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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve at Cayo Costa State Park anchorage


It was supposed to be warm in the 80's with sun shine but the sun didn’t come out until it was time to set and it only got to the mid 70's with a cool wind blowing all day long. We took the dinghy over to the park area this morning and went for another ride later this afternoon. Being New Year’s Eve day we couldn’t believe how many boats came in; there had to be over 100 boats in this bay. I checked my crab trap this morning and nothing was in it. The thin lines that came on the trap were all tangled up so I replaced them with stronger line and put it back out for tonight. Here’s hoping I get something. Had a delicious dinner tonight; lobster, steamed broccoli, and fried cheese bread and a toast to the New Year,

CO’s comments: A good scotch and a wonderful wife.   I could not ask for a better end to the year.

12-31-2014: Anchorage at Cayo Costa

12-31-2014: My crab trap

12-31-2014: Last sun set of 2014 at Cayo Costa anchorage 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cayo Costa State Park anchorage

Tuesday, 12-30-2014: We only had about 12 miles to go for the day and it was a good thing because we woke up to dense fog and it hung around until about 11:00. We finally got going at 11:35 and had to wait 15 minutes for the Boca Grande Bridge to open at noon. This was our last bridge for a while. We crossed Charlotte Harbor/Boca Grande Pass right after the bridge. We started out with clear visibility but half way across it fogged in again; almost to zero visibility. The CO had to turn the radar on. Our anchorage for the next few day is at Cayo Costa State Park and it is a very popular anchorage; both for Loopers and local boaters. We always try to stop here. We put 50 feet of anchor rode out with 2.3' of water under the props at low tide. After lunch, we put the dinghy back in the water and went for a ride over to the park.

I have always wanted to fish the Gulf and ICW for crab, lobster, snook, etc. It has been 5 years now and this year is the first time I bought a license. So, today, I put my crab trap out for the night and before dinner I fished for an hour or so. I loved every minute of it; didn’t catch anything, but I did get a few bits.

For the last two to three week we have been hearing popping and crackling sounds on our hull and we can’t figure out what it is. We just had the bottom painted and Keith thought it might be something to do with the bottom paint. We have checked with Dog River Marine who painted the bottom for us and we have also called the paint manufacture. Dog River thought it might be barnacles but didn’t know for sure. Keith checked the bottom and every thing is smooth. So far it remains a mystery.

In looking back to the first part of December; we always wanted to do the Big Bend instead of the all night Gulf crossing. We were looking forward to anchoring our way around the bend of Florida and exploring all the nooks and crannies. But, due to the weather, we were not able to do that. We are; however, anchoring as much as possible. Since leaving Mobile, AL, we have anchored 16 out of 20 days so far and plan to do a lot more. It has been great fun. We could never do this without our inverter.

CO's comment: Always something; weird sounds, fog, etc. Always a challenge.

12-30-2014: My very first  "Selfie"

12-30-2014: Dolphin in Charlotte Harbor

12-30-2014: Kim Jo IV at Cayo Costa anchorage

12-30-2014: Our anchorage at Cayo Costa

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 28 and 29; still at Cape Haze, FL

Sunday the 28th :  This is about the 6th time we have been to this anchorage but it is the first time we put the dinghy in the water and stayed a while.  We put the dinghy in this morning and went up the canal a ways. We went under the bridge and Keith dropped me off at the drainage ditch area.  We tied up to a private dock/home that looked vacant so I got off at their dock. Getting off the dinghy there was challenging but I made it without a mishap.   I walked up the ditch about 1/4 mile to Publix and got a few things while Keith waited for me in the dinghy.  When I got back with groceries I waited 10 minutes or so for Keith to come back to my drop off place. A gentleman, a few homes down from where I was, offer Keith a tie up at his dock if we had to come back, which we thought was very nice. We came back to the boat and listened to the Packer game on the Packer website radio station; we can’t get any TV reception in our anchorage. Packers over the Lions, 30 to 20; GO PACKERS!

