Monday, December 26, 2016


      On Saturday morning we are up well before daylight. It is the day the weather is supposed to be good to make the 81nm crossing of the Gulf to the keys. I do my devotions.  I get Barbara up while I read the weather reports to make sure it is safe to head to the keys, Marathon today. I read the NOAA Marine reports for southern Tampa area, west Miami (covers west Everglades shore), and the northern Keys report. The first two are good, seas less than 2', winds 10-15. The keys report shows increasing wind and waves in the late afternoon, with a "Small Craft Advisory", but not a "Warning".  We continue to ready to leave the anchorage. We check behind each other on our preparations. It is not only over 81nm (93 statute miles), but there are no settlements or inhabited areas of the west shore of Florida south of Everglades City. We weigh anchor about 6:50, twenty minutes later than planned. Barbara runs the boat and I run the winch to retrieve the anchor. I use the bucket on a rope to wash the mud off of the anchor as it comes up. It is still dark enough that we turn on the running lights so we can be seen.
It is a good thing, as after we have been gone from the anchorage, and are passing through the opening of Coon Key Pass to the Gulf, we are over run by fisherman headed out to the open water. They are in a hurry, and I am glad the lights are on to help them see us. As we clear the Pass mouth, I increase our speed from about 7.5kt to 10.4kt (about 85% of SummerTime's Perkins rev range). We make good time and are soon across from Everglades City channel entrance. Barbara sends a second text to ou r daughters giving them the lat-lon coordinates for our new position. She earlier texted them to ask them to contact the USCG if they had not heard from us by 6pm. Sort of a float plan to be used if we do not show up on the other end when we should. We are about an hour  into the longest, 36.4nm leg, when the wind has picked up enough to make the ride bumpy. And we are starting to occasionally get spray up on the flybridge. I slow SummerTime to about 9.1kt and the ride gets a little better and a little drier. Another hour, and we have to slow again, this time to 8.1kt as the wind has gotten up more. The water is getting rougher, with the chop consistenly at 2ft heights, with an occasional 3ft tall wave. At 8.1 kt, the GPS has recalculated our arrival time from 3:15 to 4:10. We will still get there before dark, which is key.
       About 2/3 the way down our route, we pass what is named "Little Shark River" on the west side of The Everglades. It would be our anchorage to duck into if we did not think we could make the marina in Marathon before dark. We are less than 3hr away, and our arrival per the GPS is about 4:10 still. We keep slogging on as we have only about 24 miles to go. It is still rough with chop. And there is a change. The area has become infested with the floats of crab or lobster traps. In NW Florida, the traps were all laid out in a line, so they were easy to deal with. You picked a spot and crossed between two, or you ran parallel with the line until you hit a crossing point. That is not possible here. The buoys are in almost no pattern at all. They seem to be in fields, with a line connecting the fields. And the buoys are sometimes closer together than SummerTime is long. Too close together to pass between. The ropes from the pots to the buoys all float, and these ropes sometimes trail out 10 or so feet from the buoy. Cut too close, and you  could have the rope wrapped around your prop shaft. It would not be good to have to stop, and go overboard to clear a prop shaft. So we zig and zag our way all the way to the ICW just north of Marathon. It takes both of us to keep a sharp eye out for these buoys so that we do not get one in our prop. We cross under the East end of the Seven Mile Bridge. We watch a commercial fishing boat pass through and follow him through the same pile opening. Normally the bridges have their channel, or pass through area marked. But not this bridge.
       As we enter the harbor of Boot Key, we start to see marinas. And we see boats anchored just out of the channel. In fact they are anchored in the cut between the Gulf and the Atlantic prior to the harbor entrance. As we get farther into the island harbor, we are greeted by a new site. A very large mooring ball field.
There are 226 moorings per the Guide Book. And they are all taken. On the other side of the entrance channel are boats just anchored, probably 50 of them. We follow the directions we have been given, and just after the mooring field, we see our destination. We are at Sombrero Marina. We are helped into our slip by another boater and a worker for the Marina. It is good today to end the journey we have been on. SummerTime is covered, top to bottom in salt spray. And there are bits of sea grass on the deck that came up in the spray. It is not the highest seas we have navigated, but this was definitely one of the roughest passages. It was a constant assault of chop, a pounding that was unrelenting. After we have the boat all secure, and the power connected and turned on, I get out the hose and rinse SummerTime off. She has done good today getting Barbara and I across Florida Bay. Dennis, who helped us dock, told us of several restaurants near by. We shower off the salt water and head for the Panda House. We have not had Chinese in quite a while. We are not disappointed. We walk by K-Mart on the way back and buy Christmas cards to mail. The first time we have been where we could do this.
      On Sunday we get up and ready ourselves for Church. Barbara fixes breakfast, and I call a cab while she cleans up. We take a cab to the Marathon First Baptist Church. Their voice recording actually gave their hours. Not something all churches give when you call their church number. It is only a 5 minute ride over to the church at max. The cab fare is $5.00, which we have been told is kind of the standard fare in Marathon. They have a fellowship luncheon after the service which we stay for. We walk back to SummerTime. We spend the afternoon addressing Christmas cards and writing notes in them. We also call some relatives on Sunday evening before turning in.
       I go down to the Marina Office to check in as Barbara cleans up after breakfast. I know we want to stay at least a week, and need to stay longer somewhere. I find out there is a smaller slip (they put us in a big, beamy boat slip when we arrived) that is available for a month. I go back and talk to Barbara. We know we need to burn some time up. And we think that it will cost us more to burn that time up if we go east towards Miami. We decide to stay at Sombrero Marina in Marathon for a month. I go back and write a check for a month as there is a discount for paying cash or by check versus credit card. I will miss a bunch of points on the credit card. After I get back, Barbara and I walk to the Post Office and mail our Christmas cards. We go to another small restaurant nearby and eat lunch. Afterwards we stop in some shops and buy some Christmas gifts for others. This marina is turning out to be a good selection as within .6mi walking there are two major grocery stores, the Post Office, a major drug store, and the afore mentioned K-Mart as well as a number of locally owned stores and restaurants. And the church at 1mile away is the farthest place we will need to go. And the bus runs nearby also. We spend the afternoon getting up to date on our bills and other correspondence.
       On Tuesday Barbara spends the day doing laundry. I work on my list of things to do on the boat. And a list of things to buy. I accomplish some of the minor chores so I do not have to put them on the work list.
      Wednesday is a special day, I am a year older, or a day older, depending on how you look at it. Barbara and I walk up to the local sandwich shop and ice cream parlor. The Italian sub is pretty good. But the "Stellar Coffee with fudge" ice cream is great. It is very creamy, and smooth. And a very good coffee flavor. The owner stated when questioned he gets his ice cream from a small ice cream creamery near Palm Beach. It is very smooth. And Island Time makes their own waffle cones which are pretty tasty also. In the afternoon we go back to the First Baptist Church. They are having
a Chili dinner. It is good, and Tina celebrates her birthday the same as me. I joke we are twins.    
   For Thursday, we decide to take the bus to Key West. We walk the half mile to the bus stop, and are only there about ten minutes when the bus arrives. The Key West transit schedule is pretty accurate. It is not a big bus, and stops every few miles, or islands, whichever is first. It takes about 1.5hr to get the 50miles to the heart of Key West, or Duval and Caroline streets. We walk to the harbor end of Duval St. It is definitely a tourist area.  We come back one block, and walk on Front Street to the small boat harbor. We go in some gift shops on the way. We have lunch at "The Conch Republic Restaurant". We eat inside, as it is overcast and windy outside. We might as well be outside, there are pigeons and chickens walking around inside the dining room.
The food is good, the atmosphere "different", and only here could fowl walk around in the dining area. After lunch, we walk to the other end of town to the old Customs House. It is a very unique building architecturally.

