After a several day stay @ the Bradenton YC attending to provisioning and laundry, we headed for a favorite anchorage at Jewfish Key/Longboat Key. There is a public boat launch with beach on each side for dinghy landing. Dolphins are there to entertain. Fishing is good; John caught a flounder, which we grilled for dinner aboard. We enjoy walking the charming old Florida village of Longbeach. We didn’t see Peacocks this year nor did we dine at either of the two great restaurants, Moore’s Stone Crab or Mar Vista. Hope to do both on our return. There is easy access to the Gulf thru Longboat Key Pass, just around the corner.
Weather and the upcoming Christmas Holiday had us motor down the ICW to the Sarasota YC. We were looking forward to the on land sites, the Ringling Museum (to see the Pablo Veronese exhibit), St. Armand’s Key (for a little Christmas Shopping) and the Sarasota Saturday Farmers’ Market. Keri drove down from Orlando to spend several days celebrating with us. She also provided us with transportation to Total Wine, Trader Joe’s, Grocery Stores and a wash and fold laundry service. Both avid photographers father and daughter were delighted to see so many varied shore birds on the Lido Key beach. An added pleasure was a visit from our Medford, Oregon friends, Christie and Steve Sanders. They were visiting family in Tampa and had a car so they could drive over for the day.
Again with a cold front approaching, we motored down the ICW to Venice. This was a first for us, since we usually sail down along the Gulf Coast. The Rose Bowl Game on January 1st was broadcast only on ESPN (we only get through the air TV stations on the boat). So we stayed an extra day so we could to go to the Crow Nest Tavern to dine and watch the game. Swimming around the marina was a most unusual beautiful bird – a Razorbill. The normal range for this member of the Auk family is the Artic to Maine. It dives and swims underwater using its wings. While it was alone, we heard reports of small flocks being sighted in the Sarasota Bay area.
The “hunk of metal”, called an anchor on our bow seems to be a magnet for the wind direction. Though light, we had a south winds ‘on the nose’ as we headed south along the Gulf Coast to the Boca Grande Channel. But as we turned east, the winds picked up and the tide was coming into Charlotte Harbor. WOW! with sails and incoming tide we flew @ 9.5 knots through the channel for several minutes before settling down to a nice 7 knot sail up the Harbor to Punta Gorda. As we did in 2011, we have secured a slip for 2 months, so Zephyrina can be snug and protected while we visit friends and family ashore and return home to check in. While we were preparing Z for her respite, we made new friends (Richard & Joanne Collins, owners of a 350) and visited with friends met in the past (Nancy & Steve Johnson). We plan to be back on the water in early March.