Tag Archives: Bradenton Beach

Hunkering Down

Second break in the bad weather. It started raining sometime in the middle of the night and kept on, steadily, until late morning. Stopped briefly and I was able to get about 2/3 of the water bailed out of the dinghy before it started pouring again.

What’s happening is that as Tropical Storm Cristobal swirls counter clockwise out in the Gulf of Mexico it’s sweeping its feeder bands across our area here where I’m anchored at the lower end of Anna Maria Island, Florida.

During this second break I was able to get inside the dinghy and bail it dry. It’s going to keep on raining according to the forecast and tonight The prediction is for winds gusting into the 25 mph range later on and 1 to 2 inches of rain is possible. The dinghy wouldn’t be able to take that much if it wasn’t bailed out. Could easily sink. Might, anyway. The canoe on the nearby power boat is down because it filled up with rain water. Haven’t seen those people in close to 2 weeks. They’re new to living on a boat and, perhaps, they just decided to cut their losses and walk away. They only paid $2,500 for the boat.

Starting to rain again. I might have to do a bit of bailing before I hit the sack tonight.

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Sunshine State My Aging White Pooper!

Gonna be a wet, nasty day anchored here at the south end of Anna Maria Island, FL. But that’s life on the hook in Florida. The MyRadar site is predicting 1 to 2 inches of rain today and 1-2 inches overnight. The challenge isn’t to stay safe. It’s to stay DRY and keep the dinghy bailed out.

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Yuck

I absolutely HATE days like this as I sit anchored at the south end of Anna Maria Island, Florida. Wind is out of the NNE gusting into the upper teens and low twenties. Heavily overcast. Overall there’s a 60% chance of rain and it’s been sixty percenting off and on so far this morning. But what I REALLY hate is that I’ve been up for a couple of hours (It’s now 9:30) and I just put on a sweat shirt. A bit earlier I donned the bottoms of my long johns. It’s the MIDDLE OF APRIL, DAMNIT!!!

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Winter’s Coming…

Temperature at Bradenton Beach, FL, in low 50F this morning. Really a shock climbing out of the sleeping bag at 6:30. Dug out the thermals and fleece-lined booties before cranking up the stove for my morning mug of espresso. Don’t think low 50s is cold? Just a couple of weeks ago we were dealing with heat index figures of 108F!

Just before 8 last night I stood up in the hatchway to secure the shade tarp into its “rain” configuration which, while acting as a dodger, also serves like a spoiler directing the wind up and over the Bimini top. JUST as I was doing this the wind did a 180 and swung around into the NNE and went from nearly dead calm to mid to upper teens in wind speed in a matter of seconds. Shortly after that the temperature began to drop and a stiff chop developed bouncing my little craft uncomfortably. So uncomfortably that I couldn’t fall asleep for several hours.

Sometime in the middle of the night I got up to do old man stuff and there, less than 200 feet away and nestled into the mangroves was this derelict. And I mean mangrove branches are touching the hull! There are several like this up in the big anchorage by the pier. People come in with boats they no longer want or can’t afford, drop a hook and abandon them. It’s a big problem. THIS ONE has been up there for over a year and a half!

In the light of morning you can see that the lower ends of the two anchor lines hanging from the bow are BOTH about 4 feet ABOVE the waterline which leads me to believe that they had been deliberately cut in the night.

It’s a good thing the boat didn’t hit me. If it had I’d have been forced to track down whomever cut the lines and kill them!!!

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A Mess of Metal

When I was returning to the boat at Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage after doing some grocery shopping Friday I noticed that the ½” line that leads to 40’ of ¼-inch chain that’s fastened to my 22-lb Manson Boss anchor was hanging oddly in the water. When I pulled on it I found, to my horror, that it was no longer attached to the chain. Somehow the shackle had become unhitched despite having the pin secured with a heavy plastic wire tie.

It was late in the day so I couldn’t go searching for the lost anchor and chain. The ⅜” line was still pulling well on the 30 feet of chain that links it to the 13-lb Danforth so I figured it was holding me well. I attached the bitter end of the ½” line to the 25-lb Danforth that was on deck and tossed it over the side as an extra precaution.

Saturday morning broke bright and nearly windless and the tide was almost dead low. The water was crystal clear and the bottom only about four feet below me. I hopped into the dinghy and went searching.