12-28-2014: Canal opening from our anchorage

12-28-2014: Canal has a small island in the middle which we went around

12-28-2014: Homes on both sides of the canal

12-28-2014: We tied up just on the other side of this bridge

12-28-2014: Drainage ditch up to highway

12-28-2014: Fountain in the middle of a round-about just before the highway

12-28-2014: I am here with my groceries but no Keith

12-28-2014: Kim Jo IV at Cape Haze anchorage 

Monday the 29th: Our last day at this anchorage. We took the dinghy out again and did some exploring. Also, went back up the canal and this time I stayed in the dinghy while Keith walked up to the Liquor store.  The last two days have been beautiful, in the 80's, sunny with a few clouds. We just got a call from our friends, Craig and Connie, in Minnesota and it is supposed to get down to -20 degrees tonight; Burr.

CO's comments:  Again, another one of our favorite anchorages.

12-29-2014:  Still some Christmas decorations up on the canal.

12-29-2014: Kim Jo IV at Cape Haze anchorage from the channel.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday the 27th, Cape Haze, FL, anchorage

Saturday, 12-27-2014: Low tide was at 11:15 this morning so we got going about 09:00 to get ahead of it. We had 9 bridges today but only had to have 3 of them opened. It saves us a lot of time by putting our large antenna down so we can make it under 22' bridge clearances rather than 29'. It was a beautiful, sunny day and 75 degrees. Being a Saturday, it brought a lot of weekend boaters out and the waterway was pretty busy. Keith did most of the driving because of all the traffic and also the water was really shallow most of the day. I get too stressed out when the depth alarm keeps going off. Thank you Keith for driving all day.

We got to our anchorage by 14:00, put out 50 feet of anchor rode in about 4 to 5' of water.. We have stopped here many times in the past and were always alone in this anchorage. Today there was another boat anchored already; a Gold Looper from Punta Gorda. About an hour later, another boater came in, this one was in the process of doing the loop and was from Portsmouth, NH. During the afternoon, several day boaters came in and out of the anchorage.

CO's comment: Here we are in a 54' boat, drawing 5' of water with only 2' under the keel. People are waving at us to get out of the channel so they can drive their 16' boats down the center; unbelievable. I was ready to use my horn several times but I knew the XO would get upset so I didn’t. I guess they do not know that larger vessels have the right-of-way?. Once, several years ago, we said we would never travel on the weekend; guess that went by the wayside.

12-27-2014: Cape Haze anchorage, a busy place today.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday, December 26, Sarasota, FL

Friday, 12-26-2014: We had a 5 hours day planned with at least 5 bridge opening so after staying a second day at Longboat Key we got going this morning by 10:00. The tide was just starting to come up and we had some very skinny water for a while. Sarasota Bay had a light chop and was shallow; 4 to 5 feet most the way. By 11:30 we decided to stop early as we were in no hurry. This way we would not have to worry about getting to our anchorage before dark. We anchored by the Ringling Causeway bridge in Sarasota in about 6' of water just adjacent to the Bait Shop. We tried this anchorage last spring for the first time and it worked well for just an over night.

CO's comment:  The only downside to this anchorage is all the boat traffic; it is rock and roll all afternoon.

12-25-2014: Kim Jo IV at Longboat Key

12-25-2014: Moore’s restaurant

12-25-2014: Sun Set at Longboat Key

12-26-2014:  Our Sarasota anchorage; lots of building going on here, Ringling Causeway Bridge, and the Bate Shop

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 23 and 24, 2014=Maderia Beach to Longboat Key, FL

Tuesday, 12-23-2014: Low tide was about 07:30 so we waited until 10:45 before leaving to have some water under our boat. We made a quick stop at Clearwater Municipal at 11:45 and picked up our mail and were back on the water by 12:00. There are a lot of bridges on this part of the ICW so it was kind of slow going but we were doing pretty good. We got to the Welch Bridge in Madeira Beach and called the bridge tender for an opening and he told us it was temporarily out of order and he did not have an estimated time of opening. We pulled over to the side of the ICW and dropped anchor; by this time it was 13:30. We waited and we could hear them trying to open the bridge without success, it was stuck in the down position. The bridge tender would give us periodic updates. Finally by 15:30 we decided to stay put for the night as we would not have enough daylight to get to our planned destination so we let the bridge tender know.

By 20:00 the bridge was still out of order. We will see if it ready in the morning. It was a nice evening but a little windy. We sat out on the front of the boat and listened to live music coming from the American Legion Christmas party. We sat for a good hour or so, they were playing music from the 60's and 70's and I knew all the songs. It was an enjoyable evening.

