The gulf crossing is a very anxious situation for all loopers. Weather dictates when you will cross. Our plan was to relax and enjoy the panhandle of Florida. However as you all know weather plays into our daily life like sitting home watching your favorite television show. The gulf weather predictions were cooperating for an extended period of time and crossing was optimal. First we need to move 216 miles before we do a three day gulf crossing of another 239 miles!
The crew of RAMA made a huge push. We departed Mobile on 11/27 and headed to Perdido Key home of the famous Flora-Bama. We attended church services in the bar (Central Church of Flora-Bama) awesome service.
On 11/29 we departed and headed out to visit friends, the crew of Nauti Jenny. They are fellow loopers staying in Pensacola. We docked at Rick’s moms house and we’re treated to a wonderful day of touring. Fort Pickens was the first stop, amazing place. After that we headed to some traditional tourist sites and eventually had a wonderful lunch at McQuires. After having Jenny’s favorite breakfast (donuts and coffee) the following morning, we headed out.
11/30 We arrived in Destin harbor after a long day at the helm. We were treated to a wonderful sunset and great night sleep on the anchor.
12/1 Holy mackerel it is December and nights are cold here in the panhandle. Weather is just like home in South Carolina. Days in the 60’s and nights in the 40’s. We broke the sleeping bag back out. After another great day on the water we arrived in Panama City. Another night at anchor, and it was beautiful.
12/2 our trip today takes us to Appolachiacola and back to Eastern Standard Time. On the hook but sleep was poor. I am saying it was do to the time change, Marie said so to, so we are sticking to it!
12/3 We head to Carrabelle, now here is where the fun starts. Let’s just say we have been at this for quite some time now. Yup seasoned Mariners! We arrive at C Quarters Marina for the night. Well The current was running at 4 knots and let’s just say that the slips are not set up for a smaller vessel like ours. These slips are set up for big sport fish boats! We had a heck of a time trying to put the boat in the slip, several attempts failed miserably! Thanks to a gentlemen we finally put her to bed for the night! Somewhere during all the turmoil I heard the words “Find someone else to do the rest of this trip” hmmmmmmm are we having fun yet! After little to no sleep worrying about getting the boat out of the slip without ending up in divorce court we departed for the gulf crossing.
12/4 THE CROSSING We wake to fog but it will be ok the water is flat as can be. We have been Buddy boating with friends on Beachfront, that’s Sonny and Linda. They leave about an hour prior to us as we can run much faster. The Plan stay on bearing 103 for 70 miles we will be across and in Steinhatchee by 1:30 in the afternoon. We clear the harbor and make our way to the gulf, the fog has lifted, ahhhhh here we go. Not so fast there Captain we have more fog coming your way. Radar and AIS wonderful pieces of equipment! We press on and continue to hail our Buddy boat. Finally we make contact all to hear he has lost his radar. I see him on our radar screen and proceed to go get him, he is off course 4 miles. After much communication, I feel we are close enough now so I say sound your horn. Message back my horn is not working! WHAT? SERIOUSLY! Ok, I will sound mine let me know when I am getting closer. No sooner do I sound the horn a pod of dolphin decide they want to play in our wake. Hey, Sonny you are going to have to wait we have playmates in the pool with us right now. We eventually find them in the fog and we Shepard our buddy boat into Steinhatchee, arrival time 3:46.
12/5 We wake to fog but it lifts by about 9:30. The sea conditions are optimal and we run 90 mile to Crystal River. Must stop, great harbor, great town, but most of all we will swim with the Manatee. Yes Crystal river has several springs and the Manatee love the warm water. So tomorrow we will hit the springs to swim with the manatee. We will depart on the 7th for the final part of our gulf crossing and we will head to Tarpon Springs last leg of about 60 miles easy peasey!