Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Feb 28-29, Tarpon Springs to Torreya State Park
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We toured the Greek shops for our fifth time since 2003, bought balaclava, and had lunch at the same restaurant we ate at on the Great Loop after 24 hours cruising across the Gulf of Mexico. That evening we stopped at the Village Pines Campground RV park at Inglis with full hookups, no reservation, and $16 for the night. This is unheard of in Florida during "high season". However, the next night we stayed at Torreya State Park, that was only $17 and no reservation required.

 

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Posted on 02/29/2012 9:10 PM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 27 February 2012
Feb 20-26, Gator Park to Fort De Sota County Park
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It's been a busy week for boating. Monday we had lunch with CruiseGuide writer, Fred Myers, in Cape Coral at Perkins. While in the restaurant, Great Loopers Bob & Ann came by. They are spending the winter in Cape Coral on their 42 ft catamaran. It seems there are so many Loopers in Florida there are get togethers with groups that cruised together.

Then it was on to Burnt Store where we dry camped in the parking lot behind Hans and Ria's condo. Wednesday Hans and I went out for a cruise on his 36 Catalina sail boat. The weather was perfect with a steady 10kt wind. Charlotte Harbor is one of the best places to sail in the country. It is about 10 miles square with no Gulf swells and about 10 ft deep throughout. At one point a flock of pelicans discovered a school of fish near the surface and bedlam began with the pelcans diving straight down. That night we ate at a new Thai restaurant in Port Charlotte. It was very good and for the first time in years I had fried ice cream for dessert. In Bradenton we stayed with former Kenlake boaters Doc and Eileen. We had dinner at Limber Lodge an old Florida backwoods restaurant decorated stuffed alligators, snakes, fish and other animals. This past weekend we stayed in the driveway of new friends, Gary and Carol at their Anna Maria home. This town is old Florida with modest homes, long beaches, and a beautiful breeze. Gary just retired, sold everything in Nashville, and will live here most of the year except when cruising. I came to help him learn his 1991 Grand Banks 36 ft Classic trawler. We spent most of the day going through the boat and finding where everything was hidden. With 2 engines there is a lot more stuff and fewer places to put it. The engine room is a masterpiece of compact design. It took most of the day to find the 30 gallon holding tank which turned out to be under the Northern Lights generator. Gary bought the boat from a man who spared no expense in equipping it. I also got a chance to play with a Garmin 5000 series chartplotter. After 2 hours we gave up trying to set an offset on the depth sounder. We measured the depth and finally determined the 3.9 ft reading meant there was 1.1 ft under the keel. There is a long learning curve to these integrated chart plotters that put radar, charts, depth sounder, weather, music, TV all into one screen. It was windy and we never felt like going out. Today we left early afternoon and are camped at Fort De Soto CP. This is a beautiful place with campsites in tropical woods right beside a beach. It is full with many RVs that stay for 2 weeks. I lucked out getting a reservation this morning as we needed a pump-out before heading to St Petersburg in the morning.

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Posted on 02/27/2012 2:57 AM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 27 February 2012
Feb 20-26, Gator Park to Fort De Soto County Park
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It's been a busy week for boating. Monday we had lunch with CruiseGuide writer, Fred Myers, in Cape Coral at Perkins. While in the restaurant, Great Loopers Bob & Ann came by. They are spending the winter in Cape Coral on their 42 ft catamaran. It seems there are so many Loopers in Florida there are get-togethers with groups that cruised together.Then it was on to Burnt Store where we dry camped in the parking lot behind Hans and Ria's condo. Wednesday Hans and I went out for a cruise on his 36 Catalina sail boat. The weather was perfect with a steady 10kt wind. Charlotte Harbor is one of the best places to sail in the country. It is about 10 miles square with no Gulf swells and about 10 ft deep throughout. At one point a flock of pelicans discovered a school of fish near the surface and bedlam began with the pelicans diving straight down. That night we ate at a new Thai restaurant in Port Charlotte. It was very good and for the first time in years I had fried ice cream for dessert.

