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Happy New Year, Happy Wife

(Bird Island, Manatee River, Passage Key, Sarasota, St Pete)

Oh boy…so our Happy Wife just came back from the yard (I call it her spa lol) where she went to have her bottom painted. Of course there was a long list to “might as well to-do’s” while it as out on the hard. One of those being the rudder packing on the port side. Once we got her back in the water though, we noticed that the steering wasn’t quite right and that we weren’t staying true to course following with the auto pilot. We also came in really clumsily to dock which was not common with our fine captain.

We got the diver who does our monthly bottom cleaning to take a look, and yup, sure enough, they yard had put the rudder in off center. (enter huge sigh with rolling eyes here!) Of course it’s the new year and we were eager to hit the waterways so Shaun and Bob tried to repair the rudder problem before we leaving. What they thought would be a 30 min job, turned into 4 hours and so by the time we left the dock, it was already 3.30pm. Our intended destination for this trip was Anna Maria, but because it was late, we decided to anchor at Bird Island, just 2 hours away and 30 min from the yard if we needed to take Happy Wife back again. It seemed to be running better but still not perfectly. We anchored at 5.30. The sun was setting beautifully and Shaun said we should take some footage with the drone. Unfortunately, the captain of the boat is not as capable with the drone as he is with the boat and 2 min after takeoff, it hit the side of Happy Wife and fell into the depths of the ocean!!! (Again…rolling eyes !)

We were so exhausted from the day of rushing back and forth while working, that by the time we anchored and settled we were just about ready to go to bed. We had a glass of wine, made dinner and fell asleep by 9, boaters midnight. We both rested well and woke early. I made breakfast, cleaned up and got the boat ready to go while Shaun did some commuter work and work on the phone. We left bird island at 11.30 ish for Anna Maria. I love this time together on the fly bridge. Ours is like a patio with lounge suite and deck chairs etc. We always put music on, make snacks and I catch up notes like these while we are underway. Today dolphins followed us in pods and large flocks of ducks flew by on a gorgeous, unbelievably beautiful winter day that is more like a summer one. We had a dolphin surf our wake alongside us which I captured on camera too.

We anchored at 3.30 up the Manatee River and went up to the river to Riverhouse bar ad Grill for a late lunch. We had been here before with our dear friends from South Africa, Stephen and Philaine. He has since passed away and so it was melancholy to visit again. We came back via dinghy at 5ish and settled in for the night. We had a sun downer while I took a bath in the tub on the fly bridge, a privilege I never take for granted!

In the morning we had some work to do and we left our Happy Wife for Anna Maria at 10.30 with the tender. We decided it would be faster and more efficient this way. I packed a picnic lunch for the beach with folding chairs, towels and so on and off we headed. We stopped on the way at the dock at the bridge and we walked 10 minutes to Publix for supplies and an a beach umbrella. Got to Passage key at just after midday and we stayed until 3. Shaun had to do some work and make some calls there and it was THE best office ever. This is the way to do it. In today’s world, you can work for almost anywhere and barefoot in the sand in the sun just can’t be beat. We walked the island and picked up plastic and trash as we do on every beach to go to.

Got fuel for the dinghy at Galati on the way back and came home to our Happy Wife in time for a sunset mojito on the "patio" as I like to call it. We grilled out for dinner. Pulled up the anchor at 9.15 and left our anchorage for Marina Jacks in Sarasota. Although sunny, it was cold and windy with a front approaching for tomorrow. Came through under the Anna Maria bridge and the Cortez bridge down the channel past Longboat Key. The tides were extremely low with sand banks the whole way down so between slow navigating and wait for bridge openings we hooked up onto on ball at Marina Jacks at around 12.30. Had a nice healthy lunch onboard then took the dinghy over and walked up the road to get a large coffee at Starbucks. Stocked up at Whole Foods too which was almost next door. We went to dinner at Classico on Main street where there was a guy from Cuba playing live music. So awesome and the food was too!

Woke to freezing temps in the morning and decided to get some work done indoors. I did a 5 mile run across the bridge to St Armand’s Circle and back while Shaun cycled up to West Marine to get some oil for the motors. Had a late lunch a cute waterside restaurant called O’Leary’s with a beer and a glass of rose. Such a nice relaxed vibe with bar food but it tasted great. Back on board we both did some computer work, had a glass of wine with a few snacks and headed to bed for another peaceful nights sleep We left our mooring at 10ish after an English breakfast and made the trip back up the intercoastal to St Pete through the three bridges. We anchored in St Pete at 3.15 but it looks us about four tries to get it to hold. Walked to Starbucks for a coffee and came back to have cocktail hour and cook onboard.

On Saturday we stayed in and Justine came over to pick us up and take us to tour some of our properties that we are working in St Pete. We went into town with her so that we could pick up our car and also babysit for Tam and Brian. Got back to the boat at about 11.30

Sunday morning was a gorgeous day and I did my long run, 9 miles along the oceanfront. Shaun did a shorter run and then we happened to come across a vintage car show that we both enjoyed seeing. Made brunch and later Shaun went into town to do an open house with Tam. I stayed behind, cleaned and did some laundry and then spent the rest of the time painting some bird pics I had been wanting to do. I made a charcuterie board for sunset. Did some shrimp on the grill and had a lovely meal.

Today I had a doctors appointment in Tampa so I drove in for that while Shaun got Happy Wife ready to set sail. Perfect timing because we literally JUST ran out of water! Pulled up the anchor at 12pm and took the 1 hour trip back to Westshore. We docked at 1 with Justine and Jax there to help us. Such a great week away!

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