Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!
Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.
Summary of week:
After a week stay in Panama City to allow the weather to literally blow through, the crew finally made passage to Port St. Joe. The crew continues to lay and wait here for a weather window to open so they can safely cross the Gulf.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
As reported in last week’s blog entry, the winds have really decided to kick it up a notch. Today the Coast Guard was putting out Gale Force Wind Warnings (winds > 40 mph). The wind did not disappoint.
By 1000 the winds were blowing 15-20 mph. Unfortunately, the wind direction was out of the east-southeast. This caused three foot waves to form and come directly into the marina and against the beam of Still Waters II.
The skipper spent the next four hours adding and adjusting lines and fenders to protect the boat from the dock. It got so bad that the skipper could not stay on the boat because she was bobbing up and down so bad. He took a seat on the dock in between adjusting lines and fenders.
Finally, about 1400 the wind shifted direction from the west-northwest which caused the waves to shift also, so now the waves were hitting the break water wall. This resulted in the waters in the marina to calm down and become almost smooth. With the wind shift, the winds also picked up intensity. The wind speed quickly rose to the low 30’s with gusts over 40.
The winds stayed strong through the rest of the day and began to die off during the night into the low 20’s. On Monday, the winds continued to drop in intensity until they finally got back down to normal, less than 10 mph about dark.
The good news is that Still Waters II suffered no damage. Many of the other boats were not as fortunate. When the winds were out of the east on Sunday, the boats were swinging up and down as much as 3-5 feet. This caused damage to several boats as they crashed into the wood docks. In addition, the high winds ripped the canvas and bimini tops off several boats.
And you are probably asking yourself, “Where was the Admiral during the Sunday afternoon fun?” She had gone to Church. When she left Church she got a severe weather alert with a tornado warning. She did the smart thing and went shopping at Home Depot to wait out the warning.
By the time she got to the boat, the wind had shifted direction and the marina water had calmed down. The skipper told her he was glad she missed the fun.
Tuesday, January 23, 2017
While in Panama City, the crew bought a new dinghy. This was a safety purchase as they prepare to cross the Gulf. Better to be prepared for the unexpected in case something happens to the mother ship.
For example, a local boater shared a story with the skipper where a series of unfortunate and seemingly unrelated events resulted in an explosion onboard his boat. The boat burned to the water line before the fire department could arrive and extinguish the fire.
The skipper spent most of the day adjusting the davit system to hold the dinghy on the swim platform. Hopefully with these adjustments the crew will not lose a third dinghy.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
With the weather cooperating today, the crew headed east to Port St. Joe with no issues.
While passing through the East Bay a dolphin decided to play in the wake of the boat. At one point, the dolphin jumped completely out of the water as high as the helm on the boat. Interesting looking eye-to-eye with a dolphin when you are 10 feet above the water line.
The crew made it far enough east to enter the Eastern Time Zone. The loss of an hour caused the crew to arrive at Port St. Joe Marina just 30 minutes before closing.
The crew is not sure how long they will stay here, so the Marina Staff took a credit card and put it on hold much like a reservation at a hotel.
Shore Excursions at Port St. Joe
The crew wandered around the small downtown area on Thursday afternoon. They found this interesting store display of a guy having a bad day.
They then walked over to the area Welcome Center and enjoyed the view of the bay.
On Friday, Abaco Lady and the Journey pulled into the marina. There are now seven loopers at Port St. Joe. People are moving east to take advantage of the weather window to cross the Gulf Tuesday and Wednesday.
Saturday, we walked over to the SanDollar with Journey and Abaco Lady to enjoy a good breakfast. Conversation was exciting as stories were swapped about the Loop and the fun that has been had.
Latter in the day, The Lord’s Provision arrived and joined the party at Port St. Joe. The crew of Still Waters II will probably buddy boat across the Gulf together.
Next Week – As mentioned several times, the next big challenge in front of the crew is to cross the Gulf over to the West Coast of Florida.
The following pic and information is from Alan Lloyd’s Navigation Notes.
