3-15-2014: Anchored out in the beautiful, clear blue water by Manjack Cay, Abaco, Bahamas

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Doug and Joanie
Kim Jo III at Clearwater Marina
The all day fishing boat with a
big catch-Clearwater

Half day fishing boat-Clearwater

Cleaning the fish with the
Pelican looking for a handout

All but 3 Looper boats that we came in with last weekend left yesterday with 2 more that left today.  We plan on leaving tomorrow if the weather permits. 

We went out on the half day fishing boat yesterday afternoon and had a good time.  It was a little chilly out there with waves up to 4 feet. high but there was a lot of fish caught.  We caught 16 "Gray Snapper".  Keith caught most of them.  I spent the afternoon feeding the fish.  I lost count how many baited hooks came up empty.  I had 2 to 3 large fish on my line but I lost them all; one even took my hook.  I caught what I thought was a large Grouper but had to throw it back as it was too small.  Enough with the fish stories; we had fun and our freezer is full with fillets.

Today Joanie and Doug Tjomsland drove over to see us.  We had a wonderful visit and talked a lot about doing the loop and exchanged experiences.  We went for a walk on the beach and had lunch.  It's amazing the similarities between Doug and Keith!  It was a good day.

CO's comments:  For those of you out there who do not know who Doug and Joanie are, I will tell you.  In 2005 they got married, sold everything thing they owned; including their cars, bought a boat (I think it was a 25' Rinker and named it after Doug's uncle), and started the loop.  After they finished the loop they settled in Florida and they have been following our blog.  They started their loop from Bill's Bay Marina in Red Wing, MN, just like we did.

Previously posted pictures from December 2 through 5, 2010

Carrabelle sunset

Leaving Carrabelle on Friday,
December 3, 2010

Dog Island south of Carrabelle
The Old Grouch and Negotiator on the Gulf
Florida Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement
Coast Guard Law Enforcement
Pelican at marina
Our neighbor-Traveling from
Chicagoto Nicaragua
Sail boat in Clearwater Pass

Street vendor at Pier 60

View of beach from Pier 60
Windy day-good for sailing
Another vendor trying to make
money to go back home to his planet
Clearwater Municipal Marina
Ladies going shopping at the mall

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday PM, December 7, 2010

Sponge Boat at Tarpon Springs

Another Sponge Boat

We went to Tarpon Springs (the Sponge Capitol of the World) today via the "Trolley".  Our original plans were to stay at Tarpon Springs but we would have been on our own for the last part of the trip across the gulf so we changed to Clearwater where the rest were going.  Many people said you had to have the "Tarpon Springs" adventure so we took the trolley.  We toured the Sponge Factory and watched a movie on how they harvest sponge from the gulf; it was very interesting but we were all done in 3 hours and that included an excellent lunch at a Greek restaurant (Tarpon is a Greek community).  We thought the downtown itself was a tourist trap; stores lined up like dominoes and they were all selling the same thing.

CO's comments:  Let the controversy begin.

Following taken from the Looper Daily Digest, Weather Musings:

Boaters reported that last Friday afternoon, while crossing the Gulf, they were surprised by a couple of loud BLAMS that shook their boats and felt like vibrations running through their hulls. Some thought they actually hit something in the water. There is a small chance that they experienced an unexpected, random blast from an unexploded piece of ordinance. It was not very likely they were in the middle of a military exercise. All branches of the military use the Gulf for live firing training of planes to submarines but there will always be plenty of surface boats monitoring the vessels anywhere near the exercise area and the military will keep visitors out of the area or stop the exercise. What was probably experienced is an unusual underwater phenomena that some name the "Seneca Gun". I have only heard it once when on a shoreline, not on the water. Something causes the sound, like a few rocks moving around on the bottom of the Gulf, and not necessarily significant. The sound gets compressed and if the conditions are just perfect, it comes through the water or the air as a tremendous clap of noise. It can be real impressive. Probably these boaters crossing in that one spot got to hear and feel that sound wave. It will be a once in a lifetime experience for them. Isn't the Gulf fascinating?
Stay safe,

