Log #7f Tarpon Springs to Venice

December 30, 1998 in Log Series 02 - 07, Logs by Series, Series 07 Gulf Coast, The Logs

Subject: Log #7f Tarpon Springs to Venice
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 08:44:02 ‑0500 (EST)
Limehouse Basin, London
Feb. 17/00

Hi Folks,

I hope to send this off tomorrow, before we leave for Toronto on the 19th. We are looking forward to seeing friends and family back in Canada for ten days.

Things over here are fine. We went down to Portsmouth to a bed and breakfast last weekend to see the Warrior and the Naval Museum at the Royal Dockyards there. The Warrior was well restored, and is dramatically more spacious than the Victory. It was good weather on the Sunday, and we saw several sailboats out. It made me itchy to get back out on the water again. We will be out the first weekend of March for a “Frostbite Race” from Tower Bridge downstream past the Thames barrier toa sailing club down there for the evening then racing back the next day.

We are not sure of our departure date yet. We were thinking of April 12 for the early morning tide as I was going to have to stay here until April 6 to give a talk and slide presentation on the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. However, yesterday at 3:30 I was called by the CA office and asked if I could give it at 7:00pm that night as the arranged speaker could not make it. O.K.! So Judy and I worked feverishly to get our slides organized and into their slide trays. It worked out well. Everyone said they enjoyed it. Thanks Judy.

This now allows us the option of leaving any time from April 1 to the 14th as the CA is giving us two weeks free dockage in April for our services.

School is going O.K. They are still not organized for the program they hired me for, but I hope I can leave them with a good curriculum outline of what they could do and should do if they are serious about working with students who have been excluded from classes, but are still the responsibility of the school. They remind me of that old adage where there is a picture of a manager climbing up a tree out of a crocodile infested swamp, and saying ” I know we should manage by objectives and use the latest strategies, but it is difficult when you are up to your ass in alligators to remember your original objective was to drain the swamp!” The poor headmasters are running around putting out fires all the time and do not take time for appropriate planning and staff conferences. Oh well, only another month and I will be finished ready to take off in April.

I hope to hear from some of you when we are back in Toronto next week. We will be with Judy’s parents (416)421‑2668 if yoy have a chance to call.

Enjoy the log #7f.
Aubrey

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Log # 7f Tarpon Springs to Venice
Covers the period Dec. 7 to Dec. 11, 1998
Written at London,
Feb. 17/00

The weather on this west coast of Florida seems sunnier and warmer than on the Gulf coast. Of course we are heading more southerly now, and that makes a difference. The West Coast Intra Coastal channels between the mainland and the off-lying keys are wider and in more open waters. The navigation is trickier because of all the smaller channels going into the various bays and condominium developments. We are in a more prosperous part of Florida, judging from the numbers of large motor yachts all over the place.

We weighed anchor from Anclote Key at a comfortable 0900 and were able to sail for an hour and another hour motor sailing before furling the genoa  to motor in for a leisurely lunch at anchor off Clearwater. Wall to wall city, buildings and condominiums! That evening we anchored at Shell Key in Pass-a-grille Channel in the St. Petersburg area just north of the entrance to Tampa Bay. It was a pleasant anchorage with a few other cruisers and liveaboards in the bay. We went in to the local West Marine for a handle for our Y-valve which we then replaced. We stayed two nights there before leaving Dec. 9 to navigate across the entrance to Tampa Bay and out to Egmont Key. We didn’t encounter any large ships entering or leaving the bay. Coming down the  West Coast ICW there was no heavy barge or industrial shipping, mostly pleasure boats, fishing boats and small local commercial working boats.

The anchorage off Egmont Key was about a mile west of it in the lee, but in open water and sandy bottom. We were leary about leaving Veleda too long in that exposed location, in case a wind shift or tidal current might cause her to drag the anchor. It was only 10:00 am so we packed a picnic lunch to take ashore on the lovely sandy beach of this interesting historic island that has an abandoned military fort and town site. It at one time was home to a community of several thousand Coast Guard and Marine personnel and their families as well as housing a hospital dedicated to victims of Yellow Fever. It was initially set up during the Spanish American War to protect Tampa Bay, then was a training base, and a hospital.

There are few buildings left, but there is a paved street system that allows you to walk through the dense semitropical vegetation that has overgrown the asphalt and cement roads and walkways. It was eerie to follow a walkway off the deserted concrete road into the bush, and after stepping over or through the undergrowth to see just a clearing or foundation, but no building. It was an arid sandy key, with gekkos and turtles all over the place. At one end was a park ranger’s office, maintenance building, and interpretation centre. In the open field leading up to it, the ground was littered with sleepy primitive slow moving turtles by the dozens.

It was fascinating to wander around the abandoned huge concrete gun emplacements that housed the coastal batteries and their ammunition vaults. Several of them were starting to crumble and fall into the sea, eroded away by the waters lapping up on the sandy beaches. These were large semicircular gun emplacements which I believe held the “disappearing guns” which were on hinged carriages that would extend the gun above the ramparts for firing, then lower it below them for reloading. There were no actual cannons or their carriages, just the circular tracked emplacements. I saw similar guns still on their carriages, and blown off their carriages, in Corrigedor when I visited that island fortress  at the entrance to Manilla Bay.

The beach was about two miles long, running the length of the long narrow island. At first we dragged Sprite up the beach to get it above the incoming tide. Then, as waves began to break over the transom, we did the opposite, which worked quite well. We took it about ten yards out into the water just beyond the small breaking waves, and left it at anchor there. It stayed there quite well, just bobbing up and down with the gentle swells. However, when we left it, it was in about two feet of water, just about knee level, but when we were ready to leave, we had to wade in up to waist level to hop in. However the water was warm and clear.

This was one of our first days on a beach most of the day, and we had to watch we didn’t get sunburned. It was a most pleasant day, but we could not stay anchored off that lovely island as it was too exposed if there were to be a wind shift. So we weighed anchor at 1430 and motored down to anchor in Longboat Pass about 15 miles south of Tampa Bay.

The next day, after weighing anchor, we cleared Longboat Pass Bridge, exiting the ICW into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, for our longest sail (of several hours) since leaving Lake Michigan two months ago. We motored  back into the ICW at Venice to refuel and water at the Crow’s Nest Marina and then into a shallow lagoon to anchor for the night.

We had been having difficulty with our GPS as it would lose the waypoints and other data that should have been saved when we turned it off. We removed it and powered up our old Loran, which still worked and gave us a good position. We dinghied ashore with the GPS in the morning, contacted the manufacturer, and were told to send the unit in, they would repair it. When we enquired, in a local boat flea market, about a courier service, we were driven a few miles over town by the very friendly owner. After a seafood lunch ashore we weighed anchor and motored 16 miles down to Englewood Beach, Lemon Bay. Our Loran worked well, and we activated our hand held GPS as a secondary check. No problem!

(Incidentally, for non sailors, GPS means Global Positioning System, a radio receiving device that uses satellites to generate our latitude and longitude anywhere on Earth, with a built in computer that will provide other navigational information including course and speed. Loran is an older system that receives radio signals from land stations, also computerized to provide latitude and longitude and other navigational information, but is restricted to coastal areas close enough to pick up these land based radio signals.)