In Bradenton we stayed with former Kenlake boaters Doc and Eileen. We had dinner at Limber Lodge an old Florida backwoods restaurant decorated with stuffed alligators, snakes, fish and other animals.  This past weekend we stayed in the driveway of new friends, Gary and Carol at their Anna Maria home. This town is old Florida with modest homes, long beaches, and a beautiful breeze. Gary just retired, sold everything in Nashville, and will live here most of the year except when cruising. I came to help him learn his 1991 Grand Banks 36 ft Classic trawler. We spent most of the day going through the boat and finding where everything was hidden. With 2 engines there is a lot more stuff and fewer places to put it. The engine room is a masterpiece of compact design. It took most of the day to find the 30 gallon holding tank which turned out to be under the Northern Lights generator. Gary bought the boat from a man who spared no expense in equipping it. I also got a chance to play with a Garmin 5000 series chartplotter. After 2 hours we gave up trying to set an offset on the depth sounder. We measured the depth and finally determined the 3.9 ft reading meant there was 1.1 ft under the keel. There is a long learning curve to these integrated chart plotters that put radar, charts, depth sounder, weather, music, TV all into one screen. It was windy and we never felt like going out.

Today we left early afternoon and are camped at Fort De Soto CP. This is a beautiful place with campsites in tropical woods right beside a beach. It is full with many RVs that stay for 2 weeks. I lucked out getting a reservation this morning as we needed a pump-out before heading to St Petersburg in the morning.

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Posted on 02/27/2012 3:13 AM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 27 February 2012
Feb 27, Day 28, Monday, Fort De Soto County Park to Tarpon Springs
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 We spent the day with friends, Bart & Ellie, in St Petersburg on their 49ft Defever MY. We took the dinghy out for a spin around the harbor and saw the sailboat Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior out of Amsterdam.

Dinner that evening was at the Red Mesa Cantina & Lucha Bar. We ate at a garden table beside a waterfall. It is an excellent restaurant and not overly expensive. The marina wouldn't let us park in their lot overnight so we headed for Tarpon Springs and stayed at an RV Park there on the Anclote River.

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Posted on 02/27/2012 9:05 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 19 February 2012
Feb 17-19, Key Biscayne to Gator Park
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Tonight we are camped at Gator Park in the Everglades about 6 miles east of Miami. Since this is a holiday weekend it was hard to find a campsite. I called about 4 RV Parks and they were all booked up, didn't answer the phone, or told me they only accept 40 ft Class A motorhomes and ours doesn't qualify. Too bad; I'll bet they don't have 6 ft alligators a few feet from their campsites. I like the alligators better than (most of) the folks with the 40 footers. For the past 2 days we had some fun times with Great Loopers Greg and Susan, Phil and Alice, and, Tom and Linda. We had dinner Friday at the Key BiscayneYacht Club and Saturday at Greg & Susan's. We feasted on a fresh caught mahi-mahi we bought at the Green Market in Key Biscayne. Mavis and Susan toured the Quiet Garden at Cradon Park. It wasn't very quiet with peacocks and sandhill cranes. Tom and Linda had just arrived that afternoon on their 42 ft boat from Nassau. Their trip took 33 hours with only 5 hours of sleep at anchor on the way. Tomorrow we cross to the west coast of Florida and start to work our way north.

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Posted on 02/19/2012 8:29 PM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 19 February 2012
Feb 19 Gator Park
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Our 6" Aligator Tonight we are camped at Gator Park in the Everglades about 6 miles east of Miami. Since this is a holiday weekend it was hard to find a campsite. I called about 4 RV Parks and they were all booked up, didn't answer the phone, or told me they only accept 40 ft Class A motorhomes and ours doesn't qualify. Too bad; I'll bet they don't have 6 ft alligators a few feet from their campsites. I like the alligators better than (most of) the folks with the 40 footers. For the past 2 days we had some fun times with Great Loopers Greg and Susan, Phil and Alice, and, Tom and Linda. We had dinner Friday at the Key BiscayneYacht Club and Saturday at Greg & Susan's. We feasted on a fresh caught mahi-mahi we bought at the Green Market in Key Biscayne. Mavis and Susan toured the Quiet Garden at Crandon Park. It wasn't very quiet with peacocks and sandhill cranes (Click here to hear the racket). Tom and Linda had just arrived that afternoon on their 42 ft boat from Nassau. Their trip took 33 hours with only 5 hours of sleep at anchor on the way. Tomorrow we cross to the west coast of Florida and start to work our way north.

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Posted on 02/19/2012 8:36 PM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Feb 16 Day 17 Marathon to Key Biscayne
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A good part of the afternoon today was spent on the Rickenbacker Causeway that goes out from Miami to Key Biscayne. There is parking right beside the beach. The sea breeze kept us cool. In between telephone meetings I put together a 5 minute video of the Olympic Sailing Trials I attended on the committee boat a couple of weeks ago. Check it out on YouTube  or use your smartphone with the QR Code below.

