Monday, February 29, 2016

While In St. Pete....

St. Pete Muni
Our six day stay in St. Pete was thoroughly enjoyable.  We docked and stayed aboard Ghost Rider at St. Petersburg’s Municipal Marina, located on the far west side of Tampa Bay.  The great thing about the facility is its location immediately adjacent to downtown and all its attractions, as well as the friendly and helpful staff.  The downsides are a FUBAR reservation process (be ready for multiple & likely frustrating phone calls), spotty Wifi coverage, and that it’s mainly a 208V marina (with a few isolated exceptions.)  That meant we were cellular hot-spotting for Internet access, and since Ghost Rider does not have a power booster (yet?), that also meant that on our 240V boat we had to run the genset for hot water, laundry, heat & air.  But overall it was still a very inviting marina.

5,000 Autographed Baseballs!
The close proximity to downtown meant that numerous restaurants, bars, parks, piers and museums were within easy walking distance, and we took advantage of that.  St. Pete has done a fabulous job of building and preserving a vibrant waterfront city – there’s something for everybody.  If there is a bad or mediocre eatery there, we could not find it.

The Museum of History had a unique display that captivated me – with 5,000 autographed baseballs on display (yes, I’m a diehard baseball fan), I could not go wrong with a protracted stroll through that area.  Of course there is more than that in there.

The Dali Museum
Also nearby was the Salvador Dali museum, and it was totally fascinating.  While mainly a permanent (and impressively large scale) display of Dali’s works, at this time they were also featuring an exhibition that focuses on the friendship and collaboration between Dali and Disney.  Previously I had no idea that the two were so close, and that the surrealist and the dreamer had so much in common.  I probably learned more about Disney that I did Dali.

Steph & Martin @ the Dali
Of course the bigger attraction of the entire journey was the opportunity to spend time with friends and make new ones.  We were able to spend the better part of a day with good friends Doug & Cat Cox (from our previous Grady-White boating days), as well as hook up several times again with Martin and Stephanie Morris on N60 Blossom, who were spending the month there in St. Pete.  On top of that we got to meet new friends Atle and Kristina (N57 Summerstar owners) who were visiting the U.S.  

Michelle & I had a wonderful time.  It was a good week.

To Useppa & Fort Myers

Busy Anchorage @ Useppa
On Saturday -- after changing out fuel filters to address our WOT issues -- we departed Venice and cruised down the outside to was a nice afternoon sortie, with seas much friendlier than the previous day at 2 to 4 feet.  The anchorage at Useppa was a bit busy, but we managed to squeeze in without cramping any other vessels.

Bad Alternator or Bad Gauge?
On Sunday we slept in since we had a relatively short day ahead of us for the final leg back to Fort Myers.  Winds had finally died down a bit and it warmed up into the 70's as well.  We discovered another small problem after cranking up the main engine...the digital gauge for the 175A alternator wasn't reading anything.  After a few minutes of troubleshooting we determined the alternator output seemed normal, as the house bank of batteries were showing a good charge state (confirmed using the Batt Test switch and the LinkPro Battery Monitor.)  Hopefully that will be a simple part swap.

The ride down the inside ICW was very pleasant, with weather conditions permitting a full afternoon of driving from the fly bridge.  Not bad for late February.