Off-Season Memories

We FINALLY have decent spring weather here in New England. Kindred Spirit is already in the water getting prepped for a June trip.  I haven’t written anything since November and that was to write about the summer boating, belatedly. What can I say? I’ve been busy? Let’s be honest, there isn’t much boating in New England over the winter- that’s why it is “the off-season.”

Although we were happily busy with family and friends, children and grandchildren, and assorted projects, we actually did fit in some boating related experiences. That’s what boaters do! This will be a whirlwind blog post of the winter months.

Sweet Kindred Spirit patiently waited through the long winter. She had brand new side covers made by her captain, Al.

We made a multi-purpose trip to Florida in October, visiting both coasts to see Al’s mother on the west coast, and then his brother and the new Magnolia on the east coast. Anthony and Annette sold their Morgan sailboat, S/V Magnolia, and crossed to the dark side (sound familiar?). They were living in Stuart and refitting, remodeling, renovating, rejuvenating (and all the other possible “re’s”) the new M/V Magnolia. Bittersweet to see another Morgan go, but exciting, too. How well I know that feeling. Our timing was perfect. On October 15th, the 1997 Kadie Krogen 42, formerly known as Amy K, became M/V Magnolia. 

For complete details of the christening ceremony, refer to the Bakers’ blog entry because it is much better. We were delighted to participate in the christening. Just like us, Anthony and Annette believe that a proper christening ceremony is the only way to give a boat a new life.

True boat christening ceremonies include the ingot and the Black Box.

What would a christening be without speeches that invoke the gods of the sea and…….. CHAMPAGNE!!

Celebrating “Magnolia”. From left to right – Barbara and Bill Watson, me, Anthony, Annette, and Al.

Check out their very cool new shirts! Do they look happy? You bet!

I’m including this next memory as an off-season boating memory because it took place in Essex on the Connecticut River with our cruising friends, Sam and Kayda. In late October Sam and Kayda, from Maine and the Abacos, came to visit us here in Connecticut. We spent the day strolling through Essex because it is always a great town to explore.

Halloween and pumpkins

It might have been a little rainy, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. (Spirits, get it? Halloween?)

Scarecrow Festival time – Just a sampling of the charming and fearsome scarecrows posted up and down the main street.

Lunch at the Black Seal. What a great visit!

Downtown Mystic holds an annual Holiday Lighted Boat Parade over the Thanksgiving weekend. Santa arrives by tugboat, a Christmas tree is lit in Mystic River Park, and then the parade begins. The decorated vessels parade down the Mystic River while spectators oooh and ahhh from both sides of the river. This was a great way to celebrate boating and begin the Christmas holiday season. A holiday boat parade is common in the south, but Mystic has an excellent parade, especially considering the weather. I do wonder who leaves their boat in the water that late here in New England? Is it just to participate in the parade?

Fellow boating friends, MJ and Dean joined us in Mystic. Dress warmly and bring hot cocoa with a little rum.

There were boats of all sizes and propulsion.

Snowman and dolphins

A parade has to have elves  and Santa Claus.

Nice sailboat!

A floating gingerbread house. One of my favorites.

Paddle boarders?? They must be hearty folks to be that close to very chilly water. Love the lighted edge!

The big tug was impressive as it chugged up and down the river.

In January, we headed back to Florida for a week on the west coast. After visiting Al’s mother, we drove south to catch up with Magnolia again. On the way, we stopped in Tarpon Springs, known as the  “Sponge Capital of the World.”  Greek immigrants settled here during the early 1900’s and built a thriving industry harvesting, processing and selling the natural sponges that were abundant in local waters. Tarpon Springs was a nice spot to stop for the day.

Statue of a sponge diver.
Map of the sponging areas in the local Gulf waters.

Sponge boats still line the docks.

The natural sponges are sold everywhere, up and down the street. There is actually a lot to be learned about various sponges. I do love that bicycle!

Along with  all the shops that sell sponges, Greek eateries line the streets.

Magnolia left Stuart on the east coast and traveled across Florida on the Okeechobee Canal, a relatively shallow man-made waterway. When our paths crossed, Magnolia was docked at Twin Dolphins Marina in Bradenton. Fully outfitted and “in the wild”, we were proud and delighted to be Magnolia’s very first overnight guests, a status that no one can ever take away from us. 😉

Anthony introduces Al to his “man cave” otherwise known as the pilothouse.

The salon is as comfortable as it is beautiful, great decorating job! The boat is beautiful.

We began our first evening with a visit to Motorworks Brewery, short walk from the marina. Motorworks Brewery is a craft brewery built on the property of an old 1923 auto dealership. The exterior is supposedly the largest beer garden in Florida, complete with a spacious deck built around a 150+ year-old oak tree, a 3-hole putting green, 2 bocce ball courts, over a dozen cornhole sets, life-sized jenga, a live music stage, 22 ft. projection screen and more.

The scene as we were leaving, lights and corn hole boards. Bottom picture is that very old tree.

We enjoyed the variety of Motorworks’ beer. I couldn’t decide, so I tried the sampler, choosing El Chacco, Pulp Fiction, Intellectual, Lavender, Espresso, and Smoked.

Dinner was next at Bird Rock Taco Shack, hottest spot in the Village of the Arts section of Bradenton. Very cool funky spot with excellent tacos!

Yummy! Of course we finished the evening with ice cream back at the shop near the marina.

Farmers Markets are one of my favorite things.

A “one man circus”  and sunflowers
Blue pottery and produce of many colors

Look at that! The chef from the Bird Rock Taco Shack cooks at the Farmers Market. He said he wanders the market, buys what looks good and then gets cooking.

OK, maybe our captains don’t find farmers markets as much fun as we do, but give them coffee and a table and they behave for a short time.

Sunday was a rainy day, so while the guys ran new a new waterline for the wash down on deck, Annette and I went to the South Florida Museum, a natural and cultural museum with a planetarium and manatee rehabilitation aquarium.

My favorite part of the museum!

More manatees! Mama Manatee with her baby along the walkway by Twin Dolphins Marina.

We said our goodbyes to Magnolia, Anthony and Annette and drove east to Anna Maria Island to spend a few days at a bed and breakfast, Harrington House .

Harrington House Beachfront B&B

The Harrington house was charming and friendly. Highly recommend it!
5 star rating!

We bundled up and walked the beach. It was sooooo good to be near the beach again! Even if the weather was chilly.

Beach time and pool time! The pool was heated. 😉

Spent a morning at an outdoor market right on the beach – Coquina Beach.

“Skinny’s” is the cool place for burgers and cheap (really cheap) beer. It reminded us of the beach shack restaurants in the Bahamas.

Anna Maria Island, day and evening. We really enjoyed our three days of relaxation here.

Since Anna Maria Island is only 30 minutes from Bradenton, we returned to Twin Dolphins Marina for one last visit with Magnolia.

The A2s on their bow, looking good!

Well, what do you know? Another Mariner Orient 38 is on the same dock as Magnolia. We had seen “Optimystique” in the Keys last winter and here she was with new owners in Bradenton. Optimystique is now doing “The Loop.”

In just 3 weeks we will be heading westward on Kindred Spirit to meet with Magnolia and cruise up the Hudson River for a few weeks, a new adventure on the water!

 

 

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