Saturday, December 14, 2019

St. Petersburg to Longboat Key (The End)

(Postdated, since we actually crossed last Saturday, December 7)

We'd put it off for long enough. We purchased a slip in Longboat Key, but it isn't ready for us yet (there's still a renter in it). The marina let us stay a couple of nights in another slip in the interim for free. So. We came.

One of our navigation systems had mapped out the entire voyage, so when we approached the Manatee River, we could see exactly where we'd been, exactly where the adventure started. We watched as we slowly approached and retraced the beginnings.

Been a crazy year.

Up early, we headed out just as the sun peaked out over the horizon. It's Saturday, and we wanted to be off the water before most of the weekenders got on. The bay was calm with a slight chop. The trip was uneventful. As we closed the gap to our starting point, we took photos.

I've been weepy-eyed on and off  ver since.
Showing off our golf looper burgee

For starters, we're now "gold" loopers, and while that's an accomplishment (early on it was mentioned that there are fewer loopers than people who have climbed Mt. Everest), it means we aren't "white" loopers. We've graduated. Ask most grads how they feel and they'll typically say things like, "Now what?" Sure, we have plans, and we intend on doing new things, but it's over. We'll never be white loopers again.

Secondly, we bought another boat -- more on that later -- which means we're selling this boat. As I was docking Cat-n-Dogs I wondered how many more times I would do that? We at least have to move it to a more permanent location, and we might possibly take her to Looper-palooza (if we can get in). But otherwise, maybe not for months. Maybe not ever.
The last white flag sunrise

Lastly, now there's a ton of work to do. The new boat (which is just like the old one, but with a different layout. Yes, we loved it that much that we bought another Endeavour) will need a bunch of stuff done to it, just like Cat-n-Dogs did when we first got her. Not to mention moving off one and onto the other. Not to mention the intense deep cleaning Cat-n-Dogs is going to need. Hey, we lived on it for over a year.

So it ends. With the new boat will be a new name. And a new blog. I will put one last post on this blog when things settle, announcing the new name and blog. This one has reached it's conclusion.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Tampa to St. Petersburg

We stayed about 2 days longer in Tampa than we originally intended. Largely because is was *such* a cool city. Our buddy boater friends have told us that one of the goals for them on the Great Loop is looking for their "forever home." We may have found ours.

But not anytime soon, mind you. We have more boating to do!

We decided to make our way back along the bay a bit, to make "crossing our wake" a shorter trip. St. Petersburg is a highlight for many boaters, but tough to get into this time of year. Additionally, this weekend is a boat show, making it even tougher. However, the hotel, the Renaissance Vinoy, has a marina, and spaces. Not cheap, but there you go.

Look close -- that's a chicken in a tree. In Ybor.
Tomorrow we'll attend the boat show. These are wonderful places to learn about new technologies and get references for any upgrades or modifications you want to make. We have a list. For example, we'd like a water heater (or heater in general) that uses its own diesel motor instead of needing to run the generator. Our RV had such a thing. Very efficient, and much quieter.

Russ helping himself to beer at Oak & Stone.
You help yourself to beer, including samples.
We think, if the weather is good, we'll do it Saturday -- finish the loop! All we have to do is cross Tampa Bay and we're officially gold loopers. We have the flag already. We've been hesitating because we are in the process of purchasing a slip on Longboat Key. It would be really nifty to cross our wake and pull right into it. It won't be quite ready (still some paperwork, and a renter who's going to have to move his boat). However, the marina is willing to comp us a slip in the interim. So, yay!

The trip from Tampa was only a couple of hours. With the exception of passing two tug boats, there wasn't any traffic to speak of. Or incidents. Parking was a bit tricky only because (yet again) we're in a crazy narrow slip. I'm to the point where we just break out a jar of Vaseline, rub her down, and look out!
Just wave your armband in front of the tap and it knows
you are the one pouring. When you're done, hand over the
band, and the waitress adds your beers to the tab.
It's like an adult Disneyland!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Lovin' Tampa

Having lived in San Francisco, I am fond of urban life. I love being able to walk to the grocery, take mass transit to restaurants, and have entertainment options, like museums and live performances in easy access. Tampa is shockingly similar. Smaller, true, but the little city has a lot going for it. We are impressed.

I didn't get a chance to post many pics of our travel here with my niece, so I'm adding them here. 
St. Petersburg in the distance
Passing a REALLY large tow on the bay
Empty container ship coming in to get filled.
A tug boat is waiting to escort.

My niece was tickled at the dolphins.
Admittedly, so was I.

Waiting for the transit to Ybor.
Did I mention it was free?

The historic town of Ybor -- just darling!

Not ours anymore

There's a saying in the boating world, that the happiest days of a boater life is the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. This...