42 Ft. Sponge Diving Boat; Built in 1935 of cypress and pine by George Castrinos in Apalachicola, Fl. Original name "APALACHICOLA".  Used for sponge fishing until 1943.  Used during World War II by U.S. Navy as air-sea rescue boat in the Gulf of Mexico.  Returned to a sponge fishing boat after World War II, used for sponging until decommissioned in 1982.  Placed on exhibition at the opening of the Sponge Exchange in 1982 and renamed "AEGREAN ISLES".

Long hoses attached to diver's helmet
provided compressed air for breathing.
The compressor was driven by belts
attached to the main engine.

Superior Diesel Engine    671 Model
Original power for sponge boat Apalachicola
110 H.P. -6 Cylinder engine propelled the
boat up to nine (9) knots.

Previously posted picures from November 28 through 30, 2010

Port St. Joe (PSJ) Gas dock

Hungry Pelican waiting to be fed
View of Kim Jo III at PSJ

A gentleman and his wife built this sailboat by
themselves and will start the Loop in January

Overhead view of PSJ dock

Overhead view of PSJ office and Cafe

We saw all kinds of these dead
sand crabs on the beach

PSJ City Park
Another beautiful Fairhope, AL, Sunset

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boat house in Clearwater
Tiki Bait and Bar - Clearwater
Municipal Marina
Beautiful flowers all around here
We have been here for a few days now and we are finally back on a normal schedule.  The first 2 days here were warm and sunny but Monday was very windy and chilly.

We haven't done much since we got here other than the usual; wash clothes, grocery shop, etc.  I used my little cart for groceries as the Publix was about a mile away; it worked good.  We were going to go to "All you can eat" crab at The Brown Boxer last night but when we got there they were out and it was only 18:15; Keith was very disappointed.  He ended up having Mahi Mahi with a lemon butter sauce and I had Shrimp which were both very good.

CO's comments:  Backing into a 14.1' wide slip was interesting since our beam is 14'.  After we got into the slip, I went out and wiggled one of the poles and loosened it up a bit to give us a little more room.  

While crossing the gulf in the middle of the dark night we heard a very loud noise.  Keith and I thought we hit something.  There was silence at first on the radios, then everyone asked if we all heard the same noise.  Some thought they blew an engine but we all decided it was a sonic boom because after looking at the charts we found we were in the middle of a military caution area.  All 5 of us felt their boats shake.

Following a course line in windy and wavy weather reminded me of my early flying days when it was all done by hand.  I explained how it was done to Bobbie, she understood, but it is easier said than done.  The XO did a heck of a good job.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Previously posted pictures from November 23 and 24, 2010

Craig; perfect for you, no spots!
Gas Dock
Nice Docks
Everyone backs in here and uses spring lines

Lots of "Sport Fisherman"
Kim Jo III tied up at Bay Point Marina-
Keith does know how to back in
Bay Point pool

View of bay at Bay Point Marina,
Panama City, FL

Perfect Carver for Dave

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Friday and Saturday, December 3 and 4, 2010

Sunset on the Gulf - Friday December 3, 2010

Sunrise on the Gulf - Saturday December 4, 2010

We all met with Buddy at The Moorings Marina at 09:00 Friday morning.  His advise was to leave as soon as possible and go at a fairly fast speed the first half of the trip and then slow down so we could plan on reaching the other side by day light to watch for crab pods.  I spent the rest of the morning putting everything down and covered things up that could possibly break in rough waters.

