Family Time in Palm Coast

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Summary of week:

The crew only made two short runs this past week to land at their destination at Hammock Beach Marina.  They travelled on Monday to anchor in Daytona Beach.  Then moved further north on Tuesday to Palm Coast.

41 Daytona (2) at

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Who/what is the Haulover Canal named for?
  2. What year was the Haulover Canal initial dug?
  3. Who built Fort Matanzas?
  4. When was Fort Matanzas built?

At the Box Office

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, February 18th, 2019

The crew thought about extending their stay in Titusville to watch a rocket launch from Space View Park next to the marina.  However, NASA rescheduled the launch to Thursday, so the crew slipped the lines off and headed towards Daytona Beach.

The crew would cruise thru Haulover Canal with anticipation of seeing some manatees in the canal.  The anticipation grew as they approached the canal that connects the Indian River with Mosquito Lagoon.

Looking down the canal to Mosquito Lagoon

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The anticipation did not disappoint as the crew counted 13 manatees in the canal.  They saw signs of others swimming under the water as evidenced by the swirl caused by their tails as they swim just below the surface.

That dark hump is a manatee swimming nearby

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A better picture taken in the canal back in 2018

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The Haulover Canal got the skipper wondering how the canal became known as Haulover, so he began to search for the answer.  Rather than being named for some famous person, the canal was actually named for the act of early Native Americans hauling their canoes over the narrow piece of land.  The first canal was dug in 1852, and was 3 feet deep by 14 feet wide.  The Intracoastal Waterway incorporated the Haulover Canal as part of the ICW project in 1927.  The US Army Corps of Engineers maintains the canal that was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 19, 1978.

Nine boats just around this bridge, what is going on here?

35 Traffic New Smyrna Beach

While nearing New Smyrna Beach, the boat traffic began to build up on the water.  Seemed to be way more traffic than expected for a Monday afternoon.  Well, until the skipper remembered it was President’s Day and these people were all off work today because of the holiday.

While not a president, the crew found it interesting that someone was flying this flag off their dock on President’s Day.

37 Strange Flag

Tuesday, February 18th

After an uneventful night swinging on the hook in Daytona Beach, the crew weighed anchor and headed north towards Palm Coast.  The run was a short 25 miles that seemed as though it took for ever.  Between manatee slow speed areas and homeowners having Coast Guard approved no wake signs posted, it was a slow go.

One interesting thing about this area is that the homes are all built on the barrier island side of the ICW.  The back of the homes look out over the ICW and into swamp land.  They have good views of ‘Old Florida’ that probably will not be lost to development because of the swamp land.  Well, at least not anytime soon.

The view

39 Scenery

Did note this one home that had some nice landscaping along the route

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After what seemed to be all day, the skipper finally spotted the bridge that marked the entrance to the Hammock Beach Marina in Palm Coast.  The crew will hang out here and enjoy the area for the next month and resume travel north mid-March.

Home for the next month

40 Hammock Bay Marina

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Wednesday, February 19th

Beth and Art have left the cold weather of Colorado Springs to enjoy a few weeks in the mild winter of South West Florida.  Today, they drove over to the First Coast of Florida to spend a few days with the crew.

Thursday, February 20th

Last year when Beth and Art visited, the boat was in the boatyard getting some work complete so they did not get a chance to go out on a cruise.  Today, there were storm clouds brewing but the skipper thought it would still be a good day to go out for a short day cruise.

Beth and Art with a few storm clouds

44 Beth and Art (2)

Beth and Art with Fort Matanzas in the background

45 Fort matanza (2)

That might look like a little fort but she was very effective.  Built in 1742 by the Spanish to protect the backdoor entry to St Augustine just 25 miles north.  In 1740, James Oglethorpe used the Matanzas Inlet to block St Augustine and start a thirty-nine day siege.

The Spanish decided to build the fort to prevent another siege by the British.  Soldiers from St Augustine would come down to Fort Matanzas for regular duty.  Then return to the main garrison at St Augustine.  Upon completion, the Fort had one officer and four infantrymen to operate the five cannons strategically placed to pound the inlet a half mile away.

The British did try once again to enter the inlet with 12 ships, but the small Fort cannon fire drove the ships back into the Atlantic Ocean.  The Fort had done its job.  The cannons would never fire on an enemy ship again.

Beth and Art enjoying the ride back to the marina 

46 Beth and Art (2)

Beth on the Sundeck

43 Beth

After returning to the marina, the group headed down the road to a local seafood restaurant to test the waters.  Turned out to be a good place to eat.  The service was quick and the food was good.  The band was pretty good also.

Friday, February 21st

After sitting around and chatting for most of the morning, Beth and Art needed to get back to the west coast to get ready for the weekend planned activities around Ft Myers.

It was a short but fun packed visit on the east coast.

Boat Name of the Week

Sunday Money

Scuttlebutt along the waterway says this 100 foot girl belongs to the estate of Dale Earnhardt SR.  The crew saw the vessel while in Daytona Beach on Monday following the big race.

42 Sunday Money

Next Week –

The crew will hang in Hammock Beach Marina for about a month.  Then start moving again about mid-March to make way to Norfolk.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Crossing Lake O

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Rock Shrimp at Dixie Crossroads

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Summary of week:

30 Tiyusville

The crew set out to cross over to the east side of Florida by crossing thru Lake Okeechobee, and then begin to head north along the coast.  Monday, the crew anchored near Clewiston (1).  Tuesday, the crew crossed the lake and anchored north of Stuart at Jensen Beach Bridge (2).  Because of high winds, the crew left the anchorage on Wednesday in Stuart and pulled into Ft Pierce (3) to allow the weather to improve.  The crew resumed the move north on Friday to anchor near Melbourne (4).  Saturday, the crew pulled into Titusville (5) to relax for the weekend.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log.  This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did discover one of the best restaurants in Florida this week.

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows the crew of Still Waters II on their three day snowmobile tour in Yellowstone.  Enjoy!

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, February 11, 2019

A special shout out and thank you to Dave and Barbara for their gracious hospitality while the crew stayed at Marina Doyle.  But as the song says, “All good things have to come to an end…”  And so it was time to say goodbye and head east towards Lake Okeechobee.

Pulling away from the dock

1 Marina Doyle

Last wave to Barbara in front of her home

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The cruise went as well as could be expected with a couple of bridges to be opened and three locks to make.  The last lock operation is at 1630 to allow the workers to end their day at 1700.  We just made it under the wire at the last lock due to a delay at the RR Bridge, but we made it none the less.

On the way to that last lock we did pass many orange groves with the trees loaded with their luscious fruit.

Orange grove along the waterway

4 Orange Grove

We also spotted an interesting piece of yard art that somebody crafted out of an old standing tree.  Someone is crafty with the chainsaw.

Bald Eagle Tree

6 Bald Eagle Yard Art

The bridge tender at the Ft Denaud Swing Bridge mentioned she was having a good day because her shift was about over and she was headed home to get in her PJ’s and relax.

Ft Denaud Swing Bridge Swinging open

7.1 swinging swing bridge open

The next bridge did not go as well.  The RR Bridge is normally open, except when a train is coming of course.  However, the bridge was in the down position when the crew arrived.  After a five minute wait there was still no train in sight.  The skipper began to look for a number to call to figure out what was going on.  The cruising guides all say the bridge is now automated and no numbers are provided to talk with a human.

After a few more minutes, a train did slowly appear and move over the bridge at almost no speed.  Then the train stopped right on the bridge and sat there for about 30 minutes.  While waiting, the skipper called the Moore Haven Lock to request lockage after the train cleared the bridge.  The lock operator said he would have the lock ready but could not guarantee the train would move any time soon.

Train taking a break smack on top of the bridge, notice another boat on other side also waiting for the train to move and bridge to open

9 RR Bridge

Finally after 30 minutes the train started to move again and slowly cleared the bridge.  The bridge swung open and the other boats started thru the opened bridge.  The crew passed thru the bridge and headed towards the Moore Haven Lock where they arrived to open gates and the last lockage of the day.  Oh the time you ask?  1625, a whole five minutes early, what was the skipper worried about?

After passing thru the Moore Haven Lock, the crew decided to cruise another two hours and make it to the edge of Lake Okeechobee where they could get an early morning start across the big lake before the winds picked up in the afternoon.

Dolphins, 60-70 feet apart

10 Dolphins

The crew tied up in between two sets of dolphins (a group of pilings sticking up out of the water).  This was their first time to attempt this maneuver.  First they pulled the bow up to a dolphin and secured a bow line.  As the skipper backed the boat to the next dolphin, the Admiral played out line from the bow.  The skipper then got a line around the aft dolphin and pulled forward to center the boat between the dolphins.  The crew made the lines fast and had an relaxing evening.

Tuesday, February 12th

The crew woke at first light and slipped the lines off the dolphins and headed across Lake Okeechobee in almost calm conditions.  The winds were predicted to climb during the day to over 15 mph which would make for a lumpy miserable ride.

Crossing Lake O

12 Crossing Lake O

The crew arrived at the other side of the lake in about three hours with the winds just starting to build over ten mph.  The wind blown lake waves were only one foot which made for a pleasant cruise across the lake for the crew.

The early morning crossing did bring out the birds as they trolled behind the boat wake looking for an easy breakfast meal.

13 Birds following wake

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When the crew arrived at the Port Mayaca Lock, both gates were open and the lock operator said to just idle thru the lock.  After exiting the far end of the lock into the St Lucie River, the skipper spotted a gator swimming across the river.

Mr. Al Gator

14 Mr Al Gator

Big fish must have also been out feeding as well because the crew kept seeing mullet jumping across the water to try to out run and out maneuver the predator looking for breakfast.

Airborne Mullet

15 Mullet Jump

The crew continued to cruise towards Stuart and arrived at the ‘crossroads’ with the Atlantic ICW about 1600.  An hour later they had moved north up the ICW to Jensen Beach Bridge and dropped the anchor on the north side of the bridge to get out of the 15 mph south winds and waves.

Jensen Beach Bridge

17 Anchored at Jenson Beach Bridge

Wednesday, February 13th

This turned out to be a bizarre day.  The weather took a turn for the worse overnight.  The skipper woke about five a.m. to find the wind had shifted out of the north as expected but the strength of the winds was a big surprise.  The winds were blowing at 19 mph with gusts up near 30.  The good news was that the anchor was set good and the boat was not dragging anchor.  The bad news was that the boat was pitching in the 3-foot waves and it was not much fun.   Oh, did I mention it was also pouring down rain.

The skipper went to sit in the helm and stand watch to make sure the anchor continued to hold and make sure no other boats in the anchorage pulled up and slammed into them.  By nine in the morning there was a break in the rain, so the crew decided to try and pull anchor and move over to the south side of the bridge for a calmer ride.

