Month: March 2020

Makin Memories Relocating Easy Wind – Week 2


Taking a day at home was much needed after our LONG but gorgeous crossing.  The adrenaline that surges through your veins to keep you alert and awake during the crossing quickly melts away upon arrival, leaving most of us with the “crossing hang-over.”  I remember one boat arriving in Tarpon Springs and we caught lines for him as he came into his slip in Turtle Cove Marina.  He staggered off the boat, hit the head and returned declaring, “I’m getting back on my boat and sleeping for the next 24 hours.  Please advise everybody I am armed and that if they knock on my boat, I WILL shoot them!”

Day 1 (1)We don’t feel quite that bad but the rest is much appreciated.  We get to see my mom and some of our friends and Jerry spends the one day here fixing some of the little odds and ends around the boat that don’t work or that are broken.  We re-provision as we will try to keep costs down by anchoring out as much as possible.  If the weather is fair, we should be able to do this most nights until we hit the Ft. Myers and the Okeechobee Waterway.

We had planned to leave in the afternoon of the 25th but were advised by a friend that the Pinellas County Commission was meeting this morning to pass a “Shelter in Place” edict and we want to get out of here before we can’t.  Fuel prices are plummeting because of international nonsense and we take advantage of it by fueling up at our local place and pay $2.18/gallon which I have NEVER seen before.  Unfortunately, our bow thrusters decided to die some time between leaving the marina and the fuel dock so that just adds a challenge to the maneuverability but Jerry will deal with it.  Thanks for the help, BJ!!!

We travel down the ICW over familiar waters and under familiar bridges.  We really like cruising this area because the waterway is so narrow you get to see all the homes and it is very interesting. Day 1 (5) It is also a great time of the year because all the Ospreys have amazing nests and the babies have hatched so it is easy to spot an adult along with between 1 and 3 chicks in all the nests that are on the day markers.

Day 1 (2)

The water here is an amazing color and we are reminded of the colors of our beloved Keys, which are now closed to visitors due to the C-19 quarantine measures.  We are joined on several occasions by dolphins but the last ones are the best.  A pod of 4 or 5 of them comes racing to the boat and the ride the side wake.  A couple are really big and there is one baby.  The biggest one is literally spinning as he swims, turning 360 degrees as he moves along beside us.  Unfortunately I didn’t get my video going in time to catch it. I have NEVER seen one do this before.

Day 1 (16)

We finally tuck into our favorite anchorage right near the entrance to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.  We are sheltered from all sides from the wind and are in deep water.  We drop the anchor, set it and attach the Mantis bridle and then relax on the back deck for the first meal we have eaten today.  It is nice to hole up in familiar territory.  Jerry wants to get in the water with a dive mask to see if he can see what’s wrong with the thruster but I veto this because the current is running fast and I don’t think it is safe.  We plan to anchor tomorrow around Casey Key and he can do it then.  In the mean time we enjoy a lovely sunset and get some work attended to as the bridge lights illuminate and the stars begin to appear.  After a rocky start with the thruster boycott, the day ends peacefully.


Daybreak finds us awake and ready to get under way.  Crossing Tampa Bay can be bumpy under the best of conditions. Sunrise and sunset tend to kick up the first and last wind of the day and so we think that getting a jump on the sun may help us see less chop in the bay.   Happily, we are right.  Day 2 (9)We pull out west of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge just as the sun breaks the horizon and the bridge is a beautiful silhouette inked against the wash of rose and golden dawn.  The crossing is windy but there are no freighters or cruise ships to deal with and we make it across the channel and to the other side of the Bay easily.

We come back into the ICW at Anna Maria Island which is probably one of the prettiest places in the world.  Actually the entire trip today, excluding the man-made ditch between Sarasota and Venice is gorgeous.  Once you get south of the Cortez Bridge, the water changes color, and could easily be mistaken for anywhere in the keys.  It is breathtaking even if you have been through here a bunch of times, the colors just never get old!

Day 2 (17)

The real estate along here is impressive also and the vast opulence causes me to reflect that I would much rather see stuff than have stuff, now if I could only find someone who wants the stuff I have!  My kids don’t, that’s for sure!  I have reached the age where divesting of things appeals to me more and more. Living on a boat for our Loop year reinforced the understanding of how little is needed to be truly happy; that value is to be had in the sights one sees and the people who move from the acquaintance column to the friend column.

Day 2 (18)

Our day is long because most of the bridges need to open to accommodate Easy Wind’s air draft and a large majority of them are timed and so we have to hover and wait, sometimes 20-30 minutes for an opening, which can be tricky when the channel is narrow and the wind is whistling but we have no issues.  It is sunny and cool and absolutely ideal traveling weather.