The last time I’d seen the anchors, a couple of months ago, they seemed to be fairly close together. I figured the best bet would be to run down the ⅜” line and search out from that point. I was surprised to find both anchors together and amidst a big ball of chain. I was JUST able to hook the mess with my boat hook but I couldn’t raise it to the surface in my tipy little cockleshell, and since the tide was rising I abandoned the effort for the moment. With light winds in the forecast and the Manson Boss seemingly well dug in I felt fairly confident nothing disastrous would happen. Realistically I was fastened to 35-lbs of anchors and 45-lbs worth of chain. In effect an 80-lb anchor.

My guess is that over the past couple of months with tidal currents pushing the mother ship back and forth  four times a day coupled with the rough, blustery winds we’ve been having out of the southeast and northeast the lines got pulled this way and that until everything got all messed up.

It occured to me as I was having supper that I could probably lift the metal mess from the bow of the mother ship, a more stable platform than the dinghy.

First thing Sunday morning, after my mug of espresso, of course, I hauled the iron mess up out of the water. It took several tries to break it free of the sandy bottom and I had to rest several times and suck on my inhaler. Fifty years of smoking licit and illicit substances was NOT a good idea. You can see from the photo what I was facing. I wasn’t able to get it out further than this, though.

I untangled a lot of it, but not all. I’m going to need the assistance of my friend, Todd to get it all done. His dinghy is much more stable than mine and we can haul it out. Plus, he’s much younger and stronger than I am. Since it is essentially one solid mass of metal right now I got it positioned so the Manson Boss is set in the sand and I’m good for the moment. We’ll go at it tomorrow. Sunday isn’t good because every jerk that owns a boat in Manatee and Sarasota Counties is out on the water on this beautiful day and the wakes would make the work nearly impossible. But it’s coming along.

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Bad Weather Blues

Had to hold off writing and posting this while there was a break between storms. Yesterday was easily the WORST DAY I’ve been through here at the Bradenton Beach, FL, anchorage.

If you’re tired of reading about my complaints on the nasty southeast winds take a guess how I feel having to go through them.

They’ve been blowing hard the last couple of days and I avoided going ashore because of the “Couldn’t make it back to the boat” syndrome. But with fresh food in the cooler and no ice I needed to do a shore run. There seemed to be a bit of a break in the weather and I made a sprint to the dinghy dock. By the time I got back, and it’s only about a five block round trip, the winds were back up in the 20 mph range. My dinghy is a cockleshell and trying to paddle against it is nearly impossible at times. Yes, I’d like to have a small outboard but 1) they cost money I don’t have, 2) If you have any kind of motor on your boat you have to register the vessel. 3) I don’t have a title for the dinghy so there’d be an added level of bureaucratic bullshit. 4) Oars would be better but it was a choice between a $22 kayak paddle and $120 for a set of oars, oarlocks and the lumber and time needed to attach a gunwale and all. So I stick with the paddles.  Fortunately when I got back with my bag of ice and four gallons of purloined drinking water one of the charter boat captains was just discharging his passengers and volunteered to tow me out to my boat. I didn’t hesitate to agree to the help.

Things continued to deteriorate hourly after that.

Shortly after sunset, 7 p.m., the large Danforth secured on deck started moving around and rasping over the non-skid decking forward. Brrrrrrrddddgg! Brrrrrrrddddgg! Brrrrrrrddddgg! There was no way I was going to be able to fall asleep with that going on. I slid the hatch back and stuck my head outside. The waves were well over three feet high and the wind was screaming. The boat seemed out of control, but the anchors were holding and other than rising and falling I wasn’t dragging. Discretion being the better part of valor I decided that the anchor wasn’t doing any more than frazzling my nerves and it wasn’t worth risking my life by going out on deck to do anything with it. The last time I was confronted with a similar situation I attached the bitter end of my ½-inch line to the anchor and tossed it overboard to be retrieved later. It was too late now to do the same thing, though.

Hour after hour the wind howled and gusts rattle my little boat. I fully expected the mast gallows to collapse. I went to bed fully clothed in case I had to get up and go outside and do something to rescue myself. I finally fell asleep.

Around 3 a.m. the rain started pelting the deck. It put me back to sleep. I love that sound. It was still raining when I got up for good around 7 a.m. The wind had done nearly a 180 and was coming out of the northwest and had died to practically nothing.

When the rain had slacked off to a drizzle I stuck my head outside. Nearby was the large charter catamaran that’s been tied to the dock near shore since I arrived here a year and a half ago was no anchored just a few yards away. Strange, it hadn’t been there when I went to bed. And where was “Grace,” the little 22-footer that was usually there? Huh! Perhaps hiding on the other side of the cat though I couldn’t see “Grace’s” mast.

