Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
As usual, going back to Texas to visit 7 grand kids was a circus. So it was only natural for the crew to visit the Ringling Circus Museum upon return to Florida. This is a mural when you first walk in the museum.
Bryan L. has joined us for the last leg of the journey. Welcome aboard Bryan!
After taking a few weeks off, the crew finally got back on the boat and set off for the first cruise of the new year on Monday. They anchored near St Petersburg (1) on Monday. Dropped in at Bradenton (2) to visit friends on Tuesday. Stopped at Venice (3) on Wednesday and stayed Thursday to wait out some strong north winds. Friday, they anchored in Pelican Bay just beside Cayo Costa State Park (4) and did some shelling along the Gulf Beach. Then on Saturday, they made it back to Sweetwater Landing in Ft Myers and completed the Platinum Loop Quest.
Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:
This week’s video shows a clip of Still Waters II looking into the three ring circus at the Circus Museum. Enjoy!
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
The first day back on the water would be a short run. The skipper had to return the rental car in the morning, get back to the marina, and then settle up with the marina before slipping the lines and shoving off. It was a late start, but the crew had their sights set on a McDonald’s Dock where they planned to stop for a late lunch and a milkshake.
Docked at McDonald’s
The run to McDonald’s went well and the crew docked about 1400. Unfortunately, the milk shake would have to wait. The ice cream machine was broken and there would be no cold shake. The Admiral saved the day though. After eating at McDonald’s, she went next door to the Publix (grocery store) and bought some Blue Belle Ice Cream.
Still Waters II on the dock at McDonal’s
The skipper headed back to the boat to prepare to shove off. Upon the Admiral’s arrival, they left the dock and headed towards Tampa Bay where they planned to anchor for the night. The skipper found a nice spot next to Indian Key and dropped anchor around 1630, just in time to watch a beautiful sunset.
The crew had to out run this pirate ship they meet on the way to anchor.
The crew weighed anchor and made a short run (17.4 miles) to Bradenton Beach to visit Gammel Dansk.
The cruise across Tampa Bay was flat smooth with light winds. After crossing the Bay, the crew entered Anna Maria Sound, passed under the Anna Maria Bridge, and docked at Bradenton Beach Marina on Anna Maria Island.
Smooth sailing across Tampa Bay
The most excitement happened as the crew was making Still Waters II secure on the dock. The skipper noticed that a boat had broken free from the dock and was drifting down the fairway. The Admiral went to go inform the dock master, while the skipper snagged the boat as it floated by.
Turns out the owner had old lines that needed to be replaced. When he came in, he had tied the boat up tight. The tide was going out, and as the boat settled with the out going tide, the lines broke from the weight of the boat, and she began to drift out with the tide.
After getting settled, the crew walked the beach, and then the Admiral set off exploring the Island on the Free Trolley that runs up and down the Island.
The crew of Aurora had set up a pot luck dinner, with Aurora providing the grilled chicken and Gammel Dansk and Still Waters II rounding out the meal. It was good to sit around, chat, and break bread with the boats from Minnesota.
The skipper, Admiral (standing), Mary, Kevin, Tori the seeing eye dog, and Dan
Mary and Dan treated the crew to breakfast before they shoved off.
Mary on the Beach waiting for restaurant to open.
The crew was back underway on Wednesday passing through Sarasota Bay on their way to Venice, where they would dock at the Crow’s Nest Marina. While passing though the Bay, the crew spotted John Ringling’s 56 room waterfront mansion that was built in 1926 at the cost of 1.5 million.
The home was named Ca d’Zan, which means “House of John.” Venetian Gothic style home
The crew had visited the estate last Thursday. The visit included the circus museum, house tour, and art collection. The most amazing exhibit at the circus museum was a 3,800-square-foot 1/16th scale circus model. The collection is the largest miniature circus in the world. Howard Tibbals has been working on the circus for over 50 years and it is still a work in progress.
A small portion of the overall model.