We tuck into a watery basin just off the ICW in Nokomis called Cape Haze and drop the anchor.

Day 2 (19)_MomentTomorrow we will be in Ft. Myers and then will begin the cross-state trek to the east coast.  The weather looks like it will be giving us a break, thankfully and so we are pushing ourselves a little bit and the boat not at all just so we have some fudge time if we get socked in somewhere by the weather.  Easy Wind hums along happily at 17-18 rpm.  It has been a really good trip so far and we feel that we have made excellent progress and are a little ahead of where we thought we would be, mostly because of the break we got for the crossing.


During the night the wind completely dies, leaving the boat and air super still.  I have to get up to see what’s going on and am rewarded with lots of stars and the hooting back and forth across the basin of a pair of owls.  The neighbors are all asleep and the peace is sublime.  I go back to bed and the air has a hint of chill which makes it easy to get back to sleep.

We are pulling up the anchor around 6:45 and are underway with the chain, bridle and anchor rinsed off.  The generator let  us make some tea and coffee and we watch the world awaken as the sun makes its appearance.  There is a hint of a breeze but it is much more calm than any other time we have navigated these waters.  The Boca Grande pass is atypically calm and without its usual killer current and we pass Cayo Costa, glad that we hadn’t wanted to anchor there this time because there are more boats in the Pelican Bay anchorage than we have ever seen at one time.

We motor by Cabbage Key Inn, the home of Jimmy Buffet’s song, Cheeseburger in Paradise and continue into Gasparilla Bay.  Again, the water is calmer than we have ever seen it.  The last time we were through here, we were navigating north in a driving rain and cracking thunderstorm.  We could barely see the bow of the boat and the storm tracker on our Iphone was completely red where we were.  We were never hit by lightning but later realized that it must have come close enough to completely fry the motherboard in Jerry’s laptop.  Thank goodness it isn’t like that today.

Day 3 (7)

The sun is spilling gold all over the water when we become totally surrounded by a pod of dolphin.  There must be 20 of them and they are everywhere.  Some are riding the bow and others are riding the wakes on either side of the boat.  There are 4 or 5 little guys with them and they leap and splash all around us.  We are totally captivated and shoot lots of pictures in hopes that one or two will turn out.  They stay with us for about 20 minutes and I can’t help but think that I would be hard pressed to think of a better way to start the day!

Day 3 (9)

The cruise to Ft. Myers is very pretty and we travel a different way than we usually do.  Typically we stay in a marina in Estero Beach because we love the restaurants and the feel to the area but the C-19 has all restaurants shut down now, so that they only offer carryout items.  We are not traveling to the Keys on the west coast so there is no point in staying in Estero so we traverse a new waterway which brings us straight into the Caloosahatchee River, which will ultimately become the Okeechobee Canal.  We’ve been to Ft. Myers by boat and the channel is amazingly skinny through here.  I think because people are becoming stir crazy with the safe at home edicts, they all feel like it’s Saturday and there are flotillas of boats going both ways.

Day 3 (16)

We pull into the Ft. Myers Municipal Yacht Basin and fuel up.  We don’t need fuel but if things start to shut down further along, we want the farthest range we can get.  So, we plan to fuel up wherever it is easily available and the lower prices make it much more palatable also.  We get our first pump out as well and tie up for the night, taking a much needed walk to stretch our legs and to grab a couple of tomatoes and some milk at the nearby Publix.

Day 3 (13)

We are walking through another ghost town.  I think the sign companies are the only ones doing lots of business because every restaurant and bar seems to be sporting a new carry-out-available sign.  We opt to limit the amount of time we spend in public and choose to eat aboard, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and giving thanks for being warm again finally!  The sun sets behind one of the bridges and lights wink on across it.  Another day is in the books.

Day 3 (17)

Day 4

The day dawns chilly and clear though the weather report warns of possible patchy fog and later a scorcher of a temperature at 93 degrees.

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As the sun rises, the wind picks up and though we do see some fog under one of the bridges, it is lying at surface level and looks like the fog that fog machines used to spill across concert stages in the old days. Day 4 (9)

We are joined by a couple of boats and the other power boat and Easy Wind gently but firmly out-distance the sail boat to make it to the first opening of the Franklin Lock.

Day 4 (10)Even if you miss an opening and have to wait, this isn’t a big deal here as the raise is only about a foot.  Thinking back to some of the ones in Canada that raised us 65 feet and more made it a bit more imperative to make any available opening.  Otherwise you would have to wait hours for the lock to fill and then drain again or vice versa.  In comparison, this is a piece of cake!