It is also the Key West Art and History museum. We buy our tickets and go in. There are exhibits by a local artist, Mario Sanchez. They have a special exhibit of his pencil sketches on the first floor and his wood relief carvings from the sketches scattered throughout the museum. The second floor has important moments in the history of Key West. And there are art areas dedicated to Tennessee Williams and Earnest Hemingway, both who spent a lot of time here. We spend too much time reading the info plaques, and are asked to leave before we get to the third floor. We catch the bus back to Marathon. A couple gets on, that reminds you that you  are on public transportation. He looks left over from the 60s. A flower child with out the perfume aroma. And she looks like a runaway from a family of means. This is the 5 o'clock bus, and there are a number of workers that get on the bus at the various stops and travel out of Key West to the outlying islands. By the time we get to Marathon, the full bus is down to just over an half dozen people. We get off and go to McDonalds for dinner as the bus took 2hr to get back, and it is after 7. We have a 20 minute walk back to SummerTime.
       On Friday, we get up and go about doing chores. Barbara does the white laundry. I tackle the items on the work list I worked on last Tuesday. Some of these are items on the list before we started traveling last August. None are critical, but they are things that will make SummerTime a little more polished for living on full time. I knock off three items on my list. I have to learn to start earlier in the morning. We are walking back with the laundry, and a manatee is under one of the finger piers. It is the best view we have had of one.
He is just hanging around, drinking the water from a leaking hose someone has left laying on a dock. I guess if I had a choice of fresh or salt water, I would go for the fresh water also. Then maybe the water is fluorinated, and he is just trying to take care of his teeth. When you see them up close, they bring new meaning to the word ugly. Their head is kind of square, not much in identifying marks, and the body is somewhere between a walrus and a giant water bound slug. They do move slow though, so the signs to be slow along the waterways to preserve them is justified.
       This has been a good week, where we rested, toured, and did things that we have been putting off. And this marina is very convenient for doing a layover as most any store you need is within walking distance or that $5.00 cab ride.

Monday, December 19, 2016


     Friday night was rough for sleeping. Our transient dock space is unprotected from the canal coming in off Tampa Bay. The rollers from traffic help keep us awake. But Saturday dawns sunny, and we get an early breakfast. We are going to try out the bus to downtown to get to the museums as a means to see that we can get to church on time Sunday. We catch the bus, but are too early for the trolley connection that will get us to the first museum, notably "The DALI". We walk the last 1/4 mile to the museum, and get in the middle of some type of "aid run" at The University of South Florida. We are there and ready when the museum opens. The building is fascinating in itself, and reflects Dali's works.

The exhibits are on the third floor, which has a window wall overlooking the harbor. A docent is provided to explain the primary works of Dali. She does a very good job, and I get a little understanding of Dali's work.