Two sailboats broke free and were up against the shore

19 Jensen Bridge

Raising the anchor was much harder than expected because the high winds were shoving the boat all over the place.  However, the crew persevered and raised the anchor.  They then motored to the south side of the bridge and set the anchor again.  Well after two tries.  About the time they got the anchor set the rains started up again, but at least it was much calmer since the wave action had no time to build up.

Around 1530, the Admiral noticed that the rain had stopped again, and the winds seemed to have died down a bit.  The skipper checked the weather apps and confirmed that the winds were down to 15 mph.  The crew decided to try and make a short two hour run up to Ft Pierce and take a marina slip for the night.  The weather forecast calls for 20 + mph winds thru the night and tomorrow.

After ensuring they could get a slip at a marina, doing engine checks and weighing the anchor, it was 1630 before the crew got underway.  The rain started again after they got the anchor up and the rain stayed with the crew until they arrived at the marina.  About the time the crew arrived to dock, the rain stopped.  That was fortunate.  The crew got the boat secured just as the sun set and dusk fell for the night.

The crew was exhausted physically and mentally after the long day rocking and rolling, wresting the weather, and trying to figure out the best moves to make during the day.  They were sure glad to be in a marina protected from those pesky north winds.

Thursday, February 14th

With the winds still north of the 15 mph scale, the crew decided to sit the day out and enjoy the sunshine aboard the boat without cruising.  However, as the day unwound the crew made an interesting discovery.

20 Glorious Dei

They saw a boat in the marina, not all that unusual, but this boat was Glorious Dei.  The last time the crew saw this boat they were in Canada back in 2016.  They wondered if Thad and Cindy were still the owners.  The skipper went into the office and asked, and sure enough, Thad and Cindy are on board.

The crew went to visit, but nobody was onboard.  Later in the day the skipper saw Cindy.  After a few minutes of talk a dinner was set up for 1830 at 2nd Street Bistro’s in Ft Pierce.

And what a dinner it was.  Thad and Cindy told a story how they were leaving the Bahamas in July 2018 and went aground, on a rock, that ripped 10 foot long hole in the bottom of their boat.  Luckily they were only in 3 feet of water so the boat did not sink far.

The insurance totaled the boat and paid off the hull value.  Thad and Cindy bought the boat back for $2,000 and have been busy getting her back ship shape.  They had only recently re-launched her in the water about 2 weeks ago.  They have a few more projects to complete and they will take her on a good shake down cruise.

What a Looper story that was.  Amazing, they both have great attitudes about what happened and are eager to get back to cruising America’s waterways.  Thanks for sharing your Valentine’s dinner with the crew.  May God continue to richly bless you.

Friday, February 15th

The crew shoved off from Ft Pierce and headed north on the Indian River towards Melbourne.  Along the way they met, passed, and were overtaken by many boats taking advantage of the nice weather today.

24 Boats on ICW

The crew did see some things that they do not normally observe along the route.  First was the Goodyear Blimp that overtook them around Sebastian.  The Blimp was headed north. The Daytona 500 is scheduled to run this weekend, so maybe it was headed there for the race.

Goodyear Blimp

22 Blimp

Then there was a plane flying low over the water and buzzing by the boaters.  In some instances he was getting awful close to the boaters.

23 Plane

Right on top of Still Waters II

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The day ended on a strange note.  The Coast Guard was working with a boat in distress.  The boat had no GPS and was having a hard time explaining their location.  Finally, the Coast Guard was able to triangulate their position based off their radio transmissions.  The boat was 10-15 miles offshore of Cape Canaveral.  To make matters worse, the boat was a 20 foot center counsel fishing boat.  The Coast Guard was sending out a rescue crew to try and locate the boat as Still Waters II was dropping the anchor for the day.

Will be interesting to find out how the search & rescue goes.

Saturday, February 16th

The crew got off to a good start and headed towards Titusville.  They once again saw a bunch of boats on the water enjoying the good weather.  The only troubling thing about the day would be where to stay.  The Titusville Marina could not confirm a reservation for Saturday and Sunday night.  The dock master directed them to call back this morning after 9 to see if they could get the crew a slip.

The skipper called at 0930 and the marina was still not sure if they had a place for Still Waters II.  The skipper told the dock master they would at least come in for fuel and a pump out and find a place nearby to anchor.

Passing thru Cocoa

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Once the crew arrived at the fuel dock, they were informed that the marina had found them a slip. After taking on fuel and pumping out the holding tanks, the crew moved to their assigned slip.  Docking turned out to be more exciting than it should have been.

When the skipper went to toss a line to the dockhand out the back of the boat, the skipper leaned a little to hard on the door.  The latch popped open and the skipper began to fall out the back of the boat.

The failed door

27.1 failed door

Somehow he managed to push off with his left foot and clear the swim platform and dinghy.  He also was able to grab his glasses before splashing in the water.  A bit embarrassed but not hurt, he climbed back up the swim ladder and finished securing the boat.

Splash scene

27 Scene of crime

After a fresh set of dry clothes, the Admiral and skipper headed out to try a new restaurant recommended by Dave and Barbara.  Barbara said it was her favorite restaurant in Florida.

28 Dixie Crossroads

After a 30 minute wait the crew was seated for a great meal.  They start you out with a tray of corn fritters covered with powdered sugar.  Boy, were they good.  The Admiral ordered rock shrimp and the skipper took an order of cod.  Both dishes were very good.

28.1 Corn Fritters

So good, the crew thinks they will go back again tomorrow.

Next Week –

The crew will travel north two more days and should arrive in Palm Coast on Tuesday.  They plan to stay at the Hammock Bay Resort for a month entertaining family and friends before continuing north mid March.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

 

2019 Map

The link below shows the places we stop as we cruise America’s Great Loop and The Down East Loop in 2019.  There is also a short comment on distances travelled and things we did at the different locations.

2019 Travel Map

Platinum Quest Complete

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

As usual, going back to Texas to visit 7 grand kids was a circus.  So it was only natural for the crew to visit the Ringling Circus Museum upon return to Florida.  This is a mural when you first walk in the museum.

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Bryan L. has joined us for the last leg of the journey.  Welcome aboard Bryan!

Summary of week:

ft myers

After taking a few weeks off, the crew finally got back on the boat and set off for the first cruise of the new year on Monday.  They anchored near St Petersburg (1) on Monday.  Dropped in at Bradenton (2) to visit friends on Tuesday.  Stopped at Venice (3) on Wednesday and stayed Thursday to wait out some strong north winds.  Friday, they anchored in Pelican Bay just beside Cayo Costa State Park (4) and did some shelling along the Gulf Beach.  Then on Saturday, they made it back to Sweetwater Landing in Ft Myers and completed the Platinum Loop Quest.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Where is the training camp for the Toronto Blue Jays?
  2. Where is the worlds largest miniature Circus located?
  3. How much money did John Ringling have upon his death?
  4. What was the inspiration for ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows a clip of Still Waters II looking into the three ring circus at  the Circus Museum. Enjoy!

Circus 1 from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The first day back on the water would be a short run.  The skipper had to return the rental car in the morning, get back to the marina, and then settle up with the marina before slipping the lines and shoving off.  It was a late start, but the crew had their sights set on a McDonald’s Dock where they planned to stop for a late lunch and a milkshake.

Docked at McDonald’s

4 dock & dine at mcdonalds

The run to McDonald’s went well and the crew docked about 1400.  Unfortunately, the milk shake would have to wait.  The ice cream machine was broken and there would be no cold shake.  The Admiral saved the day though.  After eating at McDonald’s, she went next door to the Publix (grocery store) and bought some Blue Belle Ice Cream.

Still Waters II on the dock at McDonal’s

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The skipper headed back to the boat to prepare to shove off.  Upon the Admiral’s arrival, they left the dock and headed towards Tampa Bay where they planned to anchor for the night.  The skipper found a nice spot next to Indian Key and dropped anchor around 1630, just in time to watch a beautiful sunset.

The crew had to out run this pirate ship they meet on the way to anchor.

5 pirate ship

Tuesday, January 8th

The crew weighed anchor and made a short run (17.4 miles) to Bradenton Beach to visit Gammel Dansk.

The cruise across Tampa Bay was flat smooth with light winds.  After crossing the Bay, the crew entered Anna Maria Sound, passed under the Anna Maria Bridge, and docked at Bradenton Beach Marina on Anna Maria Island.

Smooth sailing across Tampa Bay

7 tampa bay

The most excitement happened as the crew was making Still Waters II secure on the dock.  The skipper noticed that a boat had broken free from the dock and was drifting down the fairway.  The Admiral went to go inform the dock master, while the skipper snagged the boat as it floated by.

102 boat a drift

Turns out the owner had old lines that needed to be replaced.  When he came in, he had tied the boat up tight.  The tide was going out, and as the boat settled with the out going tide, the lines broke from the weight of the boat, and she began to drift out with the tide.

After getting settled, the crew walked the beach, and then the Admiral set off exploring the Island on the Free Trolley that runs up and down the Island.

Bradenton Beach

105 bradenton beach

The crew of Aurora had set up a pot luck dinner, with Aurora providing the grilled chicken and Gammel Dansk and Still Waters II rounding out the meal.  It was good to sit around, chat, and break bread with the boats from Minnesota.

The skipper, Admiral (standing), Mary, Kevin, Tori the seeing eye dog, and Dan

103 meal at bradenton

Wednesday, January 9

Mary and Dan treated the crew to breakfast before they shoved off.

Mary on the Beach waiting for restaurant to open.

104 sunrise bradenton

The crew was back underway on Wednesday passing through Sarasota Bay on their way to Venice, where they would dock at the Crow’s Nest Marina.  While passing though the Bay, the crew spotted John Ringling’s 56 room waterfront mansion that was built in 1926 at the cost of 1.5 million.

The home was named Ca d’Zan, which means “House of John.”  Venetian Gothic style home

11 john ringling home

The crew had visited the estate last Thursday.  The visit included the circus museum, house tour, and art collection.  The most amazing exhibit at the circus museum was a 3,800-square-foot 1/16th scale circus model.  The collection is the largest miniature circus in the world.  Howard Tibbals has been working on the circus for over 50 years and it is still a work in progress.

A small portion of the overall model.

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One example of the level of detail is a ticket booth operator who sits inside a small tent to collect money for tickets.  There is a cash box which is closed and cannot even be seen, and there is scaled money in the box.  Asked why he would put the money and box in the exhibit when people would not be able to see them, Tibbals responded, “I know that they were there in real life and I know that they are there in the replica.”

After making millions and building his dream home though, John Ringling fell on hard times during the depression.  At his death in 1936, he only had $311 dollars left to his name.

Saw this fisherman with some pelicans taking a free ride

10 pelican rest

The crew eventually made way to Venice and landed at the Crow’s Nest Marina.  By the time they arrived the winds had picked up to over 15 mph and the current was beginning to flow in from the Gulf.  This made docking a little challenging, but the crew managed to get safely tied up in time to go watch another sunset from the nearby beach.