The canal is prettier than I remember and we pass houses that represent old and new Florida along the banks.  These alternate with acres of scrub and wide-open cattle pasture land that brings to mind the Florida rendered so perfectly by Christopher Still.

Day 4 (13)

The sun is fierce and it is windy but it is also finally warm enough to drive from our upper helm.  We like the perspective from the top and we are even able to catch sight of manatees in time to avoid them.  The reports say that the C-19 virus hates sunshine and well-ventilated spaces, so again we feel blessed to be sheltering safely where we are!

The second lock raises us 8 feet and the third, at Moore Haven, just a foot and now this ditch is more like I remember it.  Miles and miles of nothing followed by field of sugar cane as far as the eye can see.  We have been traveling with a 65’ Canadian boat, since this morning, called Lady Caradot.

Day 4 (17)

They out-distance us as we travel at a more sedate pace but each lock has them waiting for us and while they could have ditched us on the third lock because we were pretty far back, they were kind and advised the lock master that we were back here and they all waited for us patiently.

Day 4 (14)

There is a fire in the distance.  The acrid smoke assaults our noses and when the wind shifts, it is snowing ash all around us. Yuck!  The wind is a constant 17 mph, gusting 26 and that will compromise Plan A for today.  We had planned on tying off on the Clewiston dolphins for the night before crossing Lake Okeechobee but we cannot take the chance of the wind catching our stern and putting us on the rocks (which are very close to the dolphins).

Day 4 (16)

So, we will tuck into Roland Martin’s marina in Clewiston.  We got fuel here on our last trip across so we are pretty familiar with the waters.

Sam, the grizzled old dock-,master who has been here for at least the last 10 years, greets us and quickly sandwiches us in between Lady Caradot and a 58 footer on the dock so if we want to try to leave early, it will be tricky!

We scrub Easy Wind rather than just rinsing her down, which is our custom when we reach a marina.  There is ash everywhere on the deck but we are able to get her shiny and clean and pretty soon the AC is running and all is right with the world.

This is a fun marina under normal circumstances, with a grill and a tiki bar but all of that is shut down tight.  Given the fact that we are docked right below the tiki bar, we are kind of glad it is shuttered and quiet.  With what is going on in the world right now, we are happy that we provisioned the boat well and choose to eat on board where we know who has prepared our food!  The crew on the yacht behind us is grilling burgers and swilling beer and a Limpkin stands on the canal bank hollering for his mate.

Day 4 (19)

We learn that Lady Caradot will be cruising to the same spot we have pegged as a maybe stopping spot for tomorrow night, so we’ll see when they depart. They were out early today so maybe they will be out early tomorrow too.  The trick is that you have to back out of here, along the line of boats on the T-head in a very narrow and shallow canal and then do a 180 in a little basin before exiting out through a lock that is pretty much always open and then tip toe out into the Lake.  Should be interesting.


Well, we wait and wait but don’t see life aboard either of the boats that has us sandwiched in.  We formulate our plan to swing the stern out, pivoting on a ball fender and get under way. Not having working bow thrusters on a single screw boat is a bit of a challenge, especially in a narrow, shallow and rock-lined canal, but Jerry is a very good captain.  My job is to deal with the fenders and lines and stay quiet while he concentrates on extracting us.  The departure is a success and Jerry makes it look easy, although I know it isn’t.  Even though the boat was clean last night, I guess ash continued to fall and the decks are now dotted with more of it.  I rinse her down again with river water and she looks better.

Day 5 (1)

Sam reinforced our impressions from the last time we came through here, which means staying in the middle of channel until you are almost all the way across the rim route at the bottom of the lake at marker 7.  There is no water if you stray even a little bit from the channel.

Day 5 (3)

We scare a gator or two on the way out into the lake and it really looks as if you should be aground in the marsh grass that borders the narrow channel.  Along the edges of the Lake, great columns of smoke are billowing skyward and the charry scent reaches us even way out n the water.  We come up with the idea that they may be burning the fallow cane fields in order to prepare to plant the next crop.  Otherwise, we have no idea why there would be 3 fires big enough to be detected from this far away.

Day 5 (11)

After a while, we make it past marker 7 and turn north in deep enough water to relax a bit and sure enough we can now see the other two big boats finally underway behind us!  We are almost across the lake when Lady Caradot laps us, burning lots of dinosaurs in the process.

Day 5 (22)

The Myakka Lock is open and the lockmaster gives both of us permission to pass through the chamber.  YAY!!!  We pass through the lock and the old railroad bridge, which is also open (I think it always is) and enter another man-made ditch.  There is an almost fluorescent green covering the water on the shores of the canals. What the heck!?!?! Fertilizer run-off? Frightening!