We have lunch in an Italian eatery, and then move on to the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. There are exhibits from locals there as well as a special exhibit of Eskimo art. They also have pieces from famous artists, but generally no more than one per artist. It is an impressive building also, but it is very conservative and solid feeling within in each of its exhibit halls.
      On Sunday we get up and think we will take the #4 bus to church. Wrong. It is not the same on Sunday. We walk to the church, about .7miles. We are late, about 12minutes. It is a large Methodist Church, with beautiful stained glass windows and a huge pipe organ. We do not hear the organ played this Sunday. The church has a local born musician who is in from his performing home in Nashville to do Christmas songs. Jody McBrayer is a very talented singer with a strong voice. It is a nice concert to hear.
      We walk back to the boat after church, stopping in the Publix supermarket to pick up a few things for us to have to eat on the boat. After lunch, we prep the boat to leave, and head to Sarasota. We get away a little later than planned, so we run SummerTime a little harder than normal.

As we leave Tampa Bay, and turn onto Sarasota Bay we hit a light sprinkle. It was not in the forecast. And a little farther down Sarasota Bay, we get another sprinkle, and this one turns into a rain storm. Barbara gets one of my raincoats from the locker for me to wear on the bridge. We get to Marina Jack at Sarasota waterfront about 5:45. It is getting dark, and we follow another boat into the marina. We are all tied up and checked in by 6:30. Barbara and I get tidied up, and go up to the "Deep Six Lounge & Piano Bar" to have dinner. It is one of three restaurants at the marina. We have a very nice dinner there while a person with a soft voice plays the piano and sings. Very nice evening.

       On Monday we get up and arrange for the marina's shuttle to carry us to "The Ringling". This is the State Art Museum of Florida donated to the State of Florida from John and Mable Ringling, of circus fame. We are in luck as on Monday the Art museum is free. We opt for the tickets to tour the Circus Museum, and the Miniatures Museum of the grounds also. We hop the tram to the Ringling Mansion and tour the gardens.

We did not opt for a tour of this house. It is very impressive on the outside. The gardens are fantastic, especially the rose garden. It is quite a showpiece.

The circus  museum has a guided tour. The most impressive part of it is the Pullman Car the Ringlings lived in while traveling with their circus. The miniatures is impressive. It is a model of the circus from the early 1900s when the circus went to 150 towns a year doing performances. The model covers everything from the trains, to the advertisers, the grounds set up personnel, the performers, and the staff that cared for the animals and performers. It is really impressive with a model of circus personnel that would be equivalent to a small town of about 1300 people entertaining a community.

Lastly we get to the Art Museum. It is a very impressive place. There are a lot of paintings by a lot of famous artists in this place.

We are running out of time, and breeze through it as the shuttle has a time to pick us up, and we need to be at the pick up point. We investigate places to eat when we get back to the boat. We choose to go downtown and check out two places. One is a French Bistro that we might go for a breakfast out. The other is a BarBQ restaurant that advertises for Carolina style pulled pork. We opt to eat dinner this evening at Nancy's BarBQ.

The pulled pork is pulled pork. The Brunswick Stew is very good, though not quite what we are used to. Barbara's chicken is cooked, but not with any particular barbeque flavors. I have ribs also, and they are superb, dry rubbed style. We both had more than we needed to eat. We stop at Edy's ice cream on the way back and each gets a cone. And we have a conversation with the operator about our country's current politics and our new President elect.
      We get up on Wednesday morning and make SummerTime ready to leave. I fill the water tank. I also hiked back up town to the Whole Foods to get a 1/2 gallon of milk to put on the boat for breakfast and other things. We leave the marina about 10:25, headed for Cayo Costa to anchor for the night. This is another Florida State Park on a barrier beach. It is a rather uneventful trip down the Florida Intracoastal Waterway.

There are slow zones aplenty, some over a mile long. In the faster zones, we are entertained by the dolphins. The dolphins in this area have a new method of entertaining us. They surf in the wake, then leap, and land broadside with a big slapping noise. It gets your attention the first few times they do it.

We get to Venice, and Venice Beach. There is an opening to the ocean here. It is a short opening to the Gulf, with an island where it joins the waterway.

And the waterway goes from being dredged sounds to a dug canal with rock lining. The slow speed zones end here. I speed up as we have been falling behind our planned arrival with all of the "Slow Minimum Wake, Idle Speed" zones. They are there to protect the manatees. The dug canal does not have a low speed requirement, so we make good time out of it. We come to an open bay area and make more good time. We get to Cayo Costa about 4pm. There are 7 other boats in the published anchorage when we get there. Before dark, 4 other boats come into the little bay by the park to anchor. It is a peaceful night, little wind, and the moon rises bright, nearly full.
        There is fog on Wednesday morning when I wake. It starts to burn off quickly. I talk to Barbara about going ashore to check out the beach, and possibly do some shelling. We have 60miles to our next stop, Naples. Barbara thinks we should get started to Naples, and skip the shelling this time. So we leave a pretty little bay behind. One of the sailboats in the anchorage follows us out. We set out speed to 1900rpm, our normal cruise speed of about 8.1kt..We are headed to mile zero of the waterway, near Sanibel, where we will go out onto the Gulf.

About 5 miles from the Pass, we start to run into fog. At first it is patchy. Then it gets dense. I check my visibility by measuring to a distant object I can see with the GPS. In the dense area, visibility is about 1/2mi.

