The Moorings in Carrabelle to Clearwater Municipal Marina, FL: We spent 3 days in Carrabelle waiting for a good crossing. After missing a good crossing on the 17th and 18th, we looked at every thing; computer models, winds, etc. and decided it would be a good time to go. According to all the forecasts, the first few hours would be some what rough but by night seas were supposed to calm down. Buddy, at The Moorings, gave us a different route to take that should have calmer seas. We started out at 14:30 and 3 other boats decided to go along with us; Francesca, Once Upon a Time, and Merchant Marine. We went in back of Dog Island and followed the coast line for a while until we got to Marker R26. Up to that point is was a beautiful, calm day so we took our regular route towards Tarpon Springs knowing if it got too rough we could always go "due east" and get closer to shore where the waves were only supposed to be 1' or less. All went good until about 20:00; that is when the seas started to get rough. Between 20:00 on Wednesday evening and 03:00 on Thursday morning we had 3' to 4' rollers on our beam which made the ride a little uncomfortable. By 03:00 the waves switched to our bow and they were 4' to 5' high and very close together. We slowed down and went a little closer to shore but it didn’t make any difference; it was still rough and uncomfortable, but manageable. About 04:00 I think everyone wanted to go in even closer to shore but we did not want to go any closer than we already were. As it was, we were about 10 miles out and already in about 35' of water. We were worried about crab pods. It stayed rough until about 07:00. By then it was starting to get light out and sure enough, we started to see crab pods, it is a miracle none of us hit one in the dark. The seas had started to calm down some when it was time for us to pull away and head for Clearwater. The other 3 boats went on into Tarpon Springs. We saw most of the crab pod in the Tarpon Springs area and the closer we got to Clearwater, the fewer we saw, but we still had to watch for them. While coming into Clearwater Pass we heard a call on the radio. It was Merchant Marine; they had gone soft aground while going into their Tarpon Springs Marina. What a way to end the trip but thank goodness for Tow Boat US. We got to the fuel dock at Clearwater Municipal Marina by 11:30, got fuel and a pump out and were in our slip by 13:00. After getting to our slip we did not waste any time. After we got tied up we both were beat and went to bed. We didn’t wake up until 17:30. We got showered and cleaned up and went to Crabby Bill’s for sea food dinners. At last, we made it across.
Friday: After a good nights sleep we cleaned the boat inside and out and in the afternoon went for a walk down to the Pier and around the beach area. Later we stopped for hors d’oeuvrs and a drink at one of our favorite places; Cooters.
CO's comments: The key to having a good crossing, despite the weather, is to secure every thing before leaving. Any thing that may fall down, put down. On trick the XO uses is having small binds that she buys at the $ Store and places all the small containers and bottles in the refrigerator in them; therefore, nothing comes tumbling out upon opening after rough waters. Remember, hitting a crab pod in rough water like we were in could be disastrous.
12-18-2013 Leaving Carrabelle
12-18-2013 Sunset on the Gulf
12-18-2013 Francesca and Once Upon a Time on the Gulf and Merchant Marine way in the back
12-19-2013 Sunrise on the Gulf
12-19-201 Clearwater Beach from Pier 60; 80 degrees and beautiful outside
Sunday, December 15, 2013
The Moorings at Carrabelle, FL: Got going by 06:15 and it was warm but overcast. The further east we went the colder it got. On East Bay and Big Cove, about Mile 310, we had very skinny water and even skinner out side the channel. By 08:45 it was time to put the gloves and sweat pants on over our jeans as it got down to the low 50's with strong winds. We had lots of dauphins jumping our wake again today and we saw a few crab pods in the Big Cove area.
The time changed to Easter time zone by White City, FL. Right before Apalachicola we saw a tow waiting along side the GIWW and our guess was that he was waiting for high tide to go out into Apalachicola Bay. When passing through Apalachicola, FL, we were hailed on the radio by Dream Chaser. He decided not to go to Carrabelle as it looked to wavy. We said we were going to try it and if it got too rough we would be back. The water was very shallow the first part of the bay but when we made the 90 degree turn to the port it got better and we got a real good push which helped our speed. At first we were a little worried if we could make it to Carrabelle in the day light but with the push we were getting 12 to 13 mph. On the Bay and on St. George Sound we had good 3 foot rollers with a moderate chop again but they were manageable. We got to Carrabelle by 17:10 with a good 30 minutes or so of day light left.
At 18:00 they had a "Parade of Boats" here in Carrabelle. Surprising for such a small town that there were so many decorated boats. They also had fireworks. There are at least 5 other boats here waiting to cross the gulf and we all got together in the VIP Suite to watch the parade and talk about the crossing. It was a nice evening. Of course, the Packer game was on TV so that made me very happy.
CO's comments: We needed a starboard tie and the only long dock open was in the "back 40". The dock master said to just drive in and there was plenty of room to turn around. It ended up that I only had a 3' clearance on the bow and stern; a very tight spin. I think she thought we had a 40' boat instead of a.50+ foot boat overall length.
12-15-2013 Parade of Boats parade at Carrabelle
12-15-2013 Fireworks at the Parade of Boats parade at Carrabelle