106 venice sunset

After the sunset, the crew was strolling back to the boat when the Admiral made the following observation: “it was an unusual day for me, I saw both a sunrise and a sunset today.”

Thursday, January 10th

The winds continued to blow for most of the night and did not settle back under 15 mph until late Thursday.  The crew decided to sit out this cold front and wait for things to warm back up before making way to Cayo Costa State Park.

Friday, January 11th

The winds continued to drop thru Thursday night so the crew was ready to leave and make way to Cayo Costa State Park.  While leaving Venice though, they cruised by some murals painted on buildings that were interesting to view.

108 mural in venice

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The crew has been traveling mostly at low tide the last few days.  While this is not the optimum time to be out on the water, it did provide a place for this Bald Eagle to land in the shallow water.

109 bald eagle

The crew also cruised by this interesting building on their way south.

110 lighthouse grill

But by far, the most interesting sighting of the day was a car on a barge.  The skipper initially saw that it looked like a car was on a small barge.  When it got close, he noticed that that the car was a convertible corvette, the top was down, and a guy was siting in the front seat.  As the floating car went by the Admiral managed to get a picture.  Not sure how the guy was steering the barge but the crew did get a laugh at the name, Stretch Vet.

112 stretch vet

It was not much further and the crew arrived at Pelican Bay where they dropped the anchor for the night.  After the anchor was set, the skipper dropped the dinghy in the water and the crew headed over to the State Park.  This was the best place for shelling back on the first Loop, and the Island did not disappoint on the second trip.  They found many good shells to add to their growing collection.  They harvested 5 sand dollars and left another 5 for others to find.

The Admiral got this pic as the skipper rowed the dinghy back to Still Waters II.

skipper

Saturday, January 12th

The crew rose early for their last day on their Platinum Loop Quest.  They weighed anchor and made way towards Ft Myers.

Sunrise in Pelican Bay

113 sunrise pelican bay

On their way to Ft Myers they passed by Cabbage Key.  Some credit the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” to the burger served at the inn at the marina.  The rumor goes that Jimmy Buffet ate a cheeseburger here, wrote the song, and then performed the song in concert at Ft Myers.

114 cabbage key

In the search for the truth, the skipper found this from the author himself:

 “The myth of the cheeseburger in paradise goes back to a long trip on my first boat, the Euphoria. We had run into some very rough weather crossing the Mona Passage between Hispanola and Puerto Rico, and broke our new bowsprit. The ice in our box had melted, and we were doing the canned-food-and-peanut-butter diet. The vision of a piping hot cheeseburger kept popping into my mind. We limped up the Sir Francis Drake Channel and into Roadtown on the island of Tortola, where a brand new marina and bar sat on the end of the dock like a mirage. We secured the boat, kissed the ground, and headed for the restaurant. To our amazement, we were offered a menu that featured an American cheeseburger and piña coladas. Now, these were the days when supplies were scarce – when horsemeat was more plentiful than ground beef in the tiny stores of the Third World. Anyway, we gave particular instructions to the waiter on how we wanted them cooked, and what we wanted on them – to which very little attention was paid. It didn’t matter. The overdone burgers on the burned, toast buns tasted like manna from Heaven, for, they were the realization of my fantasy burgers on the trip. That’s the true story. I’ve heard other people and places claim that I stopped or cooked in their restaurants, but that is the way it happened.”

All this research caused the skipper to have a craving for a cheeseburger.  Good thing that Sweetwater Landing has opened a new restaurant on the property at the marina.  Because the skipper thinks there is a cheeseburger calling his name.

After turning onto the Caloosahatchee River about 1000, the crew started a section of water nick named The Miserable Mile.  The crew estimated that they saw at least 80 boats outbound in a steady procession, and yes it was miserable.

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Only 5 miles to go to complete the Platinum Loop when the next pic was taken.

116 5 miles to platinum

The skipper had made reservations at Sweetwater Landing for the weekend.  The crew was excited to return to the spot where they started their Looper Lifestyle.  The crew took slip 18 and backed into the slip to complete the quest.

In just a few minutes upon arrival, Mary and Dan arrived from Bradenton and Bill came up from Naples to celebrate with the crew.  Mary got this pic of the new Platinum Loopers.

platinum flag

 

The group moved into the new boaters lounge and spent some time reminiscing about their travels together down the inland rivers and across the Gulf.

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The group decided to try the new restaurant.  The place must be doing well because they have built an overflow parking lot and use a tram service to deliver the patrons to the restaurant.

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The other clue that the place is doing well was the one hour wait to get a table.  The group found some vacant chairs along the water to wait for their table.

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And yes, the skipper got him a Cheeseburger in Paradise to celebrate earning the Platinum Burgee.  The Admiral celebrated with a shrimp basket.  Like the Loop completion, the food was excellent.

The skipper penned this little tome to announce Still Waters II crossing her wake for a second time:

Ode of the Gold Flag

Back on February 19, 2017, I was finally removed from my packaging and replaced my old nemesis (the white flag) on the bow of Still Waters II.  The White Flag went screaming and kicking and claiming that she had led the crew around the Great Loop and that it was not fair that I get the position of honor and all the credit.

Well today, January 12, 2019, I now have complete and total empathy for my old nemesis.  After leading the crew around the Loop a second time, and taking them on awesome side trips to the:

Keys

Bahamas

Long Island Sound

Up to Maine

Out to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard

Lake Champlain

Across the Western Erie Canal and Finger Lakes

Lake Erie and Lake Huron

And up the upper Mississippi River to the end of navigation near St Paul

I now understand what the skipper means when he says: “No good deed goes unpunished.”  My crew replaced me with a Platinum Burgee.  The injustice of it all, I do all the work, freeze my flag fringes off coming down the inland rivers because THEY wanted to go north up the Mississippi River, and this is the thanks I get.  I get put in the same locker as that grungy weathered white flag.

The white flag snickered though when they put me in the locker, and said:

“hey golden boy, look over in the corner, see that red and blue flag?”

I answered: “yes, what is it?”

The Nemesis responded, “that is the look of sweet revenge.  I have heard the crew planning a Down East Loop for 2019, and once they start north in the spring that high flying Platinum flag is in for a rude awakening.  They plan to pull him down and fly that Down East Burgee.  Oh Proud Platinum won’t be so proud then.”

But what tales I can tell of all the wonderful places and people I have seen.  No matter what happens next, that Platinum Burgee can never replace the memory making moments that I experienced on My Great Loop Adventure.

Thanks to all the people that helped my crew around the Great Loop such as the folks back in the home office, the Harbor Hosts, and the forum hall of famers who contribute regularly.

Lastly, thanks to the Fleet of 2017, 2018, and 2019 cruisers who have truly enriched our lives, made us better people, and shared your lives with us.  There are no better people than the people in the boating community and the AGLCA!  Thanks for continuing to put up with us.

Hope to meet even more of the Fleet of 2019 as we continue the Looper Lifestyle in a new Quest for the Down East Loop.

And a special shout out to the folks who follow the blog and have come aboard as virtual crew members.  Thanks for sharing the journey with the crew!!!!

Boat Name of the Week

Sign’m Up

Dunedin is the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays.  The skipper noticed this boat on the dock one morning and wondered if the owner was affiliated with the Blue Jays.

The boat was wrapped to look like a baseball bat.

boat in dunedin

The motors looked like baseballs

boat motors

Next Week –

The Crew will hang out in the balmy warm weather of Ft Myers for about a month.  They plan to move over to the east coast of Florida by the end of February and will post again once they complete the move.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Gulf Crossing

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

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John and Lou Ann J. have come aboard as our latest virtual crew members.  They are family of Dan and Mary of the Gammel Dansk.  Also, indianeskitchin has come aboard.  Welcome Aboard!

Summary of week:

Dunedin

The weather window for a Tuesday/Wednesday Gulf crossing held.  The crew left Carrabelle at noon on Tuesday and managed to make it across the Gulf.  They docked at Marker 1 Marina in Dunedin at 1515 on Thursday.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she makes way across the Gulf of Mexico to the western shore of Florida. Enjoy!

Gulf Crossing from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Tuesday, December 18th

The skipper checked his weather apps as soon as he woke up to determine if today would be the day to cross the Gulf.  The weather apps were in agreement and looked favorable for a good crossing. The skipper was looking for winds under 10 mph and waves less than 2 feet.  Tuesday looked really good with winds light (under 5 mph) most of the day.  The wind was predicted to pick up after midnight, but with the direction out of the east, the waves should not build too quickly and the fetch would shorten the closer the crew came to shore.

weather app

The skipper then checked Eddy’s Weather Wag to see what he had to say about a Tuesday/Wednesday crossing:

It’s a great day for Go-Fast Loopers to burn some serious fossil fuel.  Sea conditions should stay very favorable for your entire journey.

Those who are doing the overnight crossing will have very favorable sea conditions throughout most of the night.  As winds pick up slightly in the pre-dawn hours, the seas may become a bit “confused”, but it shouldn’t make your ride uncomfortable.

With this info in his hip pocket, the skipper headed to breakfast to discuss the crossing with the other captains who would also be crossing today.  It was determined that Still Waters II would cross with three other boats, Gammel Dansk, Chip Ahoy, and Aurora. It was agreed that the flotilla would slip off their lines and leave the marina at noon.

Just before shoving off, Mary managed to get a group shot of three of the four crews.

About to shove Off

A fifth boat would leave with the four boat flotilla, but was headed to Clearwater so would be on a different heading once the boats entered the Gulf.  Compass Rose did manage to get this shot as the flotilla approached East Pass.

east pass

Once the group entered the Gulf, they found the conditions very favorable.  The winds were light as predicted which made for flat calm sea conditions.  The calm conditions existed all the way to sunset.

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As the sun began to set, the flotilla closed ranks and got closer together to ensure they would be able to see each other in the dark.

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As the sun continued to set, a vibrant red orange sky greeted the flotilla.  Chip Ahoy came over the radio and reminded everyone that: “red sky at night, sailors delight.”

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As predicted, the winds started to pick up out of the east following mid night.  The longer the wind blew the larger the waves began to form.  Most of the waves were 1-footers initially, but by 0300-0400, the waves were building to two feet.  The main problem was not the height though, but the direction.  The waves were striking on the side of the boat causing a very rolly motion.

The boats had started on a heading of 138 degrees magnetic to reach the Red 4 entrance buoy at Tarpon Springs that was initially 150 miles from the East Pass back near Carrabelle.  It was decided to alter course to see if that would help smooth out the ride.  The course change was initially successful.  However, just about sunrise the seas became very confused and seemed to be coming from every direction.  This lasted for about 2 hours before things started to settle down.

As the boats continued to the Red 4 marker the seas fell back to consistent 1 footers and the last 30 miles to the Red 4 were much more manageable/

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Aurora in the morning

But the 26 foot tugs were still having a tuff go of it in the wind and waves.