I checked one of the two weather sites I read and found that the wind had been gusting to MORE THAN 45 mph during the night!

Since I was down to only half a tab of my blood pressure medicine and with the wind down and the rain not threatening I decided to make a run to the pharmacy while I had the chance. Before I left, though, I went forward and hooked the Danforth to the bitter end of the ½-inch line again. As I looked up I saw, over on the rocks of the Bradenton Beach fishing pier parking lot, “Grace.” She’d lost her anchor in the night and the winds and waves pushed her ashore and onto the rocks. I’d damned near come to that fate a year ago. I was dragging anchor and fetched up about 60 feet from the rocks when my “desperation” anchor bit and took hold. That was the day before I bought the Boss anchor and the 70 feet of chain.

wreckIt’s four p.m. The sky’s gloomy with rain clouds though the weather radar on line doesn’t show any rainfall in the area. And when I looked towards the pier I saw that with the high tide they got “Grace” floating again. Apparently she hadn’t been holed. Tod, one of the genuine characters here in the anchorage had a line over to “Grace’s” bow and was towing her to a new spot to anchor. Hopefully they won’t go through that exercise more than once.

afloat

 

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Blustery Weather

At least it isn’t freezing, but it’s definitely not comfortable. All day yesterday we had the dreaded southeast winds kicking up a storm in the Bradenton Beach anchorage. People were really struggling to row and paddle out to their boats against the wind that was gusting into the mid thirties. My anchors, at the ends of their rope and 1/4-inch chain rodes were well dug in but I kept an eye on my position for possible dragging…..eternal vigilance, ya know.

Went to bed bouncing. Around 3 a.m. a brief rain squall blew through. Sometime between then and the next three hours the wind did a 180 and while still blowing a steady mid 20s it was coming now from the northwest. The surface of the anchorage, while not a mill pond, is comfortable. The wind’s supposed to stick around for the next few days, though, but I’ve got plenty of food and eight gallons of drinking water so I’m fine.

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Spending Christmas Largesse

It’s a stay aboard, stay warm kind of day here at the Bradenton Beach, FL anchorage. Temperature nearly 20F below yesterday’s high. Heavily overcast and winds gusting up into the mid 20 mph range. Lumpy seas and a 90% chance of rain forecast.
 
I’ve een over on the mainland a couple of times in the last few days spending some of my Christmas largesse. It’s all stuff I’ve truly needed but haven’t had enough extra cash to follow through on my wants.
 
One of the most difficult things to do when living on a small boat on the hook is staying clean. It’s easy during the summer. Just hop on the trolley, go down to Coquina Beach where there are a dozen showers for bathers to rinse the salt off after swimming in the Gulf. Naturally you can use it for keeping clean, too. This time of year, though, it’s often too cold to take an outdoor shower PLUS the fact that the water is really cold now as well.
 
Last year I had a membership to the Y. It’s right on the #6 bus route. The problem I have with it is that if I catch the bus RIGHT ON TIME the trip to the Y, some exercising, and a shower, it was a FOUR HOUR excursion. Miss the bus over at the Y and we’re looking at FIVE HOURS.
 
A better alternative is one of the several health clubs that dot Manatee Avenue. There’s a bus running along IT every half hour so missing one isn’t as bad. One of the clubs has a $10/month plan so I’m going to sign in on that. But in order to use facilities like this you need sneakers or running shoes. I didn’t have those. All I have is a pair of sandals and they’re held together with cable ties! So I went out Monday and fitted myself out with a rather inexpensive pair of shoes.
 
I then walked a mile, taking a few of rest stops to catch my breath, damn it, and went to West Marine. I bought a quart of bottom paint for the dinghy and some epoxy to make a repair to the dinghy as well. That blew a chunk of a $76 bill all over the counter. But it was necessary. You wouldn’t believe how fast barnacles and vegetable gunk grows here at the anchorage. I’ve been taking the dinghy in once a month or so and scraping an inch of junk off and I’m tired of it.
 
Wednesday I went to the mainland and bought three pairs of jeans. I absolutely detest shopping for clothes and was down to a single pair of jeans with huge holes around the knees. Used to be when our pants got to that stage we’d cut them down for shorts and now the rips and tears are effin’ FASHION STATEMENTS!!! So got those and I’m probably good for the rest of my life as far as clothing is concerned.

