Week 42 – January 27-February 2, 2019, 165 Nautical miles this week, 3,998 Nautical miles to date 

Sunday: Today is not a day that Eddy recommends to make the crossing, so we stay put in Apalachicola. We get a chance to meet Bill Z& Bobbie’s friends with a totally solar boat that live here, so we meet at the local tavern where there is live music, then we all walk down to the Up The Creek Restaurant for some seafood with Phil and Roberta joining our full crew. Then we break up for the evening agreeing that if weather stays as currently predicted, we will cruise tomorrow for Tarpon Springs. By the way, the sunsets here are quite spectacular!

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Kailani with First Forty and Wild Goose in Apalachicola, FL

 Monday to Tuesday: We start the day with me walking Frankie and while walking him, George, the marina owner drops by to say that there will be two electricians at the marina first thing today to look over the electrical issues. I really look forward to that because I want to feel comfortable that the issue is with the shore power and not a vessel issue. They show up at 8am and immediately tell us they feel very comfortable that it is a marina issue and not a problem caused by any of the vessels. That’s a relief as we are looking at a 22 hour cruise starting later today and I don’t want to start off knowing that I have an electrical issue on board, so they have given me a warm fuzzy feeling that Kailani is okay and set for the journey. 

The remainder of the morning is used prepping for the upcoming long journey and the three women hit the town for some shopping and to fill the vessels with snacks for the overnight cruise. To explain further, we are traveling 190 miles later today into Tuesday morning and so we will be cruising non-stop thru the night. Therefore, snacks are a must for helloing to stay awake when each of us is at the helm.   Ice cream, cookies, peanuts, Slim Jims, strawberries and whipped cream, plus a whole pile more of “junk food”.  Who says you need to be healthy when you are undertaking a life threatening situation …LOL  Kidding.    -tc

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Map of Gulf Crossing

First Forty, Wild Goose and Kailani are all set to depart and at exactly 2:00pm, we are all leaving the dock headed out to Apalachicola Bay where we will turn north to aim for East Pass. The trip starts out with issue as Kailani goes aground in some shallow area of the Scipio River. It takes us a bit of time to free her from the sandbar, but eventually we’re free and on our way. As we were stuck a fourth vessel starts heading out of the Scipio River in the same direction as us, so while we were stuck, it gave Bargein II a chance to catch up with us and as we are entering the Bay, he passes us on our starboard side and falls in to our flotilla between Wild Goose and us. After we are cruising for a while and it becomes obvious that he is staying in the same channel that we are using, I radio him and ask him he’s final destination for the day. He radios back that he’s going to Carabelle, then crossing the gulf tomorrow (Tuesday) and arriving in Tarpon Springs Wednesday. I respond by asking him if he’s aware of the forecasted seas for tomorrow and he says that he’ll look at that and check his fuel capacity then radio us back with a decision to possibly join our flotilla tonight. Soon he’s back on the air and asking us if he can join us tonight. We all welcome him into our group and as we are heading out to East Pass, the order of vessels is First Forty followed by Kailani, Wild Goose, then Bargain II. First Forty has auto pilot, so all we have to do is follow their stern light and we’ll stay on the correct heading to Tarpon Springs. 

Bobbie Bristow set up the plan and itinerary and her plan was to get to the R2 buoy at the gulf side of East Pass by 5pm and it was exactly 5pm when we reached R2 and turned slightly to starboard to set the heading of 138 degrees to R4 buoy 151 miles away at Anclote Key and the entrance to Tarpon Springs. An hour later is was dusk and the sunset over the open waters of the gulf were nothing short of spectacular. We were all traveling at 9 mph and we were spaced out at one quarter mile apart. 

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Gulf Crossing-real easy, just follow First Forty for the next 22 hours!

Tracy turned on the radar and we were able to keep all four vessels on our screen in a row for the next 12 hours of darkness. Once the sun set it started to darken, but all we had to do was follow the stern light on First Forty and each vessel behind us did the same thing. The hardest part of this trip would be each person getting ample rest when not driving to be sharp and alert when at the helm. Bobbie had set up a system of hourly roll call(s) and First Forty would handle the roll calls until 10pm, then Kailani would take the top of the hour roll calls from 11pm to 2am, then Wild Goose would take us to sunrise at 6am. The roll calls worked splendidly as they kept us alert and able to detect if any vessel was running as a ghost ship (both crew asleep) which never occurred. 