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Within about ten miles of the Red 4 marker conditions had settled enough that the Admiral and skipper decided to try and pass some coffee over to Chip Ahoy.  Bill was making the trip solo and could not leave the helm to brew any coffee.  The Admiral went down and brewed some coffee and put the brew in a thermos.  She also put a piece of cake in a sealed container.  Then placed both items in a bag with straps that could be placed on the boat hook and handed over to Bill.

While Bill was trying to get up to Still Waters II, the skipper managed to drop the bag in the Big Pond and almost lost the bag with the Java Juice.  He finally snagged the straps on the third try just before the bag was out of reach.  With the bag back on the boat hook, Bill pulled along side Still Waters II and the skipper was able to get the goods to Bill.  He removed the bag from the boat hook and moved away from Still Waters II.

 

coffee

The view from Gammel Dansk during the coffee transfer.

Coffee Transfer

The coffee and cake seemed to rejuvenate Bill and help him make the last few miles to the red 4 marker.  The skipper used two 20 oz bottles of Mountain Dew to help him thru the night.  At 1304, the flotilla finally arrived at the Red 4 marker officially ending the Gulf crossing.  The boats still had about two hours of cruising left before they were safely secured in a marina, but the worst was behind them now.

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When they did finally arrive in the marina, the skipper calculated that they had travelled 175 miles at 6.5 mph which led to a long 27 hour crossing.

Next Week –

With the Gulf crossing behind them, the crew rented a car and headed to Texas to visit family for the holidays.  They will return to the boat sometime after Christmas and resume the quest for the Platinum Flag in the new year.  It appears that they could easily make Ft Myers in 5 travel days from Dunedin, so they should complete their second Loop before the end of January.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Chill’n in Carrabelle

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The crew spent the week cruising thru the damage done by Hurricane Michael.  Notice that the tree tops have all disappeared.

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On the brighter side, we get to welcome some new virtual crew members aboard this week.  You are just in time to cross the Gulf of Mexico with the crew.  Welcome aboard chmyers2000 and Greg P.  Hope you enjoy the adventure!

Summary of week:

It should be obvious by the map above that the crew did not make last Wednesday’s Gulf crossing.  That was unfortunate because the weather was perfect for a glass smooth sail across the Gulf.  However, because of high winds over the weekend the crew was unable to leave Ft Walton Beach and get staged for the crossing.

Waiting out the wind in Ft Walton Beach (notice that green flag on the green tug)

Instead, the crew hunkered down and let the high winds blow by.  On Monday, it was finally safe enough to continue eastward so the crew made three moves to stage for the next weather window to allow safe passage across the Gulf.

They anchored out north of Panama City on Monday in Burnt Mill Creek (1).  Then stayed at a free dock in White City (2) on Tuesday.  They then made way to Carrabelle (3) where they will sit and wait for a weather window to open. 

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

At the Box Office

This week’s video is an intro to the Great Loop from America’s Great Loop Cruising Association.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, December 10th

Ft Walton Beach to Carrabelle was a 150 mile journey through the devastation of Hurricane Michael.   Because of the damage, the marinas along this route are still closed which necessitated finding docks or anchorages to stop along the way.

 

22 Hurricane Michael Leftovers
First signs of Hurricane Michael devastation

The first night, the crew planned to stop at a restaurant that has a dock but is closed on Mondays.  However, upon arrival, the skipper could not find enough water under the keel to safely dock without going aground.  When he finally abandoned the dock strategy it was time to head to Plan B, an anchorage about an hour away.

This was interesting to see, three trees blown over in one root ball

When the crew arrived at the anchorage they dropped the anchor but it did not set.  On the second try, the anchor failed to set again.  But this time when they brought the anchor up they noticed it had some grass hanging from the points.  The skipper moved to some deeper water to get out of the grass and the anchor set on the third try.

The skipper then launched the dinghy to take Tori ashore.  Under the category of ‘No job is as easy as it looks,’ the skipper could not get close to shore because of the shallow water.  He finally gave up on finding a path to shore in the boat, got out of the dinghy, then waded and pulled the dinghy to shore.

Tori 2

After Tori did her business and loaded back in the dinghy, the skipper waded back out to deeper water and floated away.  Luckily, Chip Ahoy was there to assist and get the dinghy, dog, and skipper back to their respective boats.  This was especially good because it was getting dark and dark fast.

Tori at Burnt Mill Creek

The temperature was also dropping fast so the skipper was glad to get back on board to fire up the generator to warm the boat and dry off.

Tuesday, December 11th

The crew woke with temperatures in the 30’s, so the skipper fired up the generator again to warm the boat before the Admiral crawled out of bed for her first cup of coffee.  Mary also called and said it was too cold to be wading in the water to take Tori ashore.  Tori would either hold it all day or use the green carpet.  Obviously, Tori does not like artificial grass because she choose to hold it all day.

On the way to Panama City the crew saw a grand assortment of birds.

Heron
Red Shouldered Hawk

Bald Eagle

The Admiral came up with an idea to try and get Tori off the boat and on to shore at the Panama City Marina along the sea wall.  However, when Gammel Dansk was approaching the wall to tie up, a police officer showed up and told them the area was off limits and they could not land.

Looking around at all the damage it was obvious why the area was off limits.  It looked like a virtual war zone and liability nightmare.

Cleaning out the marina

Tori would have to wait until the flotilla landed in White City.  The town free docks are normally closed to over night stays.  But because the marina at Port St Joes was destroyed, White City has allowed transient boaters to stop for the night while passing through the area.

Big yacht aground

While making way to White City, the crew saw this large yacht aground.  They later learned that the yacht is on order for someone in California.  Supposedly it is a 100 Million dollar boat.  The builders decided to move the boat to a mooring ball rather than take the chances in a marina during the hurricane.  The winds broke the boat free of the mooring and the storm surge floated the boat away.  After the waters receded, she was left aground.  They are slowly trying to move her to deeper water and float her off.

Looks like a tornado may have ripped thru this narrow section of damage

Docked in White City

Wednesday, December  12th

The skipper woke to literally freezing temperatures.  The handrails and deck were covered in a thin layer of ice.  A new experience on the Great Loop.  Oh, did I forget to mention the fog that enveloped the boat also.  

With the fog starting to break up a little bit, the flotilla set off.  It would not take long though to experience a scary moment on the water in the fog.  The skipper had the radar on to help detect approaching targets.  He noticed an object come out from beyond a bend in the river.  He sounded the horn to alert the boat to his presence.  About the same time as the horn sounded he made visual contact with the fast approaching boat.  Luckily the boats were not on the same line and the boat quickly passed to the starboard of Still Waters II.  While all that was happening, he was trying to warn the two tugs behind him of the fast approaching boat over the radio. 


Somehow, Mary managed to get a photo of the boat in the fog as it passed them.
 
 
 
The fog cleared not too very long after this near miss, so the skipper took the time to go below and change his underwear.
 
 
Gammel Dansk following Chip Ahoy and Still Waters II
Fog Free in Saul Creek
Anybody hear banjo music?

With the fog gone, the skipper thought it would be smooth sailing for the rest of the day.  But that was not meant to be.  As they came out into the Apalachicola Bay, they encountered a dredge dead center in the channel.  The dredge told the skipper to pass on the 1, so the skipper moved to starboard to go around the dredge.  He looked at the chart and noticed that there would be only 5 feet of water.  Not good when your boat draft is nearly 4.  The skipper slowed and eased his way around the dredge until he could get back into the marked channel.

Dredge blocking channel

Not long after this, the crew was overtaken by a boat named SunSpot Baby.  She is crewed by Dave and Nancy from up north on Lake Michigan.  They had planned to cross the Gulf today in that great weather window but had some issues getting out into the Gulf.  They are now headed to Carrabelle to wait for the next window to cross.

SunSpot Baby

Thursday, December 13th

SunSpot Baby hosted dock tales on their boat.  The Admiral got the Grand Tour.  The skipper learned that the boat is named for a Bob Seger tune by the same name.

She packed up her bags and she took off down the road

Left me here stranded with the bills she owed

She gave me a false address

Took off with my American Express

Sunspot Baby

She sure had me way outguessed

Thanks for a great evening aboard SunSpot Baby.

Friday, December 14th

There have been several groups of boaters who have ventured out into the Gulf over the last few weeks in marginal and deteriorating weather conditions.  Then when things did not work out well for them they blamed the forecast for their bad decision.  This fits perfectly with the skipper’s quote of the day, “To err is human, to blame the other guy is more human.” 

For example, back on December 6th, a group of 13 captain’s got together to discuss their Gulf crossing plan.  Two of these captain’s decided the weather window was not good for them and choose not to go.  The other 11 left and encountered 3 foot seas at East Pass, just after entering the Gulf.  Two more decided that this was not their cup of tea and returned to Carrabelle. 

The other 9 continued on for twenty more hours getting kicked around by the seas.  Rather than own their decision to cross based on what they saw with their own two eyes, they blamed the forecast for their choice.

One of the survivors had this to say after making it across the Gulf:

In my humble opinion, and recent personal experience, this crossing IS a big deal. We have no auto pilot and no stabilizer. We traveled in a very stable albeit small boat and it was the most frightening 22 hours of fighting the elements in total blackness I have encountered in 25+ years of boating. 
Despite all monitored apps, NOAA, consensus at the captains meeting (involving 13 other boats) the projected weather was not as expected. 
I am not ashamed to say I was very frightened.

It was obvious to the skipper that some people do not understand the basics of wave height, so he shared this little simple thought experiment with the AGLCA membership in hopes that others will not follow out into the Gulf in three foot waves, especially in a small boat.

As we now sit in Carrabelle waiting our turn to cross the Gulf, my thoughts have begun to ponder why many before me use the thumb rule of:

–          Less than 10 mph winds

–          Less than 2-foot waves

as their go-no-go decision tool.

I have also begun to ponder if I would go if the waves were just three foot just past Dog Island after entering the Gulf at East Pass.

To answer these and other questions, I ran this thought experiment and determined not only no, but heck no, I’m not going in three-foot seas.  Read the thought experiment and you can make your own decision if you would go or not.

Thought experiment:

If the average wave height was predicted to be three foot, what could I actually expect to see while crossing the Gulf at 8 mph?

First, I found the following definition for wave height on the NOAA, National Weather Service page.

Significant Wave Height – is an average measurement of the largest 33% of waves.

IMHO- that is not very useful on the surface

Second, I also found this info following the above definition:

Significant wave height measured by a wave buoy corresponds well to visual estimates of wave height.  Most human observers tend to over estimate the real height of waves. 

As the significant wave height is an average of the largest waves over a recording period it should be noted that some waves might be much LARGER than the average.

Third, that begged the question, ‘How many are some?’

Answer – on average, about 15% of waves will equal or exceed the significant wave height.  The highest 10% of waves could be 25-30% higher than the significant wave height.

And on occasion (about one per hour) one can expect to see a wave nearly twice the significant wave height.

