We stayed in Tarpon Springs for 4 days waiting out the big blow from the strong cold front. We left on December 15 and headed down to St. Petersburg.
We anchored in the basin next to the Vinoy hotel (Pink Hotel on right) and took a trolley tour of downtown and the pier. We walked through the old hotel and found old photos of the early years. I actually saw a photo of a Life of Georgia convention at the hotel in the 40's (my grandfather and father were lifelong employees of Life of Georgia).
The hotel was decorated for Christmas and had a very large tree in the Promenade.
Leaving St. Pete we headed down to Sarasota. Along the way we watched a crab fisherman checking his pots. The pelicans and gulls were a constant companion waiting for him to throw back the undersized or wrong catch.
Sarasota was the northernmost point we took SEASEA in January 2007 and, therefore, would be the place we would "Cross our Wake" and finish the Great Loop. The AGLCA burgee on our boat was quite worn and we were able to remove our white burgee (designating "doing the loop") and replace it with a gold burgee (designating "completed the loop"). Our chartplotter shows our old track from 2007 (green line) and our boat (yellow circle) approaching the crossing point.
From Sarasota we went to Englewood and anchored for the night near the marina where our friends Wayne and Lynne Flatt on Skinwalker are spending the winter. We went to their boat for dinner and enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and introducing Ed and Lucy. If you are ever in Baltimore during the summer then look for the pirate ship in the harbor. Wayne (Captain Bones) is the captain of the ship and takes guests out for a great pirate adventure.
The next day we left Skinwalker and headed to Punta Gorda. Ed & Lucy had friends that lived on a canal in Punta Gorda and they had invited us to tie up behind their house. We entered a maze of canals and finally arrived.
Jerry and Denise were great fun and were most welcoming. They were originally from the New Orleans area and Ed & Lucy knew them from there. Denise was driving up to Selma, Alabama to spend Christmas with some of her family. We spent a week there to help Jerry and enjoyed Christmas at their house.
Jerry had mentioned that he wanted to install a marine electrical receptacle outside his house so that he could get proper power to his boat so Ed & I headed to Lowe's to get the necessary weatherproof enclosure and installed the receptacle on the house. Of course we immediately put it to use powering both of our boats. While we were there we did a number of projects that Jerry was unable to accomplish due to his failing eye sight.
Jerry plays a professional Santa in the local community and he joined us as we went to a party hosted by other boat friends Jim & Vaughn Quince on "Twins". They traveled with us on the Tenn-Tom last year and bought a condo at Burnt Store Marina. We met new boaters and had invited another couple, Bruce and Susan Armstrong of "Gulfcart" from Naples who drove up to attend. Bruce and Susan wrote a book about their loop trip and we are mentioned in it. If anyone wants a good loop description then check out their book Coming Full Circle. It has just been published so I am not sure how it is available. Anyone interested should just contact us and we will work out the details.
On another day Stacy and I drove down to Sanibel Island to see Lee and Sarah on "Growler" who we met in Canada. They have a winter home on Sanibel and invited us to join them for the day. We had a great time catching up and driving Sanibel and Captiva islands. We had a wonderful lunch at "The Green Flash" and dinner at their home. We visited the beach where we saw many examples of a common local malady called the "Sanibel Stoop" so named because of the constant stooping to collect shells on the beach.
We went back to spend our last night with Jerry & Denise and Ed tried desperately to unlock the special beer holder while Jerry told him all about how cold and refreshing his was.
We had a great time helping out Jerry and enjoyed his hospitality. Denise returned after Christmas and we left to go to Ft. Myers and across the Okeechobee Waterway to the East Coast.