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  Saturday, November 26, 2005

Today I added a page about Palm Island, aka Little Gasparilla Island. Check it out. I've also added more to my pages on Anna Maria Island with a lot more info.

 

 
  Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Today a review of my book came out in Anna Maria Island's newspaper, The Islander. Here is what they had to say:

David McRee has just published a new book about beaches, including Anna Maria Island. "Florida Beaches, Finding Your Paradise on the Lower Gulf Coast." It's a pretty nice guide to all things found on the beach, both good and bad: Good sunning spots, nice amenities, sting rays and rip tides.

McRee offers some personal tips that can only come from actually going to most of the beaches, too, always a nice touch in what is sometimes not a touchy-feely vein of reporting these days. It's not surprising he knows of what he writes, though, as he's a third-generation native of Bradenton.

Consider these thoughts about the Manatee Public Beach:

"A concrete pier built for erosion control extends for 150 feet or so into the Gulf. When I was a teenager, we carried our surfboards out to the end of the pier, threw them into the water and then leaped in and climbed on. It saved us the arduous paddle through the surf. Fishermen could always be found trying their lock or skill from the pier, day and night. Times change, though. The pier has been rebuilt after storm damage. Now it has railing and warning signs. Jumping off the pier is no longer tolerated. Progress."

So true.

The book includes maps, pictures and lots of helpful tips for beaches from Dunedin south to Marco Island. Cost is $19.95, and it's available online at BeachHunter.net.

It was a nice review and I appreciate the mention in their newspaper. The only thing I would note is that for some reason the article mentioned that I went to "most of the beaches." I actually went to ALL of the beaches. Several times.

 

 
  Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Went to Pass-A-Grille Beach this afternoon. The water was crystal clear and has warmed up to 76 degrees F. I even went in for a swim (and took my trusty pool thermometer to measure the temp.) Not many people on the beach. There was a stiff northeasterly breeze off the Gulf, but no surf.

 
  Friday, November 4, 2005

Went a-photographing tonight. Took some great shots at John's Pass after sundown. Check them out. It's great to be on the beach without coughing. Red tide is gone. We survived.

 
  Saturday October 29

I was a book vendor / self-published author at the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading held at the USF Bayboro Campus today. It was a beautiful day and I sold a bunch of books and met a lot of great people. The Times staff were very friendly and helpful and the event was a lot of fun. See you there next year! If I met YOU at the event, thanks for stopping by and saying hello. Also, a big thank you to all who purchased my book.

  Wednesday, Oct 26, 2005

A picture paints a thousand words. This is a photo capture from the Marco Island Marriot web cam with an image taken after the passage of hurricane Wilma. I guess they haven't gotten around to cleaning the hurricane debris off the lens yet. Basically the beach looks intact, the palm trees appear a bit ragged, but the pool doesn't seem to be filled with sand and they've arranged the pool chairs nicely...

In St. Petersburg the Gulf water temperature has dropped from 78 degrees last week to 67 degrees today. Still a big difference from the 90+ degrees of only a month ago.

 
 

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hurricane Wilma passed south of Pinellas County last night and made a lot more noise than I'd expected. I decided to head out to the beach and see what the damage is. The tides here seem normal and there is no storm surge because the winds have mostly been from a northerly quadrant. I snapped some interesting photos. Click HERE to see them. Yesterday the weather was hot and muggy. Today is windy with highs in the 60's. Quite a change. 

Next week I hope to take a drive down south to see how Naples and Marco beaches held up under the storm surge. I'll post a report.

 

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Drove over to Sunset Beach on Treasure Island today to see what kind of surf was coming in from Hurricane Wilma. There was a 2 to 4 foot very clean swell that was breaking very close to shore. There was a long wait between sets and the waves weren't very rideable because the tended to close out. I did manage to get a few photos. My best shot was of the little boy (below left) who couldn't have been any older than 6. His dad (or older brother) would choose a wave, then push the board into it. The little guy would stand up and go. He had great balance and got long rides. Then I got lucky and got a shot of a guy (below right) getting tubed. There was no red tide.

 
 

October 19, 2005 (Wednesday)

I visited Pass-A-Grille on St. Pete Beach this morning to take a few photos. Updated my ongoing pictoral documentation of erosion and accretion at the south end of Pass-A-Grille. There was no red tide noticeable at all, although I did see the remains of one dead fish in the water. So there may still be some isolated areas of red tide offshore. The water was beautiful and the beach is wide and was nearly deserted, although by noon more people were arriving. Overall, it is a beautiful morning at the beach. 

Hurricane Wilma is threatening to ruin our beautiful beaches, but we are hoping it will stay south of Florida. We'll know in a few days.

 

October 8, 2005 (Saturday)

We took a drive up to Clearwater Beach. I wanted to check out the vendors at Pier 60 and see if it might be a good location to offer my books for sale. The evening was and absolutely perfect fall evening. After several days of clouds and off-and-on rain it was great. Temperature aroung 80 F with a nice breeze off the water and enough small surf for the boogie boards and body surfers. There were no dead fish to be seen and only a mild red tide presence in the air. We only coughed a few times. 

There was a fairly heavy crowd just south of Pier 60. We tried to eat at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, but it was a bit too crowded and noisy for our taste. Clearwater beach is a busy and noisy place on a Saturday night. Everywhere you go the boom boom of music can be heard.  Parking in some lots is very tight, but there is usually room in the main beach lots. The sunset was beautiful. Then we headed for some take-out sushi and home.

