Category Archives: Sports

Sailing Anna Maria Island And Tampa Bay

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.

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Robinson Preserve Bike Rides

Holmes Beach to Robinson's Preserve area map

Holmes Beach to Robinson’s Preserve area map

Robinson Preserve has become a popular site for Anna Maria Island and Bradenton residents, along with island and area visitors. The multi-use trails and waterways are a great escape from the congestion and traffic of the beaches and shops.

One way to enjoy the preserve is to bike around the designated trails and take a few side spurs to the less-frequented views and outlooks. The main path is paved and smooth for walking and cycling, and are busier on weekends, but the unpaved paths are more interesting and quieter.

Starting from Holmes Beach, heading along Manatee Ave to the south entrance, and taking most of the available trails in the preserve, I measured a 15-mile  round trip. There are several ways to shorten or lengthen ride choices depending on your start point, and by repeating circuits or side spurs.

Foot and bike path on the Anna Maria Island Bridge

Foot and bike path on the Anna Maria Island Bridge

Robinson Preserve south entrance on Manatee Ave, Hwy 64.

Robinson Preserve south entrance on Manatee Ave, Hwy 64.

Robinson Preserve Bike Trails

Robinson Preserve Bike Trails

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Boatlifts and Jetdocks

One of the disadvantages of an electric boatlift can be that the height at which it is raised blocks your view of the water and beyond. There is also the lost convenience of just stepping or climbing aboard your boat when it is kept in the water.

But considering how often recreational boat owners use their craft the lowering of the boatlift into the water is a small effort, while the peace of mind of having it out of the water the rest of the time is worth the trade-off.

A boatlift gets your boat off the water and eliminates the problem of chafing wear to dock lines and fairleads. It also prevents constant bumping into a dock from wind, waves and boat wake.

By not leaving your precious boat in the water, a boatlift allows you to forego anti-fouling – an expensive and recurring job.

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The Not So Big Sailboat For Anna Maria

Anna Maria Island has the great advantage of sitting on Tampa Bay. This means it’s one of the very best spots on the Florida Gulf Coast for sailing big boats. But it’s amazing how few large boats are seen sailing in Tampa Bay. Why are there not frequent regattas? In most parts of Florida sailing means having to motor in channels for a long time to get to open, deep water. Anna Maria Island sailboat owners have it made. From the shelter of their canal homes or homes on Bimini Bay, it’s a very short trip distance into the Gulf. There are no draw bridges to wait for. Once the motor is turned off and the sails are raised that’s what sailing is all about.

sunfish sailboat

Just because it’s a great place for large boats, that doesn’t mean Anna Maria Island is not also a good place for small sailboats. In fact, the sheltered, shallow waters of Bimini Bay make this the perfect place for small shallow-draft boats such as Sunfish. Even then, it’s important to be ready to pull up the dagger board to avoid hitting the shallow bottom. In fact, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the 2’ tide, and for the sake of the fragile marine ecosystem, sail only when there is clearly enough depth to be sure the seagrass bottom won’t be scraped. Just outside Bimini Bay, the waters are often benign in Tampa Bay, and it’s fun to explore the coast of the island in a small boat.

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