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On February 12th, one day ahead of schedule (due to pending rough seas), five boats including Cookin’ (Brent & Susan Cook), Nauti Buoy (Dave & Mary Ellen Mount), Therapy III (Mike & Cindy Brown), My Cherie (Jerry & Cherie Hoover) and No Agenda (Mark & Joanne Daugherty), made an unscheduled stop at Pink Shell Marina. It’s a good thing we went early because seas on the 13th turned out to be unfriendly.

On the 13th back on schedule all of us except the Daughertys (who stayed at Pink Shell) traveled the ICW up to Boca Grande Marina. Cookin’ went on one engine due to a crack in the starboard seawater strainer but a new one was waiting at Boca Grande. Therapy also encountered a problem that day with a broken bolt that leaked coolant into the bilge but was able to get that problem repaired by a local mechanic during our overnight stay.

As Nauti Buoy and My Cherie were departing Boca Grande, My Cherie damaged two props in the channel and had to return to the dock for installation of his spare props, while Nauti Buoy continued toward Sarasota. Therapy III was next to depart Boca Grande for Sarasota but ran aground south of Venice. Fortunately Cookin’ and My Cherie were a bit behind him and were able to rock Therapy off the sand so they could continue on to Sarasota but only on one engine due to damage to one prop.

The Brown’s daughter, Robyn, made a surprise appearance in Sarasota to join her parents in celebration of their 53rd wedding anniversary. We were in Sarasota for 5 wonderful days of shopping playing games and eating including Valentine’s Day dinner at Patrick’s and a return visit to Hyde Park Steakhouse.

On the 19th we left Sarasota for a brand new club destination to the marina at the Tampa Convention Center, which was 25 miles northeast of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge up Tampa Bay. Our group took 4 of the 8 transient slips at this brand new floating-dock marina and the other 4 remained empty so we had it all to ourselves. While there was construction going on nearby, it was a great stop with outstanding views of the night lights of downtown Tampa Our entire group took a water taxi ride up the river where we had lunch at the northern most stop only to find out there was no room on the return boat so our trip back to our boats was one of our dozen Uber rides. Fortunately the water taxi operator refunded our ticket cost so we could pay Uber.

We were blessed to be joined in Tampa by land-yachters, Skillens and Orths, who spent two nights next door at the Marriott. We enjoyed a group dinner with them at Columbia Restaurant (thanks Paula for making those plans) and all dined at Bern’s Steak House one night but at two different times. Charlie and I also continued the Club’s early coffee tradition by meeting two mornings at the Marriott, one of which we were joined by Sally.

On the 22rd we headed out in calm seas for the 63 mile ride down to Venice and the Crow’s Nest Marina, which included a private dining room dinner at the Crow’s Nest Restaurant and a lunch at the Venice Fountain Shop where several of us enjoyed their favorite “Black Cow Soda”. On our last night of this great cruise we were treated to a home cooked meal onboard Therapy III. Before you are shocked, no Cindy did not cook; Robyn did — and made a great pasta chicken dish. The others all brought dishes to pass and it was a great end to a fabulous cruise.

With 3 out of the 4 Tampa-bound boats having had a mechanical or navigational issue (translation… running out of the channel), Nauti Buoy was feeling left out but did discover when docking back on Marco that his inverter had gone out and the refrigerator was not working. That discovery made it a full 100% boat problem trip but hey as we say, “it’s a boat”.

Cruise Leader

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