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There are gators on the banks (one of the reasons Jerry hasn’t gone under the boat to look at the thrusters!).

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Lady Caradot turns into River Forest but it is too early for us to stop.   So we decide to continue to the Stuart area.  It is an uneventful trip and we make it to the St Lucie Lock, which will thankfully be our last lock until we get to Virginia.

Day 5 (17)

Finally, Observer has caught up with us and we both enter the lock and wait to be dropped 12 feet.  I love the sign on the wall!

Day 5 (27)  I guess it’s there in case you weren’t sure of which way you were supposed to go?  We exit the lock and the wind, which has been building since we crossed the lake is now strong and gusting to 24 mph.

Entering Stuart is like coming into another world.  There are the obligatory huge south Florida mansions with mega-yachts docked out front but the sheer number of boats on the water is staggering.  There are mooring fields that must have hundreds of boats on mooring balls and hundreds more at the docks along the shore.

Day 5 (28)

We have to navigate 3 bridges, all of which are very close to one another, very narrow and we need to open one of them.  Boats are racing from all around us to get in line to go through once Roosevelt Bridge opens and then it’s a free-for-all!  The water is choppy, the wind is literally whistling and things get VERY interesting for a couple of minutes as we rock and roll our way through, following Observer and holding a dozen smaller boats off that want to come the opposite direction.

Day 5 (31)

The St. Lucie River is busy and rough and we are getting tired.  Experience says that when the captains get tired, it is better to find a spot for the night than to get into trouble.  We have 4 or 5 anchorages pegged as possibilities, some that are great shelter from the wind and others, described as great holding.  The problem with anchorages on Aqua Maps is that you never know how many boats may be sharing the space and whether there will even be room for you once you get there.  We opt for Hoggs Cove anchorage because it is large and there are a few VERY big boats in the anchorage.  It isn’t crowded, there is plenty of swing room and while it will be exposed to the wind, the forecast calls for the winds to diminish as evening falls.

Day 5 (29)

We set the hook, attach the bridle and stop and restart the IPad.  We have learned that leaving the IPad on for a while is the best way to ensure that the boat is not moving.  We sit and watch, bobbing up and down and listening to the wind whistle by us.  We are firmly in and after a bit the wind thankfully does start to die down a bit and we shut off the IPad.

Day 5 (30)We have some nice neighbors anchored nearby.  When we anchor out, we prefer to come in and stake our space early rather than picking our way through a minefield of anchored boats later in the day.  This strategy works well and we watch as boats come in, nose around and drop their hooks only to pull them up, re-situate and try again.  Finally, everyone seems settled in and we enjoy the sunset.Day 6 (2)

A walk-about near midnight assures me that we are still holding well and the stars are pinprick bright.  We finally have about a quarter moon and Venus joins it in throwing sparkling reflections upon the water.  Beautiful.


The morning dawns clear and doesn’t hold the chill that it has for the last 2 weeks.  Everything is damp, which is not unusual but it will all dry out once the sun shows its face.  There are no signs of life from any of our neighbors as we slip anchor, rinse off copious amounts of mud from it (no wonder it was such a strong hold) and get under way.

Day 6 (1)

The water is calm for a minute but then a thousand fishermen have the bright idea that the best way to socially distance is to get their boats up and out the pass as early as possible and we are blinded by the rising sun and rocked and rolled by buzzing boats all around us until we get to the inlet and turn north while they all continue east.  The sun is out of our eyes, thankfully and we are now in the ICW and headed north.

Day 6 (8)

After a while the water turns from tea-stained brown to azure against white sandy bottoms and pods of dolphin bring their babies to play with us.

Day 6 (16)

Again we have some of the big ones riding the bow wave (this one blows a rainbow for us!) and some of the smaller adults and babies ride the mid-ship wakes on each side of the boat.  They are learning to roll sideways to make eye contact and some of them even spin completely around like little torpedoes.  We take turns driving and talking to the dolphins because…who can resist them?!?!

Day 6 (21)

Later, we see a huge ray leap free of the water, shiver a little and dive back in and a good-sized sea turtle comes up for air and then darts away as it catches sight of us.

Day 6 (22)

We tuck into the Melbourne North anchorage which is just behind the bridge and causeway.  This should shelter us from the SE wind a little bit anyway.  The forecast looks ugly for the next couple of days with a cold front marching down on us, pushing high winds ahead of it.  We love the Windy app, which allows us to see what’s going on in any area that might affect us and its projections are correct.

The night is rough, the shelter from the causeway illusive and my captain spends the night on the couch keeping watch until a few hours before dawn when it calms down a little bit and I make him go to bed and sleep for a few hours.


