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.



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