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The NOOD Regatta opens a five-city circuit this weekend in St. Petersburg, with more than 1,000 sailors expected. PAUL TODD | Outside Images

NOOD Regatta brings sailing spotlight to St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg's Grant Dumas races year round but he looks forward to February when the first stop of the National Offshore One-Design series brings in fellow sailors from around the world. "It is cold up north and everybody always looks forward to coming to Florida," said Dumas, the 45-year-old skipper of the race …

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Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors/Fitness Editor

Terry Tomalin

Terry Tomalin moved to Florida in the spring of 1980 for the sun and surf. After graduating from the University of South Florida in 1983, Tomalin backpacked through Europe, returning a few months later to work for a small Central Florida newspaper, where his stories on the Ku Klux Klan resulted in the resignation of a local sheriff.

Tomalin joined the Times as a police reporter in 1986, but left 18 months later to backpack through New Zealand and Australia. He returned a year later and transferred to the sports department to cover the great outdoors.

During the past 20 years, Tomalin has lived with witch doctors in the Amazon, explored sunken Mayan archaeological sites in Mexico, sailed to Cuba, canoed to the Bahamas and swam around Key West. Tomalin loves to fish, surf, paddle and enjoy all Florida has to offer.

A fellow of the prestigious Explorer's Club in New York City, Tomalin holds a master's degree in Florida studies and is involved in many community organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America.

Phone: (727) 893-8808

Email: ttomalin@tampabay.com

Twitter: @WaterTribe

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  1. NOOD Regatta brings sailing spotlight to St. Petersburg

    Outdoors

    St. Petersburg's Grant Dumas races year round but he looks forward to February when the first stop of the National Offshore One-Design series brings in fellow sailors from around the world.

    "It is cold up north and everybody always looks forward to coming to Florida," said Dumas, the 45-year-old skipper of the race boat Warrior who won last year's event. "It is a great way to show off our local sailing scene."

    Coming less than a month after Key West Race Week, the event, known as the NOOD Regatta, typically attracts an assortment of elite sailors who don't mind racing in the Sunshine State, especially when it's snowing back home.

    The regatta, held off downtown St. Petersburg, is expected to draw more than 1,000 sailors. The term one-design describes boats with identical measurements and specifications, the same style of racing held in the Olympics.

    Dumas and his crew, which usually consists of at least 11 other sailors, races a Tripp 38 in the Spinnaker A class.

    "It is a pretty complicated boat … lot of strings to pull," Dumas said of his "party" size crew. "But we race together all through the fall and spring and even do the Friday night series during the summer months."...

    The NOOD Regatta opens a five-city circuit this weekend in St. Petersburg, with more than 1,000 sailors expected.
  2. Take it Outside Planner: Racing at Bradenton Area River Regatta, hiking Big Cypress

    Outdoors

    River rockets: Bradenton Area River Regatta

    The fastest inland boats on water, the Powerboat Superleague racing boats, will light up the Manatee River alongside the quickest personal watercraft in the world, HydroCross, at the Second Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta on Saturday. The action literally runs from dawn to dusk. You'll find the best viewing Bradenton Riverwalk, but this year's event will also feature activities on Palmetto's Riverside Drive, where you will find racing pits and the kids zone. A field of 12 professional "pilots" in the F-2 powerboat race will climb from 0 to 100 mph in less than four seconds and reach four G's or more on the course, negotiating turns at nearly full speed. Race fans can look forward to a series of qualifying runs and time trials before the division and championship racing from 2 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The stand-up HydroCross racers will also be on the water competing for the Florida Winter Cup/Mayor's Cup title. In between races, the top riders will do stunts along a river course in front of Palmetto Pier.

    Destination: Big Cypress

    The "Big" in Big Cypress Swamp describes the vastness of this 2,400-acre national preserve, not the size of the dwarf cypress trees that dot the South Florida landscape. The name "swamp" is actually a misnomer since the area has a variety of habitats, including forests of slash pine, hardwood hammocks, cypress domes and wet prairies. Most backpackers who travel this section of the Florida Trail, which runs from the Tamiami Trail to Alligator Alley, do so in the dry, cooler months when most of the surface water has either evaporated or been soaked up by the limestone just beneath the soil. Big Cypress is known as one of the last refuges of the endangered Florida panther. This is also bear country, and backcountry travelers must take care to hang or hide their food so these opportunistic omnivores don't rummage through their camps in the middle of night. Jeep trails snake their way through the preserve, and if you are not careful, it is easy to find yourself wandering around in circles. At times, the Florida Trail follows the old "roads," but hikers must keep a keen eye out for the orange blazes that signal a turn. Winter is the best time to visit, so if you are looking for adventure, park at the Oasis Ranger Station and head north. You can leave your car there overnight, but be sure to check in with the rangers. They'll update you on trail conditions. Let them know when you finish. It is possible to walk all the way to the Alley, but you'll need to arrange transportation back to your car. It's much easier to do the loop trail....