The forecast hasn’t changed since last night.  We confirmed with the owners that we would keep going as long as it was physically safe to do so and they were good with this plan, deferring their previous intention to join us in Charleston, SC since traveling with the C-19 stuff going on has become a bit problematic.

We advised them that the winds were forecast to be constant 20 mph+ with gusts to 45 by nightfall and that we felt the safest course of action would be to marina the boat for the night.  They were in agreement.  So, we take advantage of the relative morning calm (10-15 mph) to bring Easy Wind into the Telemar Bay Marina in Melbourne.

0331201037We came in here for fuel when we were on our Loop and were surrounded by kayakers, water bikers and lots of other weekend sporting fans.  This time we see only one water-biker.  The safer-at-home edict is definitely affecting how people live their lives.


We fuel up and spend the next couple of hours scouring the boat.  Anchoring out is less expensive but the mud that sometimes comes up on the anchor and chain makes it impossible to keep the decks clean, even when you do your best to rinse the rode as it comes in, which we always do.  If carpets or entry mats haven’t been cleaned in a while, it makes it to where we track dirty footprints onto spotless, dewy decks too which is frustrating.


I bought a squeegee and have been able to keep the front windows clean but all the side windows were crusted with salt and who-knows-what-else and it felt good to get them cleaner.  I still want to take some CLR to all the windows to remove the scale build up but the wind is kicking up and that will wait till next time.  At least we can now see through them.


We spend the rest of the day listening to the wind start to whistle and snap the flags around us.  We make sure our water tanks are full, catch up on work, accounting, bill paying and all the other essentials of life that get down graded in importance when we are continuously under way.  An Osprey clings to his nest, feathers blowing and seems perturbed by the mounting winds, as he cries to his mate.  The Osprey hatching on the east coast looks to be a week or so behind the west coast as most birds are actively sitting on eggs rather than feeding hatchlings here.

We make an obligatory run to Publix to provision for our run to the boarder since we plan on not stopping at marinas again until somewhere in Georgia, if the weather cooperates.  We run into Captain Crusty and his “Admiral” Dorothy who are aboard Magic and are staying here.  We came down the river system with them when we were Looping and we all had Thanksgiving dinner together at Turner’s in Mobile.  We tried to rendez-vous with Moondance’s Bob and Nancy but we ended up anchoring out and so missed seeing them.  We must adhere to commandment #1 when on a boat: “Thou shalt have no schedule”   even if it means missing catching up with friends.


Easy Wind is clean and happy and so Week 2 is in the books or should I say, Captain’s Log?!!




Makin Memories Relocating Easy Wind Week 1

Week 1

It has been so nice to be back on the water.  A different boat, a different journey but oh so reminiscent of our Loop journey, in that it is the two of us alone again sharing sights and experiences unique to us.



Arriving in Mandeville by rental car allowed us to bring a lot of provisions with us and it was a good thing we had because we arrived at the height of the first wave of panic over C-19, which had people hoarding food and paper products.  We went into a Walmart neighborhood market to buy what we still needed.  There were zero paper products on the shelves, and no meat, eggs or milk.  Fortunately, we don’t use a lot of meat when we are cruising so we were able to find most of the things that we consider to be staples and though we did check a more upscale market for eggs and TP, the story was the same there.

We dropped our provisions back at the boat and because we had left home at 3 in the morning, gained an hour of time change and arrived in Mandeville in the early afternoon, with the rest of the day before us, we decided to go to New Orleans since Jerry had never been there.  We made our way across the 25 miles of bridge that spans Lake Pontchartrain and were able to see the Super Dome Day 0 (1)and downtown as we came off the bridge.  Passing a number of extensive cemeteries, Jerry got to see how gorgeous all of the above-ground mausoleums are.  The ones on the east side of the road were the upscale marble numbers while those on the west side were of crumbling concrete, demonstrating how social inequality follows people even into the afterlife.

We exited the highway and followed a gorgeous tree-lined, azalea popping boulevard that had us passing sweet ante-bellum mansions cheek-to-jowl with modest shotgun houses, sporting peeling paint and crumbling stonework.  We dumped out on the waterfront and traversed it until we came to Jackson square.  The whole experience was like something out of a post apocalypse movie.  Where there are usually bustling crowds, there were empty streets, with a few people here and there but nothing like what is normal.  The bars and restaurants were mostly shuttered with a few half-heartedly trying to make rent by hawking food to-go.  I absolutely cannot imagine what the economic fallout of all of this is going to be.Day 0 (2)

We parked the rental car and explored on foot, taking selfies along the Mighty Mississippi and in Jackson Square and then one more on Bourbon Street, Day 0 (4)which was so empty you could have shot a cannon down the street and not hit a soul.  There is a hollow feeling here that I fear is but a preamble of the devastation yet to come.  We grabbed a couple of ice cream cones from one of the only establishments still open and headed back across the bridge to get ready for departure the following day.


