Friday, January 7, 2011

Night With a Venetian

Whenever our guidebooks describe a tricky bit of navigation, they list the buoy  numbers and compass directions and visual landmarks and they describe the currents and the risk of shoaling . . . and then, they repeat this sage bit of advice:  "Seek local knowledge."

Which is why we're so diligent in following the model set down by canalboater Terry Darlington in his Narrowdog books:  Once you're docked or anchored for the evening, seek the local bar and chat up the local boaters.  (And which is why we were in stitches over the sign shown above, spotted near the channel not far from the Crow's Nest Marina in Venice.)

State Collegians, re-unite!
Ever since Clearwater we've heard regular broadcasts from TowBoat U.S. on the VHF radio. We presume the idea is to let boaters know "We've got your back in case of a boat emergency. "  But I guess the local TowBoat U.S. in Venice must not need THAT much business.

We had a wonderful refreshing stay in Venice.  Our hometown next-door-neighbor, Mahala Thoele, is spending the winter there, and she brought us to her personal vacation resort for a home-cooked meal and a night in a real bed.

We took a pile of oranges and limes plucked from the garden trees back to the boat.  You can't eat any more locally than that!  And we strolled over to inspect the Venice Beach Ferry which (like the rental boats at the Crow's Nest Marina) is electric powered and emissions-free.

How to anchor in a narrow channel:  Tie your
stern to the mangroves. Avoid falling snakes.
Wednesday night we anchored in a little canal off Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island.  As we walked the town the next morning a woman hailed us. Turns out Diane, from the neighboring sailboat in the anchorage, is a Brit who lives half the year on her own narrowboat in England. "We couldn't believe it when we saw you coming into the harbor!" she said.  "I imagine there aren't may canal boats in the U.S."

A few dozen is how many there are, and speaking of U.S. canal boats, we received some local knowledge from Peter Wiles from Mid-Lakes Navigation, which built (and sold us) our boat.

Your laugh of the day: #613 in
my "amusing boat names" photoseries
He told us he'd had a memorable stay at Useppa Island (near Cabbage Key) and that we MUST stop in.

This tiny, private island has been carefully developed: vernacular-style, white clapboard houses with deep porches and tin roofs placed into the landscape so as not to destroy any of the enormous banyan and live oak trees.

And one of the first people we met as we docked there was the former mayor of Venice.  There really are only two degrees of separation.

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