Most days the weather reports are foremost on our minds, today we threw of the dock lines and found the wind was a bit more blustery than we anticipated! Our boat was parallel parked on a lay-along sea wall between a tour boat and run about boat. Result was a few anxious moments with First Mate fending off the docks then running to the stern to watch we didnt hit a boat or dock; with the captain deftly reacting to the wind pushing the boat the opposite way from the fairway! With inches to spare, Moon Shadow headed into the wind and smoothly headed toward to the marina entrance. Whew, glad that is not our typical way to start the day.
A phrase we often see in the guidebooks for charting a course through shallow waters is to consult “local knowlege” for suggestions.
We wanted to cross Boca Ciega Bay with out backtracking to the main ICW route. The charts were vague on the depth in a few areas. The Boat US tow boat captain had been in and out several times and would have been a good source; or the captain of the tour boat- of course neither was around when needed. We did talk to a fellow in the office and decided to follow his suggestions. He drew it out on a sketch pad for us… routing us across the bay, along the shore in front of condos where he said it is dredged close to wall; and most important do not cut the corner too close near the bridge to port – but also give breadth to the channel marker and signage on the starboard side and watch for shoaling.
Clear as a bell. Off we go. When we saw the large sign – we knew it was the right route.
SUNSHINE SKYWAY BRIDGE
The wind picked up and may have discouraged other pleasure craft from boating across the bay- we only met a few other boats. It is blowing about 18 mph from the East.
The Sunshine skyway bridge crosses over Tampa Bay. It is a mile long and 430 feet high at the center. The original bridge was built in 1954 ; and collapsed after a tragic collision in 1980. A freighter had collided with a support column during a storm. It caused the old bridge to collapse with six cars, a truck and a Greyhound bus falling into the water. The new bridge was completed in 1987. There is a manmade island at each column to deflect and boats from crashing into the bridge supports.
As we approached the Sunshine bridge and turned south to follow along side the bridge we had two events to monitor. (three if you count the high wind on our beam)
One was a coast guard announcement warning of a woman possibly in the water near the bridge- all boats approach with caution. We could see the traffic was stopped on the bridge; flashing emergency vehicles at the top of the bridge, plus coast guard boats in the area. Sadly we later saw on the news that a woman had parked her vehicle and jumped! What a tragic event- and seems that the bridge has seen more than its share of this occuring.
Next we could see a few ocean going ships approaching the bay.
The channel was narrow and we were trying to time it so we could stay out there way. Our next waypoint was marker 26- then a change of course..
As luck would have it, our paths crossed just at the intersection near the bridge. So as our boat was rocking from beam seas , the coast guard was circling, and we were attempting to plot our course toward the Manatee River- one ship passed in front of us; and we sped up to cross the bow of the second ship so it could pass behind us.
Happily flying our Great Lakes Cruisers Club Flag!
MANATEE RIVER TO BRADENTON
The river is well marked with green and red buoys. We noted several anchorage spots on the chart; but with the wind and waves were glad to be heading to a marina. One anchorage that looked inviting was at De Soto Point. Is is located near the spot where the Spanish conquistador Hernando De Sota came ashore in 1539. From there you can visit the De Sota Memorial park.
TWIN DOLPHINS MARINA
The marina is located near down town and has lots of amenities. We had intended to do some sightseeing, but ended up staying close to the marina.
WINDY DAYS IN A MARINA
. We enjoyed the Bradenton River Walk. One art feature is the large sound cymbls that you stand between and feel the sound echo. (I can’t remember the word for them…)
It may be hard to see, this photo shows the colorful holiday tour boat taking folks around the marina to view the Holiday Lights displays along the shore line.
The restaurant at the marina is a renovated building from 1928. Had a wonderful dinner overlooking the pier.
Sitting at an anchorage with high winds can make for a rough night. Watching the weather daily again to make our plans.The forecast calls for higher winds over the next few days; our plan to anchor may be changed to a marina Either way the adventure continues!