Up early, we returned our rental car to an Enterprise lot that was bristling with cars jammed into every conceivable space on and around the lot.  The young man who gave us a lift back described how lack of business was forcing branch closings right and left.  We got Easy Wind warmed up and spooked a gator off the twisty-turny channel that took us out to the lake.

Day 1 (3)The lake resembled frothy chocolate milk and a few hours later after a pretty rough ride we reached the Rigolets where we fueled up.  This boat is new to her owners and I guess the seller hadn’t used her in a while and so no one had any idea how much fuel was in the tanks.  We were pleasantly surprised to only need about 112 gallons.  On we went out into the Mississippi Sound where we were greeted with more of the same.  Not much to see, partly cloudy and sort of grim, the day passed and we tucked in out of the wind finally at the Gulfport, Mississippi Municipal Marina.Day 1 (10)

This marina was completely rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina and is a really nice facility that can hold about 700+ boats, according to the young man who checked us in and loaned us a splitter cord for the night.  I would come back to visit sometime in the future when we have more time, as there are lovely white sand beaches on either side of the marina and it looks as if the town might be fun to explore but we are tired after a long day and tuck in pretty early.


Up early the next morning, with a goal of getting to a free dock in Gulf Shores (if crossing Mobile Bay doesn’t look too awful), we leave with the flags still standing straight outDay 1 (11) and brace ourselves for another kind of gray and windy day.  At least it isn’t raining.  We pass oil platforms with no evident activity and wonder if this is due to the catastrophically low oil prices, the C-19 or whether it may just be normal for this time of year.Day 1 (7)

There isn’t a lot to see and we chug along, chatting about the cataclysmic events that are rocking the world right now.  The economic fallout is almost more frightening than the possibility of reducing our world population by a couple of percentage points.  I know this is not politically correct to say but I really wonder where our leadership is right now.  An incredible opportunity has been lobbed up to lead with strength to reunify our nation with itself and rest of the world and it has resulted in finger pointing and blame shifting – a swing and a miss by any account.  Nothing unites a people faster than a common enemy but truly our enemy is not another nation and that seems lost on the current administration.  I don’t know what the answer is and sadly I don’t see it in any of the other candidates running for office either.  Time will tell, I guess.

We get our first glimpse of Mobile Bay and it looks totally doable so we continue on across.  It is windy and bumpy but not terrible and we make it across and safely into the ICW.Day 2 (9)

Thank goodness!  I like cruising much better when there is something to look at and we cruise a couple of miles to an abandoned warehouse dock where we tie up to the pylons for the night.  The current is swift so this is a little challenging but we work well together and after adjusting lines and fenders for a while, we are satisfied that we will hold well, even when the tide turns.

This area is amazing.  We are right across from Lulu’s restaurant and just upstream from Tacky Jack’s.

Day 3 (3)The last time we were through here, these waterfront restaurants were bursting at the seams with people eating and drinking, playing beach volleyball to the live music that was pounding out from enormous speakers.  It now resembles a ghost town.Day 3 (1)

Bars have been closed down by state and county edicts and restaurants can only serve to-go orders and while we know this is available, because we called thinking we might want to carry food out, we see absolutely no activity at all.  We decide to make a meal aboard and we enjoy the view from the back deck of the boat while we eat.  We sleep well, Jerry especially.  I know this because I felt and then saw one barge and pusher pass us, rocking us gently on its wake and I whispered, “barge” and he didn’t even stir.

Day 2 (10)


  Leaving in the morning is a simple affair of just releasing lines and giving a gentle push away because we are at slack tide and off we go, passing the silent restaurants and moving along the ICW again under gray skies.

Day 3 (2)

We pass barges loaded with the cutest little fish houses.  They are square concrete pyramids with the top flattened and have openings on all sides.  It is nice to see this dedication to re-establishing reefs that have been damaged or destroyed by human activity.Day 3 (5)

We pull into the Wharf for fuel and it starts to rain – typical!  We don’t really need fuel but this is a new boat to us and we want an idea of our fuel-burn so that we are able to plan the trip better.  We top off and fill our water tanks and when we do the math, we find that the boat is burning between 3 and 4 gallons per hour and since there is only one engine, that’s pretty good!  We can now figure out our range capability and plan future fuel stops more efficiently.

