Sunday, April 23, 2017

White City, FL to Mobile, AL

Total Miles Traveled 2906

After a couple of days relaxing on the hook, we continued on to an anchorage near Panama City.  We saw several jets fly over us until early evening.

This is the Harvey Sub-Sea multipurpose support vessel.  It is 340 feet long and has a Helidex Offshore helicopter landing pad mounted on the front; its aluminum deck is 73 feet in diameter.

We took advantage of the early morning light winds and crossed two big open bays to reach the “Grand Canyon” of Florida, a 16 mile run following an unmarked and narrow ICW through the swamps into the Choctawhatchee Bay.  We caught up with “0 Regrets” just as we entered this section.

We turned north after passing under the highway 83 bridge and entered LaGrange Bayou, the location of Marina Village.  We stopped here to visit our friends Brad and Nancy, Brad and I worked together before we retired and they have relocated to this area.  We had a great visit with them and plan to stop again on the way down this fall.  

We continued west the following day to an anchorage at Roberts Bayou, this is one of our favorite places to anchor, and our last stop before Mobile, Al. 

On our way to Roberts Bayou, we passed the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA).  A friend of ours told us about this program where families and individuals that choose cremation rather than burial can have their loved ones ashes mixed into the cement of the artificial reef.  These reefs allow families to construct, personalize, and name a reef for their loved one.

The distance from Roberts Bayou to Dog River at Mobile, AL is about 45 miles.  We intended to leave at daybreak so we could cross Mobile Bay before the wind started to have an effect on the water, but when we woke up we were fogged in.  After a couple of hours,  the fog lifted and we were on our way.  About half way across the bay we had 2 foot waves but at a comfortable angle.  We arrived at Turner Marine Thursday April 20th at Mobile Alabama.  They have some very unique furniture, hand carved teak.

We have friends “Chasing 80” at the Ponchartrain Landing Marina in New Orleans, Louisiana.   We decided to take advantage of the weekend $10/ day car rental special and drive over to visit them and the city.  We had a great time with Kevin and Jill spending two days seeing the sites.

Saint Louis Cathedral

And a few wild characters

And music throughout the city

And a wedding.......
We took a trolley too
...but just a little snug.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Crystal River to White City, FL

Total Miles Traveled 2679

It was quite a long run from Crystal River to Steinhatchee, a little over ninety miles; we had great seas crossing the Gulf, but hundreds of crab pots.  When we arrived, we found “0 Regrets” at the dock.  We have met Barry several times, the first time near our home port at Grand Rivers, KY, then when on the loop at Demopolis, Al.  As we were coming up the west coast of Florida this spring, he met us at Punta Blanca Island, and today he passed by our anchorage on the way to White City.  I’m sure we’ll meet again before reaching our home port.

We left Steinhatchee at daybreak and had a full moon setting in the west as we followed the channel to the Gulf.

We arrived at Carrabelle just before closing, allowing us to top off our fuel tanks with $2.10/ gal diesel fuel.  Carrabelle is one of our favorite stops; everything you need is a short walk from the boat including fresh seafood and great people.  

After taking a day off, we continued on to Apalachicola, Fl, Friday the 14th which is known for its thirty miles of shallow oyster paradise.  We stayed at the City Dock and visited several shops and art studios, then topped the afternoon off with oysters at the Hole in the Wall oyster bar.

Crossing Apalachicola Bay

Well, it was Saturday and we really like to stay put on the weekends but decided to travel 17 mi to an anchorage at Searcy Creek, about 3 miles from White City, Fl.

As we were dropping the anchor, we noticed we were not alone.

This anchorage is an oxbow just off the waterway and is a popular spot for the local fisherman.  We saw several come and go as we observed them from our fly bridge.  We notice one guy had a pretty good fish on his line so I decided to take a picture of his catch.  His buddy on the boat did not seem to be excited and continued fishing while his partner fought to get the fish in.  Just as he brought the fish close to the boat “Bang”, he pulled a pistol and shot the fish!  Needless to say, we were not ready for that.

Today I noticed this turtle with his head stuck way out, not sure what he was doing?

Oh, I see now….

This is a peaceful place to anchor, I’m sure we’ll stop here again.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tarpon Springs to Crystal River, Fl

Total Miles Traveled 2457

We left Tarpon Springs April 8th and only traveled a few miles to anchor at Anclote Key.  The distance to Crystal River from this anchorage is over 70 miles so we wanted to get an early start crossing the Gulf without the delays of coming down the river from Tarpon Springs. 

After traveling an hour or so, there appeared to be a wall of fog on the horizon, we had to deal with fog when we came down in December.  It turned out to be smoke, maybe burning off sugar cane, we are about 5 miles from shore when I took these pictures.

Most of our cruise to Crystal River was about 10 miles off shore and I didn’t see more than 20 feet of water, most of it was 10-15 feet deep.

As we entered Crystal River we passed the Crystal River Generating Station.  The complex contains a single nuclear power plant, while sharing the site with four fossil fuel power plants. The nuclear facility is currently being decommissioned after operating 33 years until shutdown in 2009. 

After an hour journey up the river, we arrived at Pete’s Pier, catering more to the fishing community than cruisers.

Crystal River is at the heart of the Nature Coast of Florida.  The city is situated around Kings Bay, which is spring-fed and so keeps a constant 72 deg F temperature year round.  A cluster of 50 springs designated as a first-magnitude system feeds Kings Bay.  A first-magnitude system discharges 100 cubic feet or more of water per second, which equals about 64 million gallons of water per day.  Because of this discharge amount, the Crystal River Springs group is the second largest springs group in Florida.  Kings Bay can be home to over 400 Manatees during the winter when the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico cools, and is the only place in the United States where people can legally interact with them in their natural conditions.

We spent the entire day putting around in the dinghy exploring Kings Bay and all of the canals surrounding the bay…..and we saw a few Manatees.

The ducks are not real; they are being used to mark a cable to keep boats out of a protected area.

My “Best Mate” on the lookout for wildlife.

Oooh, she spotted a dandy!

A great day in the life of dinghy owners, we purchased and installed a hydrofoil for our 6 hp outboard while at Tarpon Springs.  We had a chance to check it out for the first time today and it worked great!  Ninety five percent of our dinghy rides are at idle, exploring the areas we visit.  Sometimes we get a few miles away and it would be nice to get up and go!  Until now, when I gave it full throttle, the dinghy would just squat in the water and push water instead of getting up on plane.  The hydrofoil gave us just enough lift to make it happen.  Life is good : }