Re Metau
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Launching Our Dream
Florida's West Coast
2005 – 2008
Our First Real Sail on Re Metau
~ Our First Real Sail on Re Metau ~
Tampa Bay Icon
Sailing from Bradenton
Stretching the Sails
We decided to put boat projects aside and stretch the sails! Some friends from our dock who were familiar with the area, Pete and Amy, accepted our invitation to come along for which Don and I were very appreciative. It made us feel a little more secure having some experienced hands onboard, because this was truly our first shake out sail, given that our sea trial was hindered by fog and we really didn't get to put up any canvas.

Pete suggested we make way for Egmont Key, a small island at the mouth of Tampa bay, but first we wanted to take on some diesel. We'd no idea how much we had in the tanks since there were no gauges to provide us with that ever so important information, and sailing back into the dock was far beyond our current expertise.

While standing on the fuel dock, the sun glistened down through the water and lit up our prop, giving us all a clear view of its thick layer of barnacles. Living in the fertile Manatee River made our hull a perfect breeding ground – no matter how good the anti-fouling paint. Scraping Re Metau's bottom was added to our to-do list, something we would soon learn was a monthly requirement if we ever wanted to cruise faster than the 3 knots we made motoring down the river.

Pete at the Winch
~ Pete at the Winch ~

We raised the main for added momentum (ohhh – 3 1/2 knots) and reached the bay in about 45 minutes. Then it was time to raise all the sails and really see how she handled. The balance was incredible, smooth and steady. Don was able to lock the wheel on a course for long periods of time. No matter how comfortable we were in our sailing skills, having everything we own inside of our very own vessel definitely heightened our level of anxiety. But Pete was a great help with handling the sails and providing helpful experience, and Amy knew the course by heart (we had no modern charting technology yet), so it turned out to be a relaxing cruise, despite our anxiousness.

A Little Mishap
All was going quite well, until Amy returned from below with the head handle in hand. Apparently, the plastic around our manual toilet pump had become brittle with age and disuse, so in the process of 'flushing,' the lever disintegrated. I was mortified! Amy and I were both apologizing profusely to each other until we dissolved the situation in laughter.

"These things happen!" Amy, like most live-aboard sailors, took it in stride.

If someone unfamiliar with these convoluted and often cantankerous systems had been caught in such a vulnerable moment, it might have been horrifying for everyone! Instead, it was just another item added to the list of 'To Dos' – (which was swelling like an incoming tide!)

Around and about
We zipped back and forth around Tampa Bay, and were fully enticed by all the possibilities it offered. North was historic Fort Desoto, and beyond that lay the last leg of the Intracoastal Waterway, bordered by Tierra Verde, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach…all the way up to Clearwater Beach. These were top vacation destinations with powdered sugar shores, waterside bistros, and nautically-themed villages.

To our northeast, we could sail under the impressive Sunshine Skyway Bridge to downtown St. Petersburg, a beautiful metropolitan city with a lively pier, lots of entertaining events, and cultural attractions. East of that was Apollo Beach and Gulf City, with snug harbors, nature preserves and pirate history.

Egmont Key Lighthouse
~ Egmont Key Lighthouse ~

To our south was Anna Maria Island, the place I called home while waiting for Don and Re Metau to arrive, and one of my all-time favorite little paradises with soft sandy beaches, a relaxed atmosphere, and an old Florida feel. Beyond that was a string of keys; Longboat, Siesta, Casey, all the way down to Venice and each with a unique atmosphere and lots to offer a sailor.

And westward lay Egmont Key, an uninhabited bird sanctuary with untouched, natural beauty that made one feel like a castaway. The lighthouse on the north end was surrounded by the remains of Spanish-American War era Fort Dade. That island had so much to explore, we determined it should be our first, solo destination and planned to spend the night on the hook off its shores.

And of course, our own little river had so much to be explored as well. Anchorages lay on both side, and where the big boat couldn't go, the dinghy surly could! Launching our dream in Tampa Bay had so many aquatic advantages for us as well. The large, deep body was protected all around which meant that sailing could occur even when rough weather was kicking up the Gulf.

But today, we were having too much fun getting a feel for our new home under sail. Stopping was not on the agenda! We were so excited to finally leave the dock, and now, even more excited to have adventures throughout Tampa Bay. Just as soon as we get the toilet fixed. And the bottom scraped. And a GPS. And fuel gauges. And …

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