We spent a few days in St Pete coming down off Cloud 9 and trying to decide what to do. It was comforting to be somewhere familiar after so many new and strange places.
One place in St Pete that we hadn’t visited first time around was the stunning Chihuly Collection of glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.
This lady paddling her windsurfer against the backdrop of the high-rise buildings reminded me of our Hongkong days and the sampans in the harbour there.
Our journey across Tampa Bay to Sarasota held no terrors for us this time, unlike the first occasion five years ago.
In Sarasota, we stayed on a mooring ball at Marina Jack’s.
We found a hidden gem, the Sarasota Garden Club.
Afterwards we wandered back through the town, and came across this ibis on the sidewalk, who was quite unconcerned about our presence.
After Sarasota, we followed the Intra-coastal Waterway down to Cayo Costa.
From Cayo Costa we went on to Sanibel. It seemed more developed than when we first visited five years previously, and it was apparently too hot for the wildlife at JN Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The bike ride round the refuge and on to the beach was something of a struggle in the heat, but we managed it.
In the marina at Sanibel, we were transfixed when a family of manatees swam slowly past Carina. I was too mesmerised to even think of grabbing my camera.
Next stop, the Fort Myers Beach City Mooring Field and a trollee(sic) ride to Lovers’ Key State Park.
Opposite the mooring field was a fish restaurant and we decided to go there in the dinghy and moor on their dock. What we had failed to appreciate was the tidal range, and to our chagrin, ran aground in full view of the diners. Fortunately Ian’s efforts to refloat the dinghy were fairly quickly rewarded.
We had liked Cayo Costa and decided to go back and have another look.
It was time to be heading towards Charlotte Harbor, where we were going to store Carina prior to selling her. From Burnt Store Marina we set off across Gasparilla Sound on our last journey.
On our last night on the boat, an alligator came to visit.
The following day, Carina was lifted out of the water and taken to a nearby storage facility, J & R Marine Services. We had about a week to get her ready for sale and our things packed. We couldn’t run the airconditioner and it was too hot to cook or sleep on the boat without it, so we stayed in a hotel for the last few nights.
We revisited Mill Dam and Juniper Springs, in the Ocala National Forest, north of Orlando. Last time had been in January, and there had been few other people there. This time, it was nearly summer and the day we went to Juniper Springs was a public holiday.
We left Carina looking clean, neat and tidy after our strenuous efforts over four days. Our hope is that she’ll have some new owners before too long, and that they’ll enjoy their time with her as much as we have.