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I am so excited. After a long 58 year break, the St Petersburg Yacht Club Habana Sailing Race has been re-instated this year. The fleet of boats left the St Petersburg harbor this morning at 10am and will sail 284 nautical miles to arrive at the Hemingway Marina in Havana on Thursday, March 2nd. On Saturday there will a Nautical Parade & the Torreon de la Chorrera Regatta to Morro Castle.

castillo-3

photo by Annalisa Weller July 2015

The Micara, a Cuban boat with all Cuban sailors, is among the 81 yachts & 550 sailors.

In 1929 George S. Gandy, Jr., a well known yachtsman and son of the builder of the first bridge across Tampa Bay, sailed his 36′ ketch Cynosure to Havana.  There he met with Commodore Rafael Posso of the Habana Yacht Club and the St. Petersburg-Habana yacht race was born.

The first race started off The Pier in St. Petersburg March 30, 1930 and finished at Morro Castle at the Habana harbor entrance. Eleven boats participated and was won by the schooner Haligonian owned by Houston Wall of Tampa.  The race was sailed over the same route from 1930 through 1959 with the exception of three years of World War II, when the race was cancelled, and 1958 when political conditions in Cuba required the fleet to go to Miami. The last race in 1959 race had 37 yachts participating.

Glad to see it back! Wishing you smooth sailing.

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The Luxury Living and Lifestyle Expo is being held downtown St Petersburg, Florida on February 21-22, 2015 from 10am-5pm .  Located at South Straub Park across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts and the St Pete Yacht Club, this expo will have experts and specialists in various fields displaying the “finer things in life.”

“The Luxury Living and Lifestyle Expo is a unique event that will offer a tapestry of products and services for those who hold luxury living not merely as an abstract concept, rather as a fundamental reality of life. Against the backdrop of downtown St Petersburg’s beautiful waterfront, you will have the opportunity to submerge yourself in the luxurious world of yachts, airplanes, luxury automobiles and collectables. For those with a palette for the cutting edge of the arts, will be showcased the finest selection of classic and contemporary art, fashion and design, jewelry, wines, cigars, watches, and home decor. The event will encompass all this – and so much more.” (quoted from the luxlivingexpo.com website)

You will find ideas, products and services to enrich your living and lifestyle. Sponsored by Dimmitt Automotive Group, Rolls Royce and the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.

South Straub Park is located on Beach Drive, downtown St Petersburg, with 7.3 acres right on the waterfront.  Downtown St Pete has galleries, museums, including The Dali & Chihuly, restaurants, music venues, brew pubs, shops, marinas, a yacht club, an airport, sports and over 100 parks including dog parks and much more.

St Petersburg Marina 1

St Petersburg Marina 1

This schooner Lynx is an interpretation of an actual 97 foot privateer named Lynx built by Thomas Kemp in 1812 in Fell’s Point, Maryland. She was one the first ships to defend America by evading the British naval fleet in 1812 who were blockading American ports. The Star-Spangled Banner was written by native Marylander Francis Scott Key while being held prisoner aboard a ship in the Baltimore harbor as the British bombarded Ft. McHenry.

Schooner Lynxphoto-Lynx under the Skyway Bridge-SCOTT KEELER | Tampa  Times

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This ship will be docked at the Harborage Marina at Bayboro,  1110 Third St. S, St. Petersburg, Florida, for public tours and hands-on sails. The ship, however, is not wheelchair accessible.  Various dates & times between Feb 8th & March 14th, 2014  with prices of tours $10 for adults with 12 and younger free and  $65 for adults & $35 ages 4-12 for sails. Please call for details and confirmation of prices 1-866-446-5969. Schooner Lynx in St Pete 2013

The crew of the Lynx wears authentic early 1800’s maritime clothing. The ship was built to near-exact specifications of the original fast Baltimore schooner design.

The original Lynx was built at Fell’s Point in Baltimore, Maryland during the beginning of the War of 1812 for James Williams, Amos Williams, and Levi Hollingsworth by shipbuilder Thomas Kemp for about $9000-$10,000.  Kemp designed ships that were among the first to move away from the traditional European designs and that were better suited for the American waters. She was very fast and easier to maneuver which helped tremendously in outrunning the tradition British ships. Lynx was actually commissioned on July 14, 1812 within one month of war being declared. The ship was larger than most others at the time  with a crew of 40 men and six 12-pounder long guns.

I think that it is interesting that he Lynx trained the cast and crew of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It has won awards for maritime and historic instructional-educational programs for students through the nonprofit Lynx Educational Foundation.

St Petersburg, Florida is also known by its nickname of the “Sunshine City”. With an average of 361 days of sunshine a year, you just might have enough sunny days to participate in some of the wonderful things our area has to offer. A picture says a thousand words, but this short video will transport you to the “4th Most Beautiful City in the U.S.” in just two minutes and 39 seconds. Share with your family and friends and introduce them to beautiful St. Petersburg!
http://youtu.be/TOvYCiQjIGM

St. Petersburg, Florida:  Voted the #1 Arts Destination for Mid-Sized Cities by American Style Magazine (2010, 2011, & 2012), Best Communities for Young People, Top Ten Biking Community in the United States, Top Ten Community for Creative Class, 4th Largest City in Florida, Most Livable Downtown in the S.E., Anchors Florida High Tech Corridor, Old Northeast Ranked in Top Ten Old House Neighborhoods in the U.S. for 2012, Highest Concentration of Marine Science Businesses in the Southeast, Including the North American Headquarters and more!!

