We have arrived! As I sit here in Tarpon Springs, Florida, mid 70 degrees, sun shining, light breeze in shorts and bahama shirt with a rum punch in my hand, I’m reflecting on the last few days.
We left Shalimar, and took three days going through canals, bays and rivers, the weather was cold and damp, but the winds were light and made travelling easy. Our repaired motor ran like it was brand new, but we decided to tow the dingy anyway, just in case.
The canal was very reminiscent of what I expect the “dismal swamp” canal on the east coast to be like going home. Narrow, animals everywhere, and we had a group of dolphins beside the boat several times. At one point the cruising guide suggested we would see lots of bald eagles, we did not, but saw several nests. One shrimper must have decided that being a pirate was more lucrative!
The crossing itself was a 26 hour trip across open water; we were at one point about 35 miles offshore. The weather window opened the day we arrived at Carrabelle, so we weren’t given any time to prepare, we had to go with our previous preparations. Probably for the best, I would have overdone it, as usual. It was cold when we left, and until we arrived on the west coast of the Florida peninsula, stayed cold, then started warming up. The weather forecast was correct for the crossing itself, but wrong for the west coast (I suppose the east coast storms affected the forecast). After midnight, it was rough, windy, and as usual, a few things go wrong. Nothing serious, nothing we couldn’t handle, and nothing that would prevent us from arriving on time. The only thing missing from the crossing was our sleep. We both tried, and found it impossible with the waves and wind (it was actually very nice until I decided to have a nap, so MB made me take the sails down and run on motor only, then it got rough). I guess she fixed me!
All during the crossing we wore our harnesses, and whenever alone in the cockpit or on deck, we were harnessed in. I could not imagine trying to find someone in that huge Gulf at night in 6 foot seas, even with our little flashing lights and whistles attached to the life jackets. Trying to work in the cockpit or refueling at sea with a harness and tether attached is an experience.
I could not resist one more sunset photo, when we were in the middle of the Gulf, the sun going down. Sailing at night is an interesting experience. Not particularly one I would care to do on a regular basis. Although the radar and chartplotter made us secure in where we were, when we hit something in 60 feet of water it was very disconcerting to say the least that we have no idea what it was, or could have been, and the bang was loud!
When we arrived at Tarpon Springs, we anchored and went to sleep. We spent the day here, and then will head to St. Petersburg Tuesday to see Ralph and Peg for a few weeks. My mother is due for a few weeks as well, so it will be a visiting month. A friend of mine is coming for New Years, then he and I will sail to the Keys, where I will be met by MB again, and he will head home. At least, for now, that’s the plan. As I have surely learned on this trip, plans are fluid.
So for now, we are in St. Petersburg until January, there will be no more SPOT or blog updates until we get back on the boat. The boat is docked just across the bridge, and we will walk over and look at her daily, and do a little work to get her back in Bristol fashion for the balance of our trip. Right now, the ground does not move right, there are people right next door to us instead of trees and sea breezes. It doesn’t feel right, but MB loves the big bed.
Please everyone, have a Merry, Merry Christmas.
Love to All,
Joe and Mary Beth Amelia
S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold” currently in turquoise water