This year Gypsies Palace decided that it would be fun to spend a month cruising Tampa Bay. Most Loopers and boaters stick with the normal route of going north and south on the Intracoastal Waterway. Cruising Tampa Bay requires an extra 27 miles to go all the way to Tampa and most cruisers find this out of the way. We planned on doing a whole “tour” cruising Tampa Bay from Apollo Beach and finally ending up at St. Pete Beach.
However, in order to get there we had our very first engine problem in over a year and a half. When we went to leave Ft. Myers Steve could not get the throttle to work on the port side. We were unable to leave and he spent several days troubleshooting. We managed to limp at idle speed into Sarasota where we discovered that it was not a Cummins issue, but a Twin Disc Transmission issue. I will say Twin Disc went out of their way to get us help. The repairman showed up on a Saturday at 5:30 in the morning! It turned out that it was a wire that was disconnected. Easy fix, but of course, the bill was time and a half plus travel!
Our first stop cruising Tampa Bay was Apollo Beach. The reason we chose this is that we have a sister boat called Fish E Business docked there and they had a dock for us behind their house. They had also completed the Great Loop in their 50 Endeavour and we wanted to hear about their journey. I took a picture of both our Endeavours at their dock. They also hosted a Looper Gathering with over 55 people in attendance that had either completed the Loop or were planning it.
Things to do in Downtown Tampa
It was an easy hop to Tampa from there to Marjorie Park Marina, a city owned facility on Davis Island. We stayed there and used our dinghy to explore downtown Tampa, which is thriving. We were constantly entertained by the boats that passed us – a Pirate Ship Tour Boat, water taxis and sculling/ rowing crews from the local university. Plus, we had an awesome view of the city at night. They light up their bridges with different colors.
Downtown Tampa has a 2.4-mile Riverwalk that is really interesting and people take full advantage of it. We ate at Sparkman Wharf, a new district of restaurants that are made from containers on ships. It reminded me of permanent food trucks. At the other end there is an entire building of food court type businesses called Armature Works. It has been drawing the locals. Our favorite is a restaurant called Ulele, named after a Florida Indian Princess. They have their own brewery and make their own ice cream. We had both! We also took the free trolley to Ybor City, the Cuban district. Naturally, we ate at the Columbia Restaurant, which is the original in Florida. The food was awesome!Read More