One example of the level of detail is a ticket booth operator who sits inside a small tent to collect money for tickets. There is a cash box which is closed and cannot even be seen, and there is scaled money in the box. Asked why he would put the money and box in the exhibit when people would not be able to see them, Tibbals responded, “I know that they were there in real life and I know that they are there in the replica.”
After making millions and building his dream home though, John Ringling fell on hard times during the depression. At his death in 1936, he only had $311 dollars left to his name.
Saw this fisherman with some pelicans taking a free ride
The crew eventually made way to Venice and landed at the Crow’s Nest Marina. By the time they arrived the winds had picked up to over 15 mph and the current was beginning to flow in from the Gulf. This made docking a little challenging, but the crew managed to get safely tied up in time to go watch another sunset from the nearby beach.
After the sunset, the crew was strolling back to the boat when the Admiral made the following observation: “it was an unusual day for me, I saw both a sunrise and a sunset today.”
The winds continued to blow for most of the night and did not settle back under 15 mph until late Thursday. The crew decided to sit out this cold front and wait for things to warm back up before making way to Cayo Costa State Park.
The winds continued to drop thru Thursday night so the crew was ready to leave and make way to Cayo Costa State Park. While leaving Venice though, they cruised by some murals painted on buildings that were interesting to view.
The crew has been traveling mostly at low tide the last few days. While this is not the optimum time to be out on the water, it did provide a place for this Bald Eagle to land in the shallow water.
The crew also cruised by this interesting building on their way south.
But by far, the most interesting sighting of the day was a car on a barge. The skipper initially saw that it looked like a car was on a small barge. When it got close, he noticed that that the car was a convertible corvette, the top was down, and a guy was siting in the front seat. As the floating car went by the Admiral managed to get a picture. Not sure how the guy was steering the barge but the crew did get a laugh at the name, Stretch Vet.
It was not much further and the crew arrived at Pelican Bay where they dropped the anchor for the night. After the anchor was set, the skipper dropped the dinghy in the water and the crew headed over to the State Park. This was the best place for shelling back on the first Loop, and the Island did not disappoint on the second trip. They found many good shells to add to their growing collection. They harvested 5 sand dollars and left another 5 for others to find.
The Admiral got this pic as the skipper rowed the dinghy back to Still Waters II.
The crew rose early for their last day on their Platinum Loop Quest. They weighed anchor and made way towards Ft Myers.
Sunrise in Pelican Bay
On their way to Ft Myers they passed by Cabbage Key. Some credit the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” to the burger served at the inn at the marina. The rumor goes that Jimmy Buffet ate a cheeseburger here, wrote the song, and then performed the song in concert at Ft Myers.
In the search for the truth, the skipper found this from the author himself:
“The myth of the cheeseburger in paradise goes back to a long trip on my first boat, the Euphoria. We had run into some very rough weather crossing the Mona Passage between Hispanola and Puerto Rico, and broke our new bowsprit. The ice in our box had melted, and we were doing the canned-food-and-peanut-butter diet. The vision of a piping hot cheeseburger kept popping into my mind. We limped up the Sir Francis Drake Channel and into Roadtown on the island of Tortola, where a brand new marina and bar sat on the end of the dock like a mirage. We secured the boat, kissed the ground, and headed for the restaurant. To our amazement, we were offered a menu that featured an American cheeseburger and piña coladas. Now, these were the days when supplies were scarce – when horsemeat was more plentiful than ground beef in the tiny stores of the Third World. Anyway, we gave particular instructions to the waiter on how we wanted them cooked, and what we wanted on them – to which very little attention was paid. It didn’t matter. The overdone burgers on the burned, toast buns tasted like manna from Heaven, for, they were the realization of my fantasy burgers on the trip. That’s the true story. I’ve heard other people and places claim that I stopped or cooked in their restaurants, but that is the way it happened.”
All this research caused the skipper to have a craving for a cheeseburger. Good thing that Sweetwater Landing has opened a new restaurant on the property at the marina. Because the skipper thinks there is a cheeseburger calling his name.
After turning onto the Caloosahatchee River about 1000, the crew started a section of water nick named The Miserable Mile. The crew estimated that they saw at least 80 boats outbound in a steady procession, and yes it was miserable.
Only 5 miles to go to complete the Platinum Loop when the next pic was taken.
The skipper had made reservations at Sweetwater Landing for the weekend. The crew was excited to return to the spot where they started their Looper Lifestyle. The crew took slip 18 and backed into the slip to complete the quest.
In just a few minutes upon arrival, Mary and Dan arrived from Bradenton and Bill came up from Naples to celebrate with the crew. Mary got this pic of the new Platinum Loopers.
The group moved into the new boaters lounge and spent some time reminiscing about their travels together down the inland rivers and across the Gulf.
The group decided to try the new restaurant. The place must be doing well because they have built an overflow parking lot and use a tram service to deliver the patrons to the restaurant.
The other clue that the place is doing well was the one hour wait to get a table. The group found some vacant chairs along the water to wait for their table.
And yes, the skipper got him a Cheeseburger in Paradise to celebrate earning the Platinum Burgee. The Admiral celebrated with a shrimp basket. Like the Loop completion, the food was excellent.
The skipper penned this little tome to announce Still Waters II crossing her wake for a second time:
Back on February 19, 2017, I was finally removed from my packaging and replaced my old nemesis (the white flag) on the bow of Still Waters II. The White Flag went screaming and kicking and claiming that she had led the crew around the Great Loop and that it was not fair that I get the position of honor and all the credit.
Well today, January 12, 2019, I now have complete and total empathy for my old nemesis. After leading the crew around the Loop a second time, and taking them on awesome side trips to the:
Long Island Sound
Up to Maine
Out to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard
Across the Western Erie Canal and Finger Lakes
Lake Erie and Lake Huron
And up the upper Mississippi River to the end of navigation near St Paul
I now understand what the skipper means when he says: “No good deed goes unpunished.” My crew replaced me with a Platinum Burgee. The injustice of it all, I do all the work, freeze my flag fringes off coming down the inland rivers because THEY wanted to go north up the Mississippi River, and this is the thanks I get. I get put in the same locker as that grungy weathered white flag.
The white flag snickered though when they put me in the locker, and said:
“hey golden boy, look over in the corner, see that red and blue flag?”
I answered: “yes, what is it?”
The Nemesis responded, “that is the look of sweet revenge. I have heard the crew planning a Down East Loop for 2019, and once they start north in the spring that high flying Platinum flag is in for a rude awakening. They plan to pull him down and fly that Down East Burgee. Oh Proud Platinum won’t be so proud then.”
But what tales I can tell of all the wonderful places and people I have seen. No matter what happens next, that Platinum Burgee can never replace the memory making moments that I experienced on My Great Loop Adventure.
Thanks to all the people that helped my crew around the Great Loop such as the folks back in the home office, the Harbor Hosts, and the forum hall of famers who contribute regularly.
Lastly, thanks to the Fleet of 2017, 2018, and 2019 cruisers who have truly enriched our lives, made us better people, and shared your lives with us. There are no better people than the people in the boating community and the AGLCA! Thanks for continuing to put up with us.
Hope to meet even more of the Fleet of 2019 as we continue the Looper Lifestyle in a new Quest for the Down East Loop.
And a special shout out to the folks who follow the blog and have come aboard as virtual crew members. Thanks for sharing the journey with the crew!!!!
Dunedin is the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays. The skipper noticed this boat on the dock one morning and wondered if the owner was affiliated with the Blue Jays.
The boat was wrapped to look like a baseball bat.
The motors looked like baseballs
The Crew will hang out in the balmy warm weather of Ft Myers for about a month. They plan to move over to the east coast of Florida by the end of February and will post again once they complete the move.