First Week on the Loop

Week one of America’s Great Loop cruise is now in the books; literally in the; logbooks, personal journals, and postings to our social media sites. Our itinerary began with our leaving on Saturday the sixth and cruising out to Anclote Island for our first anchorage. It was a blustery night with waves noisily pushing on our stern all night. I do not sleep well when we are at anchor continually checking our position and making sure we are not pulling our anchor out and drifting silently into shallow water or someone else. When it is windy, our anchor has been known to become unanchored.
From Anclote Island, we motored to an anchorage just west of the Sunshine Skyway causeway and dropped the hook in 14 feet of water and spent a very peaceful night. I checked our position only five times that evening! We used our dinghy to explore local marinas and find the “facilities.” We try to use other facilities when we can so that we do not have to pump our black water out of our 40-gallon tank as often.
After a leisurely morning, we cruised into the Vinoy Basin and tied up to a mooring ball. We love St. Pete city and its beachfront lifestyle. Jean and I dinghied onto the city dock and walked the downtown area, visited with family, and took in a movie. The St. Pete Municipal Marina service and facilities (Wi-Fi, showers, etc.) are clean and included in the price of the mooring ball. 53
We left the Vinoy Basin in fog with one-mile visibility heading south using the radar and chart-plotter to navigate from one-day marker to the next. We could not see the Skyway bridge until we were a half-mile away and then only as we passed under it as it disappeared off the stern a half-mile out the other side. From the Skyway, we cruised to Anna Marie Island and anchored in a small basin called Jewfish Key. Jean and I dinghied into a the Mar-Vista restaurant and walked to the beach for a beautiful sunset. Fog settled in not long afterward and blanketed the entire area. While we were firmly anchored, the mist can create the illusion of drifting, and I was checking our position throughout the night. The next morning Jean and I dinghied over to the city dock and rode a trolley around the north part of Anna Maria Island and enjoyed a walk around Coquina Key Park. With winds forecasted to increase, we decided to head to Sarasota and tie up at Marina Jack’s.
The cruise to Sarasota was a breezy one with fog settling in from the north and chasing us into Marina Jack’s. We had tied up here before and knew that we would enjoy their service and facilities. Tying up at Marina Jack’s gives us an opportunity to refresh our batteries, fill our fresh water tanks (120 gals), wash the boat, and perform maintenance as needed. It is also a great joy when you can enjoy a hot shower instead of a quick sea shower.
We used an Uber for the first time in Sarasota as we needed a ride to a Friday morning Rotary Club meeting. Jean and I are fortunate to be ambassadors for Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust, which provides cutting-edge research for scientists finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. The Sarasota Sunrise club is a very energetic and a fun club to attend. Jean and I gave a quick overview of our loop trip and how Rotarians can help battle Alzheimers through the C.A.R.T. organization. Sarasota is one of our favorite cities to walk and enjoy dining out.
76 longbeach morroringin fogOur intended destination out of Sarasota was going to be an anchorage near Venice, but throughout the day and with a steady stern wind (9 to 10 miles an hour), we decided to stretch out and cruise to Cabbage Key and tie up for a couple of days. And here we are. Bright sunshine, chilly, and windy as all get out. White caps on the water.
Staying at Cabbage Key for a couple of days gives us a chance to catch up on household chores, writing, planning the next week’s journey, and some walk around exercise.
I want to share a few thoughts and insights on week one’s adventure. Economy stands out as being an integral part of cruising. Safety is always first with me, and I tend to be conservative in my choices as far as the safety of crew and vessel go. When I speak of the idea of economy though, I mean saving in size, amount, duration, and speed. When you live in a house, there is typically room for everything we accumulate, but on a boat, space is at a premium. I have too many clothes, too many notebooks, too many shoes, too many everything. Jean and I are learning that any item onboard must perform at least double duty, if not triple duty. Speed and duration are also at play while we cruise and since this is a marathon and not a sprint I am learning not to wake up and immediately start the engines and go with the intent of “getting to the next destination” as soon as possible. A hard lesson for me. I am learning to slow down and smell the salt air. It is the journey and not the destination that is key. I will insert a caveat here: we will either stay or go dependent on weather. I read somewhere that a captain has a book of intentions mitigated by weather and mechanical and will act accordingly.
Size does matter, and it matters very much. When space is unlimited, you can store things in “out of the way” places, not so on this boat. There simply is not enough room. Recalling the above thought on an item performing triple duty, smaller is also better. A rare thought for land lubbers.
Lastly, I want to talk about how important communication is when cruising (actually, it is5 always important). Communication is one of the keys to a safe and enjoyable cruise. Sharing ideas, feelings, and dreams is a big part of the trip as are the doubts, fears, and nightmares. Being open to discussing all the above without judgment is paramount.
This week we are planning to cross the Okeechobee Waterway and turn right towards Miami.

4 replies »

  1. We learned from 10 years of living aboard. If you live on a boat and buy something new, you have to figure out what you are going to get rid of.

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