From Gulf shores to Clearwater.........

Ron Welch
Wed 29 Dec 2010 00:17
12/29/10 latitude - 27;58.56, longitude - 82;0.83 Clearwater, Florida
Over Christmas, on our way to visit family and friends, we took a 200 mile trip down recent memory lane. It's always interesting to see things from the "other side" .........retracing our route to Apalachicola from the road,in the rental car, was a marvelous treat. In about four hours over land we retravelled the distance it had taken us over week to cover by sea. Weather was COLD, but the company was WARM......we all enjoyed the impromptu reunion. Quick four hours over land and we were back aboard Ananda. We woke early to set out on our meander down the ICW to Carrabelle. All prepared to depart, high tide, lines cast off, engine in reverse.......nothing! Engine engaged a little more throttle.......nothing! We were aground in the slip. We knew the water was shallow, however we thought leaving at high tide would work....Wrong. We needed the "guys in yellow boats".....Sea Tow. Not the cheap way to get out of a slip and on with the journey, but never the less, it worked. Sea Tow in the first couple of weeks.....oh no, what are we in for? Narrow channel for depth, but the usual swamp, spanish mossy trees with water swollen trunks made for a pleasant trip to Carrabelle. We had some pelican passengers at one point....looking for fish no doubt. They are not interested in anything vegeterian. They were such good sports about all the photos i was taking, i honestly felt bad having nothing of interest to offer in exchange. Our fortune for the day had shifted to good, as before we began looking for the legendary weather and route forecaster fellow at Moorings Marina, we discovered he was the very person who helped us tie up at the fuel dock. Buddy convinced us to spend the night there and take off in the morning. He as been helping folks cross the gulf for twenty three years so it seemed prudent to" listen to local knowledge" in this case. He described with great vigor the treachery of crossing the gulf in the wrong moon phase. "The full moon was waning, and one more night ought to slow the current a little more.". We stayed the night, and were taxied to dinner and back. When our ride came to pick us up, he turned down a dark dirt road.....this isn't the way, came into my mind, only to discover he was taking us to see the bears. Yes, bears......a large and medium black bears were seeing what leftovers there were in the dumpster. Quite a sight. Great nights sleep and we were off on schedule at seven am. Mirror like conditions in the Marina were the first indicator that this would probably be a motor crossing with minimal sailing.......oh well, uneventful seemed the same as safe....the little bit of wind there was came from the north shifting slightly east by the time we were close to Clearwater. Waves, very little, were also moving in our direction, so it made for a pleasant twenty seven hours at sea. Numerous occasions we were accompanied by dolphins playing in the bow wave. It's exhilarating watching them speed through the aquamarine of the true treasures of this life style, but once again the other side of the treasure is the treachery.........the last twenty miles into Clearwater, all the way to the channel into the bay, is a "crab trap mine field". It took both of us keeping a look out. We had to move like the river meandering across the ocean....we already know what lines can do to props.......

Sent from Sharon