SHINY AND NEW: FLOAT YOUR BOAT
Tis the season to go boating. Check out the 2016s this weekend at the Tampa Boat Show at the Tampa Convention Center. With hundreds of boats on land and in the water, you'll find everything from flats skiffs and tow boats to sportfishermen and mega yachts. Sign up for a boating workshop where you can hone your docking skills, or head over to Fred's Shed and learn how to fix an outboard motor. New this year is Try It Cove, where attendees can get out on a standup paddleboard. Visit from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. $12 adults, 15 and younger free. 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. TampaBoatShow.com....
They say there is no boat that does it all, but Steve Wacker thinks that is about to change.
"This is really like an SUV on the water," he said of the new 28 XS from Nautic Star. "This is going to be a real marriage saver."
If Wacker sold cars instead of boats, he'd tell you that this vehicle has the functionality of a pickup truck, but the comfort of a luxury sedan.
"This is a true crossover craft," said Wacker, of Thunder Marine. "We think it will turn a few heads when it makes its debut at this year's Tampa Boat Show."...
Take It Outside Planner: Power boats (w/video), Tampa Bay Watch photo exhibit, tips for paddling Suwannee09/23/15Outdoors
OFFSHORE ACTION: POWER BOATS
Some call it NASCAR on water, except with offshore power boat racing, the course can change with every lap. If you feel the need for speed, head out to Clearwater Beach this weekend for the Super Boat National Championship & Seafood Festival. Dozens of the world's fastest catamarans and mono-hulls will race deck to deck less than 100 yards off Pier 60. The bigger boats can hit speeds of close to 200 mph during race conditions, but get there early and watch as the boats test their equipment in the practice laps. It's free to watch from a perch on the sand, though you can get a closer look if you buy a ticket for $5 to $20. The action starts at noon Friday when you can see the boats up close in Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater, and at 6 p.m. the Tampa Bay Times Super Boat Parade goes down Cleveland Street with drivers and crews holding a meet and greet after. Saturday, the boats will do test runs offshore in the afternoon, and there will be a celebration at Pier 60 with fireworks after sunset. The big race takes place Sunday on the liquid track with heats at noon and 2 p.m. with the start and finish at the Hilton Clearwater Beach, 400 Mandalay Ave. ClearwaterSuperBoat.com....
Johnny Tomlinson likes to let it hang loose.
"The trick is to run just off the water," said one of the most successful powerboat racers in the world. "You want to be free, but in control."
That fine line flying at 150 miles or more, barely skimming the surface, but not flipping — is what separates the winners from the losers in powerboat racing.
The great ones, and the mild-mannered Tomlinson can be counted among the legends of the sport, flirt with danger, and at times even death, but always bring it back. For there's an adage when it comes to powerboat racing that it doesn't matter how fast you go if you don't finish the race....
Take It Outside Planner: Get a boat, cruise the beach by bike and take fishing lessons from an old pro09/16/15Outdoors
PICTURE IT: YOU'RE ON A BOAT
Tampa Bay is one of the best places to boat in the nation. Run the bay or head offshore — you'll never run out of options. Before you start working on a float plan, though, you'll need a boat. But don't waste time you could be spending on the water by driving from dealership to dealership. Head over to the Florida State Fairgrounds and the Tampa Bay Boat Show Friday through Sunday. You'll find hundreds of models, from center-console fishing craft to tricked-out tow boats, all under one roof. Free. tampabayboatshows.com....
Like many first-time boat buyers, I spent months — make that years — researching different makes and models. I settled on a 17-foot center console, with a new, fuel-efficient engine that was supposed to represent the latest in technology.
Everything went well at first, until I got caught by a later-summer squall as I was heading home from Anclote Key and nearly took a wave over the transom. Back at the ramp, my fishing buddy, a little shaken by the experience, channeled Chief Brody from the movie Jaws and offered this advice, "I think you need a bigger boat."...
CRUISE OR PADDLE: EXPLORE THE MYAKKA RIVER
One of Florida's great wild and scenic rivers, the Myakka flows through 58 miles of wet prairies, pinelands and hardwood hammocks south of Sarasota. During the summer months, the river often overflows its banks allowing intrepid paddlers to explore areas usually too difficult to reach. You can also explore Upper and Lower Myakka lakes by canoe or kayak. For an easy day trip, start at the Myakka Outpost Concession on the shores of the Upper Lake and paddle down to the bridge, about 3 miles. You'll see plenty of alligators along the way, but don't worry, they keep to themselves. The current is usually light to moderate, so the return trip is an easy paddle. Bring your kayak or canoe, or rent one at the concession. ...
Fifteen years ago, when Bill Hardman saw his first lionfish off the Gulf Coast, he was in deep water where most recreational divers seldom go. Hardman, a scuba instructor and avid spearfisherman, is among a small group of diving elite who use mixed gas to explore depths off limits to most.
"At first, they were confined to the really deep stuff, but eventually they moved closer to shore," he said. "Now they are everywhere. I have seen them as shallow as 15 feet."...
Looking for a boost before your next 5K? Have a cup of joe. The caffeine in a cup of coffee will give you the needed kick to make that last mile count.
"It can enhance your performance," said Peter J. Adhihetty of the University of Florida's College of Health and Human Performance. "The downside is that you can get habituated. You will have to take more and more to get the same benefit."
Most experts agree that a cup or two of coffee a day won't do the average athlete any harm. But how much caffeine is in a cup? The answer is not so easy. The average home brew contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup....
ON HIGH: ZIP THE CANYONS
Florida flatlanders don't get many opportunities to enjoy a little elevation. Living at sea level, even driving over a little hill can give you a thrill. But head two hours north to "The Canyons" in Ocala, and you'll get all the height you can stand and more. The zip line complex, built atop a 94-acre limestone quarry, has the highest and longest wires in the state. It takes about 2 ½ to three hours to get through all nine zips, and unlike many complexes where you have to climb towers, most of the runs are cliff to cliff. The longest zip is "Speed Trap." It's 1,100 feet long, and at the peak, you are 135 feet off the ground. Canyons also has a special "Super Zip," where the rider lays prone, that measures 1,600 feet long and carries you 165 feet in the air. Be prepared for a workout. The entire course is about a mile long. There's a special, surprise rappel at the end that will test your nerves. As expected, with the longest, highest and fastest zips in the state, demand is high, so reservations are recommended. Cost is $96 per person. zipthecanyons.com. ...
Snook are an easy sell to tourists and locals alike, according to Tampa-based charter boat captain Mike Gore. "They'll bust a bait like a large-mouth bass and fight like a tarpon," he said. "There's really nothing like them."
Snook season reopens today after a long summer closure, and Gore, along with thousands of anglers like him, will hit the water from Crystal River to Everglades National Park hoping to land the fabled Florida linesider....
There seems to be no debate among Florida lobster aficionados concerning how to cook this delicacy of the sea.
"You have got to grill them," said restaurateur Frank Chivas. "There is no other way."
But Chivas and his longtime friend Tom Pritchard, the creative force behind many of his restaurants, disagreed on the next step.
"I like to start them out shell down," said Pritchard, one of America's top chefs. "You want to protect the meat."...
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....
Take It Outside Planner: Courtney Campbell trail (w/video), how to catch tarpon and how to beat a gator08/26/15Outdoors
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....
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....