Big Bend – Part III and Clearwater Beach

On Monday the 26th we pulled up our anchors and headed down the Crystal River back to the Gulf to make our final crossing of the Big Bend.  At one point near a curvy bend we had some confusion with the channel markers and ran aground, but again we were very lucky and got back into the channel without further mishap.

The weather was perfect again, although once we got back into the Gulf we were inundated with crab pots.  A light chop and brilliant sunshine were in store for us.  Our destination was Caladesi Island, which has a State Park and the #1 rated beach in Florida.  The crossing went well, but we could not figure out how to get into the marina at Caladesi, as there were no channel markers in sight, other than ones leading us to an area with signs posted saying, ‘No Motorized Vehicles’.  So we headed south and cruised to the Clearwater Beach Marina.  We putted in – and there was the ‘Northern Spirit’, boaters Ron and Lynne from Canada we had met along the way and docked with at Bobby’s Fish Camp on the Tenn-Tom.

The Big Bend is Over & We're Back on the ICW

The Big Bend is Over & We’re Back on the ICW

We met the our other dock neighbors, such super nice people!  They helped us get tied up and gave us some good local scoop.  Then we walked to Frenchy’s with live-aboards Annie and Lou and enjoyed their company and grouper sandwiches.

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach

Tuesday we did laundry, then hit the beach.  Pier 60 is about 2 blocks from the boat, and you have to walk by all the people selling boating and fishing excursions.  The sand here is like powdered sugar, so fine and soft.  I’ve never seen sand like this before!  I loved it – people watching, soaking up the warmth, and listening to the many different accents of those vacationing here.  After the beach we walked across the street to a hotel with an outdoor bar on the 10th floor.  The view was fantastic!

10th Floor View

10th Floor View

Clearwater Beach Marina

Clearwater Beach Marina

I cooked dinner aboard, then we checked out ‘The Baithouse’, a unique combination of bait store and bar on the waterfront.

The Baithouse

The Baithouse

Thursday we rode with neighbors Ron and Carol to the boat show in St. Pete’s.  Jim goes to the boat show in Mpls every January, but this was so different as everything was outside!  We purchased more charts, a x-mas gift, some new binoculars, 2 new lines, and a new cap with ‘ARiverDerci’ embroidered on it.  It was fun checking out all the new and used boats for sale.  My personal favorite was only $1.2M.

Boats for Sale at the St. Pete's Boat Show

Boats for Sale at the St. Pete’s Boat Show

Another fun day, and we finished it off with happy hour aboard ‘Annie’s Song’ and got a tour of Annie & Lou’s beautiful spacious trawler.

Friday we gathered up items we wanted to ship home, and walked to the UPS Store, then back to the boat.  We decided to take the trolley to Tarpon Springs, a Greek sponge diving and fishing village that we had missed while doing the Big Bend.  We chatted with one of the local divers, and bought a ‘wool’ sponge from him.  A week or so ago we watched the movie, ‘Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef’ starring Robert Wagner, which was filmed back in the 50’s in Tarpon Springs.

Sponges in Tarpon Springs

Sponges in Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs Sponge Boat

Tarpon Springs Sponge Boat

St Nicholas' boat in Tarpon Springs

St Nicholas’ boat in Tarpon Springs

We walked the street along the sponge docks and browsed some of the shops.  At the end was a restaurant called ‘Rusty Bellies’, which is where we had dinner.  Jim went out on a limb and ordered mussels, which were so tender and tasty.  From there we went to their outside bar and listened to Joel & Dakota, a father and son duo.  They were amazing and played many of our favorites.  We had such a blast, but had to leave to catch the last trolley back to Clearwater Beach.  We picked up a bunch of people who were at an outdoor street show featuring The Little River Band, and everybody was in great spirits.  Afterall, we were aboard a Jolly Trolley.

Dakota (15 years old) & Joel

Dakota (15 years old) & Joel

Today was just another day at the beach.  And finally a day when we didn’t spend any money!  When we walked back to the boat, the fishing excursions had just come in with the day’s catch, and there was a lot of hub-bub on the dock.

Catch of the Day

Catch of the Day

Everywhere you go down here there are Christmas decorations, and they’re playing holiday tunes, but I’m having a hard time getting into that mode.  Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 80 and sunny.  It just doesn’t seem right! We love it here in Clearwater Beach, and now I really feel like I’m on vacation.

We’ll be leaving here on Monday morning, heading further south, possibly to Venice.  But in the meantime we’re trying to find a good spot to put the boat back ‘on the hard’, where we can have it serviced and head back to the north country. Until next time, ARiverDerci!

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2 Responses to Big Bend – Part III and Clearwater Beach

  1. Tom Hetland says:

    Hi Jim. Tom from Wednesday golf here. WOW, what a marvelous trip! Glad all is going well. Love the part about duct tape, the “handy mans best friend”. Warmed up enough here to play golf Saturday, but not like your great weather. I will check in more often. Happy sailing.

    • rossmanpj says:

      Hello Tom

      Say hi to Ray and the others when you see them. The trip has been great. We are now on Sanilbel Island. It is a days drive by boat to Key West but we won’t be heading that way until we return in mid Feb. We are heading home for a break, un-needed of course, on about 12-15-12 to see family celibrate Christmas etc. I have only played one round of golf the entire trip but I cannot complain. The boat is still running like a charm. It was good to hear from you. Maerry Christmas.

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