St. Armands

Sunday, Jan 23- our last day in Sarasota and yes! we got off the boat for a reminiscing stroll around St Armands Circle. St Armands Key is very small and would be nothing more than a blip as one drove over the Ringling Causeway Bridge from Sarasota to Longboat Key and north toward Bradenton; except for the Circle.

St Armands circle

St. Armand's circle - oodles of shops in multi rings around the center

With easily over 100 shops and eateries it’s a shoppers’ delight with something for everyone and any budget.  Our special fondness goes back many years to the visits we made to Russ’s parents’ who retired to a cozy house with an in-law apt on Longboat Key. We loved the area so much that we chose to be married on a chartered Krogen trawler in Sarasota Bay. We like to think that during our day out on the Bay with Capt Tracey, our path came near the one taken by Viking on May 5 1990.
Saturday, with the wind increasing every hour and us having no desire to entertain the entire Bay sending waves our way- broadside yet- we moved a couple miles to a very protected but small spot between Otter Key (a spoil island with mangroves & pines) and St. Armands Key.  We were rewarded with a good night’s sleep and a great spot to view all kinds of birds hanging out on Otter Key. Egrets, herons and a cute family of Ibis: mom, dad and junior. Good thing we didn’t develop an aversion to mangroves (gosh that was almost a month ago) as they are everywhere- at least it seems that way when one is anchoring out all the time.
In addition to our charts and various ICW and Waterway Guides, we also participate with Active Captain, a cruisers’ interactive online cruising guide; the best thing since chartplotters. We use it to get most of our info on the good places to anchor, where to land the dinghy and where to shop, get water, etc.  An app on my iPhone, it is easy to access and the GPS in the phone allows Active Captain to know where we are. We can see a chart view of any area, with tons of markers that with a touch give you current info about whatever you’ve selected along with reviews by cruisers who add their experiences.
This was how we learned of Otter Key and that a short dinghy ride would take us to within 1/2 block of St Armands Circle. We tied up to a cement “bridge” and while it was not skirt-friendly, it wasn’t too much of a step up from the dinghy. Saturday night was cold- 33 degrees and the temp today was forecast to be 60, but the wind was down and dressed in a sweater and light jacket I was very comfortable. We even ate lunch outside on the sunny, wind-less side of the street and remembered to ask our waiter to snap a picture of us. Windy, foggy days behind us and barely giving a thought to the frigid temps in Essex, we enjoyed a beautiful day off the boat, happy that we’d stayed.

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