Sunday, March 20, 2011

Apalachicola to Panama City, FL

Thursday, March 17 - Got to White City early, having gained an hour going back into Central time. One, long floating dock was our home for the night and it was pretty decent. (Fishing boats headed into or out of the nearby boat launching area were not much for reading the NO WAKE signs, but it was a free dock, after all.)

Just as several of us had settled down for a nap, a pack of dogs came along with one particularly loud one who looked like a pit bull. And he was crazy! He would bark at anything (waves coming in!) and attempted to "chase" fishing boats as they came by. Turns out he was pretty tame, or so it seemed. Lucy kept wanting to take him on and we held her back. :-) Next day we're off to Panama City....

Friday, March 18 - A day I'll not soon forget. We got to the marina around 2 in the afternoon. Last Dragon went to an anchorage but we decided the marina would be best for us since we're having some head issues. We both worked around at different projects all afternoon (Wayne removing one of the pumps in line with the head and I doing laundry.) We also identified what sounds like a real "find" in a marina: Alan's Little Marina in Niceville, FL, at $15/night.

I was carrying laundry back when I had an accident boarding the boat. My laundry container hit the boat railing and I lost my balance, falling off the boat and onto the dock, hitting my left ribcage on the side of the dock. ER visit confirmed a broken rib, and they eliminated a worry about damaged internal organs with a CT scan. We got to the ER around 7:30PM and didn't get back to the boat until 2AM. Spring break, weekend, full moon...what an experience the ER was!

Fortunately I only came out with a broken rib and a bunch of sore muscles. Wayne and I both thought I was headed into the water after the smack on the dock. Considering I had the wind knocked out of me, that would have been much worse. As it was, I had no scrapes or cuts, only bruises...since my hands were full and I just hit full force with the ribs. Scary, though. We are both usually so careful about moving around the boat because there are so many opportunities for something like this to happen. We both have a renewed commitment to mindfulness.

Sunday, March 20 -I'm taking meds for soreness/pain and it seems to be working well, so far. The plan is to leave here tomorrow morning for Alan's Little Marina with Sharon on board Segue to help with navigation in case I can't ride on the bridge. Ben is excited about handling Last Dragon on his own. We promised him a "medal" of honor made from a scrapped impeller if he is successful. :-)

On another topic, we saw some great wildlife coming into Panama City on Friday. Dolphins, eagles, and even an alligator. You know me and dolphins, if you've read the Loop blog. Well, this dolphin beat anything I've seen. It was romping in the water...then turned over on its back and sailed along with it's nose kicking up a spray:

More later....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gulf Rim Route: Done!

Tuesday, March 15- Well, we're "over" the Gulf! We left Dunedin on Saturday the 12th thinking we had a good shot at doing our three legs of the trip in three consecutive days. The first day out was great: smooth waters by the end of the day as we made our way into the Cross Florida Barge Canal to anchor. The Canal runs alongside a greenway now, and there were several people out fishing from the banks as we found our spots in the middle of the canal. We saw only a couple of fishing boats that evening and found it to be a very nice anchorage. The next morning we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise.

Day 2, Sunday, March 13, we left the canal and went 80+ miles to Steinhatchee and River Haven Marina. We left Yankeetown around 8 AM and got to Steinhatchee by 5:30PM. Again, good water for the day.

Day 3, Monday, March 14, saw us leaving Steinhatchee around 7:45 AM in the fog. Last Dragon led and it was a tense experience for all of us. The fog didn't lift until we were out of the channel that leads into Steinhatchee...about 5 miles. From then until noon the water was fine. We thought we were drawing the best 3 days in this spring for our passage. So much for thinking. Around noon the waves picked up and before we knew it we were being pushed on our beam, rocking us sideways. Not comfortable! We tried various alterations in our course to see if we could take the waves better...and some worked pretty well for a while. Nothing, though, was a solid winner. We ended up going back to our original course and pretty much gutting it out through the rest of the trip. This is the third time we've come through this section of water and every time the waves have been coming from all directions.

