January 13, 2013

Day 103 - January 13, 2013: St. Armonds Circle

Today, after picking up a few items at the Sarasota Farmers Market, we went across the bay to St. Armonds Circle off Lido Key. This is a rather unique shopping area, spread around a traffic circle, which is known for its many epicurean delights by local chefs. It also has dozens of unique shops featuring items from many places across the world. We had a late lunch at The Columbia Restaurant, which originated over a century ago in Tampa in 1905, and now has five locations including this one. It features Spanish/Cuban cuisine, and Anne had the seafood paella, which is a signature dish. Afterwards we walked the streets, mostly window shopping until dusk.

We sat on the left side looking out at the street
This is our second experience mooring on a buoy, which is a bit more difficult than I expected. These buoys are a more permanent way to secure a boat for an overnight or extended stay. They are large floating balls, about two feet in diameter, with a heavy line with a ring on top passing through them to a very heavy concrete block on the bottom. Mooring fields, put in place by cities or marinas, contain many of these buoys placed in a pattern of rows, each one far enough apart to allow a boat to swing around them (due to wind and currents) without hitting the boats on either side.

Sailboat attached to a mooring buoy
If you decide you don't want to go into a marina, there is an advantage to mooring on a buoy over anchoring. You can weather higher winds and waves without worrying about your anchor slipping or coming loose. There is also a disadvantage, which is the mooring fee; however, it is much less than the cost of a slip.

Capturing the ball requires some skill in pulling up alongside the ball and being able to capture and tie to the ring, which may be a challenge in high winds or currents. Setting an anchor also has it challenges to ensure you put out enough line to get a good set while avoiding other boats also at anchor. So these seem to even out.

In both cases, you live off your battery power and generator, having all the same conveniences you would have at the dock. However, when you stay more than one night, this may require running the generator occasionally to keep your batteries charged.

So, my conclusion so far? In heavy weather look for a mooring ball for security, and otherwise look for a good anchoring spot to save some money.

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