Marina Jacks, Sarasota Florida

Delayed 2 days in leaving Treasure Island, we had a prop removed and recondition. I had a low rpm vibration since the Pan Handle and I had a diver go down and look at the bottom and the props. The starboard prop had some damage so I called around and was able to take it in on Tuesday about 1:00 and get it back on Wednesday at 3:00. By 5:00 it was back on the boat. What a great bunch of people I worked with to get it done.
Weather has been great and it has been a little windy the last 2 days. Tampa Bay had a moderate chop on it today. We had maybe 8 miles of open water to motor across but the wind was behind us.
It never ceases to amaze me how really small this world is. One of the boats that came into Treasure Island on Tuesday was a SeaRay My M, from Orange Beach Alabama. We got to talking and they spent January 2011 in Marathon next to Bill Carver who gave me loads of info from his Loop last year and who I have rented my slip from for the last 9 years in St. Clair. My M is a great couple and fun to talk to.
Pretty quite on the water today. Not many boats and the most exciting thing was we approched a causeway bridge in the St Pete’s area and they are building a new high bridge next to the existing bridge. They had barges with beams across the marked channel ready to hoist into place so we ended up with a Sheriff escort around and under one of the lower side spans.
We had dolphins following the boat for a short time today. I think there were 4 of them and I first spotted them off the starboard bow but they like to jump in the waves behind the boat. We had one jump as close as 5′ from the boat. Lenore tried to get some pictures but it is like shooting at a ghost. One of these times we will get lucky and have a good picture.
Marina Jacks is a nice upscale marina that was recommended by the folks from Clearwater that we met in Tarpon Springs. Merle couldn’t say enough good thing about it so we scheduled it. The boats range from 20′ to 60′ and there is one large 3 story yacht that must be 80′ long. A little suprising considering the ICW is not all that deep. They have floating concrete docks and we are right downtown Sarasota. Candy liked the marina office because they had dog cookies when we went in.

The Club Treasure Island, Treasure Island, FL

Left Tarpon Springs this morning and while the sky was cloudless it was a little brisk in the low 50’s. The winds seemed to be up when we were making preparations to leave but the water was good all the way to Treasure Island (St. Petersburg Area).
Treasure Island was recommended by the people in the boat next to us at Turtle Cove and they were absolutely right. Nice people and the dockmaster was great as we had a little problem finding the marina and he gave us more than enough info for me to figure out where I was wrong. Nice place with a large club house, tennis courts, swimming pool and a large Tiki Bar.
When we were settled in I decided to go into the bilge and do my normal checks. Well the place was wet and I finally spoted the accumulator tank (AT) leaking on the potable water system. This is the tank that essentially stores water under pressure to keep the water pump from coming on as soon as a faucet is turned on. I could see no place to shut it off other than to shut the water to the boat off. After looking at the situation I noticed a couple of guys on the dock talking so I approached them to see if they might have a plug so I could remove the AT and put a plug in the fitting. It ended up that we called the local West Marine and they had an AT and were open for another hour. This one gentleman, Ken, drove me over to West Marine and I bought the new AT and a plug. I used the plug after I removed the leaking AT because the new AT is going to require a little modification to the water piping and I did not want to start that at 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon.
The intercoastal waterway is quite different from the river systems we have been on and from the panhandle GIWW. All of those were relatively undeveloped while west Florida is really 98% developed with just a few areas or empty lots left. Many many large home with some of them right next to a small ranch right out of the 50’s. Quite a striking comparison. Some people have even built the large 3 story homes across the street from the water lots and the water lots had a small ranch on them. I guess they are hoping the small ranch is never torn down with a large 3 story home being built.
A mix of pictures today from Tarpon Springs and leaving there. Some of the pictures are at the sponge docks yesterday when Lenore and I were out shopping. A couple of the Turtle Cove Marina and then several on the way out to the ICW from the marina. They include one of several trees we saw with pelicans all over the tree. We did see 3 or 4 dolphins jumping in the water today and Lenore was able to get a picture with the dolphins starting to jump. It is so hard to guess when they will come up. At Treasure Island we also have a heron that hangs out on the dock next to us.
We went to a restaurant tonight, Dockside Daves. Life there revolves around grouper. They will fix it in 6 different ways. They have a grouper sandwich, grouper dinner, grouper tacos, grouper bites, grouper rueben, grouper sliders, etc. The grouper sandwich was very good. Lenore had is grilled and I had it grilled with lemon pepper. Left overs will be good tomorrow.
I have a diver coming out tomorrow to look at the running gear and the overall condition of the bottom. We have a slight vibration in the port engine at idle speed and I want to see how the barnacle growth is progressing after 3 1/2 weeks in salt water.
We are planning on staying here two nights and then we are moving south approximately 35 miles. We should be to Sanibel Island by Dec. 1.

Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs, FL

Day started a later as I slept a little later and after feeding Candy I decided to check emails before her walk. Lo and behold the weather guru wanted to know why you were not on the water making a crossing to Tarpon Springs. His previous days words were that the 1st weather window might be Thanksgiving and Friday. I walked Candy, woke Lenore and started making preparations. We left the dock about 7:45 in a cloudless sky with temps in the low 50’s. The water was pretty good for the first 20 miles as we had protection from the panhandle but as we got out into the Gulf the waves were 3′ with the occassional 4′ thrown in for good measure. The wind was out of the north and we were traveling southeast so we had the waves on the left stern and we were able to stay on plane at speed. The crossing in total was 178 miles dock to dock. By halfway the waves were 2′ to 3′ and they even got own to 1′ to 2′ for the last 40 miles.
We dodged crab trap floats for the last 30 mile of open water. The crabbers put their traps down with a float on the surface. It is a small plastic ball, maybe 8″ in diameter. They are spaced about 80′ to 100′ on center with the crab trap lines running north-south. You do not want to run over the floats because the lines will wrap themselves around the shaft and the prop and you have to go under with a knife and cut them off. We both were standing looking out the windshield trying to spot the floats as we were traveling at about 25 mph and they are hard to see in the waves. Fortunately we missed them all.
We enjoyed our time in Carrabelle and the people at C Quarters were really friendly. Candy and I spent a lot of time with them in front of the store just talking and soaking up the local charm. We even saw them loading ice into a fishing boats one morning with their adapted concrete truck chute. It worked perfect and did the job of loading several hundred pounds of ice into the boat. All the pictures today are from Carrabelle and the time we spent there. There is one of a boat that came into the river one night and missed a marker and went aground. The next morning the tide was out and the boat was high and dry and they waited for the tide to come back in before they could pull them off. There was no damage to the boat. How lucky can someone get.
Another picture is when one of the C Quarter’s staff was smoking fish one day and everybody was standing around. They also smoked a turkey and a boston butt. For Thanksgiving they are doing another smoked turkey and deep frying a ham. It would have been nice to be there for that if we could have counted on Friday for the crossing with certainty. One day they also cooked hot dogs and hamburgers for anybody that was around. Nothing fancy but good old southern hospitality.
We will stay in Tarpon Springs for 3 or 4 days for some of the greek charm and then start to work our way down to the Sanibell Island area near Fort Myers. We have friends, Peggy and Ken that completed the loop a couple of years ago and they are coming down to spend the winter in Florida and the Bahamas. We will visit with them before they leave for the Bahamas on their boat.

C Quaters Marina, Carrabelle, FL

Well I would have charatarized Apalachicola as a small town and Carrabelle is even smaller but a popular spot to wait for a crossing window to Tarpon Springs. We will go direct across the Gulf the 175 +/- miles during the daylight. There is a gentleman that posts weather reports every morning during the winter for the crossing and what conditions to expect and renders an opinion on whether it will be good or not. For the most part his predictions are accurate so we will follow them. Right now it looks like Monday or we may have to wait several days.
There are a couple of good restaurants, ACE Hardware and an IGA within walking distance of the marina.
We fueled when we got here and diesel was $3.80/gal. Last night at Scipio Creek the diesel was $4.56/gal. Quite a difference and worth calling ahead to see what C Quarters’ price was.
You can see from the pictures that it was another great day. The locals thought it was a little cool in the low 70’s but it is great for us.

