When I was planning my bareboat charter sailing vacation with Simple Sailing Charters and Sales in Tampa Bay, based in St. Petersburg, FL, I wasn’t prepared for the full menu of vacation options available to me in the Clearwater, Treasure Island, and St. Pete Beach area.
My plan was to bareboat charter a sailboat from Simple Sailing Charters and Sales, based in downtown St. Petersburg. Their fleet is the newest and most diverse fleet of sailboats in the region, offering like-new monohulls from 28 to 36 feet as well as their flagship Leopard 39 catamaran. I was a liveaboard bareboat charter while staying in the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina with a boisterous downtown St. Petersburg providing all the entertainment, shopping, and dining choices anyone could ask for.
Within walking distance of my liveaboard Hunter 36 “Bella” was the Dali Museum, the Chihuly Museum, the historic Renaissance Vinoy Resort, and a wide assortment of glamorous shops and chic restaurants and cafes. When time allowed us to venture further, I was able to visit the beachfront resorts on the Gulf of Mexico at St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, and Pass-A-Grille a short 20-minute drive from my downtown St. Petersburg base.
However the most surprising discovery was the fleet of Duffy Electric Boats that are available for charter from Simple Sailing Charters and Sales. Based at the downtown St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, the Duffy electric boats are 21 feet in length and can accommodate up to a dozen adults and children for a safe and “green” tour of the local waterfront.
Since the Duffy Electric Boats are powered by energy-efficient electric motors, there was no need for the typical gasoline or diesel engine to power our tours of the area. Not only does this “green” approach to boating allow you to glide across the waters of Tampa Bay without a whisper, they allow you to get a closer first hand look at the magnificent aquatic creatures common to the region – pods of dolphin, schools of rays (for which the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team is named), possibly a gigantic manatee, and literally dozens of species of sea birds. The Duffy Electric Boats are a perfect way to explore the St. Petersburg waterfront from Snell Isle to the north and south to Bayboro Harbor, home of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) base, the University of South Florida/St. Petersburg, and the marine community on Salt Creek.
Our voyage in the Duffy Electric Boats began by heading out from our dock at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina. Heading east, then north past the iconic St. Petersburg Pier, we turned westward to enter the Vinoy Basin, home to the Vinoy Resort Marina and the historic Renaissance Vinoy Resort Hotel that dates back to the 1920s. With little wake and no noise, our Duffy boat allowed us to explore the marina and mooring basin in total quiet interrupted only by the occasional screech of a seagull or watching a huge pelican dive for his dinner in the protected waters adjacent to Tampa Bay.
Leaving the Vinoy Basin we again turned to the north, finding the channel that leads into Snell Isle, home to some of the most luxurious residences on Florida’s West Coast. The charm of the older homes was a stark contrast to the modern condo towers of downtown St. Petersburg.
Leaving Snell Isle we again rounded The Pier in St. Petersburg and continued south to Bayboro Harbor, home to the Coast Guard station and University of South Florida St. Petersburg waterfront campus. Along the way we had a close-up look at the spectacular Dali Museum, Mahaffey Theater, and the waterfront parks that line the downtown waterfront in St. Petersburg.
With the Coast Guard on both sides of the harbor, USF to the northeast, and the Harborage at Bayboro Marina directly ahead, we turned our Duffy Electric Boat to the south and entered Salt Creek, a marine repair district and home to a local restaurant which is a favorite for the locals…the Fishtales Seafood House. We were able to dock our Duffy Electric Boat alongside the Salt Creek restaurant and within a few steps of the dining and bar area for a splendid and affordable meal and beverages.
The electric boat experience was the highlight of our stay in downtown St. Petersburg. As easy to drive as a golf cart, the Duffy Electric Boat opened up the very best way to see the St. Petersburg waterfront. The Simple Sailing Charters and Sales fleet includes three Duffy Electric Boats with rental rates at less than $70 per hour.