On the weekend celebrating the birth of our country, Cindy and I took the opportunity to get away on Beatitude for a couple of nights. On Thursday (7/3), we left the marina around 11 a.m. We made our way uneventfully down the river, across the bay, and under the Sunshine Skyway bridge. There was a little excitement as we passed under the bridge along side a large ship, the Bouchard. I learned something new in the process. There is a large ship channel on the VHF, Channel 13. I futilely attempted to hail the Bouchard on Channel 16 (the usual hailing channel) to make sure that it was safe to pass beneath the bridge together. Finally, someone made me aware that there is a separate channel for large ships. With one attempt, on Channel 13, contact was made and both vessels were on the same wavelength and in agreement on the procedure for passing beneath the bridge. There was also a trawler which passed just before us, and another sailboat under sail just behind us.
From the Skyway bridge, we continued on to the St. Petersburg Municipal Mooring field where we picked up mooring ball #8 for two nights at $17/night. This was a little bit of challenge due to the fact that, once again, only our port engine was operable. Despite my attempts at solving the recent engine problem by replacing the fuel filter/water separator on that engine, it continues to act up. As long as I only turn it on and off for short periods of docking or maneuvering, it is fine. But, if I leave it on for a few minutes, it starts to lose RPM’s and eventually dies. I am then unable to restart it for sometime. I think it’s time for a diesel mechanic. Despite the challenge of picking up the ball with only one engine, we were successful on the second pass. After securing Beatitude, we went ashore and had dinner at a fun Greek restaurant in downtown St. Pete, the Acropolis. We walked back to the boat and dinghied to Beatitude in a fairly heavy rainstorm.
On the 4th, we had lunch at a British style tavern, The Moon Under the Water, and then caught the downtown looper trolley to the Dalí museum. This is one of the top collections of Dalí’s artwork in the world. Cindy and I are probably in very elite company in that we are likely two of the very few people who have visited the Dalí museum in St. Petersburg, FL, Figueres, Spain, and Paris, France. The two major Dali museums are in St. Pete and Figueres. They are both world-class. After our museum visit, we rested aboard our yacht for a couple of hours before having dinner at a nice Italian place called Bella Brava.
The reason we chose to come to St. Pete and moor was the 4th of July fireworks. We had the best seats in the city, watching the firework display from aboard Beatitude. The fireworks were shot off from the park by the mooring field. We were also blessed to share the experience with a fellow cruiser, Michael, who lives aboard a steel sailing vessel called Pelican which was moored nearby. We had met him earlier in the day and invited him to join us aboard our boat to enjoy the fireworks display. We enjoyed sharing our past experiences and our future plans as cruisers. He has plans of circumnavigating solo in the next two to three years.
The fireworks themselves were absolutely stunning. Experiencing the brilliant colors, lights, and sounds as viewed and heard across the water from Beatitude will be an experience never forgotten. After the flash of dazzling light, the percussive sound from the explosions would echo off the downtown buildings, amplifying the amazing effects of the display. In short, it was wonderful. Following, is a short video of the second finale:
Today, we arose and motored back to Regatta Pointe in almost calm winds and virtually flat seas. We were thankful for a peaceful trip home. After we were secured at the dock, we found out that some of our neighbors had gone out on Thursday and encountered some difficulties. It was a fairly rough day on the bay with uncomfortable waves rolling in from the southwest. Fortunately for us, these were following waves the entire way in to St. Pete. However, they took some friends out to the Skyway bridge and returned home the same day. I guess they were beat up pretty badly. They had recently replaced their roller curler. On the way back, beating into the waves, they experienced issues with their genoa and sustained some unfortunate damage to their vessel – nothing life threatening, but frustrating and costly. They lost a number of fixtures off their mast.
This was perhaps our last overnight excursion prior to the advent of our permanent cruising stage. A little over five weeks from now we will leave Regatta Pointe marina and motor down the river for the last time. Obviously, we are very exited, yet a little sad to leave the place that has been our home base for almost two years.