Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tampa Boat Show - 2013

Well, it's September, and in Tampa that means Boat Show time!  This year was the 48th year for the Tampa show, which is sponsored by Progressive Insurance, the NMMA, and others.  This is the longest-running and largest show in Tampa, and features a good mix of new boats from local dealers and manufacturers, brokerage boats, and boating products and services.

Show organizers reported more boats in this years show than any of the last five years, which is great news for a show that's always fun and popular with local Tampa boaters.

Tampa Boat Show 2013; Tampa, FL

Inside exhibits include mostly boats under 30' with the exception of a few of the larger Center Consoles.  Many of the local dealers bring multiple brands to the show, and some of the local custom and semi-custom builders bring their latest models.  There are also booths for boating products, local marinas, etc.


Chaparral Boats; TBS 2013

Chaparral Boats; TBS 2013

Sea Hunt; TBS 2013


Jupiter Boats; TBS 2013

Jupiter Boats; TBS 2013

Cobalt Boats; TBS 2013

Parker Boats; TBS 2013

Contender; TBS 2013

Contender; TBS 2013

Contender Bay; TBS 2013

Premier, Grand Entertainer; TBS 2013

Bar on the Grand Entertainer; TBS 2013

Blackwater Boats; TBS 2013

Blackwater Boats; TBS 2013

Blackwater Boats, Custom Yamahas; TBS 2013

Blackwater Boats, Custom Verados; TBS 2013

Sea Hunt Gamefish; TBS 2013

Everglades Boats; TBS 2013

Andros Boatworks; TBS 2013

Andros Boatworks Offshore; TBS 2013

Release Boats, Classic 15; TBS 2013



Shearwater; TBS 2013

Shearwater; TBS 2013



The in-water portion of the show features new boat exhibits from some of the larger local dealers, and some brokerage-represented boats as well (although brokerage seemed to be a smaller part of the show this year than in years past).  Outside exhibits this year featured everything from the 12' Long X-Fish Microskiff to an 88' Horizon, and plenty in between.

Solar-Powered Pontoon Boat; TBS 2013

Azimut; TBS 2013

In-Water Exhibit; TBS 2013

In-Water Exhibit; TBS 2013

Sea Ray, "Concealed Outboard Propultion"; TBS 2013

Sea Ray, "Concealed Outboard Propultion"; TBS 2013

Formula 350 Crossover Bowrider; TBS 2013

In-water Exhibit; TBS 2013

In-water Exhibit; TBS 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Shell Key / Shell Island Camping; Tampa, FL

Our Campsite on Shell Key
Shell Key, Tampa, FL

I had the awesome opportunity to camp on Shell Key (Shell Island) this weekend, and wanted to share some information about the trip for anyone looking to do the same.  Before I went I searched for information about the island, and there was very little available, so hopefully this will help anyone thinking of putting together a similar trip! 

Shell Key is a 195-acre County Preserve located just North of the mouth of Tampa Bay.  It is a sanctuary for migratory birds, so most of the island is closed off to visitors to protect the wildlife.  The North end is open to day visits, and the South end is open for overnight camping.  Because of the ongoing compromise between protecting the wildlife and keeping the island open to visitors, there are a specific list of regulations that must be followed on the island.

A list of these regulations can be found at this link: ShellKey.org

To camp, you'll also need a permit, which can be applied for on the Pinellas County website: PinellasCounty.org

There is no "approval" for the permit, you just fill it out and print it.  We were never visited by FWC or PCSO, but if they do stop by, they'll ask to see your printed permit.

Overview of the Island:

Overview of the Shell Key Area, Fort Desoto, and surrounding area.
Shell Key, Tampa, FL
Close-up of Shell Key Preserve
Shell Key, Tampa, FL

Southernmost Tip of Shell Key, Camping Permitted
Shell Key, Tampa, FL


Where to set up camp:

The best place to set up is right along Bunces Pass, on the Southernmost shore of the key.  We set up on the SE tip, but there were other campers all along that strip of beach.  You'll end up staying close to shore, because the grass inland is thick and there are sand spurs everywhere.  The only exception I noticed was a small patch of short grass just around the SE corner of the island.  There was another one on the inland side, which might be accessibly by kayak, but would be tough in anything other than a flats or bay boat.

Anchoring the Boat:

When you anchor the boat off of the beach, keep in mind that Bunces pass has quite a bit of tidal movement and boat traffic.  You'll want to double anchor from both the bow and stern to keep the boat in place.  The water gets deep pretty quickly off of the beach, so it's fairly easy to anchor close to shore while still being in enough water to float at low tide.

