What’s happening Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend? There’s a lot going on in the area and crowds and traffic congestion are assured. Go early, leave late but you’ll have to be patient. Take the shuttle bus to avoid hunting for a parking spot for your vehicle but expect to be at the mercy of slow traffic.
For my first few years living on Anna Maria Island, I had only heard of white pelicans, but never had seen them. Eventually, my curiosity prompted me to go look for them. I had heard there were some at the south part of the island in Anna Maria Sound. At first, I thought I’d found them. They looked white, but they were in many ways similar to the more common local Brown Pelicans. Soon I learned Brown Pelicans have white heads and necks when they are adults, but not breeding. This is all I had seen.
Later I learned the best place to see the American White Pelican in this area was Cortez fishing village, and this is where I found them. On the occasion of my first American White Pelican spotting, there was no question about what it was. It was gigantic compared to the local browns. The wingspan of the white is 9 feet, compared to 7 feet for the brown. The white pelican also looks completely white when it floats in the water. The black primary and secondary flight feathers on the wings are only obvious during flight.
Other than size and color, the most obvious difference between Brown Pelicans and American White Pelicans is their feeding behavior. Brown Pelicans glide in the air, then do apparently awkward dives, splashing loudly into the water with a strange twist, but usually recovering with a pouch full of fish. White pelicans do not dive; instead they forage for fish in a methodical way. Sometimes they even swim as a group in a formation, moving the fish toward the shore or into narrow areas where they can be more easily caught.
- Below average activity with fewest named storms since 1997
- No effects on Anna Maria Island
- No landfalls on Florida
- 1 Gulf of Mexico storm (TS Dolly)
- 1 US mainland landfall (Arthur)
- 2 major hurricanes (Cat 3 Edouard and Cat 4 Gonzalo)
- The US broke a record of 9 years without a major hurricane landfall. The last major hurricane to make US landfall was Wilma (2005). The previous record of eight years was from 1861-1868.
- Florida broke a record of 9 years without a hurricane impact (since 1851). The previous record of five years was from 1980-1984.
|Atlantic Hurricane Season||June 2014 forecast||2014 Actual|
|Named storms (>35mph)||10||8|
|Major hurricanes (>111mph)||1||2|
|US landfall likelihood||40%||12%|
|Gulf Coast landfall||23%||12%|
Sailing out of Anna Maria Island waterfront properties could not be easier. Anything north of Manatee Ave Highway 64 has direct access to Tampa Bay without passing under a bridge. The channel between Anna Maria City and Key Royale, Holmes Beach, is maintained to allow access by large yachts to Galati marina, and the sheltered canals and most boat slips lining Bimini Bay offer depths of at least six feet.
Once out into Tampa Bay, a large body of water is accessible to all keelboats, with only a few shallow spots or dredge spoil banks to beware. To the east, under the Skyway Bridge, the bay stretches up to Saint Petersburg and Tampa. To the west, leaving Tampa Bay for the Gulf of Mexico is right around the corner of Bean Point, or via the deep shipping channel north of Egmont Key.
The Intracoastal Waterway tracks south inside the barrier islands, but can be too narrow to maintain sailing angles, and is interrupted by several scheduled bridge openings. To the north the ICW continues at Pass-A-Grille.
Down the coast, the next large sailing area is Charlotte Harbor, then Florida Keys.