Saturday, September 13, 2014

4/27/14-5/10/14: Dunedin to Moonshine Island to Jewfish Key to Sarasota: 50 NM

I walked downtown Dunedin for the last time early on departure day.  I was ready to leave and be on the hook again.  I would savor one long hot shower before leaving.  I do miss those long hot showers living on the boat.  I had been nervous about getting my boat out of the hole they had me in.  It is not easy to maneuver in tight quarters.  I had the dock master come out and pull my stern around as I took the wheel.  It worked and off I went headed for Moonshine Island.

The attraction to this island was its proximity to Caladesi Island, a state park and nature preserve.  It was voted the best beach in America by some fellow at sometime.  I was more interested in the trail system they had set up.  It was only three and a half miles long but I wanted to see what it was like. 

The ride over from Dunedin just took an hour or so.  I was anchored up within 150 feet of it in 7 feet of water.  I unloaded my inflatable for the first time since Carrabelle and would test out the carburetor work.  It fired up second pull and I quickly motored over to Caladesi to look around.  I found a path to the trail system and then walked to the beach for a quick look and throw of my fishing line.  I would run the trail in the morning when it was cooler.

Caladesi Island is one of the places you can find the borrowing owl. The Island used to be larger before a hurricane split it in two and made it and Honeymoon Island.  I was on the trail at seven thirty in the morning and ran a well maintained and beautiful trail that wound it’s way through pine forests and scrub.  I made it to the far side where the ranger station is and headed back.  It was a nice and sweaty run in the thick humidity.  

The next morning, having become tired of the boat traffic and high rises of Clearwater area, I decided on a whim to get off the ICW and hit the ocean and put Clearwater, St. Petes, and Tampa behind me.  Even though I was going to be beating against the wind, no matter, I wanted a day on the ocean. 

After powering through a very strong current in Clearwater Pass, I set up the sails and wind vane and headed on a Southwest bearing.  Soon I had a nice grouper on the hook and it would provide plenty of good meals.  I had to make several tacks during the day to make south.  Nearing late afternoon I decided to motor the rest of the way in to Tampa Bay in order to get to bed at a decent hour.  
Clearwater Pass

Nice grouper

It was dark by the time I got to Southwest Channel leading into Tampa Bay and my anchorage at Anna Maria Island.  I used my radar to keep track of the navigational buoys to good benefit.  I was safely anchored at around 11pm.  The wind was kind and I had smooth waters in my very exposed location.  

The next morning I motored on in to Jewfish Key.  Its a nice spot and popular with sailors.  I would stay there for two nights and just relax and walk around the area.  On a walk down the beach one day I noticed a residential home being built and it had a seawall extending into the ocean.  It had completely blocked any strolling of the beach and also had trespassing signs in place warning of impending arrest of any violators.  This was very surprising to me that this would even be allowed.  I always thought that the high tide areas were public domain.  I guess this is law is negated by pushing the high tide mark further into the water by the seawall.  THIS IS JUST WRONG!!
Jewfish Key Anchorage

Grouper, rice,and apples.
After my stay at Jewfish Key, I motored on into Sarasota to find a mooring to leave my boat for a month while I attended obligations back home.  I spent a couple of days exploring Sarasota and readying the boat for my absence.
Approaching Sarasota and Marina Jacks mooring ball where I will leave my boat.
Mary Annie at Marina Jacks mooring.
As I was strolling around Marina Jack, my phone started buzzing with warnings of a tornado within a mile of my position.  It never materialized.  This same storm produced some F5 tornados in Arkansas and one tornado skipped over my house in Little Rock.  My wife called me in the closet, hiding as it destroyed homes very near our house.  Three people lost their lives in this storm less than two miles from our house.  A small town 20 miles away was devastated and declared a disaster area.

Farmers Market on a rainy Saturday in Sarasota.

Riding my beach bike on the deserted Florida beach.

Island Park in Sarasota near Marina Jack

Island Park, Sarasota

After readying the boat, I rent a car and head back home to Arkansas for a month.  I will return then to continue down the gulf coast, dry tortugas, key west, and the bahamas.

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