We took advantage of it Friday night by riding to the UPS Store to pick up a huge package of Coleen's school books. Somehow we managed to fit them all in between the 3 bikes :-)
I could hardly wait until Saturday morning so we could go for a real ride. But of course, being the conscientious person that I am (aka neat freak) we had to do chores and laundry first. Coleen and I put the laundry in our little cart, rowed it to shore in the dinghy and walked about 4 blocks to the worlds worst laundry mat. I'm telling you that place was BAD. Didn't even have a folding table - kind of made you want to run through an empty batch of bleach water first :-) Anyway we powered through and got it done - had to sit on a bench in front of some fancy condos down the block while waiting - as they didn't even have chairs. Still an hour later we were done - although some of the clothes sort of melted! Yes, no fancy clothes allowed in cruising.
After hauling the laundry back and putting it away we loaded our bikes and a picnic lunch in the dinghy leaving just barely enough room for the two of us -- and not much room to maneuver the oars :-) Still we made it to land, Coleen tied up the dinghy using a well done bowline, we set up the bikes and took off. A really cool park runs along the shore for several miles overlooking Tampa Bay. We rode all the way to Coffeepot Bayou, then found a nice park bench in the shade of a couple of palm trees and enjoyed our picnic basket. Coffeepot Bayou is lined with the most beautiful homes. It looked like something out of a magazine. All the homes backed up to the Bayou and had amazing yards, pools and boat docks - but we saw absolutely no one out enjoying the beautiful day.
Later we rode back through the park and stopped at the municipal swimming pool where they were hosting a huge swim meet. They also had a very nice play pool with a very tall water slide. It was $5 for the both of us and Coleen had a ball. She went up and down that slide so many times I thought she would be too tired to ride the bike home. She also found lots of kids and I enjoyed swimming in the lap pool. A very nice afternoon.
We got home around 5 p.m. just in time to catch another wedding in the park. I made a Carribean Jerk Pork Roast with brown rice in the pressure cooker for dinner - which turned out quite well.
Sunday, I made a huge breakfast - bacon, eggs, hash browns and enjoyed a little of the newspaper. I'd hoped to head out early for a sail , but the float switch on the bilge pump quit and required some work. One chore led to another and soon the morning was gone! I had to head out anyway as I was completely out of water - nary a drop. It took a bit of work to get my two anchors up and I was a bit muddy. Finally around 1:30 we headed over the the St. Petersburg marina to buy fuel, get water and a pump out. I filled the water tank, plus two new 6.5 gallon jugs that I now have on deck. (Yes, I did give my old ones away back in Mobile.....).
On our way over I went by a little sailboat with two guys and one paddle. They looked pretty miserable. I asked if they needed a tow (as they had no engine and there was no wind). They pondered it and decided they'd just wait for wind. I asked if they had plenty to drink as it was very hot - and they assured me they would be ok. I didn't see them again but I suspect they paddled back all the way.
After we finished our business we headed out into the Bay -but didn't go far before I saw lightning strike the water in the distance. Although my handy dandy weather radar showed absolutely nothing - it sure looked bad to me. We decided to head back as there was no wind anyway.
No sooner did I get one of my anchors dropped than the wind picked up hard. I clocked it at 30 with my wind meter while sitting in the cockpit with the engine running. Huge waves were pounding up and over the seawall and others were just rolling in one after another through the opening. We were taking quite a pounding. I put on my life jacket made my way forward and threw out another anchor. It wasn't enough as with my little tiny scope (not much room in here for a long scope) I ended up dragging anchor. I think the Danforth didn't manage to set properly. First time - in my one year that I drug anchor... but then the wind was fierce - not sure how high but well in excess of 30 - and the rollers were awful. I had to put the engine in gear to keep off of the boat that was behind me and the sunken boat next to me (that's another story).
It was a bit tense but I wasn't too scared. And in all of that it didn't really rain - which is maybe why it wasn't on the radar.... it was just wind. The rain didn't come until much later. Thank goodness for the tall buildings around us as they took the lightning. It seemed to like one building the most and I saw it hit at least 5 times.
Not sure how long all of this went on, but I suspect about a half hour. After it calmed down a bit, I called DJ and asked him to come over and help me reset the anchors. A few minutes later it was calm and the sea was flat as a mirror. Go figure!