We anchored last night in the Shipping Cove at Dog Island. What a gorgeous anchorage on a night when winds were low and from the south. We took Lucy into shore and she romped up and down the beach. (She'd heard talk of dog island for a few days now and was surprised to be the only mutt there.) We took her sandy body back to the boat and gave her a quick shower afterwards. The evening was calm and clear and we woke up early to a spray of stars across the sky.

Today we came to Apalacicola and the Water Street Hotel and Marina. We have stayed at Scipio Creek Marina the other times passing through, but decided the paved parking lot here would keep Lucy cleaner than the powdery lot at Scipio. We had concerns about the depth of the slips, so did bow in (which is better for our view since we're looking at the marshy grassed area behind the boat).

Thursday, March 17 - St. Patrick's Day

We're leaving Apalachicola today for a short 20+ mile run to White City and the free city dock there. Apalachicola is one of our favorite spots in Florida and the weather here these two days has been perfect...springtime in Apalachicola.

As I was looking through my last download of photos I spotted a few to add to the Dunedin experience. The first is of Jack, the troubadour.

According to a local, Jack (who seems to be of Italian heritage) lives in a retirement home right by the Dunedin Municipal Marina. Several times a day he would walk down to the pier and...when he found a pretty lady...break into song. He would end by blowing a kiss...and with a flourish, wish her godspeed. It was interesting to watch the reaction of the people being serenaded. One time he approached a car that was parked nearby and ended up singing to the couple inside.

The other photos are of a Great Egret that stayed on a pole by our boat during our stay at Dunedin. I read up a little on the bird and it seems that the feathery plumes and green lores (area between the beak and eye) mark it as a breeding bird.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

1984 Californian 43 Cockpit Motor Yacht(CPMY) Trawler for sale!

Oh, by the way...we're ready to sell Segue! We've been considering this move for sometime and both feel really good about the decision. We have a few ads out on the internet for the boat...and have a website with complete description and photos:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ft. Myers Beach to Dunedin (Florida, not New Zealand)

Tuesday, March 1- Our lovely time in Fort Myers Beach is over for now...and we're ready to leave for the 2 month journey home. The weather here has been just gorgeous...dare I say a little too warm at times if there's no shade around.

We did rent a car and drive over to Miami Beach for the boat show. We left on Thursday, the 17th of Feb., and got there in time for Wayne to meet with a supplier for his business. We spent the night in an area of Miami called Miami Lakes and it took us a while to find it following the Google map we had. (As in...the map was mistaken.) The next morning we drove down to the convention center on South Beach and I dropped Wayne off at the show. He spent about three hours there while Lucy and I went back to Miami Beach and walked around the gorgeous neighborhoods and beach. (Miami Beach has wifi available to visitors at no charge so I was even able to check my email once we were back in the car! Ah...the little pleasures.)

Wayne didn't buy anything at the boat show...but came back to Ft. Myers and ordered an AIS system for the boat. This technology will allow us to "see" commercial vessels (tows) for miles out. Should come in real handy on the Tenn-Tom.

Wednesday, March 2 - When we left Ft. Myers yesterday we had thoughts of meeting Ben and Sharon at Cayo Costa for an anchor out before heading into Sarasota today. As it turned out, the winds were due to pick up Tuesday night...and we have another "issue" with our generator, so we opted for a marina a little further north. We stayed at Cape Haze Marina and fueled up there since their diesel was...well, I started to say reasonably priced. Let's just say diesel is, like all oil products, inching up in price daily and their price hadn't reached the extremes yet.

Cape Haze was a friendly little marina based around a community of townhouses.

We could see signs of their having started new construction and then, like many, cut it short because of the economy. Still...a nice feeling place.

So today we left Cape Haze at around 9AM and the Birdwells left Cayo Costa at 7AM. We were traveled within easy hearing distance most of the time and both came into Marina Jack's in Sarasota at around 2PM. After taking time to dock, register, and clean up some...we walked up to Patricks for drinks and dinner.