As we get near the bridge across San Carlos Pass, the sky starts to open up. It is short lived. In about 2 miles after the bridge, we run into dense fog again. Barbara and I confer, and we decide to continue our journey with the limited visibility. It is supposed to burn off. The GPS and the buoys are together, and we are hitting our "marks" for the course I had plotted to Naples. We decide to keep on in the fog based on how our navigating is going good. And if we were out of sight of land, we would have no visual references anyways. We get hailed in the fog by another boat coming into the inlet. They are using the targets on their "AIS" to learn, and dentify boats in their area, and contact them. We tell them that they will have more visibility when they get to the bridge. They tell us we will have increased visibility about 10 miles down our 29 mile Gulf run. Sure enough in about 10 miles the fog burns off. We can see the buildings on the beach at Naples Park.

Before long, we see the buildings at Naples. We have run today at about 2000rpm, or 8.7kt, nearly 9mph. We are staying on time to get to the Naples City Docks at just before 4. At 3:30 we enter the channel off the Gulf and into the Naples City Basin. We get to the City Dock where we have a reservation at about 4pm. We fuel SummerTime for the first time since Tarpon Springs. We have put in a total of 25.5hr of travel, and covered 208miles on 92.3gal of diesel since Tarpon Springs. We move from the fuel dock to our slip. We are next to a mid 2000s Mainship 34 who also just came into the harbor. We recognize the boat name as one of the names being hailed while in the fog. They are from Maine and came down the east coast and crossed to Florida's west coast on The Lake Okeechobee route. We square everything away, and walk down the pier to "The Dock", a Naples eating establishment since 1976. It is unique, being open aired, just half walls on three sides with plastic curtains to pull down if the weather becomes inhospitable. We each have a fish dinner, different, and follow it with a dessert. I get key lime pie, and Barbara since I will not share, orders the chocolate cake. After the first mouthful, she will not share. It seems to be iced with fudge, rich in cocoa flavor, and thicker than the two cake layers. She is in chocolate Nirvana. After dinner we walk along the shops and look at the window displays.
        Thursday I work on planning our crossing to The Keys. I also started to contact marinas to se if there are slips available for the upcoming week. The City of Marathon has one slip, it is first come, first serve, so it is out. We will not be in a location to leave from for 2 more days. But the dockmaster gives me the names of two more marinas that might have slips. One of them is not in the Guidebooks, and I contact them. They have slips available, but are on a different key. I also contact another marina by "Email". Barbara is doing the whites laundry. I go to confer with her. I am going to wait for an answer to my "Email" from the second marina. They are closer to where we need to be to provision, and less expensive. The hydraulic lines I repaired in Carabelle are leaking, so when Barbara gets back, I utilize her to activate switches so I can see where the leak is. As it turns out I did not get two of the compression fittings on the plastic tubing tight enough. After several attempts, we get the fittings sealed. We have a quite evening and she works on our Christmas letter. We are way behind in the things we normally do before Christmas. During the evening, we hear bumps. I get up and move a fender. And the bumps occur again. I realize the bow pulpit which overhangs the edge of the pier is hitting an adjacent pile due to the fact the wind has changed directions since we tied up. I shorten the starboard bow line, and the pulpit can not move to the pile now. I think. In the night, I hear the same bump noise. I get up at 3:30 in the morning and go to check. The tide is falling, and the shortened line has a reduced angle and is now long enough to allow the bow pulpit to hit the pile. I move the line to another tie position and go back to bed. That fixes the problem.
       On Friday, I work on planning the crossing some more. I also contact Sombrero Marina in Marathon. They have a slip in the Marathon harbor, and will hold it for me on Saturday. They leave at noon on Saturday, and SummerTime can not cover the miles in this crossing before noon. They are going to call and give me directions. I complete planning our route. We ready the boat to leave Naples at about 11. We fill the water tank so we will have water when we anchor, in particular we want to have a full tank of water on board in case we have to duck into an uninhabited creek for any reason and anchor for a few days. We are going to be crossing outside the west boundaries of Everglades National Park, and there are no settlements on that edge of the park to duck into. We crank Mr. Perkins, and motor over to the fuel dock to get our holding tank pumped out at 11. The other Mainship's owners help us get away. They are going to follow us on the inside route to Marco Island as our older Mainship draws less water by about 1/2 ft or more. SummerTime will be the trial boat for adequate water depth. Her shallow draw depth (3ft) is one of the reasons we chose her. It is a different route through the mangroves for most of the distance.

And there are some shallow areas when we first leave the Naples harbor area. I am glad we waited for the rising tide, as twice we stir up the bottom with our prop wash. And the wind is blowing at about 15mph, so the outside (Gulf) route would have been a bumpy, and probably wet ride. iIn one of the slow zones to protect Manatees, a group of small boats gets held up by us. They pass us when the slow speed zone ends. One of them is the first boat of its kind I have ever seen.

We get to Marco Island, and "Wild Flower" departs to the marina where they will spend the winter months. We continue on by Marco on the inland route. It is shallow right after the main highway bridge, and then in the mangroves, we hit water 10ft deep and more. We get to Goodland, a little fishing community about1:45, and cruise on by to our anchorage. We arrive at our anchorage about 2. We can see the opening into the Gulf that we will leave out of on Saturday morning. I spend the afternoon programming the GPS with our route, and checking all the mechanicals to make sure we are good to travel. We run the generator long enough to cook dinner and top the batteries back off. We turn in early anticipating an early rise and departure to Marathon, or Boot Key Harbor in The Keys.


Monday, December 12, 2016


     On Saturday morning, two loopers show up by bicycle at the docks. They are Myron and Linda from Miss Bailey. We had traveled with them from Orange Beach to Pensacola. They are at Turtle Cove Marina at the other end of the GreekTown area. And Herb Seaton, the TS harbor host for the AGLCA comes by while they are there. We decide to move to Turtle Cove from the city docks after Herb drives us there for a tour. Barbara and I check out with the city, and we motor across the river to fuel up before moving on.  We put in 55.5gal for the hours (25.5hr) we have put on since Steinhatchee where we last filled. We also had about 2hr (1.8gal) of generator time in that usage. We get a pump out, and it cost as much as some in Mi. Our fuel savings is wiped out by the pump out. Turtle Cove is a relatively new, modern marina with floating docks. And they have all the amenities. Barbara uses the laundry room to clean clothes, a 2 block hike from where the boat is docked. We have dinner with Herb and the other loopers at the Rusty Belllies Restaurant in the evening. Very good food, with some specialty items.
      On Sunday we dress after our breakfast, and head to the trolley stop. We ride the Jolley Trolley to Tarpon Springs Ave, and hike the balance of the distance to First United Methodist Church. It is a big church, and a friendly congregation. Pastor Lange was a missionary in the Philippines, and he tells us of traveling by boat in that island nation, particularly the natives and weather. We pretty much relax and stay on SummerTime in the afternoon.
      On Monday we decide to leave Turtle Cove. We are going to go to Caladesi State Park/Marina. It is an undeveloped beach, with access only by boat. It is 14.5nm and 2.1hr from Turtle Cove. When we arrive at the marina, we are surprised. It is much nicer than the guide books indicated. It has the nicest docks we have seen since The Wharf at Orange Beach. They are concrete walkways over floats.

And they have slips that will accommodate boats to 15' beam. The Marina is protected on all sides from wind and waves, a good thing as the weather forecast is not good for the evening and Tuesday. We go for an afternoon walk on the beach. There are other people who are there, arriving by pontoon ferry from the island north of Caladesi. We never see more than 8 people at once on the beach. It is windy, and gets windier in the afternoon. The forecast rain showers never arrive, but it is a windy night at the slip.

     Tuesday morning is raw: very windy, and the forecast rain comes late morning. The palm trees rustle in the wind. I am glad we are surrounded on all 4 sides, and not in the open as it would be a rough time. The rain quits for a while, and then comes down again lighter. After this early afternoon rain, the winds lighten up. There are no pontoon tour boats or workers other than the resident ranger at the park today.


     Wednesday is a changed day. The wind is light, and it is sunny. While prepping the boat for departure, a pod of dolphins entertains us in the marina basin.

They have herded fish into the basin, and are corralling them against docks and bulkheads in a noisy eating banquet. After getting the boat ready to depart, Barbara and I go up on the shore to eat at the café. The food is good. Souvenir "Caladesi State Park" ball caps are 2 for $10. Barabara tells me I have enough caps, so I do not get one. She returns to the boat to rest her leg, and I go for a hike on the beach. There is always good shell hunting on a beach after a storm at low tides. It is after a storm, and the tide is low. I find some new shells to pick up. There are a lot of conchs washed up on the beach. I toss them back into the ocean along my walk as they all but one have critters in them.

This one was where a ranger had driven his four wheeler on the morning patrol. The shell was squished in the sand of a tire print, unharmed, but the inhabitant had left. I returned to the boat, and on the way back see a gopher tortoise grazing across the picnic area.

We leave to meet our fellow travelers at the Clearwater Harbor Marina. One of two marinas that the municipality of Clearwater runs. We dock, after a 1.5 hr run from the state park, and besides old friends, meet some new loopers. We all go to dinner in the evening at an Italian restaurant just up the street from the marina. Afterwards I walk .4 mile to a Publix grocery and pick up coffee and milk which we have run out of.
       Thursday morning is sad for the 5 of us. Don on the sloop "John B" gets off first, headed to complete his loop. He is wanting to get across Tampa Bay and on to Fort Myers to start the Okeechobee crossing.

Barb and I work on getting SummerTime ready to leave for St. Petersburg. At about 9am, we tell the crew, Chuck and Sue of "Somewhere in Time" good bye and they help us cast off. We are going different ways to Florida'a east coast. They are going to go slower, and cross the Okeechobee and the canals to and from it. Barbara and I are going down to the keys and go around to the east side. Some photos, tears, and parting words and we are off.
       Our run to St Petersburg will be about 35 miles. Most of it will be on the Intracoastal Waterway. We discover, that even at 8 knots planned, it is going to take us longer than planned. There are a lot of slow, minimum, or no wake zones. Some of them are quite long, as the run down Indian Shores through what is labeled as "The Narrows" proves. Several miles at idle speed (way less than 8kt) ruins your ETA on the GPS display. We pass a McDonalds with a dinghy dock in one city.

Total surprise. And a number of restaurants have piers or docks for patrons to come to dinner. Eventually we get to Tampa Bay on which we have a short run. It is not too rough, but the first few miles of the waterway are cut across a flat so your course has to be carefully watched to make sure you do not run aground.