Photo: Happy Friday! In ONE WEEK we'll be at the track and gates will be open! Who's gonna be there with us? Get your tickets at www.gpstpete.com!

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

The race is held on the streets of downtown St Petersburg. The track winds around downtown around condo buildings, restaurants, bars, banks and stores along the waterfront pass the St Pete Yacht Club, Al Lang Stadium, the Mahaffey Theatre and the Salvador Dali Museum and onto Albert Whitted Airport. I can hear the cars racing from my house & my parents just go to the top of their condo building to watch the cars circling around them. It is pretty exciting and so cool! How many cities have Grand Prix races actually running on their downtown streets?

I do have to admit that it can be fairly tricky maneuvering the streets to get to your local businesses, or in my parents’ case getting in & out of their building, but I think that it’s worth it. I have lived in tourist towns (Annapolis, San Francisco Bay area & St Pete) for most of my life, so I don’t mind. Just allow some extra time and enjoy it.

Tickets range from $35 to $135 and  the additional paddock tickets range from $40-$65.

Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg with the St Pete Yacht Club

Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg with the St Pete Yacht Club

You can also watch the 2013 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg from your boat at by anchoring in the St Petersburg Yacht Club,  an exclusive, members only area, located on private floating docks at  Turns 10 & 11.
For more information and tickets, please go to   www.gpstpete.com

One of my favorite holiday events is watching the lighted boat parades. There’s just something magical about seeing twinkling lights reflecting on the water, Santa and reindeer on board and holiday music playing while being surrounded by family, friends and newly made acquaintances. Everybody is friends with everybody on nights like these.

I have to admit it is a lot easier to watch the winter boat parades here in Florida in flip-flops than those in the Chesapeake Bay in the freezing cold with boots, coats, scarves and gloves. I do miss the oyster roasts that always fortified us for that cold though. I still manage to bring hot chocolate for parade watching even if the temperature is 65 degrees. So I know where I will be tomorrow night. Below are listed some of the local boat parades. Enjoy watching the parades wherever you may be! Happy Holidays!

St Petersburg Lighted Boat Parade 2011-William Mansell

St Petersburg Lighted Boat Parade 2011-William Mansell

St. Pete Boat Parade and Holiday Festival   Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 at 3 p.m.   Vinoy Park 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg Florida

The festival starts at 3pm and  includes children’s activities, food and drink vendors, and live music by the Ries Brothers, Brother Brownlow, the Southside Bulldogs and the Troy Duncan Band. The boat parade starts at 6pm. Benefits the Children’s Dream Fund and other Rotary charities.

Gulfport Lighted Christmas Boat Parade   Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012at 6 p.m.    Gulfport Municipal Marina 4630 29th Ave. S, Gulfport Florida

Members of the Boca Ciega Yacht Club decorate their sail and power boats for this 27th annual holiday water parade. It begins at the marina, past the Williams Pier into the canals of Town Shores Condominiums, through the Pasadena Yacht Club Estates and by Isla Del Sol. Toys benefit Operation Santa.

Treasure Island Lighted Boat Parade  Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 at 6:20 p.m. The Club at Treasure Island  400 Treasure Island Causeway, Treasure Island

Boats all decked out for the holidays compete in this annual parade. It starts at The Club, goes through the Treasure Island Bridge into Boca Ciega Bay and follows the coast line to end at John’s Pass.

Island Estates Yacht Club Holiday Boat Parade  Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. Coachman Park 301 Drew St., Clearwater

Decorated boats start in Mandalay Channel and head to Coachman Park, under the Memorial Causeway Bridge and to the Clearwater Yacht Club’s judging stand. Prizes awarded for best decorated boats.

Indian Rocks Beach Lighted Boat Parade  Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at 7 p.m. Holiday Inn Harbourside 401 Second St., Indian Rocks Beach

Power boats, sail boats, canoes and row boats are given awards by division.  It begins at the Holiday Inn Harbourside and heads north through the inner coastal canals and ends just south of the Belleair Causeway.

St Petersburg Municipal Pier & Marina

St Petersburg is in the running for Yachting magazine’s Best Yachting Town! This is the first year for this contest and it has been narrowed down to 50 international semi-finalist cities. The magazine hopes to make this an annual competition.

There are 6 towns in Florida included on the list: St Petersburg, Fort Lauderdale, Islamorada, Key West, Punta Gorda and Stuart. It is interesting to me that the areas that I have lived over the years are all on the list. Maryland, where I grew up has 2 towns, Annapolis & Oxford. I lived in the Virgin Islands for a while & New Sound, Virgin Gorda made the list. Then I lived in California for 20 years & of course, several towns in California are the list: Monterey, San Francisco, Tiburon, San Diego, Newport Beach. Now I live in St Petersburg. I absolutely MUST live near the water!

It’s quite an international list. The cities outside of the USA include Bocas Del Toro, Panama; Puerto William, Isla Navarino, Chile; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada;  Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Horta, Faial, Azores; Poole, UK;  and Sidney, British Columbia, Canada .

AmericanStyle magazine put St. Petersburg at the top of its list of 25 Arts Destinations for midsize cities this year. (It is the second year in a row.) Maybe we’ll get Yachting magazine’s top Yachting Town designation too. St Pete does have a great waterfront with marinas, yacht clubs, restaurants, theatres & museums. Boaters have been coming here for many years. The St. Petersburg Yacht Club, founded in 1909, has a very competitive racing schedule for smaller sailboats starting in January and ending in early May.  Each year, the club also hosts more than 50 regattas.

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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