Thursday, March 3 - We met Bob at First Watch for breakfast and got back to the boat in time for Wayne and Ben to evaluate the generator problem. Looks like they've got it working.

We all set out for a walk then to St. Armand's Circle, across the John Ringling Causeway Bridge. It was a gorgeous day, even if a little windy!

We went to the Columbia restaurant for lunch and, after a brief spin around the circle, back to Marina Jack's. That evening Bob and Shirley came over for a visit. We had hoped to sit outside on the deck...but came inside because the winds were too high.

Friday, March 4 - We left Sarasota early knowing we'd have a long trek today to Caladesi Island. Fortunately, the trip across the Tampa Bay area was not bad and we ended up making pretty good time. Segue found one of the two wide slips open and hopped on it, while Last Dragon took a slip near the end of Dock D. (Last Dragon later had to move over to a narrower slip on "C" dock. The marina was by no means full...and we think there was a "regular" scheduled to come in that weekend who used the slip on "D" dock.)

Caladesi was just as beautiful the second time around...and Ben and Sharon seem to agree. Despite my resolve to leave shells where they lay...I came back with another baggy full! Oh, well. I just couldn't resist!

We were watching the weather daily, hoping for a 2-day window that would get us from Caladesi to Yankeetown...then Yankeetown to Steinhatchee. We were determined to anchor on the Cross Florida Barge Canal near Yankeetown instead of going into a "marina" (most would agree there are no REAL marinas in Yankeetown...least none that willingly take transients.) It looked like we had a chance to leave on Monday morning so we moved to Dunedin on Sunday afternoon. The low tide is just about sunrise when we'd want to leave...and the channel into Caladesi is pretty shallow for us at low tide.

Dunedin Municipal Marina had a slip for Last Dragon inside the sea wall...but Segue ended up tying up to the transient docks just out side the protected basin. It may have been the roughest conditions (high winds, tall poles, etc.) that we've done in a long time, but we made it in just fine. This is our view from the transient slip that afternoon. Uh, we were the only boat in the slips that evening. Wonder why?

After putting out every fender we own to buffer the side next to the dock, we went over to Last Dragon for a final check of the weather at 4PM.

Were we ever surprised to see the weather prediction for Tuesday had changed drastically...and there was no way any of us wanted to be traveling in the waves that were forecast. We stood the chance of getting "socked in" at the Yankeetown anchorage for maybe a week if we couldn't leave Tuesday morning. So...reluctantly...we decided we'd be in Dunedin for the week.

Monday, March 7 - Waking to a leisurely day plan, Wayne checked the weather, as usual. Suddenly Monday and Tuesday looked good for a run! We called Ben and Sharon and started the process of gearing up for a 75-80 mile day when we realized it was just going to be too rushed. There wasn't a way for us to get out before 8AM and we really needed all the daylight we could get. The other problem was, there wasn't a backup plan for us: no where to go if for some reason we were unable to anchor at Yankeetown.

OK. We're in Dunedin for the week.

Wednesday, March 9 - Lucky us!! We love Dunedin! The historic downtown is near the marina with all kinds of good restaurants and shops. There are several long walking/biking trails nearby. And we hear from a fellow boater who stays here a good part of the year that Dunedin loves to throw a party. The day we arrived they were wrapping up an art and antique festival and a "taste of Dunedin." Last night they celebrated Mardi Gras, complete with a parade! Ben, Sharon, and I decided to wait out the parade (Wayne headed back to the boat). Here we are decked out in our beads...most of which Ben caught!

Oh, wait. That's the wrong photo. Here we are.....

We're watching the weather and might get out on Saturday. No problem-o, though, for this bunch. Friday and Saturday the town has a great Green Market nearby...and on Friday night they will have the second Friday Wine and Art Walk. We'll be just fine, thank you!