 

October 4, 2005 (Wednesday)

On Sept 28, I went online with my Daily Beach Report. This new feature is a response to the many inquiries I get from people (both Florida residents and out-of-state visitors) wanting specific information on red-tide status, water clarity, renourishment activities, water temperature, etc. for various beaches. There is currently no place a person can go to find out beach conditions at a specific beach. You'd have to look up a phone number for a beach facility, then get someone to answer the phone, then depend on their honesty and knowledge. Why should anyone have to go to so much trouble in this day of instant information capabilities. So I've set up a forum to consolidate beach reporting information with the idea that it can be kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

I'm now looking for residents and businesses located on the beach to make daily posts to the forum. My initial emailing to selected businesses on the Gulf coast has received no responses so far. Go figure. In the mean time, I've posted links on the forum to various live beach web cameras, some with still images, others with live video. This is a great way to get an idea of beach conditions, although you can't ask it questions. I will continue looking for regular posters to provide daily information on beach conditions. It's just a matter of time.

 
 

October 1, 2005

Today I put a Red Tide Survey up on my Things You Must Know page. Trying to get some idea of how beach visitors are being affected by Red Tide and what they think about the availability of information on red tide affected beaches.  So far the survey results have been fairly predictable.

 
 

September 10, 2005 (Saturday)

This evening we went to Pass-A-Grille beach to watch the sunset (photo at right). As soon as we parked the car, the oh-so-familiar red tide aroma hit us in the face. But we carried our beach towel out and plopped down in the sand for a great sunset. Not a cloud in the sky. The cool north breeze felt more like mid-October. After the sunset we took a long walk south. We encountered quite a few freshly killed fish and a large scary sea monster. There were some Redfish that must have been almost 30 inches long and a snook that was over 3 feet long. Mostly the fish were small pinfish and snapper and puffer fish. Lots of dead horseshoe crabs. The smell was not nice and there was some respiratory irritation from the red tide. Everyone was coughing now and then. Apparently the onshore winds are bringing in the red tide and the dead fish.

Pass-A-Grille is becoming quite the "in" place. A new South American Restaurant called the "Black Palm" is the latest attraction with indoor and lots of outdoor seating in the large garden courtyard. It was doing a good business. It is not a "budget" type restaurant. $$$


Sea monster killed by red tide


Pass-A-Grille sunset

 

Left, Siesta Key Public Beach on Sept 8, 2005. 2pm.
 

September 8, 2005

I visited Caspersen Beach in Venice, FL today. I was looking for shark's teeth. I looked for about half an hour and found 10 small ones. Then the smell of red tide drove me off the beach. The wind was onshore and was blowing the smell right onto the beach. My eyes were watering and stinging and my nose and throat were starting to burn. There were no dead fish to be seen. Only a few people on the beach. 

After I left Caspersen I stopped at Turtle Beach on south Siesta Key. The red tide was even worse there. I couldn't stay on the beach more than 5 minutes. No dead fish though. I'm wondering if there simply are no more fish left to be killed? Only 5 or 6 people on the beach. Turtle Beach suffered significant erosion from Hurricane Dennis.

Then I drove north to Siesta Public Beach. It was beautiful. The water was calm and clear and there was absolutely no red tide in the air at all. What a gorgeous beach!! Lots of people on the beach. 

Close up of fossilized shark's tooth on Caspersen Beach, as found. It's less than half an inch long.

 

 

September 5, 2005

Topic: Changes to this site

 

 

September 5, 2005

Topic: Sanibel Island

Friday evening I drove to Sanibel with my fiancÚ, Sue. I had a book signing scheduled for Saturday morning at MacIntosh Books and Paper, so we stopped in Friday to let them know I was in town. Then we headed to Blind Pass Beach. Amazingly, there was only one other car in the parking lot when we arrived around 5pm. It was a beautiful, quiet afternoon and their was a stiff northerly breeze blowing. There were piles of shells on the beach, a few kids out in the water with their skim boards and surfboards (no waves), and only a few people on the beach. I went for a swim in the slightly murky, but very warm water. After an hour and a half on the beach, the sky started looking dark and the concern for lightning sent us back to the car. We stopped for dinner at the Greenhouse Grill. It was nearly empty, although the owner was expecting a big Labor Day weekend crowd. Thanks to Hurricane Katrina and the gas prices, people just weren't coming out to the island. After a fine Italian dinner we headed back to Blind Pass for an outstanding sunset.

The next morning we arrived at MacIntosh books and they had a table set up for me. I set up shop and chatted with owners Susie and Judy. Store traffic was very light that morning, but I met some very nice people and we did sell a few books. Of course I couldn't leave without buying a few books as well, they have such a great selection of Florida books. We'll have another signing later in the year.

Had lunch at the Island Cow Eatery, a popular eatery with an amazing selection of food and large portions. They had a nice "crowd" despite the gas situation. After a few more beach stops and visits to various shops we decided to head for home.

There was a very tiny hint of red tide on the breeze at Blind Pass, but none at Algier's Beach (Gulfside City Park). Red tide had no impact on the beaches of Sanibel/Captiva during the weekend. Fortunately, although Captiva has had some red tide here and there, Sanibel has been spared.

Traffic was fairly light on the interstate for a holiday weekend, but everyone was driving very fast. I kept my speed under 75mph and I was one of the slowest cars on the road. Those SUV gas hogs were driving 85 to 90mph with barely two car lengths of space between them. Scary.


Blind Pass beach


Sunset at Blind Pass


BeachHunter signing books
at MacIntosh Books & Paper.