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Jeanne Follow up on damage and cleanup from Hurricane Jeanne in North Pinellas.--3) A sailboat sits on the northside of the Dunedin Causeway on Monday morning (9/27/04) after having washed ashore from the wind of Hurricane Jeanne.

With hurricane season heating up, take steps to secure your boat

Danny has disappeared. But Tropical Storm Erika is gaining strength. Maybe it is time to make sure your boat is prepared to weather a storm. If you are like me, you probably don't start thinking about hurricane season until the end of August. That's when low pressure systems seem to line up like freight trains and  …

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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. With hurricane season heating up, take steps to secure your boat

    Outdoors

    Danny has disappeared. But Tropical Storm Erika is gaining strength. Maybe it is time to make sure your boat is prepared to weather a storm.

    If you are like me, you probably don't start thinking about hurricane season until the end of August. That's when low pressure systems seem to line up like freight trains and start barreling across the Atlantic. Over the years, several have made landfall on or near the Labor Day weekend, including an epic Category 5 storm 80 years ago.

    This small, tightly-compacted storm took many by surprise in the Florida Keys. With winds of 185 mph and one of the lowest barometric pressures on record, the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 left 408 people dead in its wake.

    Fortunately, times have changed. The National Hurricane Center has a great website (nhc.noaa.gov) that keeps us all informed. Boaters have days, if not weeks, to prepare for a storm. And remember, you need not only be concerned with Cat 5 storms. A tropical depression or storm can also damage your boat.

    Tropical storm systems typically damage boats in one of two ways. A big storm can push a wall of water, i.e., a storm surge, toward land. The water level can rise several feet above normal high tide. If your boat is not properly secured, the lines will break and the rush of water will carry the watercraft and leave it sometimes miles inland....

    Boats are strewn in a parking lot after the dock they were tied to broke free during Hurricane Ike in 2008 in Baytown, Texas.
  2. Take It Outside Planner: Courtney Campbell trail (w/video), how to catch tarpon and how to beat a gator

    Outdoors

    SUNSHINE DAY: CAUSEWAY TRAIL

    Looking for a great sunrise? Take a hike on the new Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail. The 9.5-mile paved pathway that connects Clearwater and Tampa is an urban hiker's dream.

    You will find parking on both sides of the bridge. It's a little easier on the eyes if you start in Tampa (Ben T. Davis Beach) and walk west. You'll share the road with other walkers, joggers and bikers, so there's plenty of company. The 5.5-mile portion in Hillsborough County opened in 2013. The 4-mile extension, opened this summer, offers easy access to the Pinellas Trail and the Duke Energy Trail via Clearwater's Ream Wilson East-West Trail.

    You will find great panoramic views, including a good photo stop atop the main span of the Courtney Campbell, but be forewarned — it gets hot if you don't start early. Pack water, snacks and don't forget the hat and sunscreen.

    FRESH CATCH: THE SILVER KING

    When hard-core anglers rank the best tarpon fishing destinations, Boca Grande and the Florida Keys usually rank at the top of the list. But Tampa Bay, the state's largest estuary, has also long been synonymous with Megalops atlanticus, the "silver king" of gamefish....

    Gators look for easy prey, so if you struggle, you are more likely to get away.
  3. Guide to summer survival gear to help beat the heat

    Outdoors

    The last week of August always seems like the hottest time of the year. I don't know if there is any empirical evidence to support this assertion, but I can tell you that when I hit this point of the summer, I'm tempted to trade the outdoors beat for something cooler, such as air-conditioned city hall.

    But if you are a dedicated, boater, angler or paddler, somebody who pursues your passion 24/7, 365 days a year, you've got to carry on in spite of the elements. Fortunately, gear technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. Today's outdoor clothing and accessories make fishing the flats a little easier, even if it is, as author Thomas McGuane would say, Ninety-two in the Shade.

    The key to coolness is coverage. If you don't believe that, take a look at one of those old French Foreign Legion movies. Those guys marched through the Sahara Desert covered from head to toe. Sure they were miserable. But at least they weren't sunburned.

    But their old uniforms of wool and cotton were far from high-tech. What they would have given for an ExOfficio Sol Cool Ultimate Hoody. ExOfficio, a pioneer in the technical clothing business, was one of the first manufacturers to come out with clothing that actually cools. A recent gear test in Backpacker Magazine called it "cooler than wearing nothing at all."...

    Chaco Blossom sandals ($105) are durable enough for the sandbar and fashionable enough for the yacht club.
  4. Take it Outside Planner: Canoe Juniper Run (w/video), cruise the bay and search for scallops

    Outdoors

    YOU CANOE IT: JUNIPER RUN

    Ocala National Forest's Juniper Run has been named one of the top 25 canoe runs in America. The 7-mile paddle through riverine swamp, hardwood forests and Florida scrub takes about three hours to complete, and when you are done, you will wish it were longer. The paddle starts at Juniper Springs, one of the oldest and better-known recreation areas in the forest, about 25 miles east of Ocala. During the Great Depression, men from the Civilian Conservation Corps built the surrounding roads, campgrounds, picnic areas and a water-powered millhouse that still stands today.

