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Published: October 28th 2011
It has been with great anticipation that we approached this part of the trip, getting from the Panhandle of Florida (Carabelle) to Clearwater. Our sailing folk have told us it could take 20-24 hrs. That means moving in the dark no matter when you start. Our new Desert Fox (aka PDQ) can handle almost twice the speed, so we are hoping to cut that time in half.
We were up and out at 8am without a hitch. No leaks, no missing wires, no….. We followed a sailboat out of St. Andrews Marina, but soon passed them and were on our way. The waters were calm, boat handling well, but our destination remained a mystery. We were undecided about staying in Apalachicola for a few days or pushing on to Carabelle. Well, we did stop at Apalachicola for a Buddy Stop and to make further plans. This laid back town is quite nice and very animal friendly. Adopted fire hydrants are installed outside shops just for Buddy. They even have a tie up hook incase you want to shop. Ice cream parlors and many seBecause it was quite early (1:30 pm) we decided to push on and stay at Carabelle until
the weather was just right for crossing the Gulf.
The whole trip today was a lot of zigzagging. In fact we were on the water for almost an hour and could look to the Port side and see where we had just left (Apalachacola). As we arrived at C Quarters Marina, our newly discovered friends, Phil and Karen, (we met them on Day 1 when we fueled up while Scott was still with us) were at the ready to lend a hand with the lines. It wasn’t our best docking, slipping, whatever, but we made it without bruises on the boat, our friends or each other. Once tucked into a slip at Carabelle , Fl we retired to their large relaxing porch to learn from the several other cruisers waiting to “Cross.” Since most of them like to travel at about 8 knots, we’ll probably have to venture alone. Rog kept a close eye on the weather and it looks as if Rina is lessening to a tropical storm. She will affect the weather in the northern Florida Gulf, but hopefully not until Friday and the Weekend.
So…the decision has been made. We plan to shove off at about 4am
and should arrive at the outer marker of Hurricane Pass north of Clearwater around 5pm Thursday evening. We are hoping to spend the weekend at Caladesi State Park, a beautiful marina that we’ve visited many times before. We have filed our plan with our son, Scott and with Butch and Mary Dorey of Punta Gorda. This is the smart thing to do, just in case. So….here we go.
Since I didn’t get the last log sent, I thought I‘d tag today’s voyage along.
The departure was without episode thanks to Cap’t Rog’s preparation. (I couldn’t screw up.) However, once we left the dock, it was all dark. I mean the blackest, black that you could ever paint. We had the GPS lit up and the Radar. These tools are very helpful, if you know anything but when it is so black, you tend to not trust anything or anyone. For the novice (me!!!!! It was terrifying). However, Cap’t Rog, in his usual quiet way, said nothing, nothing!!! He kept his eye on the water while I tried to spread the spot light without blinding him (no easy feat). We left the dock shortly after 4am and had filed our float
plan with our son, Scott and good friends, Mary and Butch Dorey. We told them that we expected to reach our destination, north of Clearwater around 5pm. This is less than the suggested 20 -24 hr crossing. Fortunately, our PDQ covers many miles comfortably at 14+ knots. Of course, the voyage from the Marina to the Gulf was at about 6 knots or less as we zigzagged from red to green marker.
The wind and waves were on the nose for the first five hours in the Gulf. This resulted in a bit of a hobby horse ride, although we felt very safe. We just didn’t want to wander around from the fly bridge to the lower area. When nature called, we hung on and made the trip. As the waves (I thought they were 5 to 10 feet, but Rog said, “No way”) subsided the voyage was quite pleasant, especially after sunrise. For the first 10 hours we saw no boats, no land and no “anything.” But, Mary with her eagle eye, saw a beautiful batch/pod of small dolphins (about 30) pass before us. They just exited the water and flew horizontally across a 5 or 6 ft path
before diving. They were either very young guys or a different breed then we’re used to. Other than that excitement, the trip was just about Water, Water Everywhere.
About 2:30pm we saw our first boat. It was a ways off and going in a different direction, but at least we knew we weren’t alone. As we continued, we spotted a boat here or there. We saw one nice dark boat actually anchored in nowhere. In this interim, Rog treated himself to a shave and a shower. He returned to the flybridge, ready to handle our approach to civilization. His first task was to dodge the crab pots. They were numerous without any given pattern. After being on Autopilot for the day, it was anti-climatic to have to take the wheel and negotiate our voyage. Once we reached the entrance to Caladesi State Park we followed the posted route of 212 degrees. Sure enough, it brought us to a familiar spot, one we’ve loved for years.
Rog plotted and planned our landing, buy Mary didn’t understand. Our 34 footer was a wee bit longer than the part of the dock that Rog selected. Once securing a midline, Mary attempted to take
to the dock and secure a bow line. Well…..needless to say; short legs, slippery shoes and not enough dock to match the dock, down she went. Fortunately, she didn’t sink and really barely got wet, but the rest of the docking was left to Cap’t Rog, alone.
Mary retired to take her own hot shower and began to fix dinner. Buddy got a well deserved walk and the day ended reasonable peacefully. Thank you Lord for so many things.
I've put more photos of the crossing and arrival at Caladesi on the next blog (Oct 28). Right now we're undecided as to whether we'll move to Gulfport or stay put.
Tot: 2.773s; Tpl: 0.073s; cc: 12; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0412s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb