Clearwater to Apalachicola Florida

Valt & Sandy
Sun 2 Jun 2013 15:30
29:62:398N 085:10:062W

June 1, 2013
We'd enjoyed a nice visit to Clearwater Beach, walking the beach, the Pier, eating at French's Cafe in exchange for using their dinghy dock. Walking the docks at the marina is always fun. As usual we did a few boat chores, too. Our stopover here was shorter than planned.
Weather watching is our favorite pastime. When we first arrived at Clearwater Beach on Thursday, we expected to make our big crossing of the Gulf of Mexico on next Tuesday, June 4. By Friday we'd moved it up to Monday. Then Sunday. But we awoke Saturday morning to a change in the weather forecast: we would leave Saturday instead. We hoisted the dinghy and left it in the quick launch position. We stocked it with drinking water and extra gas. Out came the "ditch-bag" filled with food, flares, jackets, hats and more. Next the life jackets and float coats. Cupboards,windows and doors were battened down. Weighing anchor, we went out the Inlet to the sea on a 311 degree heading. The SE wind was very light on our stern, the seas 1'. The forecast called for 5-10 knot SE winds and 1-2' seas til Sunday night. We hoped they were right. Our expected ETA was Sunday June 2 at 1:00pm. It looked like a great crossing day. A slow moving tropical disturbance had been reported in Mexico. Was this the calm before the storm?
We were surprised when we hears sailor friends talk about their over ought crossing. They really enjoyed them. Some compiled special CDs to sail by. Our first overnight passage was to save fuel. At our regular speed of 5.7 knots, we burn 2.5 gallons an hour. When we tried yo run this crossing mostly in daylight, we had to speed up to 18 knots much of the trip, burning 45 gallons an hour. We saved a ton of diesel. We also like the trip. The adventure, the exuberance, the peace. A well planned overnighter in good weather is a real treat. Of course, poor planning or weather forecasting can make it bad.