    Juniper Run is a tough paddle thanks to countless twists and turns, but your efforts will be rewarded with one of the few whitewater runs in the state. You will start your journey just below the springs and follow the run through Juniper Prairie Wilderness to a take-out at State Road 19. The canoe launch at Juniper Springs Recreation Area opens at 8 a.m. and the latest you can launch is 11:45 a.m. You can rent a canoe for $35 or bring your own, but no inflatables. There was a fatal alligator attack on this waterway in 2006. (352) 625-2808.

    FLOAT YOUR BOAT: SPOTS TO CRUISE

    ...

    Weather radios are handy at sea and on land. National Weather Radio, an “all hazards” radio network, is a great resource, offering weather and emergency information.
  5. Rains interfere with nesting sea turtles

    Outdoors

    Turtle trouble

    Weeks of torrential rains have taken their toll on nesting sea turtles. Beachgoers should keep their eyes open for nests and eggs that may be washed out by flood waters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has received numerous reports of stranded hatchlings. Some were washed out of their nests; others swept back to the beach after sea weed blocked their swim offshore. If you come across live hatchlings on the beach, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert at 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC). An operator will tell you where to take the baby turtles, which should be placed in a damp towel and kept in the dark in a bucket or other container.

    Divers down

    Lobster and scallop seasons are under way so divers and snorkelers should remember to fly their diver down flag. The divers-down symbol is rectangular or square and red in color with a white diagonal stripe. A divers-down flag displayed on a boat must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches and displayed at a high point where it can be observed from 360 degrees around the vessel. A divers-down flag or buoy, displayed from the water, must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. A flag must have a wire or other stiffener to hold it open and a buoy can be three- or four-sided. All vessels must make reasonable effort to stay at least 100 feet away from a divers-down flag or buoy within a river, inlet or channel. In open waters, vessels must make a reasonable effort to stay 300 feet away. For safety, divers should stay within those same distances of their displayed flag or buoy....

  6. Save a buck and book time on a party boat

    Outdoors

    Summer's almost over. School's about to start. But there's still time for one last hurrah.

    You could pack the kids into the minivan and head to the water park like you've done a dozen times before. Or you could do something completely different. Hint — it involves the word "party."

    But to be clear, the word is not used as a verb, but an adjective, as in "party" boat.

    For those of you who are unfamiliar with the vernacular of the docks, a party boat is not a booze cruise. On the contrary — it is good, clean fun.

    A party boat, also called a head boat, is a fishing vessel that charges by the person, or per head, and for the average angler there is no better deal. A private, for-hire boat will cost more than $500 for a half-day offshore charter, whereas a party boat typically charges around $50 per person, with kids usually half price, for the same trip.

    Party boats — you will find them in Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Madeira Beach and Pass-a-Grille — are also roomier than your average sportfisherman, which is a big plus for kids, who like to walk around.

    But before you book a trip, there are few things you need to know. For starters, every party boat has its regulars, hard-core anglers who fish every week. Some of the older operations, such as the Florida Fisherman that runs out of Hubbard's Marina on John's Pass, have customers who don't measure their tenure in years, but decades....

    Captain Garrett Hubbard shows off a gag grouper caught aboard one of his family’s boats that run out of Hubbard’s Marina at John’s Pass in Madeira Beach. Party boats can be a cost-friendly family getaway before school starts.
  7. Take It Outside Planner: Hiking the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (w/video) and beach safety

    Outdoors

    CORKSCREW SWAMP HIKE: BALD CYPRESS, GATORS, RAPTORS

    The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, just about three hours south of Tampa Bay, is a watery wilderness that is fun to saunter through and explore any time of year. A 2.25-mile boardwalk will take you through pine flatwoods, a wet prairie and the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America. Some of these trees stand nearly 130 feet tall and are every bit as impressive as their cousins, the California redwood. While their girth might take your breath away (some measure 25 feet around), the real show is up above: Moss, lichens, bromeliads and ferns cover huge branches. Be ready to see some big gators, otters and, of course, white-tailed deer. A birders paradise, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to water birds and raptors. After the turn of the 20th century, when much of southwest Florida was being logged, the National Audubon Society made sure that this patch of paradise would be protected for generations to come. Today, the 14,000 acres at Corkscrew are maintained to sustain the native plants and animals no differently than they have been for thousands of years. The only difference is you get to be there, too....

    Cownose stingrays and fish make their way through a tank at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in search of food. If you’re hitting the beach, brush up on your “stingray shuffle.”
Times file