Egmont Key

What a beautiful January day! 83 degrees with magnificent sun!

Today, we went out sailing with our friends, Lynn and Steve Simons. We left the docks at the Marina around 10 a.m. and made our way out the Manatee River. Upon hitting the bay, we found 14-15 knots of wind out of the ESE, raised the mainsail and the genoa and cut through the water at almost 7 knots. Egmont key is a 300 acre island which guards the entrance to Tampa Bay. It has been on our wish list to visit since starting sailing, but the time was not right until today. We made our way to the anchorage on the SE side of the island and dropped anchor in approximately 10 feet of water. After putting out 70′ of all chain road and feeling comfortable that we were not at risk of dragging anchor, we settle in for lunch. Steve and Lynn had brought along some Cubans and Crab Rolls from Brocato’s sandwich shop in Tampa. What a delicious meal (especially the crab roll!)

Barry and Steve chatting on the trampolines/bow while the autopilot does the work.

Steve and Lynn assisting with dousing the mainsail.

We all got into the dinghy, our 12′ Caribe rigid bottom inflatable powered by a 15 hp Yamaha outboard. After covering the approximate 1 mile distance up the eastern side of the water (and nearly grounding our dinghy in about a foot of water) we pulled up onto the beach to explore. I was pleasantly surprised at how many interesting sights there were. After a couple of hours we made our way back to Beatitude and made the 2 hour journey back to the marina. At the risk of jinxing myself with overconfidence, today’s leaving and arriving at the dock/slip went off without a hitch and was as smooth as could be.

The crew (Lynn, Steve, and Cindy) enjoying the dinghy ride.

The four of us in front of the Egmont Key Lighthouse, built in 1858.

One of the many Gopher Tortoises seen on the island.

An unexpected find… A civil war cemetery. All but two died of yellow fever or typhoid fever. Two died of gunshot wounds (one a “civilian and union sympathizer”). An adjacent cemetery contained the remains of Spanish-American war casualties, Seminole Indians, and family members of the lighthouse keeper.

Our beautiful home – Beatitude.

We finished off the day with fish tacos, fish and chips, and lobster corn chowder at Riverhouse Reef and Grill. I’m happy, tired, and sore!

Sunset back at the marina.

Moving Aboard

Check off the next big milestone on the way to a cruising lifestyle. And I mean BIG milestone! We closed on our home on December 28 and officially became liveaboards on our 42′ Lagoon Catamaran. What a whirlwind week we had! Our house had been on the market for approximately 8 months or so when we finally had a first offer. Our counter-offer was accepted, but they wanted to close before the end of the year. By the time we knew the deal was final, we had just a few days to sell off all our furniture, donate or throw away bags and bags (and boxes and boxes) of “stuff,” rent a moving truck and storage unit, and execute the actual move. We are so thankful for friends who volunteered their free time and energy to come and help us pack and clean. Thanks so much to all of you (you know who you are)!

Louise and Alex Foss assisting us with our packing

Dan Foss sorting our donations and trash in the garage

Parting with my office and numerous bookshelves full of books was one of the hardest things for me to give up

Celebrating our last Christmas morning in a mostly empty house

It seems now that we are fully committed! I need patience, however, as for the next 2-3 years we will be living aboard while I continue to work full time at Lakeland Regional. We met a lady today from Pennsylvania who bought a boat a couple of weeks ago here at our marina. She and her husband have their house for sale and they are in the process of selling all. I must admit to pangs of jealousy that they are setting out on their cruise in a month or so. Another couple in the marina who Cindy and I have befriended having been living aboard for a number of years preparing their 37′ sailboat for cruising. They will be leaving in April. It will be difficult watching them sail away, while we are in sailing limbo.

A 26 ft. Uhaul fully loaded with what was left after selling, donating, and throwing away. It is amazing what one can accumulate while living 9 1/2 years in 3700+ sq. ft. of space!

A view of our beautiful, empty, former home

Our 10×20 storage space a couple of miles from the boat. We’ll downsize in a couple of months after transporting a good chunk of this to Ohio to store with family.

