Sunday: Regatta Pointe Marina is not on the ordinary path of loopers, however, there are two other looper vessels here in the marina. Truth be told, they are both wintering here and starting their loop in a short while soon. We also meet some of our neighbors in adjacent slips and this is a great place to spend a week.
Today, we are entertaining cousins, Chris and Marc Pegram who we look up every time we’re down here in or near Sarasota. They come aboard around noontime and we visit for quite a while aboard Kailani, then we all go over to the Riverhouse Reef & Grill Restaurant on the pier here in the marina. It’s a nice place for a lunch right on the water so visitors that don’t get an opportunity for a ride, can at least enjoy some of the scenery being out on the water. We have a great time with Chris and Marc and soon, we are saying our goodbyes so they can get home and Marc can rest his back.
Monday: Today is another day of loafing around and enjoying the now very warm Florida weather. We’ve been looking for this weather for quite some time and now it’s here and we love it! Shorts, tee-shirts and oftentimes, barefoot. The marina is located quite nicely for Tracy to scope out some good fishing spots over by the bridge.
That’s exactly where we go as the sun is setting. We walk over to the pedestrian portion of the bridge from Palmetto to Bradenton and Tracy sets up her fishing tackle while I surf on my smartphone. Tonight is not a stellar night for her but she does catch a few catfish anyway. Then we walk back to Kailani for the evening.
Tuesday: Today is a special treat for me as Dennis and I are going to George M Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for the New York Yankees opening day of full squad practice for Spring Training. The park is open to all fans with no admission required and everyone in attendance gets to see all the current and potentially new Yankees work out on fielding, throwing and batting practice.
Dennis and I get a nice day out of it and walk the entire ballpark to avoid the sun as it moves in the sky.
We spend a few dollars in the Team Store and then leave around 3:30pm to avoid the rush hour traffic leaving Tampa later on tis afternoon. Dennis drives me back to the marina and when I get out, he confirms that Terry will pick me up in the morning to get me to the golf course. Tracy & I have a nice dinner aboard and then go out fishing for the evening again.
Wednesday: I’m up early as I prepare my golf stuff for a day on the course with some other men and women from Dennis and Terry’s community at Tropic Isles. There are usually about 16 people that show up on Wednesdays for the golf, and I’m able to get into one of the foursomes to enjoy the friendship and golf with Jim, Bruce and Fred.
We all have a great time on this hot Wednesday and after all players are back in the pub enjoying some cocktails, I find out that I had the best score of the day at 70 strokes over a par 62 course. I felt like I was playing fairly well and scoring a lot of pars, so it make sense to be close to the lowest score. Anyway, another bunch of guys drove me back to the marina and my game of golf was over for the day.
The late afternoon was taken up doing some laundry and fishing again.
Thursday: This might be our last day here in Palmetto unless we decide to stay another day or two and as it comes time to decide, we agree to spend at least one more day here at Regatta Point. So we plan for getting a pump out on Friday, and doing some shopping at WalMart if Dennis will be available to take us tomorrow. Then we enjoy one more day in Palmetto Paradise.
Friday: Dennis comes at 10:30am to pick us up for a run to WalMart. We get a chance to stock up on some paper goods and snacks, then he brings us back to the marina to store the perishables while he goes home and picks up Terry and returns to the marina where we get in again and we head out to Bradenton and more specifically, Cortez Beach where we will take them out to lunch to thank them for their generosity and driving accommodations all week enabling us to enjoy so much of the Palmetto area.
They are targeting a restaurant called Swordfish Grill and when we get there, the wait is not too bad at 20 minutes, so we walk around the marina area of the restaurant and meet some Canadians who are aspiring to do the loop and Tracy and I tell them all about our experiences and the friends we’ve made along the way. After that, as we’re almost ready to walk into the restaurant, we see these five gentlemen walking out in identical light blue tee shirts with a ROMEO logo on the right breast. As soon as they all walk past us, we turn around and see on the back of their shirts: “Retired Old Men Eating Out”! That’s awesome and I want to get one of those shirts and join the club haha.
Anyway, we have a great lunch at Swordfish Grill
and soon, we’re talking about leaving tomorrow and having Dennis accompany us while Terry drives down to Venice to pick him up later in the day. We finalize that plan and agree to have Dennis aboard by 8am tomorrow. After the restaurant, we drive by the beach and take a short walk in the warm sand of Cortez beach, then back to the car and return to the marina.
For our last night in Palmetto, we walk over to the Boater’s Lounge and use the better WiFi service to watch an older movie called Michael with John Travolta as an angel. It’s a nice way to spend our last evening here and afterwards, we walk back to Kailani and get her ready for tomorrow’s departure.
Saturday: While I’m walking Frankie this morning, Dennis and Terry show up, so Dennis & I walk back to Kailani where Tracy is getting this morning’s preparations underway already. Soon she has Dennis helping with lines while I prepare the helm for departure. After Dennis and Tracy have all the lines doubled back onto the vessel for departure and I have the helm read with NEBO activated and SpotGen3 turned on, we are ready for departure. At 9am we are backing out of the slip and headed back out the Manatee River towards Tampa Bay and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway south.
Today’s cruise is anticipated to be 5 hours long and 37 nautical miles. We will have some ‘no wake’ zones to negotiate and only 1 of the 6 bridges we pass under will have to be opened. Just 5 miles before our destination, we have to pass thru the Blackburn Point Swing Bridge which is only 9 feet tall when closed. As we are approaching the area that has this bridge, we pick up some other vessels calling the bridge tender asking for an opening, so we jump into the conversation and ask if we will be able to clear the bridge in the next swing even though we are still a mile away. The bridge tender says he still has to wait for a safe opportunity to stop traffic for the swing to open, so keep coming and see how it all works out. As we are about a half mile away, we see that the swing is still closed, so we give Kailani a few more rpm’s and increase our speed and just as we are approaching the ‘no wake’ zone for the swing, the bridge tender starts his opening, so we made our timing just about as perfect as we could ever plan and soon we’re through the span with no delays.
4 miles after that we are entering the small inlet for Escape at Casey Key Resort and Marina. Tracy had called them earlier and we will be looking for slip #11 once we’re within the marina. The entry water is sort of shallow, so we slowly make our way into the marina inlet where the water gets deeper, then look for slip #11. After scoping out the best procedure for getting into the slip, Tracy takes Dennis down to the stern to help with lines as I prepare Kailani to back her into the slip. After the three of us have done our jobs and Kailani is tied up, we start working on hooking up the utilities and find that the power tower for our slip has both 30 amp receptacles used up by the boat currently in the adjacent slip. So Tracy checks in with the office and finds out that they have another slip available further down that has a 50 amp connection. So we move Kailani down to slip #3 and all is well once we’re finally all tied up.
After tying up, I try to get the dinghy down from the roof and we find out that the davit crane won’t work, so I have a new project to add to my to-do list, but at least we’re all tucked in and the air conditioning is on and cooling down the Salon.
We say our goodbyes to Dennis and Terry and we now will look forward to 3 days of relaxation in the Casey Key/Venice Beach area. Tonight will definitely be a ‘pizza delivered to the boat’ kind of night.