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.
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.
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.
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.
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?).
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. 🙂
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
From our last anchorage on Winterlude, we enjoy lounging in the cockpit and a final sunset. 🙁
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! 🙁