Saturday, September 10, 2005


18 May to 10 September, 2005. We arrived here after a long, slow sail across Tampa Bay. Gail had sent us a satellite photo of the basin and we had done lots of research concerning this anchorage. It is situated near downtown Tampa, between The Davis Island Yacht Club and The Peter O' Knight airport. There is a small beach here, a boat ramp and a dog walk park. We've only seen one sea plane land in the basin the whole time we spent here. We arrived late in the day and dropped anchor among dozens of other boats (mostly sailboats) in this small basin.

Gail's house was about 8 miles away, just off Bayshore Blvd. In July, Gail married her fiancee Marc. The wedding and reception was at the local VFW. We videotaped the whole affair and have since loaded it onto Gail's computer. The VFW offers a Sunday breakfast that is open to the public and is funded by donations only. We have attended many Sunday breakfasts there. You simply fill out the card with your preferences and soon after, a huge plate of well prepared food arrives. You can get beer from the bar or fill up your own Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers from the dispensers- all for donations only. We've always been good tippers and so donated accordingly.

On about the third day, we came back to the basin to find our boat tied up to another sailboat. Our anchor had gotten away. Jason had just sent us the anchor from Maryland and Rocky was devastated that we lost it. Mikey was the one who had secured our boat after it had broken free.

Mikey is an avid master of Aikido (I think that's how you spell it), a martial art based on non-violent self defense. He pretty much takes care of the basin. He's dropped several moorings for people there, including us. He has a sailboat rafted (attached side to side) to a power boat. The sailboat has no engine but he takes it out to drop moorings, etc. with ease and then smoothly returns it to his mooring with the power boat. He has taken possession of a 55 foot power boat whose owner apparently brought it to the basin to die. Both engines work on this boat but the rudder is damaged so there's no steering. Even so, Houseboat Joe managed to steer the boat with the dual engines across the basin for relocation purposes. Mikey is also tending to a 55 foot wooden sailboat that he wants to bring back to life. he's a busy guy. He's a Vietnam veteran. He also led the fight against Tampa, even hiring lawyers, for the rights of the boaters to live in the basin. The boaters won.

Houseboat Joe is another good friend we made in the basin. We spent many days and evenings on his houseboat, jamming tunes and playing on the internet. He has a large generator so we hung out in the air conditioning and had power for the computer. Joe learned how to use the computer and surf the internet quickly. Some days, we couldn't tear him away from the computer. Joe was in a rollover car wreck (the other person's fault) and is currently fighting the system for some benefits. His neck and back were injured pretty bad in the wreck. Rocky took some video of Joe playing his guiter for "The Houseboat Joe Show" that we would like to post online someday. We've even got Mikey tying some nautical knots for the show. Joe's houseboat is like the clubhouse of the basin.

Raymond and his family live on a large power boat in the basin. He came over and secured an additional anchor on our boat when Hurricane Dennis passed nearby. He also sold us an outboard motor that we used to get back to Cortez Cove Marina in September. His wife Lelena is also very cool. She led the latest fight against the Yacht Club for a slanderous article about the people anchored in the basin. She prevailed, closing down the Yacht Club's boat lift (with Houseboat Joe's help) for environmental violations. Because of her, one of the local police officers has to spend off-duty time writing parking tickets for Yacht Club members on Tuesdays during their weekly race. Their kids are cool too.

Red and his brother, Jeff also live in the basin. Red's houseboat has a rebel flag and barking dog. His brother, Jeff survives on a small sailboat. He has since purchased a larger, nicer sailboat for $100 from a local woman who is a member of the yacht club. Sweet deal. Red and Jeff have lived in the basin for several years.

We also got to know Clark. He has a very nice 45 foot "yacht" named Temptress. His boat has a steam room in it. He also builds wind generators. He's been down the island chain and visited some of the paradises we hope to visit. Clark is the only other person in the basin with wireless internet service. He goes on many dates with women he meets online. He is considered one of the live-aboards in the basin but spends much of his time at his house in Mount Dora.

Gideon is also a Vietnam veteran. He's a wild one. I drank many a beer with Gideon. We also met Tom who sold his 27 foot sailboat shortly after we got there. He then moved back to Panama. Tom was an avid rum drinker and had one of Clark's wind generators on his boat. It produced lots of power and Tom played many DVD's with the excess power while entertaining on his boat. We also met Dave who is on a sailboat that Joe plucked off the wall after one of the 2004 hurricanes. The owner let it go cheap. Jay is an australian looney tune (by his own words) who lives on a sailboat there. He finds humor n almost everything. From what I understand, he got stuck in the U.S. and wants to return to Australia. We also met Randy, another Vietnam vet, when we first arrived but didn't see much of him after that.

During our stay in Tampa, Rocky, Jason and I purchased a storm damaged Pearson sailboat located in Ft. Pierce on the other coast. After closing the sale and pumping over 7,000 gallons of rainwater from the boat (it sat in the yard for many months), we received the title. Although we bought the boat as a 35 footer, the title indicated that it was actually a 38 footer with a drop keel. We were pleased. Rocky has since determined that it is a Pearson Invicta II of which there were only 12 produced. We had the boat trucked across the state to Cortez Cove Marina. That is our next destination.

No comments: