01/18/2011, Sarasota Bay
It's been a week since we left Port St. Joe, Fl, and traveled via the ICWW for a 5 hour trip to Apalachicola. Our 2 and 1/2 day stay in Apalachicola was plenty enough to see the small town, do some laundry and eat some of the biggest and best oysters ever. Due to the bitter cold, much of our time was spent hunkered down below with our heater going, cooking, reading, planning and movie watching. Timing and weather would be crucial for the next leg of the trip.
Friday morning around 8:30 we cranked up the motor and due to mechanical issues it took about an hour to get going. This happened leaving Port St. Joe too and since we haven't had any problems before or since, I believe the boat just does not want to leave in temperatures below 32 degrees..... like me.
Once underway we made it through St. George Island Government Cut with no problems and we were back in blue water. With NE winds @ 10-15 knots and 2-4 ft seas, we were able to sail all the way to the Tampa Bay entrance channel. We found our destination anchorage of Egmont Key to be inadequate protection from the strong NE winds so we traveled a little further south via the ICWW to Longboat Key where we anchored for the night.
After 33 hrs of traveling we were exhausted and I was a bit banged up. Even with the boat sailng as beautifully as she did, at 6-7 kts when healed 20 degrees, maneuvering around the boat is never easy. You do get used to it but by then muscles come into play that haven't been used in way too long.
The next morning (Sunday) we pulled up anchor and headed back into the Gulf for Venice. We were sailing close to shore, enjoying the warmth and view of South Florida when the phone rang. It was a friend who lives in the Osprey/Sarasota area who convinced us to come into Sarasota Bay. We hadn't planned on it as most of the guide books don't recommend entering thru the Gulf.
And so we did... and after just one brief run in with the ground we were back in the channel and soon anchored in Sarasota Bay. Our friend Paul and his wife Sue joined us on the boat for cocktails and sunset then showed us around downtown Sarasota. We had a great evening enjoying burgers, beer and good company.
Monday morning I was awakened by Dave calling for help. The winds had picked up to around 15 knots and we were dragging anchor. After about an hour ordeal which included be sweared at by a dude who has taken up permanent residence on his dilapadated boat in the bay (Picture the guy you see pushing their shopping carts/bicycles around with all of their worldly possessions) we were set again. There are a few of those type boats here in the bay with people on them going nowhere. After this I went down below and slept to 2:30! It was a dreary day and we got some much needed lazing around and picking up/organizing around the boat done. I also managed to cook a pot of Jambalaya.
Today we will get picked up around noon by our friend Paul for what I'm sure will be an adventerous day and we will later have dinner at his home and get to do some laundry. Laundry has become quite the pain, but hopefully as the weather gets warmer it will be less so.
Thursday or Friday we'll head toward Naples with a stop in Venice maybe.
We're in Sarasota Bay. We're the boat still flying the Saints Flag. Come by and have a drink.
01/09/2011, Panama City to Port St. Joe
Our sail from Panama City to Port St. Joe was almost ideal...... almost.
Wake up. have coffee. head out around 7. sail the majority of the way. following seas. tied up at 2:30. take turbo for walk at 2:35. drink firmly in hand 2:45 (well actually 3:45 as we had just crossed in to EST)
Leaving St. Andrews Bay wasn't quite as smooth as when we arrived.. not by a long shot. This leg brought me face to face with big, steep, 8 ft. seas for the first time. A little scary at first, but then kinda fun. This is what this boat was made for and she did well. The wind was behind us and David was loving it! The dolphin followed us out and hung around a while too. It turned out to be a nice ride. I say almost ideal because I got cold and I find once cold it's really hard to warm up.. no matter how many layers you add. So I ended up below for most of the trip.
Once at Port St. Joe Marina we immediately sought out a place to watch the Saint's Playoff Game. The Marina has it's own little bar/restaurant so we started out there. We ran into an ex co-worker of Dave (it is a such a small world sometimes!) who was going over to a place a block away, so we followed at half-time and met up with him and his wife. We were the only people at the bar.. in our black & gold/fleur de lis/saints wear/etc. but people slowly rolled in (not necessarily to watch football) and by the last quarter the bar was full and everyone in it was rooting for our Saints......We all know how that ended :(
There's a group here meeting for a semi-annual rendezvous, they're called "Loopers".. mostly retirees on big motor yachts who circumnavigate Eastern North America over the course of 18 months to 3 years. An interesting adventure on the right boat I'm sure, but after 3 weeks, I feel certain I do not want to travel in a boat any further north. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_loop
Today we did some provisioning. They have a lot of conveniences within walking
distance.. Piggly Wiggly, Dollar Store and Liquor Store. What else do you need really?
The next leg will be to Apalachicola via the ICW. It's about a 5 hour motor from here. We're shooting for a Tuesday departure. Then head to Clearwater by the end of the week. The plan to head straight past Tampa in one leg has been scratched.
David just went up to the cafe to watch a little football. Turbo is planted at my feet. We're at Port St. Joe Marina at the end of the "T" dock. Come by and have a drink!
01/05/2011, Biloxi to Panama City
It seems there were 2 questions that we got asked overwhelmingly more than any others when talking to people about our trip.. 1) What about pirates? aren't you afraid? and, 2) Where will Turbodog go to the bathroom?
