January 21-24, 2013
We probably would have enjoyed any place we landed at the end of The Crossing, but Tarpon Springs was a particularly fun spot to spend a few days relaxing and continuing to celebrate having the big challenge behind us. We docked at Turtle Cove Marina with several other Loopers and non-looping cruisers, a good groups of nice people. Turtle Cove is a relatively new marina with lovely amenities and a very accommodating staff. They definitely made my list of Top Ten shower facilities on the Loop!
In the early 20th century, Greek sponge fishermen emigrated to the small town of Tarpon Springs to establish a thriving sponge industry. The sponge industry has waned in recent decades, but Tarpon Springs remains a town with a very strong Greek flavor, and yes, there are still loads of sponges for sale everywhere.
After a relaxing morning enjoying the fact that we didn’t have to get up before dawn to check all our wind and weather sites, we walked into the old town just a few blocks from the marina. There was a street market in progress, and lots of activity in the many small shops as well.
We went to Mama’s Greek restaurant and ate outside where we could enjoy people-watching. We ordered an appetizer of saganaki, the Greek flaming cheese, which our waitress flamed at our table. We enjoyed it with a couple of cold beers – in most restaurants beer seems to be two-for-one all day, everyday!
After lunch we checked out a few of the many sponge shops. We decided that one of the “vase sponges” would be a fun decorative piece for the boat – and it can’t break!
That night we went to Hella’s Greek restaurant for dinner with Jackets II, Why Knot and El Sea V. Really, if you don’t like Greek food, you’d be kind of out of luck in Tarpon Springs.
The next few days were more of the same. We went to the sponge exchange museum with Stephen and Charlotte, watched the sponge movie and became sponge experts. Afterwards, Craig was able to conduct a very knowledgeable conversation with one of the sponge fishermen on the docks!
That evening we had a boatful of friends for docktails on Blue Heron: Jackets II, Why Knot, El Sea V and Miss N Texas.
Our last full day was very busy, but very productive. Craig the Camp Director arranged for the marina pump-out guy, the diesel fuel truck and the Coast Guard safety inspector to come to our line-up of boats and get us all serviced. We were happy to get our 2013 safety inspection sticker that might keep us from being stopped and boarded by the Coast Guard along the waterways.
While Craig was working with the inspector, I walked down the dock to watch the dozens of pelicans that roost in the mangrove trees across from the marina. I discovered that the reason for their constant presence was the fresh-off-the-boat fish store just opposite. They are such entertaining birds.
We also had a brief but fun visit from Chip White, our financial friend from Atlanta, who was on his way to meetings in Clearwater the following day. He has heard about our trip for the past few years, so it was nice to welcome him aboard.
That day was also Joey’s 11th birthday, so the most important thing on our agenda was finding a frozen treat for the birthday party. No Dairy Queen here, so Joey and Bailey each had a small frozen Greek yoghurt, with a little honey and cinnamon blended in. It was a huge success! Happy Birthday, Joey!
That afternoon Ross and Laura (The Zone) returned from their road trip to her dad’s home in Boynton Beach, where they had gotten married! Darrell and Lisa (Why Knot) decorated The Zone to welcome them back. That night all the Loopers got together for a good dinner at Mama’s to celebrate Ross and Laura’s wedding. Fun time!
The next morning, our non-looping but very nice neighbors, Bruce and Cathy on Miss N Texas, loaned us their car for a quick trip to Publix for a few groceries. By 10:30, Blue Heron and Jackets II were pulling out of Turtle Cove heading for our next stop, Caladesi Island State Park. We took a short detour past the sponge docks on the way out, waved good-bye to Tarpon Springs and continued on our way.
Next: Beautiful Caladesi Island State Park
(Real time: On February 2, we are enjoying our last day in St. Petersburg.)