The channels are like roads through the water- traffic flows along between the buoys aware that it might be less than 2 feet deep beyond the channel markers.
The day is spent with binoculars on the markers; comparing to our charts to make sure we follow the correct route.
The typical causeway bridges are about 25 foot clearance- our boat is 20 feet, so we don’t need them to open for us.
The signs at each bridge indicate the level at the current tide. Then in the small print will note “plus 4 feet at the center”. So glad we have a good pair of binoculars!!
Or the sign might say bridge clearance on a board; and no additional center height.
Sometimes it has the ladder board and figure it out yourself…
We learned at the rendezvous that there is a stiff fine if you request a abridge to open and your boat is actually low enough to have passed under. The disruption in traffic isn’t appreciated. We measured and remeasured, and found that with our antennas up; we clear 19.9 ft. Now do the bridges measure at low tide or high tide??
Occasionally Dave will say take a look; are we clearing? I just hold my breath!
Enough about the bridges… We traveled about 25 miles, and left the ICW to cross the boca ciega bay to Gulfport Marina.
We chose Gulfport based on its marketing materials as a funky artsy town and proud of it. We found the marina is about a 20 minute walk from town, and still being updated. The parking lot is tore up, and the new building is so close to completion; but not quite ready for occupancy. Thus we did not have access to the new lounge, the laundry facility is not set up, and the wi-fi was so so. However, the slips had floating docks so we didn’t have to be concerned about the tides like on fixed docks. The dock hands welcomed us in and were happy to make recommendations of places to see in town.
We kind of had the place to ourselves- one other looper boat came in for a night and left the next day. A tour boat came and went, otherwise the parking lot was empty most of the weekend.
After walking to town, we could see that it might have been a better choice to anchor near the free town docks! They have a day dock and also a dingy dock for visitors- you just can’t stay overnight at the dock. Note to boaters- check Active Captain for warnings- there are two sunken boats in the harbor marked by small buoys similar to crab pot markers!
GROCERY RUN TO TOWN ON THE DINGY
We thought we were so smart; took the dingy to the free dock in Gulfport to get groceries.
Stopped for breakfast at Stellas (excellent choice) then walked through town.
No grocery stores with in walking distance! No groceries today.
Did get some nice shots around town though. Billed as a funky , artsy town- we saw mostly laid back residents relaxing at outdoor venues.
this mural covered both sides of a building. We are still hoping to see a manatee on our trip…
CITY BUS TO ST PETERSBURG
Since we decided not to boat to St Petersburg, a bus trip seemed a good option. We caught the city bus and arrived on a Saturday morning to a large farmers market and also an art and craft show.
Farmers market and more at St Pete:
KAYAKING IN PRESERVE
Finally had a chance to air up our inflatable kayaks. The nature preserve was adjacent to the marina. We visited Clam Bayou Estuary of Boca Ciega Bay and explored the marsh and mangrove forests.
Osprey, and mussels growing on the roots
On the walk to town, this sign caught my attention… not sure why; but i walked a bit faster past this block!
Next up- moving on to Bradenton for a stop at Twin Dolphins marina.