Saturday, May 7, 2016


We are again under way in Tampa Bay, running on one fin, which we've dubbed "Nemo." This morning we left our lovely anchorage just west of Davis Island in Tampa (map), and this afternoon we will pick up a mooring ball in the Vinoy Yacht Basin in St. Petersburg.

Shortly after I posted here Tuesday we made our way up the Seddon Channel, a former ship channel leading to downtown Tampa and the mouth of the Hillsborough River. We had hoped to anchor in the former turning/connecting basin there, which was dead calm on our arrival, notwithstanding fairly rough seas in the bay itself.

In hindsight it was quite doable, but as we circled the basin it looked as if anywhere we dropped would be in the way of either a channel or a busy water taxi service. After ten minutes of circling and scratching our heads, we decided instead to go five miles around to the northwest side of Davis Island, where we knew we could anchor without question, at the expense of another half mile of dinghy ride to get ashore.

Downtown Tampa from our deck, taken in the calm of this morning.

In stark contrast to the basin just a few hundred feet away, this anchorage was quite choppy, with winds out of the south traveling the whole length of Hillsborough Bay. We tucked in as close to shore and the bridge as we could for the best protection, and despite the chop we were able to launch the tender for dinner.

Once we crossed under the two low bridges in the tender things were again dead calm, and we decided to explore the channel a bit. Our guide said the city dock at the Convention Center was the place we could get ashore, for a landing fee of $2 per hour (this same dock, which can accommodate Vector, is $2 per foot for overnight use, power included). As we explored the old Garrison Channel, though, we found another dock, on the north end of Harbour Island, that was free for up to two hours. Immediately ashore of that dock are three restaurants and a convenience store serving the residential community there.

We opted for Italian-themed That's Amore, which was good if a bit odd, rather than the more highly-rated Cafe Dufrain, which probably would have been a better choice. Next time, perhaps. After dinner we strolled the island a bit before stopping in the c-store to restock the beer supply. I added the free dock to the on-line guide.

Wednesday was our anniversary, and we had hoped to go out someplace nice, possibly our affiliate club in town. We both joked that apparently, thirteen is the "stabilizer seal" anniversary. Alas, the forecast for all Wednesday was high winds and heavy rain, and we prepared ourselves to just spend the whole day aboard and eat in. In anticipation of winds and seas, we hip-tied the tender for the night, rather than trailing it as usual.

Sunset over our anchorage and the Interbay Peninsula. The calm before the storm.

Sure enough, we awoke at 6am to the first winds of the incoming storm, and had a mad scramble to secure all the loose items on deck and inside. The forecast had deteriorated overnight, and was now calling for winds of over 35 knots steady with gusts to 70. We brought the snubber in and increased our scope, paying out another 30' of chain to put us at 10:1. By the time the winds hit, they dropped the forecast to gusts of 50, and I'm going to say we saw at least a few that high. Nothing was lost overboard, but we took a couple of ten degree rolls and we would have lost items from the fridge and the cabinets had we not dogged them.

I ended up manning the anchor watch for perhaps 40 minutes. The whole storm had passed in a couple of hours, and the rest of the day it was just garden-variety windy with incessant rain. A good time to clean house and get some online projects knocked out before a delicious meal aboard.

After the storm passed and all the way through this morning, winds clocked around to the north and west, and our previously choppy anchorage became very calm, making for a very pleasant stay. North winds also brought welcome cooler temperatures, and Thursday we decided to explore Tampa a bit.

We took a very lovely tender ride up the Hillsborough River, turning around just before MLK Boulevard. We could have gone at least again as far in the tender; the river is navigable almost to this point even for Vector, although the drawbridges require two hours' notice to open. We found a nice dinghy dock at Water Works Park, adjacent to Ulele Springs, and spent a few minutes exploring the park and the spring.

After returning back down the river we tied up at the Convention Center docks to explore downtown. We checked in with the dockmaster to pay the hourly fees, but when he saw the size of our tender and that we had put it around the back of the dock rather than into a slip, he just waved us along.

On the trolley to Ybor City.

A short walk through the waterside plaza, complete with open-air bar, art work, and even a self-service bicycle repair stand with tools, brought us to the trolley station. For $5 apiece we bought day passes to take the "historic" trolley out to Ybor City. These trolley cars were actually built in 2000, but have the look of much older rolling stock, right down to old-fashioned trolley controls. It was a pleasant ride and we enjoyed strolling historic Ybor City and having a beer at one of the many sidewalk bars.

Our trolley at the end of the line. Somehow we got this same Coors-wrapped car both ways, looking rather un-trolley-like.

This car, going the other way, was more representative of the fleet.

Good friends Ben and Karen, whom we did not expect to see until later in the week, when we moved to St. Petersburg, texted us mid-day to say they'd be in Tampa for some shopping, and after we returned to the waterfront on the trolley they picked us up at the Convention Center and took us to dinner. We had a great evening to cap off a very pleasant day.

Yesterday, after much rumination and many false starts on my part, Louise suggested we spend part of the day finishing up the eBay sales listing for our bus, Odyssey. It took us all morning and into the afternoon, and with the weather still very pleasant and the anchorage calm, we decided to just spend an additional night in Tampa. I'm happy to report that the listing is up on eBay and we are getting quite a good bit of interest at our bargain-basement opening price.

Deciding to stay gave us the opportunity to take the #30 bus out to the Centre Club for a nice dinner, which we declared to be in honor of our anniversary. We discovered that we could dock the dinghy at yet another free dock adjacent to the Tampa Museum of Art at Curtis Hixon Park; not only did this eliminate any issue with hourly fees, but it was a good deal closer to the bus stop, and we got to enjoy another section of the River Walk.

The River Walk from the drawbridge as we waited for our bus. Scalar is at the dock to the right of the railroad bridge.

This morning we weighed anchor on a rising tide to pick our way back through some shallow soundings out into Hillsborough Bay. Ben and Karen have invited us to a street fair this afternoon and we need to be in quarters and squared away by 2pm. Fortunately, we left plenty of extra time, because it took over twenty minutes to weigh anchor, one foot of chain at a time, as we washed some of the thickest mud we've ever seen off the chain. Coming up out of the water it didn't look like chain at all, but rather some brown, slimy tube monster with the occasional embedded mollusk.

Mud-caked anchor chain. All 100' of it looked like this.

Now that we are beam-to the seas, Nemo is working hard, but all is well and I expect to be secured to a mooring in the Vinoy Yacht Basin in plenty of time to get signed in and meet up with our friends. I can see from here, through the phalanx of sailboats out for a weekend day sail, that the metal-munching moon mice have demolished all the structures on the controversial St. Petersburg Pier, which was already closed and awaiting its fate when last we were here.

Update: We are moored in the yacht basin (map), just a short distance from our last mooring here, and we had a great time out on the town with friends. I had to set aside typing to get secured here, and then ended up answering eBay questions on the bus listing until it was time to leave, only now returning to my keyboard. In the interim, the bus has had nearly 8,000 page views and we even have a bid, so I guess it will be sold by next weekend.

We'll be right here until Wednesday sometime, when we will drop lines and head to Palmetto, across the bay, for a haulout there Thursday morning. Stabilizer repairs should be complete by the end of the day Thursday and, unless we find additional problems, we should be back in the water Friday. And I suppose I will shortly be making arrangements to get back to Virginia to close on the bus.


  1. Jack Hart here, my buddy said the storm you referenced put down as mush water in a day as Tampa normally gets during the month of May!

  2. Jack Hart here, my buddy said the storm you referenced put down as mush water in a day as Tampa normally gets during the month of May!


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