    Powerboat Superleague racing boats will electrify the Manatee River, while the quickest, most nimble water scooters in the world, HydroCross, will thrill the crowds at the second annual Bradenton Area River Regatta on Feb. 6.
  3. Red-shouldered? Red-tailed? Read the clues to identify the hawk

    Outdoors

    On a recent trip down the Suwannee, a large bird of prey flew across the river about 25 feet in front of my canoe.

    My paddling partner, a relative newcomer to the Great Outdoors, asked what kind of bird it was.

    "A hawk," I replied.

    "What kind of hawk?" she asked.

    "A red-shouldered hawk," I replied, thinking I had a 50-50 chance of being right. Then I added, "Or maybe it was a red-tailed hawk."

    This led to a brief conversation about how to tell the difference, and I of course uttered the obvious, "… one has a red shoulder and one has a red tail." But to tell the truth, when you're on the water or in the woods and you see one of the magnificent birds, it's hard to tell which is which.

    So I headed down to St. Petersburg's Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, where they have a great collection of birds of prey, to sharpen my identification skills. The Preserve, one of the city's greatest treasures, is hosting a Raptor Fest this weekend, in case you want to do the same.

    Let's start with the red-tailed hawk:

    One of the most common hawks in the United States, you've probably seen this bird on any long car trip. Red-tailed hawks love open country, and you'll often spot them soaring over open fields hunting for food. These birds of prey feed mostly on mammals — mice, rats, squirrels and rabbits....

    Dancers, a 16yr old male red-tailed hawk, pictured for Raptor Fest at Boyd Hill Nature Park, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. in Petersburg Thursday afternoon (01/28/16). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  4. Take it Outside Planner: Visit Big Talbot Island, look for cranes and fish for sheepshead

    Outdoors

    MAKE THE TRIP: BIG TALBOT ISLAND

    If you have never been to a maritime forest, northeast Florida's Big Talbot Island is well worth it. This state park near Jacksonville is one of the last undeveloped "sea islands" in that area of the state. Bring your camera and binoculars and you'll get great photos and memories. Also bring your lightweight hikers. Take your pick of the Blackrock Trail, Big Pine Trail or Old Kings Highway, each one traversing a different habitat. You can put your boat in at the north end of the island to fish the edge of the salt marsh. Or rent a kayak and take a guided paddle tour. Afterward, visit the Bluffs for a picnic lunch, then head down to Boneyard Beach, famous for the salt-washed skeletons of live oak and cedar trees. For a more civilized adventure, bring your bike or baby stroller and cruise the paved, multi-use Timucuan Trail that runs parallel to A1A. Big Talbot Island State Park is on State Road A1A N, Jacksonville.

    GUILTY AS CHARGED: SHEEPSHEAD

    The water may be cold but that doesn't mean the fish have stopped biting. Winter is a great time to fish for sheepshead. You will find the finicky eaters in residential canals, along rocky channel edges and, of course, under docks. These unappreciated sport fish feed on everything from barnacles to shrimp. Old-timers sometimes call this lowly bottom dweller the "convict fish." Some say it's because the pattern of black stripes on their bodies resembles prison uniforms. Others argue the name came from this species' uncanny ability to strip a piece of bait clean off the hook before it hits the bottom. This fish looks a lot like a juvenile black drum except with a full set of very human-looking choppers, complete with molars, incisors and rounded grinders well suited for crushing a variety of crustaceans. Sheepshead are members of the porgy family, a close relative and constant companion of a well-known species anglers often use for bait: pinfish. The two are often found together, and the first task of any sheepshead angler is learning to differentiate between the pinner's nibble and sheepshead's chomp. Most sheepshead found in local waters weigh 1 to 2 pounds, but fish caught in deep water can weigh five times that much....

    (03/09/2010, BROOKSVILLE)  HT_319844_rive_WHOOPING  A whooping crane walks with a group of sandhill cranes Tuesday afternoon in a rural area of Hernando south of Brooksville.  The rare bird is a male, No. 1207 and was trained to migrate from Wisconsin to a nearby national wildlife refuge.  Scientist try to avoid all human contact with the birds to help ensure their natural way of life.  The bird is expected to migrate north in the next week or so.  [Maurice Rivenbark, Times]
  5. 7 things hikers always should carry in their pack

    Outdoors

    As a Boy Scout leader, I try to make sure the young men in my charge are always prepared. Troop 219's war cry is "We hike. We hike. We hike." Sometimes it is just along the waterfront of downtown St. Petersburg. But occasionally we take off to the woods of Withlacoochee State Forest.

