When we arrived in Carrabelle on December 28th it was supposed to be for just a couple of days until the weather window opened for us to cross the Gulf. Well it’s now February and we’ve now completed our crossing. Just a couple of days.
I’ve posted on-line and blogged about our run in with the bottom of Carrabelle Bay. But even though we had problems and the boat had to be hauled and repaired we still had a good experience in Carrabelle. Cynthia and I met many very nice and helpful people.
The repair took place underneath our bed in the aft cabin and made it so we had to move off the boat. We stayed at the Franklin Inn. It’s not a 5 star establishment, but clean and well kept. The people who ran the Inn were more than helpful. Not only offering and giving rides back and forth from the marina, but also into town for supplies and just plain friendly talks.
Right next door to the Franklin Inn, is Hog Wild BBQ, where the ladies and kitchen staff were always friendly and very helpful. Helpful even to the point of offering to put together items for breakfast that we could warm or keep cold in our motel room. Almost every night I was expected, just before closing, to come for ice cream and I’m sure they gave an extra bit in my cup each night.
We also walked or rode our bicycles to the Pit Stop BBQ about a mile away and 2 Als just a short trip further. Everyone was very kind and bent over to be helpful. We found the pizza at Mama Jo’s our favorite. Gene and Jo even offered us their truck for our day trip to Appalachicola. We ate a Jo’s a number of times, they deliver, and became friends. Gene, Jo’s husband, mentioned that he had a dinghy that he might want to get rid of and it just so happened that we had been looking for a replacement for our Avon. Gene and I came to a deal and traded boats. It seemed that we were each looking for what the other had.
While we were hold up at the Franklin, our traveling friends Brenda and Robby on “Crazzy Nufff” a 43′ Hatteras boat. Waited patiently for our repairs to be completed. Even borrowing a car and taking Cynthia myself and Toots back to C-Quarters for get together with all the boaters under the big porch.
The members of C-Quarters held a slip waiting until we could get back into the water and begin our watch for another weather window. Millard, James, Chuck, and especially Kim were more than helpful in many ways. Offering help in little jobs around the boat and always ready with a treat for Toots. Kim, a licensed captain of 30 years, ferried and helps people get their boats across the gulf by either accompanying owners or just moving boats for people. James is an old shrimper also with plenty of experience. The others are all fishermen and have tons of local knowledge. Sometimes all that knowledge gets hard to put together into a single plan. With Captain Kim and Harold’s, her husband, insight we received plenty of common sense information about waves, winds, and water conditions.
Harold and Kim also came and picked us, Cynthia and myself, Robby and Brenda Bendall, and Chuck and Susan from “Beach House”and brought all of us out to their property on the Crooked River for an evening get-a-way from the Marina. It was a great escape, with new friends.
As we watched the weather for a window of opportunity to cross we three boats would follow the Looper forum and Eddy’s Weather Wag, Wind Finder App, various NOAA predictions and just asking the locals. We, being Crazzy Nufff and Bright Angel decided to give a cross a try in late January. Beach House was having some engine problems and needed parts to arrive, so had to stay.
We ventured out at 4:00AM on a dark, dark morning and made for the East Cut between Dog Island and St. George Island. We hoped that the weather would calm after we got out away from shore a while but it never happened. Both boats and crew took a pounding. I could not see past the front of the boat and had nothing to focus upon and ended up being sea sick. We tried to alter course towards Steinhatchee to see if we could get a smoother ride. However, this did not improve our conditions and we decided to turn around and head back. We surfed our way back to the East Cut of Dog Island and passed through just as the sun was coming up. Feeling disappointed, but relieved to be out of the elements, we made our way back into C-Quarters to wait for another day.
After another week of watching weather reports, looking at the AGLCA forum predictions, and checking apps, it seemed every 5 minutes, it seemed that another crossing window was about to open. Not the best conditions but better than before. Some said it looked better for a night-time crossing, however, we had decided to attempt a daylight push. Or almost a daylight push starting at 5:00AM and arriving on the peninsula of Florida before sunset. A trip of about 150 miles.
On February 7th we started our next try at a crossing. The morning was cool and clear with a bright moon and plenty of stars. It made it much easier for me to helm the boat out the channel and toward the “East Cut”. I settled into my helm chair getting comfortable and it crashed over and dumped me onto the floor. I told Cynthia it felt like I was moving in slow motion while I went over backwards. Her answer was that it didn’t look like slow motion. Just a slight hiccup we kept going and entered the Gulf. Standing up the entire time was not going to be possible, so Cynthia lost her chair and I helmed the boat from the left side. Powering up to about 15 mph we hoped to try to make the crossing in about 10 hours.
Waves were 1-2 foot with swells of 2-4 foot. Add them together and it was not a smooth start. But manageable and we saw a beautiful sunrise and after 4 hours the waves began to shorten. Our main problem were the swells. Even though they had dropped from the 2-4 foot range down to 1-3 footers they were coming at us from our beam. Making for a rolling motion that is anything but comfortable. As we traveled east though the waves decreased in size and when we came to within sight of land the waves were not a factor.
Our traveling companions on Crazzy Nufff needed to pump fuel from an auxiliary tank and had to stop completely to accomplish this task. Even though they rocked some while not under power they seemed OK as we stayed close in case of a problem.
With the fuel transfer accomplished we proceeded toward Anclote Key and the Gulf Inter coastal Waterway (GICW). Here we started to see Crab Pots. We’ve seen a few of these pots before but not to the extent that we started to see them now. At the Looper Rendezvous Crab Pots were a major topic. If you catch one with a propeller they can tangle the prop shaft and cause major damage to running gear. We were prepared to look for them and when I spotted what I thought to be buoys for pots I radioed back to Crazzy Nufff to be on the look out. My first call was in error, what I thought were Crab Pot buoys turned out to be seagulls. However, shortly after we spotted the real thing and wove our way through the various lines of pots and made the cut south of Anclote Key and entered the GICW.
Not long after we entered we were escorted by a pod of dolphins. Always a treat to see, the real fun is listening to Cynthia call and whistle at the dolphins. Having to be reminded to take some pictures instead of just playing with the fish. (I know, they are mammals, fish just was easier to say.)
We arrived in Dunedin, Florida on the peninsula about 5:00PM. Twelve hours after leaving the dock. A long day, but we all felt we had accomplished something big. Spirits were high and small celebrations were had. But soon the hours and time on watch took its toll and we all crashed into beds for a long rest.
What an adventure we are having. So many great things are happening. We’ve had setbacks but all in all it’s a great time.
Where to next?