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Old 01-17-2013, 01:36 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2012
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Default Jetski Junkies Rack Up 200 Miles of Coastal Cruising

This past week had a handful of Jetski Junkies club members heading out for a wintertime adventure that took them both south and north on the Gulf Coast of Florida covering nearly 200 miles of some of the best coastal riding you will find. Tuesday morning, Vince Cobelo on his Yamaha FX SHO and your author on his trusty Kawasaki Ultra 300X, set out from the mouth of Tampa Bay riding along the beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise water, waving back at tourists and playing with dolphins as they came up to our skis.

We trekked over 50 miles south to the inlet of Venice, known for some of the best beaches in the US. The ride took us by Anna Maria Island, Bradentonís Holmes and Coquina Beach, Long Boat Key, Sarasota, the world-renown Siesta Key Beach, Casey Key and Venice Beaches. The weather was near perfect, yet unseasonably warm for January, 80 degrees and 2mph winds out of the east.

On Friday morning, Ken Roseman too on a Yamaha FX SHO, Hector Valentin on his Sea-Doo RXT 255, Vince and myself set out of Maximo Park, near the iconic Skyway Bridge, home to last yearís Skyway Ski Show presented by Watercraft Superstore, riding between the #1 beach in America, Ft. Desoto and Tierra Verde Islands to Shell Key Preserve.

Now in the Gulf of Mexico, we rode north along St. Petersburg Beach stopping for a photo opportunity in front of the Grand Don CeSar Hotel, known for itís aristocratic clients and well known mafia legends dating back to Prohibition. It went through quite a few hands over the last century and has been quite a few venues including a VA center until returned to itís original ďPink LadyĒ glory sometime in the early 1970′s.

Soon after we encountered patrons of the Tradewinds Resort, just a few miles north of the Don CeSar Hotel learning how to use and power themselves with the JETLEV, a water propelled jet pack attached to a custom PWC by a long hose that allows the operator to fly over 30-feet in the air and travel at over 30mph along the waterís surface.

After waving good bye to the JETLEV rider, we continued north up the Gulf Coast passing Treasure Island, Johns Pass, Madeira Beach, Redington Shores, Indian Shores, Belleair Beach, Sand Key, Clearwater Beach and finally stopping for a picnic lunch at Caladesi Island State Park.

On the way back, we took the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) twisting and winding our way under low bridges and other places boats just canít go, stopping at Tiny Island for a drink as the sun began to set.

We ended the ride catching the sunset over an early 1800′s sunken Union Navy Ship, the U.S.S. Narcissus, that had run a ground on itís voyage from Mobile, AL to New York City during the Civil War. Itís final resting place, over 4 miles away from Egmont Key, on the Northwest side of Ft. Desoto, only 50′ from the ICW channel running along I-275 to the Skyway Bridge has become a memorial to Civil War era and an important piece of history for the Tampa Bay area. The ship rests in 3-to-4-feet of water and a large portion of the hull is visible above water level. The weather again proved to be amazing with 78 degree temps and 10mph winds from the east.

By Kev Hemingway
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