We get to the canal for Bayboro, and navigate to The Harborage Marina. It is at the end of the canal by the USF docks. It is a nice marina, and we are all tied up by 2:30. Our little boat is sitting with megayachts,  the Azimuth  in front of us is 110' long. I check bus schedules and call the St. Petersburg West Marine to see what charts they have. I hop a bus to their "flagship" store as they have the West Florida and Keys chartbook that I need. And I will pick up  the East Florida chart book also while there. They had both books reserved for me when I got there. I added a few more items, and headed back to the bus stop. Probably the shortest time I have ever been in a West Marine store.  I ride the bus back to the old town portion of St Petersburg and hike the last 9 blocks back to SummerTime rather than wait on the bus.

       Friday we had plans to go to museums and other attractions in the old town. But there is rain falling before we get up. And it rains off and on all morning. And the wind is up, so SummerTime is being rocked by the rollers coming down the channel off the bay. The rain clears out in the afternoon. Barbara and I can not get going soon enough to make the museums before they will close. We spend a quiet evening on the boat. I am looking at the new charts and trying to plan a route with possible stops to the keys. There is the long open water route from Marco Island to Key West, or the route along the west shore of Florida from South of Marco to Little Shark River to Marathon. I lean to make the run along the shore where refuge or help can be had if needed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


      On Saturday, the winds are calm. We are waiting for "John B" to get his repaired engine back from the parts arrival late Friday. "Somewhere in Time" is awaiting a part, but has decided to have them forwarded to a future stop. The engine for "John B" comes back to late from the repair shop to leave for Cedar Key. I am bummed about the loss of a good travel day and spend the rest of the day relaxing on SummerTime.
      On Sunday we get ready and leave about 8am. Barbara and I did not get our normal Sunday breakfast of biscuits, eggs, and sausage. We have hot oatmeal instead as it is about 40F outside. The winds are supposed to be out of the NE at 15kt, which is why it is so cool. It is also lumpy for the first couple of hours. It would be worse if the winds were not from shore.There are lots of fisherman just offshore where the land protects them from the seas and wind. This is right as Steinhatchee is a fishing village, catering to tourists with boat rentals and guided trips for fisherman. After a couple of hours the seas start to diminish. There are lots of crab pots offshore, and more as we approach Cedar Key. We make calls to the Cedar Key municipal marina, but only get a recording. We do get the one private marina, and find out our boats are too tall to go under the bridge to get to this marina. We also talked with Gateway Marina in Suwannee on the Suwannee River about going in there. It looks like this is what we will do, but "Somewhere in Time" radios they are okay to continue  to Cedar Key as the seas have subsided. We know we will have to anchor when we get to Cedar Key. The water has almost totally flattened out as we enter the North channel, winding, into Cedar Key. Several pods of dolphins play around the boats as the boats journey up the marked channel. They seem to enjoy riding just along side the hull and splashing.

We get to the area by the municipal docks about 4:30. We anchor, and the other two raft up to us as it is obvious that the only city docks left from an earlier hurricane are the floating ones at the boat ramps. The place we anchor  is exposed to the SE, so we take SummerTime to investigate some abandoned docks at Atsena Otie Key bird refuge. The water is deep enough just in front of the docks to anchor, but is exposed to NE and SW. The docks are badly damaged and unusable. I explore some more just south of the docks hoping to find some protection from the forecast easterly winds. I run aground as the upper helm depth finder is not reading as it should. We radio the others to anchor where they are. And we go back and join them as the water is at least 8' deep with room to swing South of the city boat ramps. The night is bumpy, and noisy with wave slap against the hull.
       On Monday morning we awake and get ready to leave. The goal is to go straight to Tarpon Springs. It is rough again as when we left Steinhatchee. The seas are running 2-3ft with an occasional four footer. It is not rough enough that we are getting spray up on the bridge. The "John B" does not make good time in these conditions. It soon becomes apparent that we will not make the Tarpon Springs docks until after 8pm by the GPS. We alter course for the Crystal River, a manatee tourist area. We see tugs with seagoing barges about 10 miles from shore.

They are waiting to go into the power plant there (?), or the short distance up the still born cross Florida canal. At any rate, we get to the Twin Rivers Marina up the Crystal River about 2:30pm.

We covered just over 40 miles in 8 hours. The Twin Rivers Marina is also recovering from hurricane damage. Their piers are mostly undamaged, but the easterly winds has the river at low water levels. We are able to get to our slip, and it appears we will have enough water to get out on Tuesday. Something other harbors down the coast from our current location did not think would happen. We all go to dinner in town with  a rental car that "Somewhere in Time" has secured.
        Barbara and I get up on Tuesday morning and prepare to leave. The winds are to be SE at 10-15 with 2' seas, shifting to the south later at 10kt with 2ft seas. We leave Crystal River as the forecast for the next couple of days is only worse. We do not wish to get trapped in Crystal River as we were in Carrabelle. It is a bumpy ride as we first leave the river. And it is shallow in the flats area of the river mouth. As we get farther off shore, the seas remain at the 2' predicted. It is mostly chop. When we clear the rock reef about 12 miles out, we turn south though we are still 6 miles from the sea buoy we used as a marker.  I revise our course to the buoys as we travel through the day to stay just out from the reefs that exist along this shoreline for about 7 miles out. We do not see many crab pots along this route. And it gets smooth, nearly flat about lunch time. It remains like this until we are about an hour away from the sea buoy to enter the Tarpon Springs waterways. We start to encounter ocean swells for the first time since entering the Gulf of Mexico. They are not big, about 4', and long times  between them.  The water is very clear here.Barbara starts to use the cell phone to arrange docking for the next couple of days.


