15 February to 15 April, 2005. Our longtime friend, Gail came down to Anna Maria Island so we could seek out a marina to stay at for awhile. We found Cortez Cove Marina on the other side of the bridge from the anchorage. $10 / foot / month with electricity. We call our boat 26 feet (actually 26'8") so for about $550, we spent 2 months here with electricity, showers and free laundry facilities. Actually, I jumped ship for one of those months to stay at our friend Rich's house. I was hoping to get some work done on my manuscript. I actually experienced a little culture shock at the apartment on the corner of Himes and Waters in Tampa. Endless traffic, constant sirens and millions of people scrambling around with stress in the air. I did manage to get some work done. But mostly, I just needed a break from the small boat we've been living on for several months. Rocky and I are best friends but sometimes, you just gotta get away.
Gail made us promise to be in the area by 20 February because she had a surprise for us. We had no idea what it was. When we arrived at her house, she produced Jason, the salesman from Harbour North Marina in Maryland where we bought the boat. We had become good friends with Jason and we finally knew why his plans to visit us had sizzled out. It was a great surprise and, in my opinion, one of Gail's greatest moments. She had another great moment when some guy was standing in the median shading his eyes from the sun. Gail drove right next to him and popped him a hard salute. Embarrased, he pulled his hand down and Gail did the same as if the salute was returned. We were laughing so hard we almost had to pull over.
Cortez is a great little town near Bradenton. We crossed the bridge on our new fold up bicycles many time to return to Anna Maria Island and rode the bus into downtown Cortez for Wal-Mart and all you can eat Chinese food on many occasions. Michael even came over from Ft. Pierce to visit. I particularly enjoyed the Sea Horse Oyster Bar and Grill just outside the marina. $1 drafts and good people. The first few times I went there, I spent less than $10 a night and had a blast. The last time I went there, I brought $5 and when I ran out of money, Dave, the owner, shoved a $20 bill in my hand so I would stay. Now that's service! I even did 'Help' by the Beatles and 'Satisfaction' by The Rolling Stones during Karaoke one night. If you're ever in Cortez, Florida, go to the Sea Horse. They've even got all you can eat King Crab Legs for $24.95.
Arno, the owner of the marina was a great guy, as were the other boaters living there. Many of them were musicians doing gigs in the area. There were several manatees living in the marina. We met Win and Christy who made the cover and centerfold of Motorboating magazine recently. They deliver yachts for a living and have sailed extensively throughout the region, including Central America. Rocky helped get Win's laptop up and running. Win then let Rocky copy NOAA charts for the entire world. To purchase these charts individually would cost somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000. Once we get a good GPS system to tie them into, we've got the entire planet covered. We can use them as is, but a GPS system would produce real time results for any trip across the globe.