So, in layman terms what does that mean to me as I spend 21 hours to cross 170 miles at 8 mph across the Gulf?

Assuming 3-foot waves in the Gulf with a 6 second period the entire route across.

And ignoring the fact that the boat is actually moving across the Gulf. 

I could expect to see at least 7,560 waves (6 sec period, so 6 waves per minute, so 360 waves per hour)

The highest 10% of waves could be 25-30% higher.  So, 30% of 3-foot wave would be 1 more foot or a bunch of 4-foot waves.  How many is a bunch? 10% of 7,560 = 756 four-foot waves

And on occasion (about one per hour) one can expect to see a wave nearly twice the significant wave height.  Therefore, we should expect to see some waves twice as high as the three footers which means we get to surf some 6-foot waves 21 times as we go across the Gulf.

Summary:

# of waves – 7,650 (which most look like three footers to the untrained eye)

# of 4-foot waves – 756

# of 6-foot waves – 21

As a reminder this was assuming the boat is not moving which we know it is.  So, in reality you will see even more waves than this simple thought process.

However, for me and my wife, these numbers are proof enough that we do not want to go out in 3-foot seas, meet a bunch of 4 footers, and get kissed hourly by a 6-footer.

So, when I stick my nose out in the Gulf and see 3-foot seas, we are making a game-day-decision to return to Carrabelle, and wait for the next window.  Four to six-foot waves take the pleasure out of pleasure boating for us.

But every body is different. On our boat we have two people on board and two types of peanut butter (creamy and crunchy).  Different is neither right or wrong.  It is just different.

So maybe you would go, if you do, I hope you make it safely.  I am sure you will.  It might not be pleasurable but it would probably be safe.

One clever response to the skipper’s post was as follows:

A wave is wave of course, of course

But the height of the wave is of course, a force?

The simple truth is, how much force do you want?

No force, little force or the boat doing stunts.

For me it is simple, while riding the seas

I only want a MINIMAL BREEZE!

If you want to brag that you survived the worst

Get out there and do it! You may be the first!

Saturday, December 15th

There are now 8 boats at the Moorings in Carrabelle waiting for the next weather window to cross the Gulf.  To pass the time the group of 8 decided to have a potluck dinner that actually turned into hamburgers and hotdogs. 

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The ladies transformed the Boaters Lounge into a nice place for dinner, converting the pool table into a serving table with all the food.  

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It appeared that all had a good time, but before breaking up for Looper Midnight I managed to get this group shot.  Notice I even got the skipper in the pic.

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Gammel Dansk, SunSpot Baby, Still Waters II, Michigan Girl, Chip Ahoy, Aurora, Last Call, Compass Rose

Also, a shout out and big THANK YOU to the management of the Moorings of Carrabelle for the two bottles of complimentary wine.  It was a nice surprise and much appreciated!

Boat Name of the Week

SunSpot Baby

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Next Week –

The next weather window to cross the Gulf seems to be opening up on Monday.  Because the winds have blown hard for the last several days, it will take a while for the waves to calm down.  Based on the current forecast, a Tuesday night Wednesday crossing looks the best.  If the forecast holds the crew should make the jump across the Gulf and be safely docked in Dunedin by Wednesday afternoon 

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Big Target

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The skipper saw the picture of this big target when he first entered the Navy Aviation Museum.  For those who know that the skipper served aboard a submarine, he would remind you that the Navy only has two kinds of ships, targets and submarines.  That is one big target. 

Summary of the Week:

This past week the crew started their eastward journey along the Gulf Coast. As often happens on The Loop, they were thwarted by the weather. They did manage three travel days and a 0.3 mile jump to find safe haven from the storm scheduled to arrive Saturday afternoon.  The Crew Left Dog River (1) and arrived on the Gulf Coast to dock at The Wharf (2) Monday. Stopped at Pensacola (3) to visit the Navy Aviation Museum on Thursday. Ended up at Ft Walton Beach (4) on Friday.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Who was the Navy’s first Ace?
  2. What war did he achieve Ace status?
  3. Who commissioned the Blue Angels?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she visits the Navy Aviation Museum.  Enjoy!

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, December 3rd

The crew left with their flotila of Nordic Tugs and headed out into Mobile Bay. With the wind out of the north, it would be a rolly ride with beam seas as the crew traveled east on the Dog River Channel.

On the Dog River Channel headed to Mobile Bay
Bald Eagle marking the entrance to Mobile Bay

After getting back to the Big Ship Channel, the crew made a left and headed toward the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway (GC ICW) with following seas. A much more comfortable ride with those waves on the stern.

Pelicans in flight above Mobile Bay

When the crew left the Bay, they set their sites on LuLu’s Restaurant where they planned to Dock & Dine. However, upon arrival the skipper noticed that there were no lights on. The Admiral noticed a guy on the fuel dock so she yelled across the water to inquire if LuLu’s was open. He responded, “No they are closed on Monday’s.” Now that was disappointing.

Not eating here this year


With that sad news, it was a short two miles down the ICW to The Wharf Marina where the crew would spend the next few days.

Tuesday and Wednesday

The Wharf is a shoppers haven.  With so many stores to shop the Admiral had her work cut out.  She rose to the challenge and shopped till she dropped.  Unfortunately, she dropped a few George Washington’s along the way.  After three years of searching, she finally found her perfect recliner that can fit thru the 23 inch door and is the right color.

After an exhausting day of shopping it was nice that KC and Scott set up a dinner for the Loopers at the Wharf. 

The Wharf decorated for Christmas:

Thursday, December 6th

The crew made an early departure so that they could arrive in time at Pensacola to go visit the Navy Aviation Museum. The first interesting development in the morning though was watching an Osprey swoop down and catch a fish for morning breakfast just off the bow of the boat.

Fish Breakfast

The crew then entered Florida waters, so they know the quest for the Platinmum Flag is drawing near.  A quick rough calc and it appears the crew has around 450 miles to go to complete their second Loop.


When the crew spotted the Pensacola Lighthouse they knew the day’s run was about over. They got docked, and then Bill arranged for an Uber ride to the Museum. Strangely enough, taxi’s are allowed on the Naval Base but Uber and Lyft are not. The Uber driver performed a bit of slight of hand and managed to deliver the group to the front door of the museum. The skipper does not think the driver fooled the gate guard at all, but what the heck, mission accomplished.

Pensacola Lighthouse


The museum was extremely interesting. The group arrived just in time to catch the 45 minute, 1300 tour. At 1530, the tour guide wrapped up his presentation. The tour guide did an excellent job of show and tell, and explaining the evolution of Naval Aircraft from the Navy’s first plane to the planes of WWII.

The Navy’s first ever airplane


The group only spent the afternoon at the museum, and the skipper could easily have spent two days taking in all the exhibits. He diffentily has this place on his ‘return and visit some more’ list.

With a 2.5 hour tour, the skipper has many interesting stories to share but will only share a few here.

For starters, the skipper is always looking for connections to home and family when he visits museums. He found both at the Aviation Museum.

The Texas connection

The tour took them to an interesting little plane named USS Texas. The plane was a Sopwith Camel and was used in WWI. In fact, a Lieutenant (junior grade) flew one of these planes to become the Navy’s first ever Ace. You may recognize that this is also the plane that Snoopy flies in the Peanuts cartoons.

The family connection was discovered by Mary. It was tucked a way in a corner of the museum where the curator had built a Hinoi Hilton display comemorating all the naval pilots shot down in Vietnam. One of these pilots was Captain Robert B. Fuller who was shot down July 14, 1967.

Clothing of the Hanoi Hilton

The last story to share was about a display of the Blue Angels flying in formation. The guide told a story about when the display was first finished, the curator brought in some past Blue Angel pilots to get their feedback. When they unveiled the display, it was obvious by the looks on the pilot’s faces that something was wrong. When questioned, the pilots asked why the planes were so far apart. They commented that while flying in formation the planes are never more than 18 inches apart.

The guide also pointed out another interesting little plane that was used by the Navy between the World Wars. This plane was used to do flight demonstrations while tied together with two other planes. After WWII, Admiral Nimitz commissioned the now famous Blue Angels to carry on the mission and keep the general public interested in Naval Aviation. The Blue Angels formed in 1946 and are the secondest oldest aviation aerobatic team.

Predecessor of the Blue Angels

Ok, you probably guessed there would be one more last story. In honor of Presiden Bush who passed away this past week, here is a picture of the plane he used to log 30 flight training hours in before earning his wings.

The group returned to the marina just in time to witness the sunset.

Friday, December 7th

The run to Ft Walton Beach was anti-climatic for the crew. However, they did begin to see the first signs of Hurricane Michael which tore thru the area earlier in the year. The first signs of damage were the number of new docks that had already been rebuilt along the waterway. The second sign was an abandoned sailboat still lying on the shore waiting for disposal.

The worst of the damage is still east of the crew. As they pass by Destin, reports are pretty bleak. The two marinas in Panama City have still not re-opened. The marina at Port St Joe was completly destroyed.

But those are challenges to deal with next week. Today, the Admiral spotted a Whataburger that was only a mile from the Ft Walton Beach free dock and she mentioned she wanted to partake of a Whataburger for the evening meal. After all the boats were safely docked, several of the group headed to the local supermarket on foot to reprovision. 

View from the Ft Walton Beach  free dock

Later, after returning to the boat and stowing the groceries, the group set off for the Whataburger.  While crossing the streets with Dan and Tori, the skipper learned the finer points of those bumpy mats found at the end of a sidewalk near the road.

 When Tori approaches a corner, she pulls Dan over to those bumps and positions Dan on the mat. He can feel the bumps thru his shoes and knows he is ready to cross when the traffic stops. But if a sighted person is standing on the bumpy mat, the seeing eye dog and blind person, who the bumpy mat was designed for, cannot get properly positioned to cross the road.

If you are like the skipper, yes you have stood on the bumpy mat waiting to cross the road. The skipper prides himself on trying to learn something new every day. Today he learned to stay off the bumpy mat. Maybe you learned something new today also.

And yes the Whataburger was most excellent!

Saturday, December 8th

The weather dictated that the flotilla stay put today. The winds were already blowing about about 10 miles per hour at 0700, and are predicted to climb to 20 by late afternoon. The gusts are forecast for the 30’s. With no good options for a marina in the next 150 miles due to the hurricane damage, the flotilla moved across the waterway to get in a small cove that is better protected from the wind and wave action to ride out the blow.

Moved along red line to protected cove
In a protective cove
Riding out the blow

Boat Name of the Week

Notice the back of their boat has the following scripture reference:           I Peter 5:7 (ESV)

……casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

The crew of No Worries.  Had a wonderful evening with ya’ll.  