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Posted on 02/16/2012 9:29 PM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Feb 11-13 Days 14-16 Marathon
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Saturday was very windy. Ed and I sat around and he got me started on Apple's new multimedia authoring system. Apple is going to try to repeat its success in taking over the music business with the text book business. They have a free authoring tool, and an iTunes like ecommerce site where books cannot cost more than $15. Apple keeps $5 and the publisher gets the rest. Really beautiful books can be produced with sound, video, animation and interactivity. However, the books can only be viewed on the iPad. As I have learned over the years the labor required to produce these books is substantial, but if you can sell a million copies its very worthwhile. You can see video of the Jan 19, 2012 announcement here.

Sunday we went to Key West. Lunch was at the Blue Heaven restaurant where only breakfast is served all day. Mavis had the lobster BLT (see photo). It was more like a eggs benedicts with lobster, bacon and tomato. After breakfast we toured the Truman Little White House and wandered about the Truman Annex (old naval base) which is much like Seaside, FL but very old. Tour buses are not allowed so it is very peaceful. On the way back we passed the last remaining piece of the Flagler Railroad Bridge which was converted to a road by putting the roadway on top of the spans. Could this could be a solution to the Eggners Ferry bridge missing span? On one of the Keys we went down a side road Ed knew and saw the Key Deer getting into everyone's gardens. We are going to stay here at Pelican RV Park until Thursday.

 
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Posted on 02/14/2012 4:23 AM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 11 February 2012
Feb 7-10 Days 10-13 Easterlin CP to Marathon
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Easterlin proved to be a good stop right in the city and not far from the farthest north water taxi stop. Jeff & Marla picked us up and we had a superb dinner at the Greek Islands Taverna in Fort Lauderdale. Wednesday we headed south for the Keys and camped in the rain at Fiesta Key RV Park. It was formerly a KOA and needs a lot of maintenance. Thursday the sun came out and it is amazing how much better the place looked on a sunny day. Thursday night Bob & Ginny picked us up and we went to a good restaurant the Islamorada Fish Company. The owner of Bass Pro shops built it along with a huge store and bar in an old marina. The store has the restored sister ship to Hemingway's Pilar, a 38 ft cabin cruiser built in 1933. Hemingway's boat is preserved in a museum in Cuba.  Today we drove 19 miles southwest to Marathon and I went out in Ed and Daisy's 44 ft sailboat along with two other couples. Mavis elected to stay on shore. We cruised out to the reef and Gulf Stream and then explored the waterways in Marathon.

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Posted on 02/11/2012 2:14 AM by Bob Duthie
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Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Feb 6, Day 9 Monday, Fort Lauderdale
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This was my second day on the water. Joined by Larry and Marsha from Nashville, we cruised all around the Intracostal Waterway and New River on the Yellow Water Taxi. It's a good deal. For $17 each you can get on and off at any stop all day long. The boat is an interesting design as it is a diesel-electric hybrid. The diesel generator runs all the time charging batteries and the propulsion engine is electric. The steering wheel can rotate the propeller in any direction and a single lever controls engine speed. The boat docks to let passengers on an off at right angles to the seawall. The engine is then left running slowly to keep the boat firmly against the seawall. The boat is quiet and very maneuverable. Our first stop was in downtown Fort Lauderdale where we had lunch at the excellent La Bonne Crepe. 

The restaurant offered a large number of different crepes stuffed with all kinds of meat and vegetables. Each was very good but the photo I took didn't make my crepe look very good so I am not showing it. I did show the desert I had at our last stop. The most impressive boat we saw was the 276 ft Seven Seas belonging to movie director Steven Spielberg according to the taxi driver. It is #39 on the list of the largest mega yachts. We also passed by the "white house" owned by the man who invented the clutch for the automobile air conditioner. Tomorrow we re-position to a Broward County park, Easterlin, close to a Greek Restaurant we will visit tomorrow with Jeff and Marla.

