The Last Anchorage … DeSoto Pointe, Florida’s West Coast

For the past 15 years, we’ve loved the time we’ve spent at anchor.  There’s just something extra special about being self-sufficient swinging to our own ground tackle.  When we dropped anchor at DeSoto Pointe, we knew it would likely be the last time we’d enjoy anchoring aboard s/v Winterlude.

Sailing Winterlude on Tampa Bay

Sailing Winterlude on Tampa Bay

Bittersweet doesn’t begin to describe the emotions.  DeSoto Pointe will always be special.  Both of us decided we’d love to come back and spend more time anchored along the middle Florida Coastline, but for now this was the last time.

Tampa Bay's Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Tampa Bay’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Sailing up the ICW from Longboat Key, we decided to take a sidetrip and sail under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay.  After all, we could SEE it, so why not.

Sailing Under the Tampa Bay Sunshine Skyway Bridge - very cool!

Sailing Under the Tampa Bay Sunshine Skyway Bridge – very cool!

The part we missed was that it was farther than it looked and the current would be against us on the way back.  With little wind, it made for slow going, but we weren’t in a hurry since after all, we were sailing and it might well be our last sail on Winterlude.

Sailing Winterlude with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the background

Sailing Winterlude with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the background

So we luxuriated in the day, enjoying the bridge, enjoying the dolphins, enjoying the sunshine sparkling on the water, the sounds of the water rushing by the hull, all sensations sailing (well maybe not staying out of the way of the container ships and the USCG cutter flying under the bridge – we thought maybe we were in trouble?).

DeSoto National Memorial

DeSoto National Memorial – beach the dinghy right by the sign & take the path to the Visitor Center.

The DeSoto Pointe anchorage is just inside the Manatee River on the way up river to Bradenton.  Opposite the anchorage is another good anchorage at Emerson Preserve.  Depending on wind direction, pick the best protected side.  For us it was the DeSoto side.  There are a couple buoys in either anchorage which turned out to be permanent race marks for the Bradenton Yacht Club.  Races occurred while we were anchored, so it might be a good idea to give these marks a wide clearance.  🙂

The beach and the Memorial Cross erected in 1995 to commemorate the original 12 priests and friars that sailed with the DeSoto Expedition as well as all Catholic Priests of Florida.

The beach and the Memorial Cross erected in 1995 to commemorate the original 12 priests and friars that sailed with the DeSoto Expedition as well as all Catholic Priests of Florida.

So much to explore – I love national monuments and DeSoto National Historical Monument was OK, but the Emerson Pointe Preserve across the river turned out to be even better.  Although both parks are small, we enjoyed several lazy days at anchor before we had to take s/v Winterlude up the river to Regatta Pointe Marina to list her for sale.

De Soto National Memorial commemorates the spot where in “May 1539, Conquistador Hernando de Soto’s army made landfall in Tampa Bay. They were met with fierce resistance of indigenous people protecting their homelands. De Soto’s quest for glory and gold would be a four year, four thousand mile odyssey of intrigue, warfare, disease, and discovery that would form the history of the United States.”

The Nina ... or the Pinta, can't remember, sailing past the DeSoto National Memorial.

The Nina … or the Pinta, can’t remember, sailing past the DeSoto National Memorial.

We landed our dinghy and followed the trail over to the Visitor Center to watch the movie – gotta love the national parks and their movies they have providing more information on the history of each park!  But before we could see the movie, there were three old ships coming past the memorial.  Huh?  The Nina and The Pinta, replicas of Columbus’ ships, gave an air of authenticity to DeSoto’s landing.

We could almost see DeSotos six ships, over 200 horses and 100 men splashing through the shallow water enroute to their landing spot.  It was easy to imagine the natives living in this paradise at the time being incensed at this invasion and fighting back.  Walking the trails and enjoying the memorial took us part of the first day and we dinghied back to the boat to enjoy simply being aboard.  Dinner in the cockpit and another splendid sunset!

Dinghy Dock at Emerson Pointe Preserve

Dinghy Dock at Emerson Pointe Preserve

The next few days we explored up river as far as the marina in our dinghy.  And stumbled onto the highlight of this anchorage – The Emerson Pointe Preserve – on the other side of the river.  From the river, there is a new dock used primarily for fishing but also for a dinghy dock.  There was one other dinghy and one fisherman, so we enjoyed an almost solitary dinghy dock.

Emerson Pointe Preserve Boardwalk to History

Emerson Pointe Preserve Boardwalk to History

Actually a Manatee County Park, Emerson Pointe has witnessed extensive human use for over 4500 years. The largest shell midden, the Portavant Temple Mound and some early abandoned settler homesites, enhance the six miles of trails and boardwalks through this delightfully beautiful little preserve.