We’ve talked about him before when we met him in Bluewater Bay Marina, but Eddy Johnsen who publishes Eddy’s Weather Wag for the AGLCA had given us the green light for this crossing and we had also checked with Marl’s Weather Service as a second opinion. Both were indicating that the Monday to Tuesday crossing would be uneventful as long as we didn’t stray into Tuesday afternoon on the gulf. Both were spot on with their forecasting and our crossing was literally 151 miles of gas smooth water. That’s nearly unheard of in open water crossings, but we were fortunate enough to take advantage of this weather and we all certainly appreciated the expertise that goes into the forecasting for loopers benefit. 

The crescent moon finally started to rise around 1:45am and the glow of the moonshine was a spectacular addition to our vision.    This picture does not do the night justice.  The moon was blood red as was the reflection in the water for over an hour.  I have never seen a moonrise this spectacular.  -tc 20190219_125036

The overnight hours were shared at the helm on each vessel and aboard Kailani, we switched around 10pm so I could get some rest. Tracy kept the helm until nearly midnight and then asked me to take over so she could get some sleep. I drove while Tracy rested, then we switched right after 2am so I could get some rest, then we switched for the final time at 5am and Tracy got some much needed sleep.    I was “falling asleep at the wheel”. -tc

Bobbie’s plan was to get to R4 at Anclote Key at 10am. That would give us daylight to spot and avoid the crab traps that are so frequent on the waters of the gulf from 30 feet of water into about 15 feet of water. We made the turn at R4 at 9:45 am and nobody hit a crab trap. An hour after making the turn towards the channel leading into Tarpon Springs, we had made the channel and when we intersected with the channel, First Forty declared their second loop a completed success! They had just completed a little over 12,000 miles in 2 years and 1 week. By 11am Tuesday morning we were all approaching our respective marinas and Jerry Coleman (our good friend from Makin’ Memories) was at the docks to greet us and help with lines. Wild Goose and us were staying at Tarpon Springs City Marina while First Forty and our new crossing friends on BargeIn II were staying at Turtle Cove Marina. After we were all tied up and registered, we all retired to our respective vessels to get some much deserved rest before our celebratory dinner later at Costa’s Restaurant. We had just completed 190 miles in 21 hours averaging almost exactly 9 mph which was our original plan. If you could look at our plot by our tracking device you’d see a track line that couldn’t be drawn straighter with a ruler. The seas were so calm, our vessels were easy to hold course. We had all safely crossed the Gulf of Mexico in 4 vessels over 21 hours each and cruising thru waters from 10 foot deep to 82 feet deep. This was a most special accomplishment for us on this great loop adventure. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy for us!!! -tc

The dinner was set up by Jerry and Jean Coleman and we had a party of 16 people eating delicious Greek food for our celebratory dinner. Lenny and Louise (Then Again) had just completed their three-leg crossing so it was nice to see them at the dinner also. After dinner, sleep was not hard even though we had napped earlier.

Wednesday: Tarpon Springs is the Greek capital of the US which evolved from the large population go Greek sponge divers who relocated here.

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Having some fun in the sponge capital of the US, Tarpon Springs, FL

Having some fun in the sponge capital of the US, Tarpon Springs, FL
There are Greek restaurants, Greek bakeries, Greek diver sponge factories, etc. plus the normal Florida resort location stores of WalMart, Publix, Winn Dixie, etc. Our marina is right in the heart of the restaurants and sponge factories, so a walk in any direction is full of touristy stops.

Tonight’s dinner is hosted by Jerry and Jean at their house. They grill up some salmon and we all brings appetizers and desserts. It’s a great time with the crews of all the looper boats in town. We have a great evening and get driven back to our marina by Roger Kay. Roger is a looper, film producer, author who has a book published about the naval battle(s) of the War of 1812. He has some copies with him and Tracy and I get an autographed copy of the book which is a very nice gesture.

Thursday: The weather is starting to warm up a bit and the forecasts call for temperatures approaching the 70’s the rest of this week. I’m anxious to get into sandals (or bare feet), shorts and a tee shirt and I think we’ll see that today or tomorrow. I may just wait for the warm weather to work for a day before going all island wear.

Today, Jerry and Jean are speaking at their Rotary Club about their loop experience, so Barry and I ride our bikes to the Tarpon Springs Yacht Club to hear their presentation and we sit with the other loopers.

Friday: Jerry takes me to the local WalMart for some much needed supplies and the weather in fact does start warming up. Tonight is the monthly ‘First Friday’ celebration in town here so we walk down to Tarpon Blvd. where the street is blocked off for about five blocks with vendors, music, revelry and amusement. We have dinner with Barry, Carol and Mary at Andros Diner, then walk the streets visiting booths and tasting local ice cream.

Saturday: Okay it’s now time for sandals, shorts and tee shirts to be the ‘all-day’ wear. I start off walking Frankie with that attire and stay that way as we board the Jolley Trolley and ride to Dunedin for some sight-seeing and clothes shopping for Tracy. When we get to Dunedin we find out that there is a local ukulele festival in the town square and walking the shops and restaurants is a load of fun with lots of people and music. There’s a short rain shower while we’re walking, but we’re able to duck into a shop while the rain is coming down and soon the rain stops. After a trolley ride back to Tarpon Springs, we get out our grill and grill up some steaks aboard for dinner.

 

Bobbie’s plan was to get to R4 at Anclote Key at 10am. That would give us daylight to spot and avoid the crab traps that are so frequent on the  waters of the gulf from 30 feet of water into about 15 feet of water. We made the turn at R4 at 9:45 am and nobody hit a crab trap. An hour after making the turn towards the channel leading into Tarpon Springs, we had made the channel and when we intersected with the channel, First Forty declared their second loop a completed success! They had just completed a little over 12,000 miles in 2 years and 1 week. By 11am Tuesday morning we were all approaching our respective marinas and Jerry Coleman (our good friend from Makin’ Memories) was at the docks to greet us and help with lines. Wild Goose and us were staying at Tarpon Springs City Marina while First Forty and our new crossing friends on BargeIn II were staying at Turtle Cove Marina. After we were all tied up and registered, we all retired to our respective vessels to get some much deserved rest before our celebratory dinner later at Costa’s Restaurant. We had just completed 190 miles in 21 hours averaging almost exactly 9 mph which was our original plan. If you could look at our plot by our tracking device you’d see a track line that couldn’t be drawn straighter with a ruler. The seas were so calm, our vessels were easy to hold course. We had all safely crossed the Gulf of Mexico in 4 vessels over 21 hours each and cruising thru waters from 10 foot deep to 82 feet deep. This was a most special accomplishment for us on this great loop adventure.   Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyy for us!!!   -tc

The dinner was set up by Jerry and Jean Coleman and we had a party of 16 people eating delicious Greek food for our celebratory dinner. Lenny and Louise (Then Again) had just completed their three-leg crossing so it was nice to see them at the dinner also.  After dinner, sleep was not hard even though we had napped earlier. 

Wednesday: Tarpon Springs is the Greek capital of the US which evolved from the large population go Greek sponge divers who relocated here.

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Having some fun in the sponge capital of the US, Tarpon Springs, FL

There are Greek restaurants, Greek bakeries, Greek diver sponge factories, etc. plus the normal Florida resort location stores of WalMart, Publix, Winn Dixie, etc. Our marina is right in the heart of the restaurants and sponge factories, so a walk in any direction is full of touristy stops.

Tonight’s dinner is hosted by Jerry and Jean at their house. They grill up some salmon and we all brings appetizers and desserts. It’s a great time with the crews of all the looper boats in town. We have a great evening and get driven back to our marina by Roger Kay. Roger is a looper, film producer, author who has a book published about the naval battle(s) of the War of 1812. He has some copies with him and Tracy and I get an autographed copy of the book which is a very nice gesture.

Thursday: The weather is starting to warm up a bit and the forecasts call for temperatures approaching the 70’s the rest of this week. I’m anxious to get into sandals (or bare feet), shorts and a tee shirt and I think we’ll see that today or tomorrow. I may just wait for the warm weather to work for a day before going all island wear.

Today, Jerry and Jean are speaking at their Rotary Club about their loop experience, so Barry and I ride our bikes to the Tarpon Springs Yacht Club to hear their presentation and we sit with the other loopers.

Friday: Jerry takes me to the local WalMart for some much needed supplies and the weather in fact does start warming up. Tonight is the monthly ‘First Friday’ celebration in town here so we walk down to Tarpon Blvd. where the street is blocked off for about five blocks with vendors, music, revelry and amusement. We have dinner with Barry, Carol and Mary at Andros Diner, then walk the streets visiting booths and tasting local ice cream. 

Saturday: Okay it’s now time for sandals, shorts and tee shirts to be the ‘all-day’ wear. I start off walking Frankie with that attire and stay that way as we board the Jolley Trolley and ride to Dunedin for some sight-seeing and clothes shopping for Tracy. When we get to Dunedin we find out that there is a local ukulele festival in the town square and walking the shops and restaurants is a load of fun with lots of people and music. There’s a short rain shower while we’re walking, but we’re able to duck into a shop while the rain is coming down and soon the rain stops. After a trolley ride back to Tarpon Springs, we get out our grill and grill up some steaks aboard for dinner. 

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