Friday, November 11, 2016

11/11 Our night crossing of the Gulf of Mexico to Tarpon Springs, FL

The day for us to cross the Gulf of Mexico was finally here.  We had finished our preparations, filled the water tanks and were ready to go.  In a go slow boat like our trawler,  the crossing takes about 21 hours and it did.  The plan was to leave Carrabelle at 3:30 pm and arrive about 10 am at the approach to Tarpon Springs.  The sun will be high enough in the sky by then to easily see and dodge the crab pots.

We left the dock at just before 3:30.  Our buddy boat, My Bluegill Heaven, with Ted Swartz single handing his boat, pulled out just in front of us.   We headed for East Pass just off Dog Island, and nosed out into the Gulf of Mexico.  This is My Bluegill Heaven just ahead of us.  The many dolphins were escorting us as we waved good-bye to the panhandle of Florida.  A good omen,  we thought.

The first two hours were in daylight and the seas were calm.  After that we could feel the seas increasing.  All reports were that the seas would lay down.  The sunset was gorgeous. 

We had agreed on what way points we would follow on our chart plotter and that we would keep visual contact.  The Hydrophilic runs radar, so the plan was that we would follow Ted as we would be able to track him on radar.  That purple blob is what My Bluegill Heaven looked like on our radar.  John had named the agreed upon way point that we were going to  Tedpoint 1.
At night on the Gulf, there are no lights.  Here is what My Bluegill Heaven's running light looked like in the dark.  Yes, it is just that one little light in the darkness.  Can you find it?
The skies were clear and the moon was about 1/2 full.  The moon reflected on the seas.

By 8 pm,  the seas got quite a bit rollier.  While our boat is very seaworthy, this made it uncomfortable.  I was laying on our heavy sleeper sofa in the salon, when a wave moved the couch with me on it across the salon.  John was a trooper, he navigated most of the night.  Each hour we made contact with our buddy boat.  Fortunately, neither of us had problems to report. 

Finally, just about 7 am the sun rose out of the horizon.  What a wonderful way to welcome a new day. 

We still had about 5 hours to get to the docks but we knew we would do just fine.  The seas had finally calmed down after a long rolly night.  Dolphins were once again all around us welcoming us to the west coast of Florida.  We really didn't see too many crab pots to dodge.  We have so many in NC that we thought there would be many, many more.  I did see this big box floating along. 

As we entered the Anclote River, Herb Seaton, the Tarpon Springs Harbor Host, greeted us in his boat Phantom.  Later, at the docks, he came by with a map of the area and streusel cakes.  Apparently, we made it here for the fish festival, too.  He gave me recommendations for dinner and offered rides and anything else he could help with.  What a nice man.

We ate lunch at the restaurant that was right on the dock.  My shrimp were huge and tasty.  This fellow was standing right over our table waiting for us.  John took our picture. 
Then, both John and I went to bed.  We slept for hours.  I think we will sleep well tonight too.

Lat 28 degrees 9.71 North
Long 82 degrees 46.20 West

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