Are we allowed to have fun? St Pete Boat Show

We’ve never been boat owners while attending a boat show before! So we were thrilled to be able to attend the St Pete boat show right in our own town. This show combined sail boats and motor boats, so there was something for everyone. And plenty of opportunities to spend money! We sat in on several seminars and picked up tips on cruising in The Bahamas and Cuba, and learned that we need to order The Explorer Chartbooks by Monty and Sara Lewis to really be confident cruising in the Bahamas and to finding our way around on shore.

Speaking of spending money, we bought our dinghy, Bug, at the boat show. We got a pretty good deal on a 2017 model Achilles HB-240AL. In plain English, that’s a 2.4 meter inflatable dinghy with an rigid aluminum floor. It’s a compromise between big enough to get us from boat to shore, and small enough to fit on the foredeck (with the staysail rigging in place) and light enough for two normal-sized people to load and unload. It’s going to be a slow ride though with our measly 5hp outboard!

The other big attraction of the boat show is the annual cruiser party hosted by Cruising Outpost magazine. Bob and Jody Bitchin (don’t you wish your name was “Bitchin”) bring in live music, kegs of beer, and lots and lots of pizzas and keep the party going after the boat show gates close on Saturday night. Our heads spinning, our wallets lighter, and our spirits encouraged by contact with the cruising community, we returned to the yard and to boat projects.

We have a full tank of gas, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses. Hit it.

There are faster ways to drive from Colorado to Florida. There are more direct ways to drive from Colorado to Florida. But for pure “friends per square mile” value, you gotta drive to Florida by way of New York, Vermont, Virginia, and South Carolina. And you gotta drive some of it in a gigantic moving van, towing a car. We literally chose our hotels by looking at Google Earth pictures of hotel parking lots, to make sure we’d have enough room to turn around.

We spent a fantastic month visiting family and friends all along the east coast on our last bit of vacation before settling down and focusing on boat projects. Thank you to every one of you who welcomed us, fed us, showed us around your home towns, and generally caught up on each other’s lives after months, years, or even decades apart.

Mike’s high school friends Tricia, Michelle, and Bill from Holland, NY (population 3,401)

Excellent ciders and gourmet burgers in Rochester, NY with Jenn’s brother Jeff

Fantastic fall weekend in Underhill, VT apple picking and beer tasting with the Thompson’s and with many of Mike’s AXP fraternity brothers.

Trying out the surprisingly wonderful restaurants in Oswego, NY with Jenn’s parents.

Proving that old friends are best friends by spending several days in northern Virginia visiting the Werbels, Wolfs, and Tebbes.

Starting to really get the itch to be on the water with a very relaxing visit with Matt and Sarah Kline in Annapolis.

And making friends with the pet chickens staying with Rachel and Paul in North Carolina.

Visiting Jenn’s Aunt Mary Ann and Mike’s very first Lockheed Martin boss, Jerry Calvert in Greenville, SC.

Our final big stop before Florida was to visit Jock Covey, the previous owner of our sailboat! We had the privilege to meet his new love Sophie, meet fellow sailors and explorers in the St Mary’s, GA boat yard, and to really get excited about our next steps.

At long last, we made it to our first temporary lodging in St Petersburg, FL where we could finally explode the poor, exhausted Volkswagen, and realized we still have way more possessions than can fit on a boat! Hooray for a successful road trip!