Day 162: Sailing Tampa Bay.
One of the main reasons why we met up again with Kyle here in St. Petersburg has to do with what we are doing today. A few months ago, I found out that Kyle had taken sailing lessons at Charleston, South Carolina. Well before I was into Airstreaming, I was an avid sailor and had owned a handful of sailboats in my past. After chatting about boats for awhile, Kyle and I decided that since we are both spending our winters in Florida, we should get together and do a day charter.
I have been anticipating this for a couple of months. We contemplated a lot of different locations to charter a boat from Miami, Key Largo and here. We decided that this was our best bet as it coincides with our criss-crossing route through Florida.
We chartered from a company in St. Petersburg called Florida Sailing. They manage a good size fleet of sailboats ranging anywhere from 29 ft to 74 ft. We got to check out many of the boats in their fleet and decided on a modest 37-foot Beneteau for our day sail.
The girls loved that the boat has a ‘house’ inside. They really wanted to just hang out the whole time below deck but I had to be a bad parent to tell them it was a bad idea. The last thing I need is a couple of sick kids yacking their brains out.
Our Beneteau 373 is named ‘Business II’. The company manages yachts owned by private individuals who wish to put them into charter. The owners get to use it as much as they wish and the charter company does all of the maintenance on them. The split on all charter fees are 50/50. It is a pretty good deal although you have to be willing to allow strangers on the boat you just paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for.
I have been contemplating getting back into sailing after we are done with the extended road trips. It is a much more involved mode of travel as it can be more dangerous and requires a lot more careful planning. This day sail is actually Marlene’s first time out with me on a boat this size and definitely the first for the kids. We are using it as a test to see if there are any major oppositions to the idea.
Kyle’s sailing crash course in Charleston got him certified to charter boats out on his own. Although he is technically ready to do it, he still wants to get more time on the water with someone else before he feels totally comfortable. He did great out in the water and I would go out sailing with him again without hesitation.
So much so I was comfortable doing a little swashbuckling on a spare halyard. They all thought I was crazy but this is one of the funnest things to do when I go sailing.
Our plan was to head out towards the Skyway Bridge and the mouth of the bay but we came woefully short of that goal. It would have taken us all day to get out there and be certainly late bringing the boat back to the marina. Instead, we anchored in the bay for an hour or so and had a nice lunch with food we brought aboard.
On our way back, we sailed on a nice and comfortable downwind course in about 15 knots of wind. Ava by this point had gotten her sea legs well established and wanted to do some exploring on the fore deck with her life jacket on.
Tampa bay is notorious for being extremely shallow even in the middle of the bay. The entire time we were reading the depth sounder we never reached over 20 ft of depth. That is something we had to be very careful of as there are areas that would cause a sailboat like ours to run aground while still being a fair distance away from shore.
Even Luka got out of Marlene’s baby carrier to do some sheet trimming.
The St. Petersburg city marina is not easy to miss when we were headed back. This ugly upside down pyramid at the end of the pier makes a pretty easy to spot landmark.
Before we called it a day on the water, we toured the marinas a bit under motor to check out some of the other boats in their slips. It was really great to get back out on the water and I foresee a lot more of this in the future.
As we left downtown St Pete, we met Brett and Lisa who live in the area for dinner. If you have been to any of the Aluma Events (Alumapalooza, Alumafandango and the upcoming Alumafiesta), you would recognize Brett as one of the organizers and Lisa as his significant other who often helps out as a staffer. They suggested a great St. Pete. eatery called Ted Peters Famous Smoke Fish.
Their signature dish is the smoke mullet with coleslaw and potato salad. Also they serve an ice cold draft beer that goes perfectly after a day of being on the water.
As we got back to the campground, it was already bed time for the girls. Ava was eager to go to sleep for a couple of reasons. She is obviously a little tired from our day out on the water but she is also anxious for tomorrow to arrive which just happens to be her sixth birthday.
After Ava fell asleep, Mila stayed up since she took a long nap while we were out on the boat. It worked out perfectly as she could help Marlene with setting up Ava’s birthday surprise in the morning.
By the end of tomorrow, all of the ladies of our household would have had their birthday on the road. Only the boys are left and we will see where our lives take us in the next few months.
over and out,
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