Well the picture speaks for itself (taken leaving Biloxi).. We're not afraid of no pirates..... we just out run them!
We left Biloxi Monday morning and it was cold & cloudy.. 32 degrees cold but the winds were in our favor so we layered up and took off. We added more layers.. and then more. As the day progressed it did get warmer and was fairly comfortable as we sailed farther offshore and into the night. This would be only our 2nd overnight trip with just the two of us (the first when we first took the boat home from Florida last fall). After sunset David went below to try to catch a few hours sleep while I kept watch. Then he came up and took over till dawn. At dawn David went below for a few more hours sleep. I'm not sure either of us slept much at all.
The couple we bought the boat from told us they took 2 hour watch shifts around the clock so one was always free to read, cook, sleep, do maintenance, whatever. Hopefully soon we'll fall in to our routine.
Tuesday morning brought us warmer temperatures and by midday... sunshine, blue water & dolphin! We've seen our share of dolphin.. from the Rigolets to Florida.. but there's something about seeing them in blue water and having them coming right up and playing around for a while and riding the bow. If I ever get tired of this sight, this gigs up!
Now the question about Turbodog.. no puppy pads or artificial grass for us. The plan was always to try to train him to go far up on the front of the boat (where it can easily be rinsed off). For days we kept referring to it as "outside". "Go pee pee OUTSIDE Turbo". but he just wasn't buying it...
Finally, after all day of hearing us call out "Dolphin" every time we saw them and him looking over and not seeing anything, later in the day he finally saw several and started barking at them. Immediately after that he went straight up to bow and "marked" his boat.
It's a rainy, dreary day here in Panama City.. taking care of laundry and boat maintenance, planning the next leg of our journey to Tampa Bay or possibly farther to Venice. This will be the longest leg of the whole journey (about 48 hours).
We're at Panama City Marina, Dock 5. Come by and have a drink!
The picture was taken of our computer screen today and I couldn't help but laugh when I looked at it. We're using some fancy new software.. so fancy, in fact, that it knows exactly how we are feeling at any given moment.
I promised my son Jason this blog wouldn't be all sunshine and rainbows..that I would try to keep it real. I'm going to try hard to stick with that.
We left Oak Harbor at 0730 this morning in 36 degrees. The winds were light and it was sunny so not too bad of a start. We passed thru the Rigolets train bridge around 0900 with ease. (We have quite a few stories about trying to get through that bridge in the past.. and it is highly likely some of you reading this may even have been there with us on one of those occasions). It was emotional, exciting and a big reality check that we would not be going back through there for another 6 months. As the day progressed it became cloudy and bitter cold, winds picked up to around 20 knots and by the time we were passing Gulfport waves were increasing and spray was coming into the cockpit. We arrived in Biloxi and were tied up around 5:30. Overall not a bad day.. but not sunshine and rainbows either.
The forecast for the next 3 days are 20-25 knot SE winds. We're staying put. We're at the Biloxi Small Craft Marina right outside of the Hard Rock Casino. Probably gonna be here into the New Year.
A wise man named Swag recently said.. A Journey of a 1000 miles begins with one sail. And so it has...
We're in slip C-16. Come by and have a drink!
12/22/2010, Oak Harbor Marina, Slidell
We've been spending plenty of time with family & friends relaxing and being fed well. Our first night out of the house (Friday) was spent in Picayune with Jolie's mom n 'em. Saturday we had a fantastic meal with our great friends Brian, Lori & Kids, Marceau and Jason came by too. We stayed over till Sunday and were treated to Brian's awesome hot wings, bloodies and mimosas while we watched the Saints game. We celebrated a mini Christmas that Sunday evening after the game with Mom & Dad, Lori & Tommy, Jason, Lindsey and Roman. Monday was dinner with Bob & Sandy after David & Bob spent all day getting the boat back in the water then from the boat yard to the marina. Tuesday Dave had a visit with his dad, we had a toast with Michelle & Eric, and spent some valuable time with a new friend David V who, along with his wife, has made the trip to the Bahamas and Exumas quite a few times.
The last 2 nights we've spent on the boat at Oak Harbor Marina in Slidell organizing and running last minute errands. We have a great view of the St. Tammany Yacht Club where David & I got married 16 years ago and sailed off into the sunset... then into several days of horrific weather on our 26 ft Pearson "Gusto" for our honeymoon.
As seems to be the rule on this kind of trip.. things change and we are now looking at leaving after Christmas.
We're in slip 706. We'll be here a while. Come by and have a drink!
David and Bob took the boat over to the yard last Friday, earlier than originally scheduled but good thing. The weather here has been colder than normal and bottom paint can't happen if the temperature is less than 50 degrees. Today the boat got painted with her new name "Okwa Naholo".
The boat's original name was "Ostinato", this was an ode to the previous owners daughter who played the piano. The history of the new name is here under the profile somewhere.
If the bottom gets painted tomorrow, the boat will make it back in the water Friday or Monday and we will head to Mississippi Tuesday or Wednesday.
The house is pretty much packed up...just small last minute maintenance and cleaning to do. We're watching TV on lawn chairs, eating frozen pizza and waiting to be kicked out by the new tenants tomorrow or Friday.
We'll spend the next week with family and friends and saying goodbyes.