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Posted on 02/07/2012 4:17 AM by Bob Duthie
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Monday, 6 February 2012
Feb 5, Day 8 Sunday, Key Biscayne Yacht Club
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What a great day. I spent most of it on the KBYC committee boat watching the Olympic Sailing Womens' Match Racing Trials. It was the last day of the event and the main competition was Denmark vs Argentina. There was a crew of 3 in each Sheboygan Class 6 meter boat. These boats were strictly for racing. The matches were very close and the teams aggressive. Match Racing is very complicated with all kind of rules. The net effect is very exciting. The courses are short and the winner has to win 3 out of 5 races.  Denmark won in a match that went all 5 races. The committee boat crew was at least 10 people and they had to work like crazy to keep up with all the scoring that is required. Each sailboat was followed by a "security" boat so the races were very colorful. One woman continually reported on the races using Twitter. Over 250 people watched the Twitter Feed.  ESPN won't broadcast these races as it is not a "major sport". I took lots of video and at the awards event the team leader from Denmark copied my SD drive to her computer. Mavis had a good time with Susan at the Symphony and a flea market in downtown Miami. We'll be back to Key Biscayne for the Miami Boat Show in two  weeks.

  

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Posted on 02/06/2012 2:24 AM by Bob Duthie
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Sunday, 5 February 2012
Feb 4, Day 7 Saturday, Fort Lauderdale
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Today was my talk. The room was set up for 150 people and over 60 attended. 80% of the audience was there looking to buy a boat. My talk was about cruising the Great Loop and giving people a good reason to buy a boat. Mavis ran the store at the back of the room and did a lively business. Tomorrow we are going 30 miles south to Key Biscayne to visit boating friends Greg and Susan. Greg is Captain of the committee boat (his Krogen Whaleback) that is running the finals in the women's Olympic Trials. I'll be going with Greg, and Mavis is going to a concert with Susan at the new Miami Symphony Hall.

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Posted on 02/05/2012 2:41 AM by Bob Duthie
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Saturday, 4 February 2012
Feb 3, Day 6 Friday, Blue Spring to Fort Lauderdale
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We were out at 7:15AM and arrived at Yacht Haven RV Park and Marina at 1:00PM. Checking in at the Bahia Mar where TrawlerFest is held, I then had a chance to see the boats. By far the most spectacular trawler for sale was the Wanderbird. I wish I could have taken photos inside it is magnificent. It was build in Victoria BC for an owner that just enjoyed the construction project. I was told he spent $12M on it. It's for sale at $3.5M. A real bargain for anyone with that many millions to spend on boats. The galley was across the stern, a very unusual positioning. The boat was loaded with original paintings many of boating scenes. Some were really beautiful. It had beds for 6 and a crew quarters forward for 4. The height was like a sailboat with a really tall mast and what appeared to be two roller reefed steadying sails forward. Midship were large flopper stoppers. Aft were two large dry stacks for the engines that made it look like a cruise ship. . . which it is. It is not a loop boat because of the height, but if you want to go to Australia this would be the boat.

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Posted on 02/04/2012 2:33 AM by Bob Duthie
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Friday, 3 February 2012
Feb 2, Day 5 Thurs, Tomoka State Park to Blue Spring
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The brochure reads "Blue Spring State Park is the winter home to more than 200 manatees". This year that claim is slightly exaggerated. We saw 2, a mother and baby. It seems that the warm weather has kept the St Johns River above normal temperatures and it is unnecessary for the manatees to seek out the 72 degree water from the Spring. Manatees can't survive in water under 60 degrees. Today it was 84 degrees in the shade. We were here in December 2007 and there were 172 manatees. I was all set today to put a magnificent video on YouTube, but 2 manatees just doesn't do it. Tomorrow we drive 250 miles to Fort Lauderdale.

 

 

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Posted on 02/03/2012 1:21 AM by Bob Duthie
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Thursday, 2 February 2012
Feb 1, Day 4 Wed., St. Augustine to Tomoka State Park
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In the morning I did the month end accounting, printed checks, and visited the post office. The we drove 60 miles or so toe Tomoka SP. The road in goes for miles through the jungle with live oaks and Spanish moss shading the road. This is a beautiful park with the oldest live oak trees in East Florida. The camp sites are all shaded by the huge trees. There is some access to the Tomoka River but not near any of the sites. Forget about TV here, but there is good Internet access via Verizon. We walked a couple of miles to the park store get some exercise. The store operator was keen on 33 rpm vinyl records and had a huge collection he played and talked about. Mavis got to hear the original Eagles albums

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Posted on 02/02/2012 3:59 AM by Bob Duthie
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Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Jan 31, Day 3 Tuesday Tifton to St. Augustine
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We had a nice short drive to an misnamed park in RVparking.com. It called it State Park but it turned out to be Cooksey's RV Park. It 95% extended stay and only opened the office 8-10 and 4-6. It was inexpensive and we had a good site with satellite TV access. I had a work project and spent the rest of the day on the computer.
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Posted on 02/01/2012 3:55 AM by Bob Duthie
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