Next Week

The crew will continue their east bound journey along the Gulf Coast and stage in Carrabelle for the Gulf Crossing to Tarpon Springs. At this point, the forecast shows a poential crossing for Wednesday/Thursday night. If that window does not materialize, the next opportunity to get across the Gulf and to the west coast of Florida may not appear until December 18th. The crew will watch and wait to see what happens.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Chilled to the Bone

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

After sitting out traveling for the first three days of the week due to the cold temperatures, lows in the 20’s and highs only in the 40’s, the crew took off Thursday morning.  It was so cold early in the week that this guy took a nap on the dock and got chilled all the way to the bone.  Apparently, the Jack Daniels did not help him stay warm.

Summary of week:


The crew left Demopolis and made their final jump to Mobile Bay to complete the Tenn-Tom Waterway over four days:

  1.  Anchored at Old Lock #2 on Thursday
  2. Stayed on the dock at Bobby’s Fish Camp on Friday
  3. Anchored in the Alabama River Cut-off on Saturday
  4. And docked at Dock River Marina on Sunday to complete the inland rivers

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. What year did Bobby’s Fish Camp open for business?
  2. Who is the Black Warrior River named after?
  3. When did the “Black Warrior” live?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows the skipper providing coaching lessons to Dan and Mary as they anchor for the first time on the Great Loop.  Enjoy! 

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop

Thursday, November 29th

Today, the temperatures were much more favorable for comfortable cruising with a low of 43 and a high of 59.  The crew shoved off and started their four day journey to Mobile.  

The first order of business was to get thru the Demopolis Lock, three miles down river.  However, when the skipper called, the Lock Master said that a tow was about to enter the chamber and it would be at least an hour before he could lock the three boat flotilla down.  He suggested that the boats sit at the marina, and he would call when it was time to head to the lock.

A few minutes after nine the Lock Master called and summoned the boats to the lock.  Everyone was scrambling because he also added that there would be a lock closure at ten for some routine maintenance.  The three boats arrived at the lock at 0944 with gates open and a green light.  That was a good sign.

After entering the lock, the crew could see the water rushing over the Demopolis Dam which made for an impressive site.

Demopolis Dam and waterfall

After the lock stepped the crew down 40 feet, they exited the lock and got an even better view of the dam and water runoff.

At mile 173, the crew passed under an interesting highway bridge and railroad bridge.

Five miles later it was time to stop and find a place to drop the anchor near the boat ramp at Old Lock #2.  The first spot the skipper picked did not work.  The anchor set just fine but the wind direction was causing the boat to drift into the shore.  The crew weighed anchor and moved to the other side of the river.  The skipper found a good spot and the crew once again dropped the anchor.   After getting the anchor set, Gammel Dansk came up on the port side and rafted up to Still Waters II.

With the boats secured it was once again time to launch the Tori Taxi Service.  The skipper rowed Tori back across the river to the boat ramp.  After Tori completed her business, the skipper was glad to see Chip Ahoy waiting at the boat ramp to tow him back to the mother ship.

Chip Ahoy waiting on Tori and the skipper
Chip Ahoy towing the dink 

After Tori was safely back on her boat, it was time to sit back and relax.  The skipper turned in early, but the Admiral stayed awake working on a Christmas treasure hunt for the grandkids.  Sometime, before the Admiral turned in, a tow went by that rocked the two rafted boats pretty bad.  The two boats were banging into each other as they rocked from the wake.  The Admiral and Mary went out in the dark and arrested the situation before any damage was done to the boats, while the guys slept away.

Friday, November 30th

The first order of business was to take Tori back ashore.  She came out of her salon, noticed the skipper in the dinghy, and immediately turned back around and went back in the salon.  To say that Tori does not like the dinghy ride might be an understatement.  Mary had to coax Tori back outside.  Then to everyone’s surprise, Tori came out and jumped into the dinghy.  She must really need to go bad.

Skipper getting his morning exercise

The skipper took his camera over to see if he could get some good pictures while ashore with Tori. 

Tow taking a break
Chip Ahoy thru the woods
Gammel Dansk and Still Waters II thru the woods
Light morning fog at the park

With the morning exercise program complete, the flotilla raised the anchors and headed downstream.  As they began to move out into the channel Chip Ahoy noticed a tow around the bend headed upstream towards the boats.  Everyone moved out of the way of the tow and made way south.

Tow just around the bend

The interesting rock formations along the shore line would come to an end today.   So would the smalls hills that have dotted the horizon for the last few hundred miles.

Last of the Alabama hills
Cozy Cabin below rock bluff

The remoteness of these last two days has meant not much cell service.  But to the skippers amazement, as they approached the dock at Bobby’s Fish Camp there was a cell tower within view of the dock.  At first he thought it was just a figment of his imagination so he rubbed his eyes and looked again.  Yes, yes, that is a cell tower.  The skipper looked over at his iPad and noticed four bars of service.  What a pleasant surprise.

Cell towers are a big deal in this neck of the woods

The three boat flotilla were the only boats to arrive at Bobby’s Fish Camp.  The crew did not get to eat at Bobby’s back in 2016 when they stopped because the restaurant was closed.  Tonight though, the restaurant was open and it was time to try the famous catfish that has been served here since 1956.

But there might just be one small problem.  There is a rather large sign on the front door that reads, “No animals allowed inside.”

The skipper entered the restaurant ahead of the others to pave the way for Capt’n Dan and Tori.  He began his inquiry by acknowledging the sign on the door, but also stating that there was a blind guy fix’n to walk thru the door with a seeing eye dog.  He stated they just wanted to eat their world famous catfish and wanted no problems.  He could tell the worker was nervous and unsure how to respond.

To his surprise, she looked over at a couple of locals who were seated and enjoying their meal.   The man was nodding his head as if to give approval.  She then looked over at another table and that man was also nodding his head.  He also spoke and commented that he thought it might be the law and that she should let the dog in.  With some show of solidarity, she said it would be ok.  The skipper went over and opened the door just as Dan was heading up the stairs to the door.

The group took a table in the main dinning area and Tori took her place under the table at Dan’s feet.  

But then something rather interesting happened.  The man and woman at the first table finished their meal, got up, and came over to the groups table. The man addressed Dan and said how much he had enjoyed their conversation outside just a bit ago.  As the two continued to talk, the wife noticed that Mary had an art pin on her vest.  The wife commented that she enjoyed drawing and painting and wanted to know if Mary did also.  The two continued to talk about their love of the arts and discovered that they also had a love for Alaska.  

Who would of ever thought that two locals in remote Alabama would help win the day at Bobby’s Fish Camp and would have so much in common with these strangers just trying to make their way through a dark and lonely world.  Yes, life is more about the relationships we form in this journey on earth than a bunch of silly rules to live by like, “no animals allowed.”

Oh yea, and the food was excellent also.  Three cheers to Bobby’s Fish Camp and the locals who keep it in business.

And speaking of silly signs, the Admiral found this sign when she went walking after docking.

Saturday, December 1st

With a 70 mile day and a lock to go thru, the crew left Bobby’s bright and early.  Well, maybe not so bright.  It was 0600 in the morning with fog so it was anything but bright.  It was pitch black.

The skipper had called the Coffeeville Lock Master at 0530 to see if they had a clear shot at making the lock at 0630.  The Lock Master told the skipper that there was a tow below the lock, but if they got there before 0615, he would put them down before the tow came up.  

With the dark and fog, the flotilla did not arrive at the lock until 0630, but the Lock Master showed some grace, kept the gates open, and stepped the boats down before the tow.

Gammel Dansk entering lock

When the gates swung open to let the boats out of the lock, they were greeted by a wall of fog.  This looks like it is shaping up to be a slow stressful day.  Not the best way to celebrate the last lock of the 2018 cruising season.

Wall of Fog

By 0900, the temperature changed enough to allow the fog to dissipate.  While the last of the fog was trying to leave it made for an eerie look and feeling on the water.  During some boat chatter over the radio, someone mentioned that they thought they heard the theme music from the Twilight Zone.

After the rain stopped and the fog lifted, it actually turned into a beautiful day.  The three boats cruised together until the last ten miles.   The skipper speed up so that the crew could be anchored and drop the dinghy before Gammel Dansk arrived.

When Gammel Dansk showed up at the anchor spot in the Alabama River Cut-off, Mary announced that her and Dan would attempt to drop their anchor.  She also requested some just in time coaching so  Dan pulled their boat up next to Still Waters II , and the skipper stepped across onto Gammel Dansk.  The skipper talked Mary and Dan thru the anchor technique and then they gave it a try. They were able to successfully set the anchor on the first attempt.

Safely at anchor

With the anchor set, Chip Ahoy then pulled up and the skipper hopped aboard.  Chip Ahoy dropped the skipper back off on his own boat.  While the skipper was launching the dinghy for Tori, Bill set his anchor on Chip Ahoy.

Chip Ahoy anchored in Alabama River Cut-off

It was a peaceful night in this remote area until a few boats came speeding by after dark at a high rate of speed.  They did have some heavy duty lights luminating their path, but it sure would be nice if they slowed down.

Sunday, December 2nd

The day started by picking up Tori and taking her ashore.  Mary mentioned to keep a close eye out for any gators that might be lurking along the shore.  The skipper mentioned that the gators did not bother him as much as a bunch of deer hunters walking around with guns.  He had already heard a few shots early this morning.  After Tori did her business, it was back to the boat to prepare to leave.

With another 70 mile day to make, the crews weighed anchor and pulled out of the Alabama River Cut-off about 0700.  They were once again greeted by the morning fog.  At least it was daylight and no rain.

Fog lifting about 0900

As they continued south on the waterway, the shore line began to start changing and it was obvious they were getting closer to salt water and warmer climates.  The end of the Black Warrior River, which the crew has been traveling on the past 178 miles, would come as the crew entered Mobile.  The Black Warrior River is named after Chief Tuskaloosa, whose name means ‘Black Warrior’ in Muskogean.  If you have a river named after you, maybe you did something important.  Tuskaloosa made a name for himself battling the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto way back in the 1500’s.

Small palms growing along the shore

Finally, in the distance, the Mobile skyline came into focus.  Then the crew passed under the Cochrane Bridge and entered the Mobile Big Ship Channel.  Being a Sunday,  most of the waterfront businesses were closed and there was only one tow plowing the water downtown.

Big Ship ahead as the crew enters big ship channel

After passing thru the deserted downtown area, the crew reached the north end of Mobile Bay to find relatively calm conditions due to the 5 mph winds out of the west.

Following a tow out into Mobile Bay

After arriving at Dog River Marina, taking on fuel, and getting docked the day was about spent.  There was a restaurant across the water that was open, so the group boarded Chip Ahoy, and Bill taxied everyone over to the Mariners Restaurant.  Upon arrival they discovered that Steve and Jane of Sabbatical were dining here also. The two tables combined and enjoyed a fine meal celebrating the completion of the inland rivers portion of the Great Loop.


Boat Name of the Week

Shrimp boat named God’s Blessing.

