Day 223, December 3, 2012 (Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Tampa): Of the three, St. Pete is by far the best stop. We visited old friends in St. Pete and used their dock on a secluded canal. Here is Mike greeting us.

Downtown St. Pete is replete with many good restaurants, museums, art shops, et cetera. The Dali  Museum is not to be missed. It houses the largest collection of Salvador Dali in the U.S.

The  collection is superbly presented and docents lead tours every hour. Edie is standing in the suspended atrium on the third floor of the Dali.

The Chihuly Collection is another must for lovers of art glass. Both museums and the Museum of Fine Arts are within a short walking distance. Above is one of Chihuly’s seaforms with the rolled lip of a different color that makes his art distinctive.

Clearwater Beach, on the other hand, is different. Beachy, retirement community, everything for hire, kitch, call it what you want. See the example to the right. The beach is beautiful and lined with highrise hotels and condos, if that’s what you like. Below, a fisherman cleans his catch at the end of the day with pellies and egrets begging for the scraps.

The Clearwater Municipal Marina is in downtown Clearwater and is an excellent facility with floating docks. However, apart from the Wednesday farmers market, the town looks like it is  all business. The Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina is more protected but the docks are fixed and short. It is hard to get to the pilings to center the bow. We had the pleasure of a full moon tide so line lengths and many of them become critical.

On the ride over to Tampa from  St. Pete, son, Judah, and his youngest daughter, Andie, mind the store while grandma and grandpa play with the dolphins. In Tampa we have the reciprocity of our son’s yacht club. Davis Islands yacht Club advertises transient space but there is not a full time dockmaster and it is serve yourself. Someone might get around to noticing that you are there. There is water and 50 Amps in some slips.  Nevertheless, the club is well kept and active and close to downtown. You need a car if you want to get about to nearby attractions, restaurants, and supermarkets. We are here to play with grand children so we don’t care much about the town. We’ve been here lots.

If you haven’t already discovered, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is the shame of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Skipper Bob is  quite good about the alternate channels through the maze of natural and manmade keys in the Clearwater to Anna Maria Island stretch but the channel markers are only approximate. Go slow and watch what markers are present and your sonar. We bumped in the channel between G3 and R2 south of the Welsh Causeway Bridge immediately past the Johns Pass Channel cutooff. There is a USACE/DNR exclusion zone marked with white buoys on the red side. Stay closer to those and the red marks. In any case don’t be surprised by the occasional fours and fives. Best to inch through the shallows above half tide (which is not much) if the moon isn’t new or full.

A Thanksgiving pileup of kids and grands.