Two of the marinas contacted do not take transients, though the guide books report that they do. Two others do not reply back to our phone calls and voice mails. The City of Tarpon Springs docks answers he phone, has space, and we head for them.
We get there at 4:20, and the dockmaster helps us in before he leaves for home at 4:30. In fact he stays and gives us info on the town and dock area. We are near the famous sponge docks. It has taken us 8.4 hours to travel 55 nautical miles, including about 2 miles at each end at idle speed for manatee protection. We go into the tourist area and buy desserts and bread for later at Hellas, a famous Greek bakery.
      Barbara has a tooth that has been hurting ever since the bacon wrapped hot dog in Steinhatchee. On Wednesday morning we start to call dentists to see if one will see her. She gets an appointment for the afternoon. Susan, the CofC host at the docks verifies that the dentist has been used by other cruisers, and they all were satisfied with her work. In the afternoon, one of the dock employees drives Barbara and I to the dentist office on his way home. It is a long afternoon, and the dental work stretches into the early evening hours. The hurting tooth, a pre-molar, has cracked all the way across. It is removed, in pieces. The dentist preps the adjacent teeth for a future bridge. She and the technician, fabricate and install a temporary bridge. Barbara and I return to SummerTime at the City docks.
      Barbara is still hurting some on Thursday morning from the dental visit, but the pain from the broken tooth is gone. We talk to Susan at the CofC again as we need to re-provision our boat. She suggests we ride the Jolley Trolley to the Winn Dixie or Sav-a-Lot just a short distance above Tarpon Ave where the dentist was. This is better than the Publix which I saw when I walked to the PO while Barbara was in the dental chair on Wednesday. The Publix was about .4mi past the dental office. So we ride the trolley and get off at the Winn Dixie. The driver is nice and stops after the designated stop we missed, and in front of the store parking lot for us. We get our groceries (4 bags) and ride the trolley back to the city docks. "Somewhere in Time" and "John B" come in from Crystal River about 5pm and we help them dock as the City Dockmaster is gone. We go to the Greek restaurant Mykonos for dinner. Barb is able to get some soft cooked vegetables to comply with the doctor's orders for soft food.

        On Friday we get up and walk the town shopping again. In the afternoon we get a visitor to the City Docks. The AGLCA Harbor Host, Herb Seaton, has seen our flag and stops by to visit. He brings a gift of cakes, and info on the town. He tells us that the bar by the dock has the best hamburgers in town. In the evening Sue, Barbara, and I walk up town to see The Greek Cathedral. And we take in a City festival that is going on.

I buy a ceramic, lighted Christmas tree to put on SummerTime. We go back to the boat just before dark, and watch the lighted boat Christmas parade.  Don off "John B", and I go to "Shrimp Wrecked Bar and Grill" for the burgers in the evening. It is a very good burger. Custom made to order. Friday has been a nice ending to a week that started rather chaotic.



Sunday, December 4, 2016


     Saturday in Carrabelle is to be a work day and a day of relaxation. We also sleep late as we have changed time zones, and got up earlier than usual this past Friday to make the run to Carrabelle. I go to the local hardware store hoping to find a switch for our navigation lights. Our current one is faulty on the anchor light side, causing 1 of the two anchor light bulbs to stay on even when the switch is in the off position. I also need a nav light bulb, as one has apparently gone bad since Pensacola. It is a nice little hardware store with an auto parts counter in the back. I get a fuel filter element for the primary diesel filter. And they have the three position, six terminal switch that I need. Barbara hikes next door to the local IGA grocer to buy staples. Everything is less than one block from the marina it appears. I spend the afternoon getting all the nav lights functioning as they should.

     On Sunday we go to the First Baptist Church 11a.m. service after our morning biscuits. It is a nice, traditional service. The pastor is obviously from a SB seminary. He gets excited and loud at times. No sleeping in this service. Barbara and I walk around the other end of town as we leave the church. We eventually get back to SummerTime, and after a light lunch, spend the afternoon relaxing. We go back to browse some of the shops near the church. One is an art gallery, and there is some very good photos for sale.


For dinner we go to "The Fisherman's Wife" restaurant. My surf and turf was very good. The five of us got the last 4 pie slices in the building. I had buttermilk pie for the first time. No keylime pie or cheesecake. I feel for the group of 9 coming in as we are leaving. The food is great, but not one of them is going to get a dessert.
     The wind is still blowing on Monday morning. We are not going to make the crossing to Steinhatchee today. There is 61 miles of open Gulf, and we do not want it to be 61 miles of bucking bronco ride. Barbara does the laundry. I work on more little things on the boat. We go to the other hardware store as the hydraulic lines for the trim tab have been kinked at some time and developed a leak. We eat at the grill next to the hardware store. I get a hot dog and chips. They still make shakes the old fashioned way, but I did not get one. I got my fittings at the old timey hardware store, and go back to complete the repairs. I also fuel the boat, 13gallons, and ready it for travel on Tuesday. I am sure the diesel tank is not full, but it will not take more gallons. I think I should have filled the water tank first to get the diesel tank vent up higher. Barbara fixes a dish, chili, for the pot luck dinner. At 6:30pm, we gather with the others on the deck at "C-Quarters Marina". Some of the locals, employees, and other cruisers bring food in also. It is a fabulous pot-luck. One of the nicest meals and bits of fellowship we have had on this trip. The "C-Quarters" staff does this every Monday evening, inviting the transients at the dock. We will be well fed if we leave as planned at 6:00am on Tuesday morning.
       I got up early as well as Barbara as neither one of us was sleeping good. We are ready to leave with the engine running about 6:05. But the outboard on the sailboat "John B" does not want to get started and run. Don eventually puts fresh plugs in it, and we are off about 6:40. It is not so dark any more that we really get to test the new spot light out on SummerTime. It is dark enough to see the light on the reflective markers. We can get the reflections for over a quarter mile easy. We get out the river easily, and get to the far side of the bay.