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It Ain’t All Fun…

Had some serious trouble Sunday afternoon. The wind had been blowing and it\s been bouncy. I heard a bang as my hatch board which I keep sitting on the hatch cover blew off the hatch cover. Fortunately I have a line on it to keep it from going overboard. (Once in a while I actually do something smart) When I stuck my head out of the cabin I instantly saw that what had been my “mooring” had given up the ghost and the main anchor had let go and was dragging.

Luckily I had a second anchor rigged on the foredeck and managed, in spite of bouncing around in the rough waves of the anchorage, was able to let it go. I came to rest less than 100 feet from the rocky sea wall. A friend was able to roust Jeremay (correct spelling) who helps out with a lot of things here out of his boat. Too windy to tow me away from where I am but he put a THIRD anchor that he had out. So now there are three over the side though only two seem to be dug in. The wind is subsiding a hair but I am more than a little apprehensive to say the least.

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Can’t get my engine to start and found out the primer ball is shot. I can get one at the Ace Hardware up in Holmes Beach, a trolley ride away, but I’m afraid to leave the boat unattended until things settle down. Besides, it’s a bit hairy trying to get ashore with a small dinghy…

I suppose I could call Boat U.S. and have them come tow me back out to where this all began. I’m a member, after all, and it wouldn’t cost me anything, but that’s no guarantee that once I got reanchored I wouldn’t drag again. So, since I haven’t moved, except up and down on the waves, in the last two hours, I guess I’ll stay put for the time being. Jeremay said he’d come back when the winds die down and tow me back out.

It’s clouding over and will be 90%ing on us soon. Damn, I wish I had a van down by the river right now.

A day later…

The winds died down here at the Bradenton Beach anchorage after sundown, Sunday. Then it started to rain. What little wind there was changed from SE to NW which put me parallel to the rocks which eased my mind a bit.

While the winds were still piping I discovered that I couldn’t get my outboard to start. The primer bulb wasn’t pumping fuel from the tank to the engine. As you saw in the video yesterday, there was no way I was going to try and get ashore to get a new one then.

This morning was flat calm with patchy fog. I got to the Ace Hardware a little before 9 and bought a new primer bulb. Of course I didn’t buy any hose clamps because I was sure I had some on the boat. Nope! I attached the bulb to the old lines and pumped away. NOTHING! I then began to wonder if there was a problem with the pickup system in the tank. There was enough fuel…about three gallons. But that was all the gas I had. The two, two gallon auxiliary tanks were empty. So I hiked down to Bradenton Marina and filled those and returned to the boat.

I dug the other 6 gallon tank out of the forepeak, dumped one can into it, switched the fuel line, pumped it up and the engine started right up though it leaked gas without the clamps.

One of the boaters, Morgan, was on the dock. A couple of months ago he’d gone to a nautical flea market and bought several anchors. He offered to sell me one, then, but they were quite large and I passed. After yesterday’s misadventure, though, I asked if he still had any of the anchors for sale. He did. I bought a genuine Danforth 22S for $20. They’re rated for boats up to 41 feet. I’m a 22 footer. New, like at West Marine they retail for around $140, so I got a bargain there.

I hied my way back to Ace where I bought two small hose clamps. I also bought two large shackles for the new anchor which is replacing the one that dragged, FOUR TIMES NOW!

I was able to roust out the anchor Jeramay lent me and I got out the old anchor. The line was covered with growth like you wouldn’t believe. The anchor that I threw over in desperation wouldn’t break free. When Jeramay came over to move me back to an anchoring spot he tried freeing it up using his big boat. A 55 horse outboard wouldn’t move it. We buoyed the line with a fender and will work on getting it up tomorrow. There’s a lot of junk on the bottom around here accumulated over decades.

I got towed back to nearly the same spot as before, the new Danforth was put over the side, and here I sit waiting for the evening to come. Almost no wind no, and the soothsayers say it’s not supposed to blow over 10 mph for the next few days, anyway.

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Weathering the Winter at Anchor

When I knew I had to repatriate to the U.S. from Panama because of my COPD and the fact that Medicare doesn’t pay when you step outside the country I knew there was only one way I could survive on the income I have, and that would be to either buy and live on a small boat or buy a van and live “down by the river.”