12-23-2014: Our make shift anchorage at Mile 122.5.

12-23-2014: American Legion to our port.

12-23-2014: Closed Welch Causeway Bridge

Wednesday, 12-24-2014: Merry Christmas

We got going by 07:30. The bridge still was not working but we had low tide so we slowly drove under the bridge with barely enough room. We had 5 bridges today and made it under 4 without having an opening.  I guess low tide is good for something. Cortez Bridge was the last one of the day and only had 18' clearance so we called for an opening.  

We crossed Tampa Bay this morning. It started out with a light chop, then went to a light chop with 3' waves, and we ended up with 6' waves on our bow; it got very rough there for a while. It was 10:30 and we were almost across the Bay and we were trying to open the front window. We obviously were not paying attention and we went aground to our port side. We were only a foot or so out of the channel but that was enough to get us stuck. We tried to get ourselves off without success so we called "Tow Boat US". While Keith was on the phone, a man and his son who were out fishing nearby, asked if they could help us so we said OK. He took our anchor with lots of chain out and dropped it in the channel, then we brought the anchor chain up with the windless and it pulled us off the ground and back to the channel. We were back on our way by 11:30. We thanks the man and his son, gave him some money, and wished them a Merry Christmas. Thank goodness they came along because who knows how long it would have taken "Tow Boat US" to get there. As far as we can tell the boat is OK. We may have a little damage to our pride, but we can handle that. We got to our tie up for the night at Moore’s Stonecrab Restaurant, Longboat Key, FL, Mile 85.0 by 12:30. After we got settled in we went to the bar for a few drinks and lunch. Everyone at the bar commented on how beautiful they thought our boat was. This one older lady came up to us and said she was in awe that just the two of us could handle such a large ship. That made us feel good. We had dinner at the restaurant this evening. It started to rain some while we were eating but it was still warm in the 70's. Glad we are tied up.

CO's comment:  Remember the old adage; "Fly the plane". Outside the channel, it doesn’t get shallow gradually, it just drops off. We went from 10 feet in the channel to 4 feet and with a 5 foot draft, that isn’t good.

12-24-2014: Tied up at Moore's Stonecrab Restaurant

Monday, December 22, 2014

Still at Dunedin, Non-travel days, December 21 and 22-2014:

Sunday, Dec. 21st: Spent a quiet day. Went for a walk around Dunedin this morning and watched the Packer game this afternoon; they won 20-3, GO PACKERS! This evening I finally had time to do our Christmas cards, both by regular mail and e-cards. That is always a relief to finish that task. Our good weather has ended for a while; started to rain about 15:30 and rained on and off the rest of the night. Clearwater must have had there Christmas Boat Parade tonight because our neighbor boat that was so decorated with lights left just before sun down and returned after dark. Then about 21:00 we could see fireworks coming from the Clearwater direction. Very pretty from a distance.

Monday, Dec. 22nd: Called Clearwater Municipal to check on our mail and it is not here yet so we will spend another day here and hope that it comes in this afternoons mail. The office secretary said she would call us if it comes. Note to self; never plan on getting mail right before Christmas unless we know we will be at a marina for a week or more. The sun came out again this afternoon but it is still very windy. We just got a call from Clearwater and our mail is in. We already paid for the night so we will leave in the morning to get mail and be on our way south.

12-22-2014: Kim Jo IV at Marker 1 Marina dock

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Clearwater and Dunedin, FL

Friday, 12-19-2014: We stayed a 2nd day in Clearwater: Had to rest up from the crossing and wait for our mail. It is beautiful here with the temps in the 70's and sunny. I got caught up on the wash and Keith checked everything out in the engine room in the morning. In the afternoon we walked to Publix’s and went for another walk on the beach at the Pier.  In the evening we went out to dinner at Crabby Bill’s. Keith had his usual; Sea Food steamed bucket; this was the first time he didn’t finish it but it is also good left over. I always have their shrimp dinner; both very good. Yesterday and today where ever we went we ran into Packer fans. They were all over the place. They were all here for the Packer-Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s game this coming Sunday.