Scipio Creek Marina, Apalachicola, FL

Trouble with the internet yesterday so today’s post is before we start out for Carabelle, FL. it is only a short run today so that makes it easy.
Yesterday was another sunny day on the water and we ran about 60 miles from Panama City to Apalachicola. The GIWW is pretty interesting with all the different types of landscape along the way. Coming out of Panama City was probably 15 mile of various large bodies of water that they call East Bay. We even passed a ship yard that looked like they were building a large freighter. East Bay has a reasonable amount of developemnt, mostly residential, along the shore but once you get into the river areas there was none except for the last 5 miles into Apalachicola where the Corp put in the channel but this was the Apalachicola River before the Corp. We went thru a lake, Lake Wimico, that was about 6 miles long, 3 miles wide and about 4′ deep except for the channel thru the center. We even saw a small cabin being floated across the lake. There was a guy on the porch and a small jon boat pushing it.
On the last river stretch we passed a pretty good size boat the was partially underwater along the bank, see the picture. In the last 2 travel days we have seen 3 boats that have been sitting on the bottom.
We have not had any low bridges to deal with. The one railroad swing bridge looked pretty tired and I don’t think it has operated in a long time. I took a picture of it.
We had a greeting party today at the marina. Take a look at the picture of the pelican on the piling at the marina. Pelicans and heron are everywhere down here. Large groups of the pelican will sit on the water and as you approach it is hard to tell what the dark area is on the water but they do take flight when you get close.

Panama City Marina, Panama City, FL

Another good day on the water. Is that sounding monotonous. We left Shalimar at 8:00 and cought our friends in 2 if by C by about 9:00. We traveled to Panama City. The first part of the trip was about 30 miles of open water on Choctawhatchee Bay. After that we had 20 miles of intercoastal that was essentially a 200′ wide river the Corp must have dug when they created the GIWW. We got a boost of almost 1.5 mph in the GIWW with the tide going out to the Panama Inlet. There is no development along this stretch of the GIWW.
After we exited the 20 mile river (ditch) we were in West Bay and we had dolphins following the boat for a short time. I estimated there may have been 4 or 5 and only 1 jumped in the wake. Lenore did not see them but a little while later she saw one jump in the wake of 2 If By C. Hope to see more and maybe get some photos of this. The sun was out for most of the day but late afternoon is got partly sunny with more clouds than sun. We are near an air force base and the jets are pretty loud but not real frequent.
We will stay here two days because with the weather/winds kicking up on the gulf we may not have a weather window until next week. Still have not decided whether to stay in Apalachacola or Carrabelle to start the crossing. Carabell is about 15 miles futher east on the coast and makes the crossing somewhat shorter, about 170 miles to Tarpon Springs.
The first picture is a buoy on the GIWW that the bird have done a number on. Can’t read the number but we know it is red from the nun shape. The second picture is the wharfs at Panama City with a container ship being unloaded. I like the cloud formation as the sun was getting ready to set on the Gulf.

Shalimar Yacht Basin, Shalimar, FL.

Well we made it. We are in Florida at the Shalimar Yacht Basin. This is right near Fort Walton Beach and Destin Florida on the GIWW.
It rained last night and I think we had a thunderstorm. It was 50 and cloudy this morning with the wind blowing out of the northeast. The wind was no problem on the water even on the larger bay areas of the GIWW. They had predicted that the morning would be cloudy and the afternoon would be sunny. By about 10:00 it started to clear and did not take long. We are in shirt sleeves this afternoon.
The Shalimar Yacht Basin is a little basic with WiFi and a courtesy car their real only claim to amenities. I called for reservations this morning when we were on the water and everything went smooth. When we got here I tried to call them on channel 16 but received no response. I called on the phone and the person from this morning had not told the afternoon person so it was like I did not call in. Somewhat frustrating. They did do their best to give us and “2 if by C” slips in the more protected area of the harbor. Our plan is to stay here one night.
We took a picture of the Wharf Marina where we stayed, quite a place. One of the other pictures is a condo building along the Gulf. From another picture you can see that the daymarks are sometimes hard to see because of the birds. Also the Pelicans like to hitch hike on the tows in the GIWW.
Tomorrow we are on our way to Panama City.

