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.
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
Robinson Preserve south entrance on Manatee Ave, Hwy 64.
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.