Originally there was 6 of us crossing together but 2 of the faster boats; Q's End and Finally, left about 06:30 in the morning because the weather was nicer than expected.  I got a phone call right before we left Carrabelle from Negotiator and they were almost in East Pass so we met up with them and there were 5 boats doing the night crossing; Dream Fever, High Spirits, Kim Jo III, Negotiator, and The Old Grouch.  Every one in our group was going to Clearwater Municipal Marina so we changed our plan and went there also.  We left at 11:00 and our speed was between 8 and 9 knots to begin with.  We all checked in with each other on the hour for safety.  We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful crossing.  We saw a lot of dolphins in the day light and the night was very dark; all you could see were the lights of our fellow  loopers out there in the darkness and it was a very comforting site.  Also, the radar was really helpful.  We took shifts during the night; 2 hours on and 2 hours off.  Not having auto pilot made it a little harder to keep the boat on course especially when the wind picked up later during the night but we did just fine.  Only problem we had was getting across too early and having to wait for day light before going into Clearwater.  We got across by 03:00 and had to wait until about 06:30 before heading for shore.  By then the swells were about 3 to 4 feet and we were rocking and rolling pretty good.  When we finally went in to Clearwater there were so many crab pods  it looked likea mine field.  It was very stressful going through them.  It sure was a good feeling to finally get into the marina at 09:30.  I didn't think I was very tired so I got everything put back in place on the boat.  I made the mistake of turning TV on and sat on the couch, fell asleep, and next think I knew 2 and 1/2 hours had gone by and Keith was asleep on the bed.  After some sleep and a shower we went for a walk around Clearwater Beach and had dinner at "Crabby Bill's Seafood" restaurant.  It was a good night.

CO's comments:  The CO is outside redoing bumpers and lines and will comment on the next post.

December 2, 2010 - Thursday

Parade of Boats on Gulf County Canal

On Lake Wimico

A group of boaters got together last night (Wednesday) at the bar to discuss crossing the gulf.  There were about 9 or 10 boats, both motor and sail, at the meeting.  It was very entertaining and a little wild at times but we all had a good time.  In checking the weather it looks like we will have a good gulf crossing window on December 3 and 4, 2010, weather was good from noon on Friday to noon on Saturday.

We left St. Joseph Sound-Port St. Joe Marina at 08:40.  There were several boats leaving, all but 2 boats decided to do the crossing.  It took us a little over 7 hours to get to Carrabelle to the The Moorings Marina.  It was almost like a "parade of boats" going back up the Gulf County Canal to pick up the GIWW.  It was about 32 degrees and clear in early morning but by afternoon it was mostly sunny and about 70+ degrees. 

All went good until we reached Lake Wimico.  This is a very shallow lake and you have to stay in the channel as either side is so shallow you could easily run a ground.  In our group, "The Old Grouch" stirred up some mud and "Q's End" went a ground but was able to get off on his own.  As far as he could tell all is well with his boat.

After Lake Wimico we went into a narrow channel until we reached Apalachicola where we went out into Apalachicola Bay which is very large and also shallow outside of the channel.  A little less than 5 miles outside of Apalachicola the GIWW makes a 90 degree turn to your port and we heard from several people this turn has a tendency to shoal up.  Right before the turn the lead boat, Old Grumpy, saw a sail boat a ground and was trying to help him off.  After several tries he told the sail boat that he should call BoatUS as he was afraid of going a ground himself and/or doing something to his boat.  I believe all boats agreed with him as there was the potential for all of us getting stuck.  We found out later that the sail boat did not have insurance!  We finally got to Carrabelle about 16:10 and by this time Keith was in the lead as 2 of the faster boats went ahead to fuel up and make room for the rest of us.  On the approach to Carrabelle in St. George Sound, Keith was talking on the radio and not paying attention to the markers and we missed one.  It is a little scary to hear the depth alarm go off but we were OK, just had to back track a little.

CO's comments:  One of the best lessons that we have learned so far is to talk to locals as they will give you a great deal of information as to water depths and areas to be cautious of.  Having sonar and setting the alarm to go off at depths 3 or 4 feet under your props or keel can save you from going a ground.  In some areas I don't believe the channel was any more than 20 feet wide.