Saturday, November 20, 2010

Apalachicola to Steinhatchee, FL

Thursday, November 18-
It was cold last night! We woke up at around 5:30 and turned on the heat to warm up the place before we crept from under the covers. It was in the 40's. We're going to go to Carrabelle today because the conditions are favorable (we'd still be in sort of protected waters) and it will get us a bit closer to either a "run" across the Gulf or a run around the rim.

You know, we came out on this trip thinking we would definitely do the rim route instead of the "all at once, 20-hour, up all night" crossing. Then we started looking at the details of the rim route and questioned whether there would be enough "water" in Steinhatchee...and whether we could have a good anchorage in Cedar Key. Well, this week we've checked all those issues out and have decided we can do the rim. And (unless a TOTALLY CALM day comes in the meantime) we really would like to do the rim route so we'll have a comparison for when we have to make the return trip in the spring.

Just a few more pictures of Apalachicola. I can't get enough of these shrimp boats against the marsh and water...

Lucy and I visited a botanical garden within walking distance of Scipio Creek Marina and watched (well, I watched) monarch butterflies milling around the flowers.

Cloudy weather coming up in Apalachicola...

Papa Joe's Oyster Bar, connected to the Scipio Creek Marina and right beside our dock...

Speaking of oysters, we went back to the Papa Joe's Tuesday night for another round of oysters (Wayne) and steamed shrimp (me and Wayne.) On the way out of Apalachicola this morning we saw oyster boats at work harvesting a bed. In case you're wondering what's involved in oyster harvesting, here's a piece from the website

Apalachicola Bay, including the waters of St. George Sound and St. Vincent Sound, provides an ideal environment for oysters. The 210 square mile estuary is wide and shallow; depths in Apalachicola Bay average only six to nine feet at low tide. The estuary is dominated by the Apalachicola River which provides nutrient rich fresh waters vital to the Bay's natural productivity. Oysters grow rapidly (the fastest in the country) in these waters reaching marketable size in less than two years.

Oystermen harvest oysters in Franklin County from more than 7,000 acres of public oyster "bars" and about 600 acres of private leased bars in the Apalachicola Bay area. Public bars are divided into "winter" bars which can be harvested from Oct. 1 through June 30 each year and the "summer bars" which are harvested from July 1 through September 30.

There are more than 1,000 people employed by the oyster industry in Franklin County. And there are a variety of jobs associated with harvesting the mollusk. Tongers (traditionally called "oystermen") harvest the oysters from small boats using tongs which look somewhat like two rakes attached in a scissor style. Tongers generally use a small wooden boat, 20-23 feet long, equipped with a culling board near the bow and sometimes equipped with a "dog house" or small covered area to provide shelter from bad weathers. Tongers are accompanied usually by "cullers" who separate the oysters by size (oysters must be at least three inches in length to be considered legally harvestable). Out on the bay, oysters are stored in burlap sack and shaded until they reach the shore. On the shore, seafood houses employ "housemen" who sort the oysters and package them for sale either in bags or boxes or pass them onto shuckers where they will be shucked, washed and sold generally either in pints or gallons.

So here we have a tonger and a culler at work, with a mound of oysters on front of the boat.

The trip from Apalachicola to Carrabelle went far quicker than we thought it would because we had a nice boost to the speed from current. It was mostly an open water situation (though still somewhat protected).

We're at C-Quarters Marina in Carrabelle. The folks are really nice and we have ready access to grocery, bank, hardware...and library. We're considering a move to St. Marks tomorrow. We'll decide in the morning.

Friday, November 19-
This morning we talked and looked at weather sites until we decided today would be the day to go from Carrabelle to Steinhatchee, across the Apalachee Bay. It sounded like the winds might gust up a little above 10mph (9-13, in fact)...but waves looked like 1-2. By 8 AM we were on the water, headed for Steinhatchee. Carrabelle was beautiful this morning, all calm and clear....

Well, we got kicked around for the first 4 hours of this trip! The wind was from the east, which we thought might somehow be blocked by land. Not! We definitely had 1-2 and 2-3...on the nose and hard to block. We altered course several times trying to find an angle that would lessen impact, but it was like the waves were coming from an "easterly" direction and no matter where we turned they were there. We'd go through a spell of nearly smooth water then get slammed by a series of 2-3ft. waves. It was weird. I took a little snippet of video on my little camera during the very first part of the trip...when the waves were just a little rough. (Later on, we were rocking and rolling!) If and when I figure out how to post it on here, I will.

Meantime, this is how the water looked shortly after noon when it laid down to a bathtub slosh.

We got into Steinhatchee 9 hours later and are tied up to a dock at Sea Hag Marina.

Saturday, November 20-
We were in bed last night by 7:30 and slept until 6 this morning. Needless to say, it was a stressful day. We learned, again, that we don't like traveling in winds over 10mph...even if for a part of the trip. We're also thinking the guy from Tallahassee Marine Weather Station was right when he said "the east is the beast!" But at least we're over on this side and maybe our trips on down the coast to join the ICW will be easier.

We were really impressed with the look of Steinhatchee as we came in last night.

We were here by car in the fall of '07 and it definitely looks better from the river. Very pretty...and activity everywhere. This is a place that takes its fishing seriously! There are fishing boats everywhere. And here they fishers are weighing in the day's catch...

The only really bad thing about Steinhatchee is the no-seeums. Yep. And, in case you're wondering, those OFF personal insect repellent fans you can wear? They don't work on no-seeums. Nope. I just observed (from inside the boat, since it is the time of day when no-seeums roam) that the folks over at the marina are rubbing down their exposed body parts with some sort of repellent. I'll have to ask what they are using. :-)

Next move is to Cedar Key...but it looks like we might be here a few days before that can happen. We have 4 days worth of dog food left right now. Wayne suggests we let her fend for herself here after the miniature schnauzers do in the "wild." Me, I'm thinking we'll go ahead and pay a king's ransom for a small bag of dog food at the local grocery, Maddie's.

1 comment:

Trawlerman said...

I am right here following you. Sounds like all is going very well I am glad to hear. We are beginning to talk about a possible trip to New Orleans starting next year around Oct. My fingers are crossed. Hope that the run to your next stop is also uneventful. To put a twist on the old saying, "I wish I was there"!