Miles Today: 179 SM; Total Miles: 4,924 SM
Locks Today: 0 ; Total Locks: 103
Big day– and night for us. It’s our Gulf Crossing day, from Carrabelle to Dunedin, Florida.
We’ve been carefully watching the weather as a “dry” cold front was moving into the Gulf Coast. A dry front is one without the normal rain but mostly wind. Not good for cruisers. The forecast was 10-15 kt winds gusting to 20 kts west of Appalachicola but east we were expecting 5-10 kts through the night. So three boats, Island Time, Young at Heart and Putz’n Around would leave from Carrabelle for a 175 miles trek across the Gulf to Anclote Key, then on to Marker 1 Marina at Dunedin.
We calculated our trip at 22 hours and knew we should leave between 1-3 p.m. so we didn’t arrive at shore until daybreak because of the notorious crab pots. But the front bothered us and we didn’t want to want to delay in case the conditions deteriorated near Carrabelle. So at 12:15 p.m., all three boats cast the lines and headed out into St. George Sound toward East Pass.
Before we left, we had agreed that we’d check in at the top of the hour. Once out in the Gulf, we settled down in a nice ride. Dark clouds and rain were visible to the west of us toward Apalachicola. Fortunately, the rain and higher winds stayed west of us. Then for a few hours, we had 1-1/2 to 2 foot rollers. Not too bad but our puppy, Cailee, did get sick. Late afternoon, we moved from the bridge to the inside helm which gave us a calmer ride. By sundown, the waves had smoothed out and remained that way for most of the night. After dark, we drove from the lower helm in 2 hour shifts.
About 3 a.m., Putz’n Around picked up a Towboat on his AIS. A call to the Tow Captain confirmed that he had us on radar and we should pass “on one whistle”. Thought we were done with commercial tows– guess not.
A little later in one our hourly “check-ins” we decided to change course a little more West to stay in deeper water. We were going to arrive before daylight and nobody wanted to risk hitting crab pots by going inshore in the dark. About daybreak, we made our turn toward marker R2 toward Anclote Key.
We were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t encounter many crab traps, probably no more than a dozen. At the turn off to Tarpon Springs, we said goodbye over the radio to Scott and Bridgitte on Putz’n Around as they would spend a few days in Tarpon Springs. Island Time and Young at Heart continued on to the ICW to Marker 1 Marina in Dunedin. By 10:45 a.m. we were tied up at the dock. It had been a great crossing of over 22 1/2 hours. We were tired, ready for a shower and a few hours sleep. Later we had dinner with Glenn and Brenda at Frenchies Outback. We had made our first overnight crossing —-Life is Good!