Skip to main content

America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association
Information & Inspiration for Your Great Loop Cruise
HomeBlogsRead Blog

Bruce & Beverly's Blog

Clearwater to Sarasota!
By Beverly Kness
Posted on 11/27/2017 10:09 AM

We will always remember what a welcome site the Clearwater Harbor was!  
After avoiding what seemed like thousands of crab pots on our way in, we
finally completed our crossing when we entered Clearwater's Harbor. 

Looking back on the past 19 hours, the Captain and I were happy to have safely arrived here. 
The Big Bend crossing was now behind us and we could rest up for a few days before
moving on.  It was like a weight had been lifted to have the crossing finished. We were beyond
thankful to have had the weather window we needed to complete the crossing.     

We were all tired and decided to relax a while and later go out for a celebratory dinner together. 

Clearwater had its beginning around 1835 when the U.S. Army
began construction of Fort Harrison, on a bluff overlooking
Clearwater Harbor, as an outpost during the Seminole Wars.

Clearwater Beach is one of the northern-most points on the west coast
of Florida that would be recommended for wintering over.  Any area north
of Clearwater Beach gets too cold to be recommended as a winter stopover. 

Below: The birds didn't bother the boats on the transient slips as much as those boats that seem to
be in more long term dockage.  Sure looks like the boat owners will come back to a mess on their boats! 


The following day we rode the Jolley Trolley to see and have lunch with David and Angelika who had
just finished their crossing ending in Tarpon Springs.  We ate at the Rusty Bellies restaurant.  Rusty Bellies
Waterfront Grill is a family owned restaurant and is named for the family's love of fishing, namely gulf
grouper fishing. A "Rusty Bellie” is the nickname given to the large male gag grouper. A "Rusty Bellie"
generally ranges between twenty and sixty pounds and is typically caught by the true at heart fisherpersons. 

It was fun to see them again! 

Tarpon Springs was settled by Greek Divers who were recruited there from the 1880's to the early 1900's
to dive for sponges in the Gulf.  Sponge diving was a thriving industry until a red tide algae boom
killed most of the sponges in 1947. Tarpon Springs still has the highest percentage of Greek-
Americans in any US city.  The old downtown held many sponge shops, Greek restaurants and
shops selling Greek pottery. Tarpon Springs is advertised as the Sponge Capital of the world! 

Below: a sponge boat that just came in with a load of sponges.

Below: there are all kinds of uses for sponges! 


The next day we rode our bicycles to Dunedin, had a bite to eat and enjoyed an ice cream cone.

"It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas"...  kind of, anyway in this warmer climate.


It doesn't feel like Christmas is just weeks away, when the weather is so nice.
Even Santa has to be creative!  In Apalachicola, Santa was going to make an appearance on a Shrimp boat!
Apalachicola is an Indian word for “land beyond”.  There were once more than 40,000 Indians in that region.
The first Apalachicola Indians were members of the Mississippian Culture, mound builders who lived in large
permanent settlements and traded over a much wider region than their neighbors to the north.  The first
non-natives arrived from Spain in the 1700s. Early trade between the Spanish and Creek Indians was
in produce and fur. Apalachicola was established in 1831 and grew quickly as a cotton shipping port town.

It was a sunny beautiful morning when we left the Clearwater Marina en route to Sarasota.  Our route for
the day took us out side into the Gulf of Mexico for about 12 miles. We entered the gulf at Madeira Beach.


We had a pleasant ride in the Gulf however, we did need to steer clear of many crab pot floats
that dotted the water. The floats are normally secured to their pots with a sinking line that
hangs straight down, which allows boats to pass near the floats without getting tangled. 
However, we have heard that there are times, for some unfathomable reason, some pots
have floating lines. The floating lines could stretch along the surface as much as forty feet
from the float.  We held our breath as we passed by the crab pot floats, hoping that the crab
pots didn't start to follow us, meaning that we had hooked on to their line!  It all went well. 

It was a well marked waterway as we turned back into the ICW at the enormous
Tampa Bay.  Many dolphins jumped and played around our boat, while pelicans dove for fish. 

See the two dolphins below. 

The photo below shows the narrow stretch of land between the ICW and the Gulf of Mexico.  

Below:  you can see the Gulf of Mexico in the distance.

It was a beautiful 77 degree day when we arrived at Marina Jack at Sarasota.
The couple joining us in the picture below is from Canada.  In conversation we found out
that they crossed the Gulf the very same evening we did!  In fact, while we were at Dog Island, we
saw a boat in a distance that looked like a trawler coming out of Carribelle and entered the Gulf. 
We had tried to give it a call on the radio, to see how the water was out there.... but they didn't answer.
Of course, we didn't know their name, so we couldn't address them. 
They said they heard someone call for a trawler that left Carribelle, they didn't answer
the call because they didn't see any boats around and didn't think the call was
for them... and here they are docked right next to us in at Marina Jack!  

We've heard it said before, "you just can't make this stuff up!"   What a small world!   

We woke up to a cloudless sky.  It was sunny, there was a light breeze blowing and the morning air was warm
enough that we wore shorts as usual.  The marina staff delivered a complimentary newspaper to us at our slip.

We were ready to proceed south, however we realized that we experienced a transmission cooler failure! 

So our plans changed!  We now are waiting for the parts to come, hopefully they'll be here in three days.
 If they come in as expected we'll be on the water again the next day!  
There are worse places to be stranded at! 

We are about two travel days from Ft. Myers!  





Curtis Stokes and Associates
DAN Boater
Turtle Cove Marina