A regatta of Sunfish take advantage of sailing conditions on Bimini Bay waters.
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.
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.
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.
Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) is a great alternative board sport for the conditions we have on Anna Maria Island. Introduced to the mainland United States from Hawaii less than ten years ago, this form of surfing involves standing on a long board, ranging from seven to twelve feet, and using a long paddle.
The reason this increasingly popular sport makes sense for Anna Maria Island is that it doesn’t require waves for surfing or wind for sailboards and kite-boarding. It can be done on still waters, or it can be done in the surf. There are plenty of protected areas around the island where standup paddle boarding can be learned and practiced in relatively easy, safe conditions.
On flat water, touring or just poking around the waterways, longer boards in the 10 to 14 foot range have more glide than shorter boards from 9 down to 7 feet, that are better for turning in surf. Either way SUP is a great core workout and an excellent means of maintaining balance skills. A friend tells me it is not hard on his bad back. This makes it a good alternative to kayaking for people who have back problems when they sit for long periods in a kayak. Standup paddle boarding has the added advantage of offering an aerobic workout when aiming for speed. Serious athletes are taking it up for that reason and competitive events are becoming more popular.
Longtime local Shawn Duytschaver, known for the kayak rentals he has offered on the island for years, now offers standup paddleboard rentals and instruction at Palma Sola Causeway. He also sells the equipment. For more information he can be reached at 941-527-6355.
The local store in Holmes Beach, adjacent to the West Coast Surf Shop has been serving surfers’ needs since 1964, and stocks the best selection of surf wear and gear.
One of the greatest advantages of living on Anna Maria Island, as opposed to other islands along the Sun Coast, is our proximity to Tampa Bay . So much of the Gulf Coast is shallow, not only around the islands, but into the Gulf. In contrast, Tampa Bay is a wonderful, place for boating, especially for sailing. And, when you live on Anna Maria Island, Tampa Bay is your back yard.
When we first started looking at property along the Sun Coast, Siesta Key caught our attention. Maybe it was the write-ups that described it as a place inhabited by artists and writers. Or maybe it was the descriptions of its award-winning beach. When we visited there, and looked at real estate for sale, we noticed a huge premium was put on properties with “sailboat water.” So many of the properties on Siesta Key sit on canals that are crossed at some points by low bridges. It is therefore not possible to bring a sailboat or large powerboat in and out of these canals. Hence, the terms “sailboat water” is something associated with the more desirable properties on Siesta Key, and one sees it often.
In contrast, this term is not common on Anna Maria Island. An outsider might think that would mean Anna Maria Island does not have it. On the contrary: sailboat water is almost a given on Anna Maria Island. That’s why we don’t talk about it. Although there are a few locations where canals or lakes are cut off by low bridges, the majority of waterfront homes enjoy canals without bridges and easy, quick access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Tampa Bay.