 1'. You can be running in 10' and look over to the edge of the channel a few feet away and see the shallow water. It makes it difficult to pass another large boat. If your attention wavers for only a moment you can find yourself aground. In some areas the shoaling extends into the channel and you have to try to go around it... if you have the room.

In the end we finally made it into Sarasota without any drama, arriving just before sunset. We had called ahead to Marina Jacks, a downtown marina, and reserved a mooring ball. This was the least expensive way to stay here. At only $25/night it was much cheaper than staying in a slip at $140/night.  A short dinghy ride to the dinghy dock, less than 5 minutes away, gave us access to all marina services and to downtown Sarasota.

It was getting dark so we decided to wait until tomorrow to launch the dink and go exploring.

We spent three days in Sarasota, arriving Monday and leaving on Thanksgiving Day. We had intended on staying until Friday and paid for four nights. One of the marina restaurants was putting on a buffet with all the traditional Thanksgiving fare. It would be nice to have some of our favorites without the hassle of cooking and cleaning up. But, by Wednesday evening, we were ready to move on. We informed the marina we would be leaving a day early and requested a refund for the last night. No go. We were told they do not do that. Oh well, live and learn. From now on we will just pay day by day.

We had a very nice stay here, though. The marina staff were very friendly, courteous, and helpful. The facility was second to none. Paula did laundry, I refilled our water jugs with the best water we've found since Ft Walton. Almost as good as what we get back home. I have a TDS tester we use every time we fill with water. If it reads too high, we just wait until our next stop. Hammond is our benchmark with a reading of 003 TDS. That is about as good as it gets. Anything less than 050 is bottled water quality. Normal tap water can get up to 250, but we have seen it as high as 600. Anything over 500 and the EPA recommends it be tested for contaminants. We won't drink anything that tests over 250. The water we got in Carabelle was 220, and tastes noticeably worse than the 030 Ft Walton water, or 038 Sarasota water.

There was a Publix grocery store a little over a mile away and Bob and I walked over to pick up a few things. He brought his backpack, and I was just going to lug the stuff back in the plastic grovery bags. However, once we got in the store and saw how inexpensive everything was (compared to what we had been seeing in the little towns) we started loading up. We quickly realized there was no way we were going to be able to carry all this stuff back. Bob noticed they were selling some large collapsible carts for toting groceries home. He purchase one and filled the bottom with 12-packs of beer. Then we filled the top half with our groceries, and off we went. We took turns pulling it as it was quite heavy.

When we got back to the boat I was unloading groceries when Paula asked if I had picked up the Triple Sec on the list she had given me. I told her no, the store only carried wine and beer, no spirits. We looked on Google maps to locate a liquor store, only to find out that Publix did carry spirits, but in a package liquor store attached to the grocery store. Bob and I were standing literally 20' from the entrance to the liquor store and never noticed it. So off we go again on another 2-1/2 mile round trip. This time I brought our own collapsible cart with me.

The liquor store was small, but well stocked. As at the grocery store, the prices were much cheaper than we had been seeing. So I stocked up on everything we could want. Prices were certainly less expensive than what we would see once in the Keys. My little cart was bulging when we left. Patrons entering the store looked at the cart and said "I want to come YOUR party!".

The little wheels on the cart were bending and squealing, but we made it back. Paula laughed when she saw the cart as we approached in Bob's dinghy. Of course, the first thing she asked was "Did you get the Triple Sec?". And you know what... I forgot to!!


1 comment:

Scott Kolek said...

Sounds like you guys are having a great time, except forgetting the Triple Sec! :)