At the top of the Emerson Pointe Preserve Observation Deck

At the top of the Emerson Pointe Preserve Observation Deck

The view tower and some of the boardwalks provide views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Tampa Bay Skyline.  Apparently the fishing isn’t bad judging from all the fishermen wading in the shallow waters just off the preserve.

The iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge from Emerson Preserve.

The iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge from Emerson Pointe Preserve.

From our last anchorage on Winterlude, we enjoy lounging in the cockpit and a final sunset.  🙁

Goodnight Sun, Goodnight Winterlude - last time at anchor in this boat. :(

Goodnight Sun, Goodnight Winterlude – last time at anchor in this boat. 🙁

One month down!  David says I’m not allowed to even THINK about another boat for 12 months.  So now it’s only 11 months.  In the meantime, I wonder if making plans to attend a couple boat shows violates the spirit of not thinking about another boat?  Maybe I can convince him?

Despite knowing it was the right decision for us, I miss my boat!  🙁

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Comments

  1. Delightful! Did you know our last two winters included 2-week visits to Bradenton – where Nicki’s parents winter – and walks at DeSoto Point, along that very beach! We stood under that sign in your picture and said “We could anchor here for a few days…”!
    Small world it remains! We hope to be there in December this year.
    By the way, it’s never too soon to think about the new boat! David can’t court martial you for thinking. 🙂

  2. A break is always a good thing, but PLEASE don’t go to the dark side when the time comes to jump back in (dare I say it, a powerboat).

    • Hi John – we still currently own 3 sailboats, just not a cruising sailboat. We spent 4 hours yesterday (Sunday) racing our one design Y Flyer, so we’re not without a sailing fix. And if I want to “get away”, I can always spend a lazy late afternoon sailing one of the Sunfish – not as nice as watching sunset from our cockpit, but not a bad choice. 🙂 Cheers! Jan

  3. Bill Hajek says:

    Ah yes, a boat show might not be to much to ask. As you well know, the St. Petersburg boat show is in early Dec. You and David are always welcome aboard s/v Winterlude; the weather might even be agreeable for a day out on the bay. Just sayn’………{:~)
    Cheers,
    Bill

    • Working on it Bill! David said he’d consider being in that area in December – I might have neglected to mention the boat show, just visiting my Dad. 🙂 But we’ve attended that boat show many times! Cheers! J

  4. scott h. says:

    hasta la proxima! blessings, scott

  5. I love to read your blog, and wish you the best with finding your next adventure. Here’s to you winning the next record size lotto so you can pick your next cruiser without any budgetary constraints! I got to ask though, how did you sell it so fast?

    • Karon — a post will be coming with details. But in a nutshell, I had it for sale by owner on sailboatlistings.com and a blog page dedicated to selling the boat. Fortunately (or unfortunately), we were too busy enjoying what we suspected would be our last winter aboard, sailing the Keys, sailing to Cuba, sailing Florida’s West Coast and didn’t really focus on selling the boat. The buyers turned out to be one of the people that contacted me directly. I told him the boat wasn’t available and to contact our broker in another six weeks. They were the first to see it, at 8:30 AM the first morning we let the broker show the boat and we had an offer before noon. Technically the process had been ongoing for a couple of months without me being willing to participate. The blog site wasn’t linked or advertised on CommuterCruiser.com – that was to be a marketing strategy in conjuntion with our broker. Turned out it wasn’t needed. Bottom line: we had a great classic boat, the only Passport 37 on the market at the time, and we got lucky. 🙂 Cheers — Jan

      P.S. More selling strategy in upcoming blog posts.

  6. So sorry we missed you. We’re less than a half mile from Emerson Point at Snead Island Boat Works. I would have loved to treat you to sundowners.

    Deb
    SV Kintala
    http://www.theretirementproject.blogspot.com

  7. enjoy your journey on “the road not taken”

    • Hi Ron! We always enjoy the journey, looking forward to whatever happens next – it will definitely be exciting! Today we’re hanging out at the lake with the grandkids, August: camping in N. Georgia mountains with more grandkids, September heading west in the camper – North Dakota, South Dakota, then camping with friends in Glacier National Park, then back through Denver and Wichita to visit family and friends. Should be a great month. Fall at the lake before we head south towing the camper from Florida to the west coast (or as far as we wander) along the US southern coastline/border. 🙂 Hope the second half of 2016 is FUN for you! Cheers — Jan

Speak Your Mind

*