21 April to 9 May, 2005. We dinghyed Mary to the boat and began our multi-bridge journey to Blind Pass Marina just a few miles away. This marina is next to the bridge connecting St. Pete Beach to Treasure Island, where Rocky and I lived in the late 90's. Mary had actually visited us when we lived on Treasure Island so it was pretty cool to have her staying on the boat with us several years later just a few blocks from our old house. We went to Caddy's bar on the beach as we had done before but the Tiki bar that Mary remembered so fondly had closed down. She is one of our very best friends. When Rocky and I first left Southern Illinois after college, we moved to Denver and lived with Mary for a little while before getting a few places of our own. Those were great years with Mary in Denver.
We met Dino and Mikey shortly after we arrived at the marina. Dino works part-time on a boat (you can see it right across from the marina) that takes people out to Egmont Key where there is one of the oldest functioning lighthouses in America. It was also a military fort during the Spanish-American War. He comped the three of us a trip the following day and we took him up on it. It's normally $30 / person. He asked that we tip $20 since the trip was free for us so we tipped $30. It was fun. We hung out on the island (Egmont Key) for 2 hours where there are lots of turtles (or tortoises). Rocky found a big shark tooth and gave it to Mary. On the way back, we had dolphins, including a baby, putting on a show in our wake. We had a great time during Mary's visit and it was great to see her.
Mikey has been at the marina for fifteen years. He has a Skipper key dog named Skippy. Skipper Keys are bred to live on boats. They helped to take care of the rats that plagued 18th and 19th century ships. He's a great little dog and I told Mikey that I would work a Skipper Key named Skippy into my screenplay. Mikey is great. He's a "tough guy" and so is Skippy. His latest boat is a 30 foot homebuilt sailboat from the 1930's with Ketch rigging (two masts) that he bought for $1,000 at the marina. This boat is solid and could take a beating. The interior is mostly empty but it's in very good shape. Mikey let us plug into his electric (and cable that was suposedly cut off) for a 12 pack of Heinekin. Electricity at this marina requires opening an account with the electric company (same for cable). We also met Kevin who had a beautiful aft-cabin / center-cockpit sailboat. The aft cabin is great because it provides a completely separate cabin for some get-away privacy when necessary.