Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Apalachacola across the big stretch to Tampa

I seriously have to write a review on Active Captain about the "Government Cut" channel coming off the Gulf going into Apalachicola. On their site, they stated that the "Government Cut" is dredged on a regular basis...which may be true. However, when we were attempting to leave via the same route, we tried every angle we could to get into that channel, but got stuck 4 times in the sand. We called Apalachicola marina to ask if there was another way to get out, but they said it should be clear to get out. He said to call the dredging company, which we did, and they said it was fine that morning, and should be clear. We just gave up and turned around to go the ICW towards Carrabelle.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this trek, the distance from Apalachicola to Tampa is approximately 200 miles. I know, if you drove you'd be there in 3 or 4 hours. In a boat, it's all about the cruise, the adventure, and hopefully, the sailing!

Before arriving at Carrabelle, we turned to go out into the Gulf at Dog Island. We finally had the wind on our sails instead of our nose...so we actually had our sails out and some real, live sailing for the entire day. It was wonderful! That's what it's all about!! It seems worth all the hard times when you're finally able to feel the wind catch in the sails and billow out to take you swooshing quietly and smoothly across the water. Yes!

The overnight passage was uneventful...except for the amazing dark sky lit up with millions of stars. How I love this part of sailing!! Paul and I traded taking the wheel on 2 hour shifts again...still works for us. As the sun began to peek out in the east, we had another day of east winds for good sailing. We assumed we would arrive in Tampa/St. Pete's the following morning (day 3), but because we were being pushed along at about 6-7 knots, we actually arrived the second night. Paul being colored-blind, he is unable to tell the green and red lights apart, so I have to do the night sailing into the channels that lead to anchorages and marinas.  It is probably my least favorite thing to do with a boat; night cruising. The entry into Tampa Bay was like a scary Disney ride. There were so many conflicting lights, we couldn't tell which way to go. After hours of slow going, we finally made it to the anchorage site we had picked for the night. It was a lovely place, very quiet, very still...called Emerson Point. Perfect depth, from 6-10' of water. It had 5 stars on Active Captain, and it was correct this time. We slept very deep and peacefully.

The next day we headed over to the marina in Bradenton where our friends Sandy and Brooks were docked.  Actually, their boat was on the hard having repairs, thus, they were living on the boat across from them, and their slip was empty...so they allowed us use their slip. It was terrific to visit with them and spend time together. They had just returned from Fort Lauderdale where they had purchased solar panels for their boat. That evening they took us to a restaurant across the water. Walter Bliss, our neighbor from Waterford, came to join us. It was a treat to be with our Waterford friends again! We had drinks, food, and a fun visit.  The second night, Sandy was busy, but Brooks, Paul and I were invited to Walter and Jeannette Bliss's boat for dinner and a visit. Jeannette had just returned from a trip to see her mother. She looks lovely, as always.

Paul and Brooks in Walter and Jeanette's salon

Brooks, Walter, and Jeanette

Beautiful sunset from Walter and Jeanette's boat.

Walter and Jeanette...Jeanette and Sandy had birthdays just a
few days apart from one another, so this was a celebration!!

Brooks, Walter, Jeanette. Look at that pretty hair of hers!
 The weather was supposed to be sunny for the next day, so we said our farewells and left Bradenton to head towards Sarasota where we would catch a mooring ball for a couple of days to sit out the upcoming storms. Before we left, we clicked a few pics with Brooks and Sandy.
Sandy and me
Me, Paul, and Brooks.
 I feel certain we'll all meet up again. It's the way of the cruising life.

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