Cindy with the last few items on the truck at the Marina

In the meantime, though, I’ve quickly come to think of Beatitude as home. I think Cindy is feeling increasingly comfortable living aboard our vessel, as well. While docked in Regatta Pointe Marina, we will have virtually all the conveniences of our former home on board, other than a washer and dryer. We’ve reverted to the habits of our early married years and visiting the Marina laundromat. Our bed is comfortable, our showers are warm, and we enjoy each other’s company. After 33+ years of marriage, there is still no one I’d rather be with than Cindy. Thought we cannot set sail for distant shores for months, we are looking forward to enjoying some shorter sailing excursions – many, we hope, with family and friends.

The mess in the salon as we are moving in

Cindy and I at Gaylord Palms for some R&R after the move

At ICE! at the Gaylord Palms: Barry, Erica Foss, Mariah (our youngest daughter), and Cindy

The Capital One Bowl, Orlando, New Year’s Day. We watched Georgia beat up on Nebraska!

Our early visitor the morning after moving aboard. The dolphin was about 10 feet off our starboard side

Our First Guests

Our actual first guest (for a visit and not for a sail), Louise, a close family friend.

A couple of days ago, we had a wonderful time on a day-sail with our first guests aboard Beatitude.  My niece, Holly, and her friend, Jason, joined us for a blissful day of sailing on Tampa Bay. We pushed off from the dock around 9:30 a.m. and stopped by the Marina fuel dock to top up the fuel tanks.  Our port tank was less than one quarter full since we had been running the port engine and the generator off of that tank.  Seventy gallons of diesel set me back over $300.00.  Ouch!  But, We hadn’t fueled up since Marathon when we were bringing the boat up from Ft. Lauderdale.  If you remember, we had no wind for that trip and ended up motoring the entire way.  So, that’s the cost of windlessness.

Approaching the marina fuel dock

The “firsts” just keep coming. Our first time fueling Beatitude. She has 2 tanks, one in the port hull and one in the starboard which hold a total of 160 gallons. The two engines, as well as the generator, run off these tanks.

After deftly maneuvering away from the fuel dock and pivoting in a confined space while dodging other sailboats coming through, we made our way out into the Manatee River channel and headed for the bay.  It was a gorgeous day which started off a little on the cool side and warmed up into the mid-upper 70s with bright sunshine.  The wind was almost non-existent up until that time, but upon entering the bay (as if on cue) the wind picked up to a steady 8-9 knots out of the east.  We raised the sails and enjoyed the quietude of being propelled through the water by wind alone.  We glided along at around 4 knots for about 2 hours until the fickle wind decided to disappear for the rest of the day.  Beatitude slowed to a crawl, so we decided to have a little lunch before firing up the twin diesels.  

Under sail, relaxing on the foredeck.

Holly and Jason doing the “Titanic” pose. Fortunately, we avoided all the icebergs in Tampa Bay.

Jason and Barry chilling on the trampolines

Holly and Cindy with the Skyway bridge as a backdrop

The whole crew posing

Lunch consisting of chicken salad sandwiches, macaroni salad, no-bake cookies, and chips. (Holly and Jason brought a birthday cake for Cindy – who just turned 29 – which we enjoyed later). The evening before, we bought our little four foot Christmas tree (on the right) to celebrate the season and make Beatitude a little more “homey.”

After lunch, we motored beneath the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, made a U-turn, and headed for home.  Pelicans and Anhingas kept us company throughout the day, but we almost always see dolphins on our day sails.  Approximately 1/2 mile before reaching the Marina, we finally spotted a single dolphin which was quickly scared away by a power boat.

I decided to try to back into the slip this time.  Previously, I had gone around our slip and pulled through the empty slip adjacent to us.  It went well with no major incidents.  It was a little challenging to get the boat close to the dock against the current, but it was accomplished.  My confidence at maneuvering Beatitude in tight places increases with every excursion.  I really was not very nervous this time around (The fact that there was little to no wind to deal with didn’t hurt).

Our relaxing day came to an end after tidying up the boat and enjoying a nice meal at the Riverhouse Reef and Grill.  We said goodbye to our guests and await another day to sail.

Mr. Pelican stood guard over our slip while we were away.

Dinner at the end of the day.