Florida Cruise

April 3, 2020

Since a few of the half-dozen readers left for this blog may be looking for something to do while locked down, I’ll do a few posts on the last month of the Florida cruise.

Potentially, it was the best cruise the Tardis ever took — the boat ran great, interesting places, beautiful scenery, the improvements I’ve made to comfort and cruisability seem to be working, an incredible streak of good weather.  But, or course, it had the coronavirus hanging over the whole thing.  It’s just impossible to turn off the phone and internet when your family and people you know are threatened.  But once in a while, perfectly protected on anchor at Cayo Costa, on Manatee watch in Crystal River or having my last restaurant meal of Florida grouper in the Cedar Keys (so isolated there still isn’t one case) you can at least allow yourself to think, “THIS is the way to do social distancing.”

In the end, I was glad to get out of Florida, in fact I would have gotten out sooner but I had a plane ticket and haul-out all booked in Ft. Myers, and given a couple hundred miles to get there, I couldn’t really push my departure any earlier.  But I was really getting disturbed toward the end by a small, irresponsible element who seemed to be putting others in danger purely out of a warped feeling that coronavirus is an anti-Trump plot, or just had that attitude that infects some people who think that the rules of common courtesy simply don’t apply to THEM because they are so damned special.

But onto the positive —

I gave sort shrift to St. Petersburg in a recent post, but it is a great destination, cruising or otherwise.  It’s a real city with a thriving arts (Dali Museum), nightlife (Central Avenue) and sports scene (Tropicana Stadium) right downtown.  And for the cruiser, the two huge marinas, Harborage and Municipal, ARE right downtown.  We rented a car while Molly was there, but otherwise I could walk everywhere.  We went to an incredible glassblowing demonstration at the Chihuly Collection, the Sunken Gardens are just as good as anything in Miami and of course, toured the Dali Museum, interesting even if you are not a big fan of Surrealism.

With the Tardis as base, went up to Tarpon Springs to eat Greek food and down to Ft. Myers and Ft. Myers Beach to explore Molly’s old haunts as a reporter for the Ft. Myers News-Press.  We went to see the manatees at the outstanding wildlife park in Homosassa Springs and caught them just right.  A cold snap had attracted herds of them into the shallow, warm river.  Manatees are like all the sea mammals — dolphins, whales, seals.  We share some primal affinity I think, seeing ourselves as connected by our warm blood and need to breathe air.  We left the sea and they didn’t, but I do what I do because I am always drawn back.

One boat note:  last fall I succumbed to years and years of seeing those little ads in the back of boating magazines for the “Tufted Topper” a mattress accessory that promises to make your back-killing vee-berth into a real bed — and it works!! Somehow two (expensive) inches of tufted cotton improved comfort and air flow immeasurably and I highly recommend it.

At the Greek restaurants in Tarpon Springs, they soak cheese in brandy, light it and everyone shouts “OOOPAH.” During our Loop Cruise, John wanted ooopah every night in TS.

Those things that look like rocks in the bottom of the river are manatees soaking up the sun.

That’s not a manatee, that’s Molly.



2 comments on “Florida Cruise

  1. Jim Favors
    April 3, 2020 at 6:03 pm #

    Thanks for the post Paul, some of favorite places…..all find memories.


  2. eric brazil
    April 4, 2020 at 1:32 pm #

    Keep it coming! We’re still reading your Tardis tales. Great stuff. We’re still healthy, but sort of bored. Tired of Trump. Mary Jo and Eric. (The latest edition of Memsahib Voyage is fresh and very interesrting,) >


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