Wildlife:

Shell Key is a bird sanctuary, so naturally there were birds around.  We also saw hermit crabs, sand dollars, horseshoe crabs, dolphins, and one night the water was filled with phosphorescent plankton.

The campers down the beach from us had a raccoon try to get into their garbage one night, so come prepared to close up all food and trash to keep critters out.

We also had a fellow camper report seeing a rattlesnake on the island, so if you do go walking around, pay attention!  I walked around through the brush quite a bit and didn't have any problems.

Tips/Comments:

The scenery is awesome, there's nothing like waking up right on the beach in the morning.  The view of the stars at night was the best I've seen in Tampa.

There are sand-spurs everywhere when you get into the grassy area inland, so bring shoes if you want to go exploring.

When the wind is high, there's very little protection on the island.  We had gusts of 20 MPH+ and had a tough time the first night getting things to stay put!

Bring enough firewood if it's chilly!  Grab what you think you'll need, and then grab more!  We burned through 3/4 of our wood the first night, but thankfully there was leftover wood available on the island.  It's only around until the supply runs out from some Australian Pines that they cut down, so I wouldn't plan on this being an option for long.

The regulations require that you bring a portable toilet, but the "real" facilities on Fort Desoto might be a better option than actually using your portable.



If you're planning a trip and have questions about anything I didn't cover, please feel free to call or email me for more info!  Shell Key is another great area for Tampa boaters to enjoy, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tampa Bay Redfish ; Lifetime Best

Last weekend my friend Andrew and I took off from the Tampa Harbor Marina in search of some big 40# black drum that I had heard were being caught around some of the local bridges here in Tampa Bay.  We took my little Action Craft 18' away from the THM around sunset, and set off in search of fish.

After catching a few hand-sized pinfish, and with a cooler already full of blue crabs, we anchored up underneath the bridge so that the current would take our bait back toward the bridge pilings.  Once we got set, we put out a chum block, put a few large blue crab on the bottom with a 2oz lead, and started fishing the pilings for smaller snapper or pompano while we waited for the big rods to go off.

About 10 minutes in I heard a few slow clicks, then the telltale *ZZZZZZZZZZZZ* that we all know and love. I picked up the rod and assumed it was one of the big black drum we had been after.  It was dark, so as the fish came to the surface I still wasn't sure what it was, but as we got it closer to the boat I realized it was one of the biggest redfish I had ever seen!

40" RedFish; Rob Buscaino
Tampa, FL

At 40" it was the biggest red I had ever caught, and definitely a "bucket list" fish for me.  We put another blue crab down and shortly after, Andrew hooked up and landed a 40" of his own!

40" RedFish; Andrew Watson
Tampa, FL


We fished for about 5 hours, hooked 8 more monster reds, and landed 5 total.  Fish measured from 33" to 40", with two 40" being caught back-to-back.  Definitely one of the best nights fishing I've had in Tampa Bay, and the biggest redfish I had caught anywhere! Here are two of the others at 33" and 37" respectively:

RedFish; Andrew Watson
Tampa, FL

RedFish; Rob Buscaino
Tampa, FL
If you're looking to chase some inshore monsters of your own, check out a few of my inshore or near-shore fishing boat listings: 

2007 Cobia 211 Bay; Tampa,FL
Click Here for Listing!

2004 Action Craft 1802; Tampa, FL
Click Here for Listing!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Exuma Boats - Photo Blog

Yesterday I was running around St. Pete photographing a few new listings that I'm representing, and I ran into Dave Travis of Exuma Boats at his headquarters at Bay Pines Marina.  I've been admiring one of their boats that's stored at our office at the Tampa Harbor Marina, so it was great to meet the builder and see one of his latest creations.

Exuma builds one model, a versatile inshore / near-shore bay boat that's perfect for our Florida coasts.  The boat is 22'2" overall, with an 8'2" beam, and weighs approximately 1800lbs.  Custom rigging and options are available, just talk to Dave and his team and they can put together the perfect package!


I've heard a lot of people interested in seeing some detailed photos of the Exuma, so here are the photos I took yesterday of the green-hulled 22' powered by twin 70HP Yamahas.


Click the photos to enlarge or view in a gallery layout.

Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Port Profile
Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Port Profile
Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Stern View
Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Twin Yamaha 70s
Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Deck Layout Detail
Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
The sprayed nonskid pattern adds a really nice look to the decks.
Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Console & Nonskid
Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Bow Lockers
Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Controls & Helm Features
Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Switch Panel & Battery Switches

Exuma 22, Bay Pines Marina
Bow Detail