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sailing away with R & B
Another Gulfport
Beverly/light winds and cool
02/03/2013, Gulfport, Florida

We left Clearwater Beach at around 10 this morning and arrived here around 3:30. It was 22.4 mIles down the GIWW but included 1 fixed bridge and 5 bascule bridges, which caused delays. We also got waked countless times by power boats. One boat waked us 3 times! #@#!! We were even stalked by a pirate ship in Boca Ciega bay - they fired (fake) canons at us while we were waiting for a bridge to open! In a quieter section we saw some dolphins and one came close enough to splash us. We're glad to be in a quiet anchorage after such an eventful day. Here is a shot of the Gulfport anchorage.

02/03/2013 | Penni & Jay
Beautiful anchorage. Looking forward to being there.
02/03/2013 | GrimE
Don't you just love power boaters? I get on the VHF and let them know how rude they are creating a very uncomfortable wake on us and remind them of the state and federal laws.
Sunset dinner
Beverly/clear and cool
02/01/2013, Clearwater Beach municipal marina

Today we walked a few blocks to Publix for provisions. The walk there is a lot easier than the walk back carrying the full bags! We stowed everything and relaxed with drinks in the cockpit. Just before sunset Ralph grilled steaks on our Magma grill. We enjoyed dinner at the cockpit table - steaks, Caesar salad, and turtle cheesecake slices for dessert. Accompanied by red wine, this beautiful sunset and some smooth jazz on the Klipsch stereo. Perfect!

02/02/2013 | Cindy
Congrats on making that trek across the gulf. Enjoy your time in Florida. All is well here.
Not so calm seas
Beverly
01/25/2013, Gulf of Mexico

Here's what the water looked like during those few hours of challenging waves.

01/25/2013 | Dot and John
Congrats on arriving in Clearwater. The pictures are great. Tomorrow, Saturday, is the Gasparilla Parade in Tampa. The pirates invade the City. Enjoy Clearwater.
01/26/2013 | Ralph
Thank you John. It feels great to be in shorts and T-shirts again!
01/26/2013 | Sully
Looks great, Ralph!

SORRY the site is down. I'm trying my best to get it back up, but it is linked to my ex wife's email address, and I have lost the password (which is only sent to her address). I think the donations we put together for the site a couple years back have run their course. There is no other reason the site would be down. I'm trying to get it back. There is also a complete finale to my problems... here: http://www.multihulls4us.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5212

You can read about what happened to my wife there. Full on BPD meltdown. She is lost forever. :(
01/27/2013 | George
I check in on Ralph and Bev today. They are doing wonderful and living the dream!
01/27/2013 | Ralph
What a pleasure to meet you after all of these years, George. Thank you so much for taking the time to come over here!

R&B
01/28/2013 | Sully
Now the multihull site with your email address in it is down, Ralph! ha ha ha :) I have paid the $100 to have cruising.stuffiminto.com's hosting renewed. It was linked to a card that went to the joint account my ex wife emptied out. We should be up and running again just as soon as the guys at GoDaddy reactivate it. Sorry again for the outage. I had no idea what happened.
01/28/2013 | Sully
And we're back! cruising.stuffiminto.com is back. Spread the word..
01/28/2013 | RTB
Thanks Sully. I see it's back up now. For anyone looking for a great boating, sailing/cruising forum, check out http://cruising.stuffiminto.com/search.php?searchid=131342
01/28/2013 | Jeffrey
very beautiful... are you plotting this journey on a chart for our viewing pelasure?
01/28/2013 | Ralph
Jeffrey, you can see each place that we have stopped if you click on see full map where it says CURRENT POSITION over on the right near the top.
01/28/2013 | George Raffa
Ralph,
The following is the web site for Mousetracks. If you run into them say hello for me.
http://svmoosetracks.blogspot.com/?m=1
01/28/2013 | Ralph
George-

We'll definitely say hi for you if we see them.
01/29/2013 | Bob
Welcome to Clearwater. I'm just around the corner from you all. I'm moored next to the Clearwater Yacht Club. If you have any questions about the local scene, I'm a native here and will try to help.
01/30/2013 | Ralph
Hi Bob. Thanks for the welcome. A bit bumpy today! Our dock neighbors here have offered to loan us their car, and have filled us in about where everything is. We're good for now. We plan on leaving Saturday or Sunday, heading farther south.
Sunrise
Beverly
01/25/2013, Gulf of Mexico

Here's today's sunrise seen from the boat about 50 miles offshore. Note the calm seas with little ripples from the breeze!

Sunset
Beverly
01/25/2013, Clearwater

Here's a shot of that beautiful sunset, which was followed by an almost full moon that lit up our way until an hour before dawn. Beverly was on helm duty during that time and the stars were amazing during that dark hour!

Water, water, and more water!
Beverly and Ralph/sunny and warm
01/25/2013, Clearwater, Florida

Don't freak out! There is no problem with our boat.

We left C-Quarters Marina at around 8:30 am, waiting for the tide. After checking weather over and over, we just had to make a run for Clearwater. Take pity on us Neptune! Once we made our way out to St. George Sound, Ralph checked the engine for diesel leaks. No problem there. He then raised the mainsail, and we motored our way out through East Pass, into the Gulf of Mexico. We cleared the pass at about 10 AM.

Things looked good as we motor-sailed our way on the rhumbline. The wind was from the west, and some increasing swell as well. It did start getting very rolly around 25 miles into our crossing. The winds and waves began to increase, and we were making some great time, reaching 7.9 knots of boatspeed. This was going to be a quick trip, much quicker than our estimated 30 hours.

Beverly was nervous, but did a great job handling the boat after a little coaching. It was a bit tiring steering the boat, as we have no autopilot. Fortunately, things calmed down after about 5 or 6 hours, because we both would have been even more exhausted than we already are after the 164 nm passage (145 of those offshore).

We watched a beautiful sunset with nothing in sight but water...water...and more water. It was mostly clear, and an almost full moon. It was a very long, but beautiful evening. We each took turns at the helm, as the other went below for some much needed rest and to warm up. We did 2 hour watches, and that worked well for our first crossing with no autopilot.

The wind totally dropped off during the night, so our little Yanmar didn't get a break. By sunrise, it was amazing to see the smooth, rippled surface on the Gulf. Beverly had seen photos and read of other cruisers that had crossed the Gulf in these condition, and claimed it was a MYTH! Now she has her own photos of these conditions. To quote SNL, "Never mind!"

Wildlife seen: several dolphins along the way (even at night), a manatee this morning, and a lazily floating small sea turtle just off the coast of Clearwater.

We arrived here at the Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina around 1 pm today. It looks like a nice place. Ralph says that it sure is a contrast to the rustic look of Carrabelle. Also, rather than being a laid back place, there is so much activity here.

Beverly says we are tired because although we rested between watches we were too keyed up to sleep more than an hour or two, so we're especially happy to be here! We were able to clean up and walk just to the end of the marina for an early dinner of "real food" (since we had survived on sandwiches).

Now we have options if we wish to travel. If the weather looks good, we can go offshore. If not, we can go via the ICW. The big thing is that we can now work our way down to the Keys, and on to the Bahamas.

Here's a picture of the not-so-mythical calm seas.

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