Next Week –

With the inland rivers completed, it is time to start watching the weather closely for a window to jump across the Gulf of Mexico to the western shore of Florida.  Currently there are no windows open to allow the jump, so the crew will spend a few days at The Wharf on Orange Beach.  They will then meander along the north gulf coast where they will stage for the Gulf crossing in Carrabelle.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

PS

Shout out to Dave and Nancy of Sun Spot Baby.  Sorry dinner did not work out but hope to see ya on the Gulf shores.

Slow Go Down the Tenn-Tom

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

US snag boat the Montgomery

She was the last steam powered sternwheeler to ply the inland waterways of the south.  She was built in 1926.  As a snag boat, she removed trees, sunken logs, and other debris that obstructed river traffic.  Based on what the crew has seen this time down the Tenn-Tom Waterway, maybe they should bring her out of retirement and clear the waterway again.  It sure could use the help.  She was retired in 1982, and now resides at the Bevill Lock Visitor Center.

28 Snag Boat

Summary of week:

Demopolis

The area that the crew is currently cruising is very remote without many facilities. In fact, the 335 miles from Columbus to Mobile only has one marina, which is located in Demopolis at mile 216.

Because of the remoteness of the area and Thanksgiving on the horizon, the boaters at Demopolis have stayed put and the marina is now full. Based on that, the crew stayed at Columbus for Thanksgiving and only moved two days this week. They also cruised on Sunday to make way to Demopolis.

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. When was the Montgomery put in commission?
  2. What was her mission?
  3. What is the architectural style of the Visitor Center?
  4. What was the first project to be built under the new 1970 EPA regulations?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II as she cruises from Columbus to Demopolis.  Enjoy!

To Demopolis from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Thursday, November 22nd

Happy Thanksgiving to all the virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The Admiral spent Wednesday prepping food for the big meal. Thursday morning she was busy getting everything cooked and finished at just the right time. Harder than it should be when all you have is a small one rack oven and two burner cook top available. But she managed to serve up a great meal for the crew, Mary and Dan of Gammel Dansk, and Bill of Chip Ahoy.

Pre lunch gathering in Salon

Turkey Day 2

Bring on the desserts

Turkey Day 3

Friday, November 23rd

The crew left the dock and went the short distance over to the Stennis Lock at 0830. Four other boats joined Still Waters II in the lock. When they exited the lock, two of the boats were travelling at 9 mph and left the two Nordic Tugs and Still Waters II in their wake.
Later in the day, twenty-five miles later to be exact, the three boats arrived at the Bevill Lock to find the two boats waiting at the lock for a tow to exit. They had been waiting for over an hour.

The three boat flotilla did not plan to lock thru with the other boats, but made way over to the dock located at the Visitor Center for the Bevill Lock. The skipper landed first and then caught the lines of Chip Ahoy and Gammel Dansk.

Docked at the Visitor Center

26 Dock at Visitor Center
The group then headed to shore to go check out the Visitor Center. They entered stealthily, not on purpose but stealthily non the less, thru the back door.
The young man assigned to work the Visitor Center had strategically kept all the lights off in the Visitor Center and probably was hoping that no visitors would drop in during the day. He also was keeping a watch out the front window for any cars that might drive up while he played his war video game with headsets on covering his ears. To say that he did not see or hear the group come in the back door would be an understatement.

Entry via the back of Visitor Center from the dock

25 Bevill Visitor Center

Luckily, most of the group stopped near the back door to look at three pictures hanging on the wall. Bill had gone on in to the office area where the young man was totally engaged in his video game. He was loudly verbalizing his actions when he gave out an even louder explicative that would make a sailor blush when his aviator was killed in the game.

Hanging back at rear entrance

Rear entrance

It was about this time that he felt someone might be in the room with him while Bill was knocking and saying: “excuse me, excuse me.” The young man wheeled around and immediately began apologizing. He also went around and started turning on all the lights in the Visitor Center. None of the displays were on and working either, but with a little persistence the group got most things up and running.

The young man kept looking out the front window and over at the parking lot, it was obvious he was trying to figure out how the group had snuck up on him. Mary approached the young man and explained that we had arrived via boat, and he said: “Oh, that is why there is no vehicle in the parking lot.”

A look at the front of the ‘well guarded’ front entrance

The Visitor Center portrays an 1830-1860 Greek revival home.

Front VC

Mary then went on to ask if the group of three boats could stay overnight on the dock, even though the dock is posted ‘No Overnight Docking.’ The young man agreed to let the three boats stay if they left first thing in the morning. That was easy, because they planned to leave early anyway.

One interesting discovery at the Visitor Center was learning that the Tenn-Tom Waterway was the first construction project built under the 1970 EPA Regulations. Maybe that is one of the reasons for the 2 Billion dollar price tag.

After touring the Visitor Center, the group walked a mile to the old Pirate Cove Marina. The Corps of Engineers have closed the marina due to safety violations. The skipper had heard various reports about the shut down marina, but wanted to go check out the actual status with his own eyes.

Old docks at the closed Pirate Cove Marina

Pirates Cove

As expected, the rumors that the docks had all been removed turned out to be false. The docks were still there and some were still sinking. Looked the same as when the crew was here in 2016, except all but two of the derelict boats were gone. The Corps had also bull dozed the office and restroom facilities.

A few derelict boats left behind

Pirates Cove 2

Well, time to walk back to the boats and get ready for an early departure in the morning.

Saturday, 24th

The crew woke up to a light fog on the water and a bunch of White Pelicans swimming around the lock gate. Mary said she counted 60 Pelicans all waiting to lock down. About 0715, a tow pushed out of the lock and by 0800 all three boats were secured in the Bevill Lock.

Foggy Morning

27 Foggy morning
After pushing out of the lock, the crew had to maneuver thru the light fog for about an hour. Then it took the sun another hour and a half to finally break thru the clouds and warm things up. Turned out to be a beautiful day for a boat ride.

Fog lifting

31 Fog Lifting
There was more than a fair share of float sum and debris in the water though, which kept everybody on their toes playing dodge-a-log. The flotilla arrived at the Sumter Landing anchorage before 1300, so they decided to go the extra four miles, go thru the Heflin Lock, and anchor in the Ox Bow below the lock.

There was some interesting sites along the shore while they made way to the lock.

Cell service is so bad at this remote area, someone installed an old fashion telephone booth in their yard.

22 Why here

A totem pole was an unexpected surprise.

23 Totem Pole

Then someone used their artistic talents to spruce up this building

24 Nice Art

After dropping the hook, Gammel Dansk rafted to Still Waters II. This made it easier for the skipper to get Tori, the seeing eye dog, ashore so she could do her business.  To see how this transport transpired, watch this week’s video.

Rafted in the Ox Bow

IMG_0002

With Tori taken care off, it was time to kick back and relax in the peaceful anchorage.

Tori on the return voyage

TES

Sunday, November 25th

The crew woke to light fog again but the flotilla still managed to leave the anchorage by 0800.

Chip Ahoy leaving the anchor spot

IMG_0003

IMG_0011

After un-rafting Gammel Dansk, the crew weighed anchor and headed back towards the Tenn-Tom where they then overtook the two Nordic Tugs.

Passing Gammel Dansk on the blind side

IMG_0014

After the fog lifted it was an enjoyable cruise down the waterway taking in the interesting bluffs that adorned the shores.

IMG_0026

IMG_0028

IMG_0032

IMG_0033

After a 50 mile cruise with no locks, the crew approached the Demopolis Yacht Basin just in time for the storm clouds to start to sprinkle.  Lucky for the crew, they managed to get secured to the dock before the deluge started.

During the day, the skipper learned that Bill was celebrating his birthday, so the three crews managed to get the courtesy car from the marina and have a celebration dinner.

Boat Name of the Week

Jim N I 2

Next Week –

If you watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you know that it was the coldest event in the history of the parade.  That artic air that caused the cold is due to arrive in Demopolis Sunday night dropping temps to below freezing.  These conditions are to remain until Thursday.  Based on that, the crew will remain in Demopolis connected to power heating the boat and shove off Thursday with the warming trend.

It will be four travel days down to Mobile in some very remote areas, similar to this past week.  The crew will try to keep the Travel Map updated as cell service is available, but not much expectation on any reliable service until Mobile.  The crew will update the blog as soon as they arrive in Mobile on Sunday, but it may be Monday before the post goes live.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Spirit of Courage

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The flow out of the Fulton Dam, mile 391 on the Tenn-Tom Waterway

8 Flow out Fulton Dam

xIncmedia has come aboard as our latest virtual crew member by following the blog.  Welcome Aboard! Hope you brought some warm clothes because it has been rather chilly lately.

Summary of week:

Columbus

The crew made their way south to Columbus (5) where they enjoyed some deep fried Turkey on Saturday, provided by the marina staff.  To make Columbus, the crew made stops at Aqua Yacht Harbor (1), Bay Springs Lake (3), and Smithville Marina (4).  The crew also rented a car and visited the Helen Keller Birthplace in Tuscumbia (2).

Click here to read the day-to-day travel log. This includes weather report, sea conditions, captain’s log, a summary of the day’s experience, and a few pics of the route.
The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. When was the Tenn-Tom Waterway opened?
  2. How many feet does the Whiten Lock step down a south bound vessel?
  3. What three states meet at the beginning of the Tenn-Tom Waterway?
  4. What state quarter has braille on the tails side of coin, and what does it spell?
  5. What was Sarah Fuller’s contribution to Helen Keller’s life?

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II working her way thru the largest lock on the Tenn-Tom Waterway at Whitten Lock and Dam.  She completes here day at the Fulton Lock and Dam. Enjoy!

Locking thru on the Tenn-Tom Waterway from Still Waters II on Vimeo.

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, November 11th

The three boat flotilla prepping to leave Pickwick Lake

36 Pickwick Lake SP

There were a dozen Blue Birds fluttering around the dock. But they are hard to capture on film.

35 Bluebird

The crew left Pickwick Lake State Park and made the 11 mile jump over to Aqua Yacht Harbor. Along the way, they saw many large homes and some colorful countryside.

Home on a hill

37.3

This house suffered a little roof damage when the tree fell over. Wonder if they have already completed the glass repair, or did they get lucky and only have the roof issue?

House with a view of Pickwick Lake

37 Shores along Pickwick Lake

When leaving the Tennessee River at mile 215, the crew entered the Tenn-Tom Waterway at mile 450. At this juncture, the states of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama all communicate with each other at one point.

IMG_0001_LI

What it looks like in real life, the land is Mississippi, the water on the starboard side of boat is Tennessee, and the water to the port of the boat is Alabama.

38

After only a mile on the Tenn-Tom Waterway, the skipper turned off and headed to Aqua Yacht Harbor where the crew will stay for a few days doing boat projects and exploring the Helen Keller Birthplace museum.

Monday, November 12th

Back in 2016 when the crew stopped at Aqua Yacht Harbor, they limped in on one engine and had the port engine water cooling pump replaced. The core charge for the pump left them with a $300 credit at the service department after they left. The skipper was on a mission to redeem the $300 credit; hence, a few boat projects.