Carrabelle to Buoy 2 – 112 miles
Buoy 2 to Tarpon Springs – 63 miles
Steinhatchee Route (yellow/red) -206 miles
Carrabelle to Steinhatchee – 85 miles
Steinhatchee to Buoy 2 – 58 miles
Buoy 2 to Tarpon Springs – 63 miles
The brown and green routes have a controlling depth of only 4.5 feet. With the draft of the boat at 3’ 9 inches, the margin of only 9 inches to going aground is not worth the risk. These routes are off the table for the crew.
The crew plans to travel at 9 mph, so it will take about 20 hours to cross over to Tarpon Springs on the red route. This can be done in one long cruise starting about 2100 and arriving in Tarpon Springs about 1700 the next day, an hour before sunset. The pro of this route is that you only need one weather window to cross. The con is that you cruise 9 hours in the dark and will not get much sleep, if any in those 20 hours.
The pro of the Steinhatchee route is that you have more daylight time and less night time travel. However, the con is that you need two days of good weather to cross. This time of year, getting two days back to back is rare. The weather windows seem to be about a week apart, so after arriving in Steinhatchee, the crew might be stuck for a week waiting for the next good day.
And what may a good day look like, says you?
The crew is using the following criteria:
Winds less than 10 mph
Wave height less than 2 feet
The skipper is using Eddy’s Weather Wag to help gage the criteria, as well as consulting three independent marine weather sites to pick the window. But as you know, predicting the weather no easy task.
For example, on Monday, January 23rd, Eddy was predicting a Saturday/Sunday weather window.
Ahoy Fellow Loopers!
Told you it would get worse! Latest check of sea conditions at Buoy 42036 show 15 footers rolling across that part of the Gulf.
It will take a while for things to settle down out there. The predicted Saturday-night / Sunday weather-window (28th-29th) will likely be the next crossing opportunity.
By Wednesday, January 25th, Eddy had this to say:
Ahoy Fellow Loopers!
It looks like a conspiracy! Mother Nature and King Neptune are not only dismantling this weekend’s projected weather-window, but they’re also taking away Florida’s warm, balmy temperatures!
Is there no end to this merciless mistreatment? How long can we endure 50 degree temperatures at night? How can you be expected to keep a tan when daytime highs are only in the 60s? And that’s just here in south Florida! Our fellow Loopers who are trapped along the northwest Gulf coast are suffering even worse.
I’m hopeful that the arrival of a new month will change all this. If we collectively concentrate on sending out positive vibes, perhaps we could effect that change by the last day of this month. That would show Mother and King where the real power lies! To paraphrase: “Let our people go” (across the Gulf)!
Then on Thursday, January 26th, Eddy had these encouraging words:
Ahoy Fellow Loopers!
This morning, four out of four on-line weather sites that I reviewed predict that a weather window will be available for a Tuesday-night / Wednesday crossing. That would be January 31st and February 1st. Just like most people, sometimes these sites get it right and sometimes they don’t.
However, only one of those four sites is still predicting that a Saturday-night / Sunday crossing opportunity. That would be January 28th & 29th. This particular site has been very reliable in the past for getting it right.
So (to paraphrase Dirty Harry) the question you have to ask yourself is, “Am I feeling lucky”?
Our crew is not feeling lucky. The sites the skipper uses to watch the weather do not meet the crew’s criteria for safe travel. For example, this is the Sail Flow page wind and wave height prediction for Saturday/Sunday. Wind is never below 10 mph and the waves build to 6 feet. No thank you.
However, the Tuesday night/ Wednesday crossing is looking promising. Winds less than 10 mph (even the gusts are under 10) and waves only 1 foot for the whole run. Now that is what I’m talking about!
IF, and that is a big IF, the weather predictions hold, THEN this is the anticipated Float Plan for the crew next week:
Monday – travel to Carrabelle and stay at the Moorings Marina.
1- Move the boat after lunch and anchor at Shipping Cove by Dog Island (this will shave an hour off the night time travel)
2- Weigh anchor about 2100 and enter the gulf via East Pass
3- Target Buoy R2 (N28-56.5 W83-11.0) west of Crystal River
1- Arrive near Buoy R2 about 0900
2- Arrive near Buoy R4 (N28-14.8 W82-49.9) about 1500
3- Arrive at Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs about 1700
After crossing the Gulf the crew will get some well deserved sleep and figure out what their next move will be.
Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.