Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Much-needed downtime

Kitty & Hammock

We are at the Elks lodge in Pinellas Park, Florida (map). This is a familiar stop for us, as we spent several days here about a year ago. It's a great spot, within walking distance of several nice restaurants, a Target, a Marshall's, and a massage school with $20 practice massages.

We spent Saturday night at the Elks lodge in Sarasota, Florida (map), also a familiar stop. Since the last time we were there, they've turned the shack where the RV pedestals are located into a nice outdoor Tiki Bar, and we enjoyed a cocktail when we arrived Saturday afternoon after leaving our friends' house in Punta Gorda. The lodge charges $20 per night for camping, but that includes 30 amps of power, which we did not really need since we had just charged our batteries. Nevertheless it was a secure place to leave the bus while we were out all day Sunday.

Our friends Maria and James came down from St. Pete Saturday evening and we had a nice dinner at an upscale sushi place in downtown Sarasota. It was great to see them and catch up, and they brought our mail with them as well. Sunday morning, our broker Curtis and his wife picked us up at the bus, and we went straight back to downtown Sarasota to look at a boat, an Ocean Alexander with a pair of beefy engines.

The OA was a great layout and in excellent condition, but this sort of high-power motor yacht is not really what we are looking for. We only added it to the list since we were in the area, and Curtis had to come out anyway to show us the other boat, in St. Pete. That boat, a Hatteras 48 LRC, turned out to be much more up our alley, and we've been noodling on it ever since seeing it. After touring the LRC we had a nice lunch in St. Pete before heading back to the Sarasota Elks and the bus. The Tiki Bar was again in full swing when we pulled out of the lodge late Sunday afternoon to head here.

Out of all the boats we have seen so far, this Hatteras LRC came closest to our magic combination of size, layout, equipment, and price. It has a pair of Detroit two-strokes -- a powerplant with which we have more than a passing familiarity -- a Kubota-powered generator much like the one we have now, enormous fuel tanks, stabilizers, and a full complement of electronics and safety equipment. The engine room is capacious, if a bit low-headroom. And the salon is completely open with no fixed furniture, allowing for a layout of our choosing.

The boat did have a few downsides, though. For starters, it is a 1976 model, and 35 years is really much older than we'd like -- we would not even have bothered if not for the Hatteras LRC reputation. Some of the layout, woodwork, and other facets of the boat seem very dated, and I suspect a good deal of the plumbing is original, as are many of the bathroom fixtures. There are no walk-around decks -- behind the pilothouse, the side decks are unenclosed and only accessible from the cockpit, which is in turn only accessible from the salon. The flybridge is perched squarely atop the pilothouse, a configuration which adds to the air draft, and, to my eye, detracts from the appearance. And the stabilizers are pneumatic rather than hydraulic.

All of that said, this boat has to be a serious contender for us. We would still prefer a Selene 43 or 47 in our price range, which would suit us much better, and we have yet to even look at some of the other options such as a Seahorse 52, a Neville 44, or a later model DeFever 49. We'll probably ruminate about this one for a while yet, and Curtis is looking into how hard it is to access the cranks on the 453 Detroits, which is really a requisite. What that means is that if we do decide to make an offer on it, we'll probably be on the other side of the country when we do -- c'est la vie.

Tonight makes our third night in this spot. When we first arrived I hard harbored thoughts of perhaps getting together with some of our other friends in the area, and possibly another meetup with James and Maria. The reality, though, turned out to be that we both needed the downtime. Other than a single spare day, spent at a truck stop in Punta Gorda, we've basically been either on the move, or at engagements on the calendar, since we left Cocoa Beach three weeks ago.

So since arriving here we have kept to ourselves, and other than going to dinner each night, I've hardly left the bus. I did walk over to the massage school today and had an OK massage from a first-time student. For $15, the special new-customer rate, it's hard to complain, and it did help my sore shoulder at least a little bit.

Tomorrow we will get an early start, leaving the lodge here no later than 9:30 so I can drop Louise off at the University of Tampa for her choral workshop. I'll either head over to the big RV show which opens tomorrow, or, more likely, find a quiet place to park while I try to get some Red Cross work done. We'll try to catch dinner at the Centre Club before heading to a friendly Walmart for our final night in the Tampa Bay area. Thursday we will head north, towards Montgomery.

Photo by paulcole, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. LRCs very nice boats. 4-53s good, beware head cracks with 6v and 8v53s. Ask if your engines have 'dogbone' heads.

    If your tastes go more custom checkout http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1970/Tucker-Trawler-941923/Fort-Lauderdale/FL/United-States

    Tucker Marine based in Cincinnati, built mostly towboats; quality work.

    Jess Tucker also built several bus conversions from new shells and a couple of GMC Transmodes. One bus was for fmca member #14!

    Have Fun !
    Reader in Tn

  2. If you're on the smaller surface roads and choose our route, wave as you drive through Dothan, Alabama!

  3. Glad we got to see you and explore Sarasota a bit!

  4. @Anonymous: I'd seen that Tucker come up, in my all-Florida search. The MSR is unworkable for us, without an island bed and no real way to rearrange it. Also the furnishings are a bit spartan. Honestly, we would have looked at it if not for the terrible MSR layout.

    @Debbie: We'll be passing through Dothan today, and we'll wave. Probably take the north bypass on 431. In times past, we would have stopped for fuel at the FlyingJ, but these days they are way too pricey.

    @James: Really glad we got the chance to see you, and thanks so much for coming down for dinner. I had hoped to try to get together one more time, but we really just ran out of steam. We'll be back, though.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!