Wharf Marina, Orange Beach, AL

Morning had a few clouds but mostly sunny and warming to mid 70’s. It is forecast to rain and thundershowers later this afternoon and evening.
We are now in the Gulf Intercoastal Water Way (GIWW). Stopped for lunch with a boat we are traveling with, at least during the day, 2 If By C. They are from Cincinnati area. The lunch place was Lulu’s. She is Jimmy Buffett’s sister but we did not see Lulu or Jimmy. I did have a Cheesburger in Paridise and it was pretty good.
The marina we planned on staying at, Bear’s Point, said they could put us on the outside wall but it would be rough. They had damage and most of the regular transient slips have seasonal boats in them. The lady suggest several other marinas including the Wharf. We really appreciated her honesty.
The Wharf Marina is connected to a village of shops with a 15 screen theater and at least 6 different restaurants. They also have about 80 condo’s and all the condo’s are sold. The docks are all floating docks and some of the nicest docks we have seen so far and in great condition for being open for 6 years.
I will need to look at the waterway guides to see how far we want to travel tomorrow but we are moving east to jump across the Florida Big Bendfrom Carabelle. Carabelle is probably still 230 miles east from the Wharf Marina.
The first picture today is at Dog River and the turning pelican. He is a little hard to see but he sits on the pile and that is where you turn for the gas dock and they use him in the directions they give incoming boaters.
The other pictures are from Lulu’s on the GIWW. They have entertainment every night and getting there at 11:30 am was not full of noisey crowds. Of course that was OK with us but it is quite a place.

Dog River Marina, Mobile AL

The first picture is a mounted “Alligator Gar” at Bobby’s Fish Camp Restaurant. No they do not serve it but it is a real fish found in the south that will grow to 8′ to 10′ and the record is over 300 lbs. for one of these.
We also had dinner with two couples from Ohio. The ones across from Lenore and I are from Cincinnati and the other couple is from Amherst, Ohio. Donna and Jon know but Amherst is just north of Oberlin.
Started slow yesterday morning with river fog. The warm river water was steaming in the colder air temps. We waited an hour for the sun to come up and burn it off before leaving.
All 6 boats at Bobby’s left for the lock 2.3 miles down river. There were four other boats that had anchored out that ended up in the lock as well. We were out of the lock at 9:30 and that was our last lock for quite a while.
We passed quite a few tows on the river headed northbound. Today there were also a few fishermen out on the water. Lots of stuff floating in the water including tree branches and deadmen. We hit one large waterlogged branch that was mostly submerged but fortunately it did not do any damage, no vibrations or other issues.
The day was mid 80’s in Mobile and we came in from the north and the Tenn-Tom goes to the Convention Center Downtown and Dog River Marina is another 14.5 miles south on the west side of Mobile Bay. There were 2 other boats in the morning lock that ended up in Mobile for the night because they could run fast enough to make it. Overall we covered 148 miles yesterday.
The courtesy car was available and Lenore and I went out for seafood at a restaurant recommended by the marina staff. The courtesy vehicle is a Ford 150 pickup truck.
This is our first experience with tides and the tide was coming in yesterday when we arrived at Dog River. By the time we come back from dinner the boat was approx. 1′-6″ higher and you could comfortably step on the upper swim platform from the dock. This morning you could see the water moving with the tide going out. High tide was around 1:00 am.
Another sunny day today with temps supposed to be in the high 80’s. Next rain is forecast for Monday and temps will drop to the lower 70’s. Right now we are going to stay 4 days but if Moday looks like a rough weather day, we may stay another day.