Thank You Gulfport


While your neighbor St. Petersburg slams its doors on anchoring, Gulfport has opened its arms to visiting yachts. The beachfront anchorage is open and supported by a free dinghy dock and "day docks" at the wooden pier. Plus, everything a visitor needs is within walking distance: Authentic Fish-n-Chips at the Village Pub, Late-nite Kareoke at O'Maddys, Glass-blowing lessons at the Industrial Art Center, Gourmet Soups by James at T-n-Me Tea Company; You can find inspiration by the little old lady in her Small Adventures Bookstore, buy some used flipflops at the Beach Bazaar, give your dog a romp at the shaded dogpark, and stock your galley at Tuesday's Farmer's Market. Sample the best Texas BBQ at Smokin J's, find that tool you need at the hardware store next to Susie's Suds laundromat, trade propane tanks at TLC Market, and even buy a computer from Time Systems (that's a long walk but Rich gave me a ride back, and they're dog-friendly) Actually, the whole town is dog-friendly. The locals say hi as you pass on the sidewalk. The town has a bohemian feel that you get in Bequia SVG, St. John USVI, and Key West. A local told me that she knows 14 residents who moved here from KW after the hurricane. That says a lot about the vibe here. And there's something fun to do every day: Art classes, boating seminars, Hula lessons, investment Club, meditation, yoga... With festivals in between, it's just plain hard to find a break in the action to weigh anchor. Recently, on an average weekend, more than than 9 yachts came in and stayed all weekend, some for a whole week. That's not counting the Day Docks, which had a flowing rotation of local boats. Thank You, Gulfport, there just aren't many places quite like the best-kept secret of the Gulf Coast. Capt. Jim Peternell SY Kealoha