Saturday, 12-20-2014: We had a big breakfast and got a late start; about 12:00. Our plan was to anchor out for 2 days and come back on Monday to get our mail. We tried both Dunedin East and West anchorages with no luck. Active Captain said there was plenty of water but we only had 1 foot under our props and there was still 1 foot to go before low tide so we left. We ended up at Marker 1 Marina at Marker 141.5.


CO's comment: Anchoring in skinny water is a problem when you have a large, comfortable boat. I will take comfort over anchorage any day. I am used to 8 or 9 feet under the keel when anchoring although we have done with less. Tides are the problem in Florida..

12-20-2014: Our Christmas Tree

12-20-2014: Our neighbor across the dock is really lit up for Christmas

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 17 and 18, 2014 - Crossing the Gulf of Mexico

Wednesday AM the 17th; low tide was at 07:06 so we waited for the tide to come up some before leaving Apalachicola and got going by 10:00. As it was, we only had about 3 feet of water under our props. The water was pretty skinny until we made the 90 degree turn to our port just outside of Apalachicola. After that, all was good. 32 miles later we got to Carrabelle by 13:00. It was a beautiful day and the seas were calm so we put on 200 gallons of diesel and visited with another boat about crossing the Gulf.

Wednesday afternoon on the 17th and Thursday the 18th: The weather was perfect so we were on our way across the Gulf by 14:45. We went a total of 175 miles in 18 hours. It was a perfect crossing. So good we were able to cut 3 hours off our trip by going straight across from R26 to the marker at Clearwater Harbor. Sun set and sun rise on the Gulf were both beautiful and the night was full of stars. We couldn’t have asked for a better night. When we got to Clearwater at 08:45 we put on another 100 gallons of diesel and got set up in our slip. Keith washed the boat and I took a little nap after putting everything back in place. Later we went for a walk down to the Pier and to one of our favorite restaurants for "Grouper Cheeks" and a drink (or two). Ah, life is good!


CO's comment:  In the past we had received weather briefings from Tom Conrad but this year he retired.  We got to Carrabelle expecting to get a weather briefing from Buddy and we found he retired also, went hunting, and hasn't looked back.  Therefore, the weather interpretation and the decision to go was left entirely up to us.  We made our own decision and had one of the best crossings we have had in the last 5 years. 

12-17-2014: Sun set on the Gulf of Mexico

12-18-2014: Just before sun rise on the Gulf of Mexico

12-18-2014: Sun rise on the Gulf of Mexico

12-19-2014: Kim Jo IV (in middle and in back) docked at Clearwater Municipal Marina from the Causeway Bridge

12-19-2014: Sun rise at the Pier in Clearwater, FL

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Apalachicola, FL, City dock

Monday, December 15, 2014: Another beautiful, calm, day on the water. It was 50 degrees and sunny when we started out at 07:30; the sun was so bright it was hard to see the buoys. We went 20 miles on East Bay and it was very smooth with barely a ripple. The dolphins were jumping our wake again. It is so much fun to watch them and hard to believe they can keep up with us at 11 mph. We had a good 12 feet of water in the channel when the dolphins would swim under the boat.  They got so close under us they would set the depth sounder off saying we only had 2 to 3 feet of depth. The alarm was going on and off for a good 5 miles. Just before Apalachicola we went through Lake Wimico and it too was smooth as glass. We got to Apalachicola by 13:30 Central time/14:30 Eastern time and tied up to the City dock. Got settled in and went for a walk around town as we have never been here before. We stopped at a newly opened brewery and sampled 6 of their brews. The dark one was the best and it had 8.5 % alcohol.. We met a very nice couple there that had just got married and were on their honeymoon. We had a nice visit with them. Tonight we went to Boss Oyster House Restaurant and had a delicious meal.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014: Stayed a second day. Met with John, our boat neighbor, for coffee on the dock. Also, met Mike, a local sailor, and we all visited for several hours; talked about Gulf crossings, the weather, and a number of other things. It was most enjoyable. Probably would have gone on longer but a storm was coming in.


CO's comments:  Man were the oysters good!

12-15-2014: Downtown Apalachicola, FL, Christmas Tree

12-16-2014: A dredge being moved by Apalachicola

12-16-2014: Tie up at City dock

12-16-2014:  John's boat at City dock