On top of the list was replacing the genny battery which had died earlier. Moving down the Tenn-Tom Waterway will require anchoring out a few times and the Admiral has expressed her desire for some heaters after they stop and drop anchor. With the battery replaced, her wish can now materialize in heat and comfort. A happy, warm, comfortable crew will diminish the chance of a mutiny onboard.

The skipper then bought a few other items that he can install or use later such as oil filters and electrical adapters.

Tuesday, November 13th

The flotilla decided that they would take a land cruise over to Tuscumbia, Alabama and visit the birthplace of Helen Keller.

1 Helen Keller

Once parked, the group walked up to the big house where a knowledgeable volunteer gave them the low down on the property. The big house was built in 1820 by Helen Keller’s grandparents. The four rooms downstairs all have their own fireplace. There are an additional three rooms upstairs.

Main House, in good shape for an 1820 model

1.2 Main House 1820

However, Helen was not born in the main house, she was born in the cottage adjacent to the house on June 27, 1880. She was born a normal healthy baby girl. It was at age 19 months that she was struck by an illness that left her blind and deaf.

The cottage

1.3 Cottage
The cottage would one day become the school house where Helen would be taught.
One interesting story told was about the miracle that took place at the now famous well pump where Helen first connected the ‘finger games’ her teacher was playing with her palm and the cool liquid that was delivered at the pump. Helen later wrote that the cool liquid flowing over her hand connected with a pre-illness memory of cool liquid that she called “wa-wa.” It dawned on her that the teacher was not playing ‘finger games’ but was actually trying to connect the objects with names. This stunning revelation led her to learn 30 words by night fall.

The famous well pump, between the Main House and Cottage

1.12 The Well Pump

But just how did Anne Sullivan come to be the teacher of Helen Keller? Well, that all started because of her parents persistence in finding a cure for young Helen. That journey for a better life for their daughter eventually led them to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. (Yes, the same guy who invented the telephone, and much more.) You might not know it, but Dr. Bell’s wife suffered from hearing impairment. Much of his work and inventions were focused on ways to help his wife communicate.

But Dr. Bell did not offer a cure for Helen, instead, he challenged her parents to re-think their strategy. He suggested that they spend their time and effort in helping young Helen to cope and learn to live with her disabilities. He sent them to a school where they met and hired Anne Sullivan on March 3, 1887, for $25/month, with room and board. Helen would have been 7 years old, nearing her 8th birthday.

Alabama marble statue of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller at the well pump

1.15

Helen’s life and accomplishments are well documented so I will not bore you with repeating them here. But the skipper noticed a picture in the museum. The picture showed Helen sitting in a chair reading a Braille Bible. Behind her were the volumes that contained her Braille Bible.

1.5 Reading Braile Bible

But the skipper was focused on the volume in her lap. He wondered, what book, what chapter, and what verse was she running her fingers over in the picture? He wondered if it was possibly Romans 8:28, his favorite verse in the Bible?

He wondered what she thought the first time she felt the words pop up on her fingertips, “…..all things work together for good,…..” ?  Did she think, ‘no there is nothing good about being deaf and blind.’

Did God whisper back to her, “feel the words again Helen, that is not what it says.”

Did God teach her the same lessons he had taught the skipper about life? Did she go back and feel the words, this time noticing: “And we know that for those who love God…..” Did she realize that this verse is Confidential, and the promise is only for those who love God?

Did she feel the words, “all things” and realize that this verse was Comprehensive?

That when it said “all things,” did she understand that it meant even her blindness and deafness?

Did she feel the words a second time, “work together for good,” and realize that this verse was Constructive? That the verse was teaching her that things that start out bad can be built into something good?

Did she feel the words, “even to them that are called according to his purpose,” and realize that the verse is Conditional?

Did she accept the notion that if she would dedicate her time and energy to God’s purpose for her life that he would work the good into the bad and transform her life?

Well, based on what the skipper saw at the museum and what little he knows of her life, that yes she got the message. She dedicated her life to improving the conditions of the deaf and blind, not only here in the U.S., but also around the world. She blazed a path for others to follow, and showed others afflicted with blindness and deafness that if she could be successful, so could they. It is never easy being a trail blazer and that is why Helen is known as ‘America’s First Lady of Courage.’

And one last observation and interesting connection to the Fuller name, a Sarah Fuller applied methods that she learned and developed from Dr. Graham Bell to teach Helen Keller how to speak.

Did you ever notice that there is braille on the Alabama state quarter, and that it spells Helen Keller?

1.8 Coin

The land cruise ended with a fine dining experience at the local 5 Guys joint.

5 guys

Wednesday, November 14th

The flotilla continued their journey south and made way towards Bay Springs Marina.  This would turn out to be the coldest most miserable weather day the crew has had in their three years on the boat.  But if Helen Keller could lead a life of courage, surely the crew could put their Big Girl panties on for one day and make it down river in the freezing temps.  At least there will be no locks today.

Yep, pretty miserable out there running the Divide Cut

2.1

The rain decided  to arrive just in time to wet the skipper and Admiral as they shoved off the dock. (It was only 33 degrees when they left, with a high of 34)  The cold weather and rain stayed all the way down the 24 mile long Divide Cut to Bay Springs Lake. This section of the Loop was completed in June 1985, and moved 150 million cubic yards of earth. If the Divide Cut did not exist, the Great Loop route would have to take the lower Mississippi River down to New Orleans.

When the crew entered Bay Springs Lake, the skipper lost sight of the two Nordic Tugs trailing behind due to the fog. Then the rain turned into sleet. Seriously! It is not bad enough to have freezing rainy weather all day, but now we have to have sleet? Gimmie a break.

Arrival near sunset made an eerie color on the water

4 From Marina

They did catch a break though, their slip assignment would be under a covered dock so they could be out of the rain and sleet. Just about the time the skipper was backing the boat under the covered awning the rain stopped. Now that is funny.

The skipper hustled to get the electric cord plugged in so the Admiral could get the installed heaters running.  It might be near freezing outside, but the heaters will warm the boat up quickly.

4.2 Bay Spring Marina

At least the view is good from inside the warm boat.

4.1

Thursday, November 14th

Both the Nordic Tugs needed to get some work done before proceeding out this morning. Based on the timing of the completed work, it was decided to sit out this cold day and wait till morning to shove off. Nobody really wanted a repeat of the freezing cold day they had yesterday, especially with four locks to navigate.  The cold spell is supposed to snap tomorrow and provide some warmer weather and better cruising conditions.

Friday, November 15th

Well the crew left in 29 degree temps with a predicted high of 54 degrees.  The clouds have lifted and the sun is shinning brightly.  The sun should heat up the helm like a greenhouse and make conditions tolerable today.

Gammel Dansk at Whitten Lock

5 Gammel Dansk in Whitten Lock

The Whitten Lock steps south bound vessels down 84 feet, the largest drop on the Tenn-Tom Waterway.

Still Waters II on the wall in Whitten Lock, about half way down

5.2 In Whitten Lock

When the crew arrived at the Montgomery Lock, they had to wait for a tow to push out of the lock.  Once the tow cleared the lock, they got a green light and entered the lock.

Waiting on tow to leave lock

6.1

The next two locks were waiting with open gates when the crew arrived with their little Armada of five boats.  The lockage went smoothly and the boats headed to the Smithville Marina.  The skipper had warned Gammel Dansk and Chip Ahoy that the marina was not much.

The marina might not be much but the views getting there were spectacular

9.1

In fact he characterized the marina as the land of misfit toys from the Rudolph Christmas cartoon, except it is the marina of derelict boats instead of misfit toys.  The skipper had heard a rumor that the marina had sold and was in the process of being upgraded.  Well, when they arrived it was intuitively obvious to the most casual of observer that the place was in worse condition than back in 2016.

Derelict house boat with propane leak

IMG_0002

While the skipper was returning from paying for the night’s dockage, he met two guys standing at the stern of the houseboat smoking cigarettes.  One of them mentioned that they could smell and hear a propane leak coming from the houseboat, as he took a drag on his cigarette.  That was a bit alarming for the skipper so he walked up to the bow of the boat and sure enough, there was a strong propane odor and loud hissing sound coming from the two ten gallon propane bottles sitting on deck.  The skipper knocked on the boat but nobody was home.  He boarded the boat and isolated the leak by closing the valves on the propane bottles.  The skipper will sleep better knowing there should not be any propane explosions or fires.  Bill of Chip Ahoy went back to the office and reported that there was a leak and that it had been secured.

On the up side though, Jim, the Marina Manager, was doing well.  The last time the crew saw Jim, he was down and out, and living on one of the derelict boats barely making ends meet.  He confirmed that the marina had had a contract to sell, but before the buyer could close the deal, the buyer was killed in a car crash.  Jim did say that the original owner was committed to try and upgrade the facility.  Hope they are successful.

As Capt’n Dan said, “that place just needs some TLC.”

Saturday, November 17th

The crew and flotilla got off the dock before eight and headed to the first lock of the day.  The flotilla was down to four boats today.  One boat had decided to anchor out rather than come on the dock.  When leaving, the skipper noticed the boat a few miles north of them, but it was not moving.  While the flotilla was being lowered down the lock, Chip Ahoy learned that the boat had gone aground leaving the anchor spot.  Not a good way to start your day.

Chip Ahoy leaving Smithville

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Still Waters II leaving Smithville

SWII 2

The flotilla had exceptional timing at the locks today, with all locks waiting on the boats with open gates and green lights.  This allowed the flotilla to make excellent time down the waterway.  The no wind and smooth conditions also aided the speed of travel.

Glassy conditions again today

IMG_0008

After leaving the third and final lock of the day, the crew set their sights on the Columbus Marina.  Columbus was celebrating an early Thanksgiving, and the staff had deep fried a couple of birds.  The crew was hoping to arrive in time to enjoy the good food and fellowship.

Making way to Columbus

19 mile 337 approach to Columbus

As hoped, the crew arrived in time to find plenty of good food available.  The crew also ran into the crew of Miss Utah enjoying the turkey dinner.  The crews last crossed paths in May 2016 at Havre de Grace on the upper Chesapeake Bay.

Boat Name of the Week

Owner must of had a baseball scholarship

scholarship_LI

Next Week –

The crew is still trying to determine where they will be on Thanksgiving.  There is only one marina in the 335 miles between Columbus and Mobile.  That marina is 120 miles south in Demopolis.  With few options people have begun to slow and stop for Thanksgiving.  Demopolis is full with no vacancy.  If some boats leave Demopolis and the crew can get a reservation they will move south to Demopolis for Thanksgiving.

If not, they will be thankful that they have a good spot right here in Columbus and enjoy where they are.  Then begin moving south once Demopolis opens up.

Hope all the virtual crew members have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!

If you have made it this far in the blog this week, how about leaving a comment about one thing you are thankful for this year.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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