Gulf of Mexico Crossing
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    Saturday, November 14, 2009
    12:30 p.m.  Depart Carrabelle, FL
    Weather:  Sunny, beautiful blue sky, some breeze

    We checked the weather once again and spoke to Buddy who also agreed that the weather was perfect for a crossing; it really was a beautiful day.  About 3 hours into the journey it started getting choppy and by the time it was dark it was getting rougher.  We did not have the calm seas that everyone predicted!  In fact, our crossing was rough and quite unpleasant at times, with a 1 to 2 foot chop sitting on top of rollers of 4 to 5 feet hitting us on our stern quarter. We assume that although the weather was perfect for a crossing, that the seas had not really settled down yet after Ida.  
    At this early stage of the journey, the seas were not bad but even now this close to Carrabelle, you can see the beginning of the roller waves that are starting to roll both Tellico Lady and Last Dragon.  Note that Last Dragon is in the trough, hence a considerable amount of the port aft end is hidden by wave height.

    Ken & Chuck altered our course twice during the night in order to make it more tolerable.  The crossing was a life experience that Brenda does not wish to repeat.  However, on a positive note, we did have both a beautiful sunset and sunrise.  We were running parallel to the west coast of Florida by approximately 40 to 50 miles offshore on this 170 mile trip.

    As the sun finally sets in the west, you can see the roller waves beginning to increase.  That is a peak in the lower right hand corner of the picture.  They do not show up well on photos, but you sure can feel them.

    During the night and more towards the early morning we saw on radar and by their navigation lights, other boats including sailboats, container ship, and 5 other looper boats.  At 4:30 in the morning, we had to alter course as we could see on our radar that we were on a collision cours with a large sailboat, with whom we agreed on a passing protocol and did so in an uneventful manner.  

    We could see the Clearwater shoreline from 18 miles out and it was a most welcome sight.  We encountered many crab pots during that 18 miles but managed to dodge them all.  The crab pots have a floating ball (most are white or orange balls) and they are spaced in a horizontal line about 100 yards apart.  If you happen to hit on the rope hanging down from the ball can become entangled around your propellers and result in repairs being necessary.

    After a long night, this is the sunrise at about 6:10 am about 28 miles offshore from Clearwater.  As you can see, the seas began to quiet down around 4:00 am and were not bad at all by this time.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009
    9:30  Arrived at Clearwater Municipal Marina, Clearwater, FL
    Distance travelled:  approximately 170 miles

    Here we are 21 hours later at our destination marina.  We all arrived safely but very tired.  After getting settled into our slips, we all took 3-4 hour naps.   Not long after we arrived, Double Trouble from our marina, Tellico Harbor, also came into Clearwater.  Leland and Freddy Waggoner and Bob Schmidt came over to our dock to say hello and discuss our journeys thus far. Vickie was here to meet us and she took a tired Chuck back to their hotel for some rest.  We all met for dinner at an Italian restaurant but it was early to bed for us all.

    They are a bit hard to see here, but th little floats that you can see sprinkled here and there around like a mine field on approach to Clearwater are the crab pot floats that are waiting to foul your propeller and shaft if you don't miss them.

    What a small world.  Here is our Tellico Harbor dock friends on "Double Trouble".  This is actually a picture of them just beginning to leave for Key West.  What a lovely boat!

    Monday, November 16, 2009
    At Clearwater Municipal Marina
    Weather: Low=61, high=80; sunny and breezy

    Today was mostly a leisurely day for all of us.  Double Trouble left this morning on their way to Key West.  When Chuck and Vickie came back to the boat, the girls (Nancie, Brenda, Sharon, Vickie) went walking and exploring.  After walking about 1 hour we then went to the beach where we enjoyed walking in the beautiful white sand.  There were a few tourists on the beach enjoying the sand and sunshine.  At noon, the guys joined us at Frenchy's where we tried their famour grouper sandwich and it was as delicious as advertised.  We spent the afternoon doing chores and studying our charts and making plans for our travel the next few days.  Tellico Lady is only going to go about 25 miles tomorrow to Gulfport while Watauga and Last Dragon plan to travel farther.  We all enjoyed a potluck dinner on Watuaga and then called it a night.

    Here is co-captain Chuck after the crossing.  Note how the ride has turned his hair white!  He never wavered for the 21 hours of pitching and rolling at the helm.

    Here is the total complement of the crewmembers of the flotilla crossing team.  Happy to be stable, but also happy that they have added a great experience to life's logbook.

    Fortunately, Clearwater marina sends its ambassador to welcome you to the marina and inspect the boat to see if all is is Bristol condition.

    This completes the Crossing section of our logbook.  From now on the narrative will continue in the Florida West section.