The day is gray and uneventful and we decide that stopping at the Ft. Walton Municipal Free dock would make the most sense, economically and timing wise.  We bypassed this stop on our Loop thinking that it was too full and possibly too shallow but we have read the reviews on active captain and we should have at least 8 feet of depth on the T-head, which is fortunately empty.  We pull in and tie up.  The other residents look like permanent sailboat liveaboards.  One is occupied by a young woman, another by a young man and the third by an old man.  There seems to be community here as they are chatting about needing ice and who is going to the market.Day 3 (14)

We call the local police to inform them that we are here (it is Saturday and the park system is closed) and lock up the boat to go re-provision at Publix.  We are hearing horror stories about long lines and no products at home but here, all is normal.  We buy the few things we think we will need to get from here to Tarpon, taking into account the fact that if the weather shifts, we may be stuck in Carrabelle for a few days.

Back at the boat we make a great feast of Publix fried chicken (we NEVER eat this at home) and some fruit and chips.  A brief shower has driven the sketchies from the park but the drizzle lightens and people on paddleboards take Day 3 (16)advantage of the spotty sunshine as sunset approaches.  We watch, a little puzzled, as the young man casts the lines off his sailboat.  He leaves the lines on the dock and walks to the bow where he starts to haul on a line and his little boat moves gracefully out of her slip.  It becomes evident that he has an anchor a few hundred yards away and when he has maxed out the allowed number of days on the free dock, he hauls his boat out and anchors it nearby to spend the required number of nights off the dock before he can legally return.  It’s actually genius and it occurs to us that these folks who might have been considered on the “fringe” of society may be the ones expressly equipped to thrive if our world devolves into surviving by wit and will and not needing a lot to get by!

Day 3 (13)

I sleep well but Jerry is vigilant due to the nature of the crowd attracted to a municipal park.  He is up several times during the night to check on things but fortunately there are no incidents.  We are up before dawn, making tea and coffee for the day.  We tend to wait to eat breakfast until we are under way because it breaks up the day a little bit.

Day 4 (2)A little duck swims ahead of our boat towards the rising sun, wanting us to go with him but we give it a few more minutes to let the sun shed enough light so we can see the day markers.


The sun is trying to peek through the clouds and we wish we could clear them  away to reveal the blue behind them but it is to no avail.  At least we get splashes of sunshine here and there.  As we approach one of the bridges to the beaches we see flowing movement at the waterline and aren’t really sure what it is until we get closer.  Hundreds and hundreds of Cormorants must have overnighted on the bridge bases and are now in full-on migration mode.  They fly just above the water in a black flowing line and resemble one long, undulating snake rather than a flock of individual birds all bent on reaching the same destination. Part of what I love about boating is seeing things that you otherwise would never even be aware of much less be lucky enough to see.   This photo is of some stragglers who weren’t part of the water-line hugging group; the renegades flying in the face of conformity!Day 4 (16)

From a distance, coming through Panama City and Mexico Beach reveals the resilience of man and nature.  Two years ago, this area was a sea of blue tarps and broken and twisted trees.  The oaks were mangled, with no limbs longer than a couple of feet and the pines were either denuded or literally snapped off, leaving forests of protruding pencil-point stumps.

Day 4 (20)

Now we see no evidence of blue tarps (though I am sure some probably exist on the non-waterfront homes), a testimony to decent insurance and probably some government grant funding.  The oaks are still mangled but there are surprisingly abundant tufts of green along the broken branches doing their best to create the kind of shade that only an old oak can.  The pines that were left standing have also sprouted a green fuzz along their branches and the undergrowth has rallied to hide the pencil-point stumps.  It is amazing to see what has happened in two short years.  It gives one hope that even after devastation, growth and abundance are still possible.Day 4 (29)

I spoke too soon because as soon as you enter the canal that ties the Panama City area to the Apalachicola area, the wreckage literally still surrounds you.  Bent and twisted trees line this ditch which under the best of circumstances threatens to never end.  It is 40 miles of narrow S-turns edged on all sides by a lot of devastation and swamp grass.

Our plan for the day was to try to get past Apalachicola and out the pass near Carrabelle because we have a weather window for this one 24 hour period and if we miss that, we either spend 3 or more days twiddling our thumbs in Carrabelle or we give the Easy Wind more of a rough crossing than we would ideally like to.  We have been alternating driving and napping in anticipation of a possible crossing and have it timed perfectly so that this should be doable but the current in the ditch is much stronger than expected and we are losing time rapidly.  Night falls as we get to Apalachicola and if that weren’t enough of a challenge (the channel is well marked), we come across an active dredge line that the NAV alerts mentioned might be there – we were hoping the job was finished and they would be gone.  Day 4 (36)The dredge line is actively dredging right in the channel and remembering our Captain’s training, we radio to ask how they want us to proceed.  We are delighted when we decipher the southern slur that is so common to watermen and understand that he is volunteering an escort to take us along his “hot line” and get us to the channel where he hasn’t got any men or machinery.  We follow our escort and are finally clear.  Over the years it has always been gratifying to have things that we learned during our training pop up in real life but we have lost some valuable time here and now need to reassess if attempting the crossing still makes sense.


