Day 18 Part Two
22 October 2011 | Clearwater
Chris/ and more of the same
Day 18 (continued) Saturday, October 22 .....Only serves to make us stronger. The second sunrise of our Day 18 looks a lot like the sunset did. As the sun is rising we get word from the Coast Guard that Tow Boat US has dispatched two boats and that they should get to us around 8:00. At 8:30 they arrive.
After securing the starboard shaft, we're ready to get towed. The two outboard boats, each with twin 200 hp engines can make about 4.9 knots with us in tow, and still keep us where they want us. The captain of Tow 1 radios back to us to sit back and enjoy the ride. He continues with, "We have only one rule, you stay behind us."
The trip into Clearwater is, in fact, sort of enjoyable. It's a beautiful day again, and even doing 5 knots makes the seas far more tolerable. We see more dolphins and plenty of fishermen. We also see my first tailwalk. It's a marlin or more likely a sailfish, coming out of the water and dancing on his tail. I never knew before this that they did that when not fighting a fishing line. It was very cool to see.
After a few hours a third Tow Boat US boat shows up and does a fuel transfer with Tow 1. They appear to be very competent. Then the third boat stars taking pictures. We wonder where those will end up.
As we get near to shore we start to see a lot of sail boats. With us in tow, the Tow Boat US guys cross a sailboat race. Ordinarily, I'll side with sailors, but in this case, it becomes obvious that some don't completely understand the rules of the road, and when sail boats don't have the right of way. Evasive maneuvers by the Tow1 are required at one point to avoid collision.
The boats change position as we start under the causeway bridge at the entrance to the pass into the Clearwater area. One moves behind us to act as a brake and a rudder as we get into tighter quarters. And a third boat, that same one that hours ago brought out additional fuel, acts a traffic cop keeping boats away from us. He's kind of like the motorcycle cop escorting a funeral procession.
As we approach the Clearwater Municipal Marina, we become the center of attention. Everybody wants to see what is going on. And as it's a Saturday, there are plenty of spectators around.
When we get to the marina wall the tow guys do an excellent job easing us into position. They line us up parallel to the wall, but a ways away in a breeze now on our forward quarter. Then they throw the middle of the tow line to guys on the wall. Those guys put it over a cleat so it goes from our bow, around the cleat (just half way, not wrapped around), and continues to the tow boat. That allows the boat to go forward, away from the wall, and still draw us into the wall (and the wind in this case). I wouldn't have thought of it, so that it's a good lesson in boat handling. It was as smooth a docking as any. They did a great job, and we were on solid ground.
We fuel up (1421 gallons) and pump out. Then we get the generator and both engines running again. All is well. We move to the slip we'll spend the night in, and get ready for dinner. We are joined by Carol, Mike's mom, for dinner at Crabby Bill's. Two day has been long. Tomorrow, day 20, will be easy. Only going 120 miles to Naples and we have to wait until 9:00 and high tide to leave.