    Anything can happen out on the trail, so you need to be ready for everything. I have hiked in the mountains of New Zealand, the deserts of Australia and the jungles of Brazil, but my day pack always contains the same seven items, regardless of the terrain:

    1. First Aid Kit: Over the years, I have treated a variety of injuries. I've seen fellow adventurers get cut on coral reefs, tumble down rocky slopes and be bitten by bullet ants. But luckily for them, more often than not, I have remedy in my medical kit. You can put together your own first aid kit from your medicine cabinet at home, or you can buy a premade kit at an outdoor retailer. I am partial the Adventure Medical Kit line. The California-based company sells everything from personal packets to expedition outfits for large groups. The kit featured here sells for $17 and is ideal for day hikers.

    2. Emergency Blanket and Line: Hopefully, you will never have to spend a night in the woods unless you want to. But if you do find yourself lost, or stranded due to injury, better have a survival blanket. When it comes to these little lifesavers, you get what you pay for. You can find an aluminum foil version of this safety standby for a few bucks in the camping department of any big box store. It will keep you alive, but you'll be cranky come sunup. Spend a few extra dollars and buy an emergency blanket that can double as a shelter if need be. The heavier material might add an ounce or two to your day pack, but in the end it will be worth it. I always stow some light line with my "space" blanket in case I have to make an emergency bivvy. Adventure Medical's Survive Outdoors Longer, or SOL, are well worth the money. If you get caught outside on a cold, rainy day, you'll be happy you followed my advice and dropped the $7....

    Before taking off on a hike, there are certain staples to have in your day pack, including a first aid kit, compass, map and multi-pliers.
  6. Take it Outside Planner: Everglades National Park, a seminar for saltwater fishers, the best camp chair

    Outdoors

    HIT THE GLADES: pARK centenNiAL

    Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service with a trip to Florida's best, Everglades National Park. January and February are great months for bird watching. Visitors can see large colonies of nesting birds from a respectful distance with binoculars and long-range camera lenses. This is the "dry season" in the park and wading birds gather at traditional and new nesting sites. If you time it right you might see hundreds, perhaps even thousands of birds as they prepare to build nests. Get out your notebook — roseate spoonbills are the first to show up, followed by storks, egrets, herons and ibis. If you are looking for a good place to see the rose-colored birds, check out Paurotis Pond, located approximately 24 miles from the main park entrance near Homestead. For more information, visit nps.gov/ever.

    LEARN FROM THE BEST: SALT WATER SPORTSMAN

    The Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series is the nation's longest-running — 29 years — and most popular educational tour for fishermen. If you are looking for a few tips on how to land the big ones, this show is for you. International angler George Poveromo, host of the World of Saltwater Fishing on NBC Sports and longtime editor at Salt Water Sportsman, will be joined by more than a dozen of Florida's top charter boat captains. Topics include light-tackle fishing for Spanish and king mackerel; kite fishing for cobia and blackfin tuna; how to make stubborn tarpon eat and more. The series runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at The Regent, 6437 Watson Road, Riverview. (800) 448-7360. nationalseminarseries.com....

    The gray fox is often seen in North Florida.
  7. Five saltwater fishing tips from a pro

    Outdoors

    When George Poveromo brings his Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series to Riverview this weekend, he will be sharing some tricks of the trade. Host of George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing on the NBC Sports Network, the international angler will share the stage with some of Florida's best captains. • But if you can't wait to hear what this fishing great has to say, here are five tips from him that will not only work in the Gulf of Mexico but anywhere you travel in search of big fish:

    1 Be prepared

    "I'll rig all tackle, baits and/or lures the day or evening prior to a trip, so when I set forth, my job is to hunt for the signs that will lead us to fish. Refuse to get distracted by rigging tackle or baits on the way to the grounds. When you hit the water, you should be 100 percent focused on signs that will lead you to fish."

    2 Mix it up

    "Have a variety of tackle rigged to capitalize on any situation (that) may arise, whether you are an inshore or offshore angler. For example, I'll have several spinning rods rigged with plain circle hooks, bucktails and a top-water chugger, plus an assortment of dead (squid, ballyhoo) and live bait (pinfish, pilchards, etc.). If we're running out and spot a cobia, or if we are bottom or drift fishing and a cobia, dolphin or even a sailfish swims by, we have several rods we can quickly get to, and baits; we've an excellent shot at catching that fish. The worst scenario is seeing fish pop up and you have nothing rigged to take advantage of it."...

    International angler George Poveromo brings the Salt Water Sportsman seminar series to Riverview on Saturday.