 We listen to the NOAA weather forecast, scour Marv’s Weather Service for his wind and wave forecast and it is pretty clear that we either go now or we sit for days.  We feel good, the boat has plenty of fuel and is running well and we unanimously give it a thumbs up to proceed, wanting to give Easy Wind her best chance at a non-demanding crossing.  Jerry goes into the engine compartment to check oil and give everything a once over and all appears to be good.

Day 4 (12)

We head out the Carrabelle cut in pitch darkness, which actually doesn’t faze us because the last time we came out this cut we were in pea soup fog that barely allowed us to see the bow of our boat.  At least now we can easily see the markers and we navigate the cut into open water to find the conditions as predicted; we can’t see it but we can sure feel the gentle swells with no large chop or rollers and now the die is cast, we are Tarpon Springs bound.  The problem is that we have no cell service and so cannot let the boat owners know of our intent.  We have family and a friend who know we were contemplating the crossing if all looked good so we know we aren’t out without a soul knowing what we are doing but I don’t like possibly causing the owners to worry about their boat.

The skies have cleared and the stars are amazingly bright here away from the small amount of light pollution this area produces. It looks like a child threw a handful of diamonds against the black velvet dome above us and while some stuck and glimmer there, others scattered over the surface of the water reflecting their light in a mirror image of those above. It is breathtaking!

There is no way to do the Gulf crossing without traversing a good part of it in the dark and this is the payoff.  Last time we had fog the entire way and saw almost nothing, this time we have perfectly clear skies and tons of stars, maybe next time we will have a full moon (we have no moon at all tonight)!

Day 5 (9a) (1)

We alternate two-hour shifts, taking turns staring at our chart plotter and a lot of blackness and napping and the time passes quickly.  During one shift change I come up to see Jerry hanging out the top of the Dutch door talking to goodness only knows who!  I edge up next to him and see that we have a pair of ghost dolphins riding along side of us.  They look like white torpedoes racing through the water right by our side door and they jump as if to greet us.  Again, these are the best parts of boating!

I am on shift as the sun rises and it is absolutely magnificent.  I can now see the gently rolling swells as they bleed from gray to gold to rose and then to blue as the sun breaks free of the horizon.  We each take one more cat nap but we both love this part of the trip too much to spend it asleep.  We see the loons that we only heard in the foggy darkness on our last crossing, when we wondered if we had imagined the sound at 50 miles off shore in Florida!  Because the water is so flat, it is easy to see any aberration and we see fish jumping, lots of Loons and a family of dolphin in the distance, though none of them wants to come and play with us just yet.  Flying fish leap up and skitter away from us, sensing a danger that is all in their imaginations and we are overcome with awe for all the life we see around us.

Day 5 (8)

When the sun is high, its rays dive deep into the water inking it the color blue I remember so well from my childhood when we would go fishing in the Keys and cross from the emerald green waters into the Gulf Stream.  That cobalt blue has a richness and depth of color that is unmatched, and we soak it in.  The day is magnificent, warm in the sun and cool in the shade, in other words…perfect.

Day 5 (14)Our auto pilot works well and has a remote control which allows us to sit on the bow and up on the flying bridge and keep our bow pointed towards Tarpon Springs.

Day 5 (18)

The sun arcs high and begins to descend and through the distant haze we finally see the power plant stack that marks the mouth of the Anclote River. 300 miles and 33 hours later, we are almost home!  What a blessing this daylight crossing has been.  Last time we had left earlier in the day and arrived here in time for sunrise, missing all the beauty we have been part of today.  Most of Jerry’s charter crossings have been going from Tarpon Springs to Carabelle and northward.  This is the first crossing we have done together since we finished our own Loop and we are truly grateful for this opportunity.

We arrive at the newly renovated City Docks and our buddy Mike is there to catch lines along with Dillon who works there.  It is slack tide and the wind mercifully decides to grant us peace by subsiding and our docking is smooth and easy and we have arrived at the end of the first week of moving Easy Wind closer to her owners.  We will take some time to figure out what happens from here.  Will enough marinas be left open during the C-19 lockdown to allow us to refuel?  We don’t really need marinas but we do need fuel to finish this job.


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