We turn east bound, and are just before making the south turn to the inlet when "Somewhere in Time" calls and says they have had to shut an engine down due to a temperature  problem. We reset our course to the north headed to the shore to get out of the wind as repairs are made. After about 10 minutes, they call back and have a hose put back on their engines intake pump. Everything is back to normal except salt water clean-up in the engine room. After we clear the sea buoy, we make our direct heading to a reef marker north of the Steinhatchee River mouth. John B hoist a fore sail, and is making good time. We are starting to spread out a little. About 11:30, "John B" calls and says he is having engine problems. A few minutes later, and he calls again as his engine has stopped. We talk to "Somewhere in Time" who is now 1.5 miles ahead. SummerTime turns around and heads to "John B", and "Somewhere in Time" continues towards Steinhatchee at a reduced pace. After some discussion and rope tying, we take "John B" in tow. We are now .9 miles south of our course per the GPS, and at our new speed (5.5kt), our arrival will be about 7:50pm. After about 30 minutes at this speed, I see that the towing is going good. I pick the speed up to 6.5kt. After a few minutes of this, I pick the speed up to 7.1kt at 1700rpm. The "John B" is stable in this position, but the higher speeds will put more stress on cleats, ropes, and transmissions. Our new eta is now 6:50, or almost our original arrival time.

The seas calm out, and the towing is smooth for all parties. About 6mi west of the "R24" buoy, the TowboatUS boat meets us and takes over towing the "John B". It is nearly 4:30, and we add speed, traveling at 2200rpm for 9.2 knots. Our arrival time to "Sea Hag Marina" in Steinhatchee is now down to 6:15pm as we still have about 18 miles to cover. We will arrive after dark (sunset officially at 5:38pm per NOAA) going up the river channel.

As we get near the channel, we call the marina on the radio to tell them we are coming in. They tell us they go home at 6pm, so I run SummerTime wide open for the last 2 miles. Our eta drops to 5:58 as we are now doing 14.7 kt. The new bottom paint and fixing the trim tab hydraulic leaks has given us some missing speed. We arrive at Sea Hag Marina and tie up at 6:04pm, as we slowed for fisherman and shallow areas entering the crooked part of the river. We have covered 85.5 miles in just over 11hr, most of which was open water. TowboatUS gets the "John B" in at about 7:40. We all go to dinner at Roy's Seafood, which is opening for the its first night after hurricane repairs. They have a great salad bar, good seafood, and we get dessert. A bad starting day has turned out good.

      On Wednesday, I fuel SummerTime. It takes 45.5 gallons, which means we probably were about 10-12 gal short of fill-up before leaving Carrabelle. I spend the afternoon doing a good wash on SummerTime with soap and water. It is the first good wash since Green Turtle Bay in Kentucky. Barbara and Sue walk to the grocery store and get provisions, and check out what they may be able to get for Thanksgiving Day. In the evening, we put our dinghy in, and motor up the river to a Hungry Howie's which has a riverfront dock. I never thought I would see this Michigan pizza delivery chain in Florida with a dock for eaters. We eat pizza in the restaurant. The manager is a sailor and talks to us about our  travels. Don orders a blueberry pizza as dessert, and I somehow manage to spill half my blueberries down my shirt front and on my jeans. We all laugh at my clumsiness.

      Thanksgiving morning the four of us walk back up to Maddies neighborhood store and pick up a turkey breast and other fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner. When we get back, we use the electric carving knife we bought in the Port Clinton second hand store for cutting our cushion foam, for cutting the turkey breast in halves. Each boat cooks a half as that is all their oven will hold. We all sit down around 3, and the 5 of us have a feast on "Somewhere in Time" that would have made our pilgrim forefathers happy.
      On Friday morning, I go up to the marina store and buy some 1-1/8" bilge hose to complete the job and eliminate the leak from where I started the hose repair at Pensacola. Barbara and I go up the Steinhatchee on the dinghy. We see and video a manatee. This is after we met the others for lunch with the dinghies at the "Who Dat" bar and grille. The food is good, but Barbara injures a tooth or gum on her bacon wrapped hot dog. When we get back to the boat after our trip up the river, I work on finishing the bilge hose replacement. Barbara walks to Maddie's again to get some pain relievers for her hurting tooth. Sue on "Somewhere in Time" makes a casserole with the leftover turkey and trimmings from Thanksgiving. We pull our dinghy up on its cradle hoping to the others will get their parts early on Saturday morning so we can depart to Cedar Key to finish our trip across the NE corner, or "Big Bend" of the Gulf.