I am completely dependent on SS and it nets out at a little over $1,100 after paying the Part B Medicare. Now THAT was one of the smart things I did when I moved to Panama. I kept paying that Part B. While I fully believed I’d die down there and never return to the States, ya never know!

Anyway, since I spent most of my working life either running or fixing up boats that’s what I decided I should get. My friend, Stef, with whom I’d worked for more than 20 years and I started a search and sent emails back and forth about possible boats. He wanted to put me in a 30 footer which, in many ways, would be great except for one thing. I wasn’t going to be sitting idle in a marina somewhere. Don’t have the money for that. Dock rentals these days come close to what it costs to rent an apartment for crying out loud.

No, I decided it would be kinda cool to go take a cruise in waters I was mostly unfamiliar with and venture into waters I hadn’t been on in decades. In my early days living in Louisiana I worked running a crew boat in the Kerr-McGee production field in Breton Sound. If you look on a map there’s a long chain of barrier islands from the panhandle of Florida all the way westwards into Mississippi and then southwards in Louisiana. Breton Island is the last in the chain. We actually lived on the island. Seven days on and seven off. The crew boats, there were four of us, would take the hand out to their facilities and then from well to well for them service. Back then the Island was roughly a half mile long and perhaps a quarter mile wide at it’s widest. Now, though, with all the hurricanes that have swept up through the Gulf since 1978 there’s practically nothing left of the island. A couple of hundred yards at best. I thought it would be kind of neat to cruise on over, take a look and take some photos.

As I mentioned in a previous post I only made it as far as Carrabelle in the eastern panhandle of Florida when it all came to a crashing end. It was the 5th of July at 2 a.m. when I called a “Mayday” on my handheld radio. I could barely breath and it was nearly impossible for me to even sit up. I actually thought I was dying and was telling myself, “It’s all right to let go.”

Surprisingly the Coast Guard station in Mobile, Alabama, over 200 miles away, picked up my 6 watt call of distress and dispatched a Sea Tow boat from Panacea to evacuate me 16 miles out in the Gulf. We were met by an ambulance at the dock in Panacea and I spent the next 16 days in Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and Health South. I had a complete renal shut down caused by severe dehydration. On the positive side, I guess, I learned that I had a 2cm bladder stone and a 1cm kidney stone. I’ve had kidney stones and this is a pretty good sized one, .4-inch. THAT’S going to be fun when it decides to move.

Obviously Breton Island was out. Now what was I going to do? Where was I going to go? Fort Lauderdale, a place I’ve lived in off and on for 35 years was out. Too big now. I remember when the tallest building in Lauderdale was FOUR STORIES TALL. The old Burdine’s downtown where the county offices are now. It’s also too expensive there. The price of a slip in a marina, if they’d even let me stay in a marina with my boat, would be almost as expensive as an apartment. The Keys were out, too for many of the same reasons. I decided I should try wintering it out at Bradenton Beach, a little south of Tampa Bay.

I’d stopped in there on my way north to wait for some papers for the boat insurance. There’s a large anchorage with fair weather protection from the north and northwest but wide open to south and southeast. There are some other nice, smaller anchorages within less than an hour run (I do 5 mph on a good day). There’s a nice dinghy dock available and a free “trolley” runs the length of Anna Maria Island from 6 a.m until 10 p.m. It passes by a Walgreens and a CVS pharmacy, Publix supermarket, an Ace and True Value hardware stores, a Dollar Tree store and a ton of restaurants. Then, if I need something more there’s a bus every hour that goes over to what I call “The Dark Side” i.e. the mainland. There are two, the Cortez #6 and the Manatee #3. I generally take the Cortez which will take me to Wally World, Home Depot or Lowe’s, Marshall’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Burlington Coat Factory, West Marine and the YMCA (now simply the Y). I joined the Y to be able to use their fully-equipped health spa and to be able to take a hot shower a few times a week. There are no hot showers on a 22-foot sailboat.

When spring time comes I think I’m going to head south. I had been thinking about going back across the state and north to the Saint Johns River but now I think I’ll stick around this side of the peninsula. I’ve never been to the Saint Johns though I’ve passed its mouth in the many trips I’ve made up and down the Atlantic ICW over the years. There are a lot of cool places over here that I passed by on my way north last spring on my way to Louisiana that I should check out more closely. And then go on down into the 10,000 Islands section of the state and the Everglades National Park. All in all it’s a couple of hundred miles but I can get back to Bradenton Beach in a week, week and a half if I push it and spend another winter here. We’ll see.

 

 

 

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