Posts Tagged With: Florida

Seasons Greetings

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

29 Season

Summary of week:

To Jax

After spending a long weekend in Port Royal, the crew set out for their final push to Jacksonville.  They travelled four days and arrived in Jacksonville on Friday.

  1. On Tuesday the crew stopped in Herb Creek after a call from the crew of Monterey.
  2. Wednesday, the crew made a long day where they anchored in the Crescent River.
  3. Thursday, they made another long day and anchored off Cumberland Island.
  4. Jacksonville was an easy reach on Friday.

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

At the Box Office

This week’s video shows Still Waters II cruising south thru South Carolina, Georgia, and arriving in Florida. On the way she has dolphins swim in her bow wake.  Enjoy!

 

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library now contains 47 videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

About the time the crew crossed the Savannah River and entered Georgia, the phone rang.  The skipper answered the call and found Rob on the other end of the line.  Rob and Glenda hail from Canada, and crew the Monterey.  Our crew last saw Rob and Glenda back in Jacksonville in May.  Turned out that Monterey was just south of Still Waters II.  The two crews agreed to pull into Herb Creek and anchor for the night.

Still Waters II arrived in the creek first and found a nice wide spot to drop the anchor.  The skipper noticed Monterey pull into the creek, so he radioed Rob and discussed rafting up.

Still Waters II and Monterey rafted in Herb Creek.

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After the boats were rafted, the crews spent the evening talking and catching up on the last few months.

The skipper, Rob, and Glenda on the sundeck of Still Waters II

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Monterey weighing anchor and pulling away.

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Waving goodbye to Monterey

17.1 Leaving Herb Creek

After leaving the anchorage, the crew spent most of the day making way thru the endless Georgia salt marsh.

Hi tide in salt marsh

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At the end of the day the crew pulled into the Crescent River and dropped the anchor for the night.

Salt marsh glows golden at sunset

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View from anchorage in Crescent River

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

The weather has started to warm and the winds have fallen off which has combined to cause some very nice cruising days.  However, seemed as though the crew travelled most of the day at low tide.

Glassy smooth water 

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Travelling at low tide

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The crew did witness some interesting things on the way south.  The pelicans dive bombing the fish entertained the crew for hours.

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The crew cruised by this interesting solar sailor with an electric motor.

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And when they anchored off Cumberland Island, this herd of wild horses came out to graze.

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Friday, December 1, 2017

After weighing anchor, the crew cruised down the end of Cumberland Island and saw a few more wild horses.  Then they crossed over into the state of Florida and cruised down Amelia Island..

Wild Horse on southern end of Cumberland Island

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Overhead view of Amelia Island with Atlantic Ocean above the beach.

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After crossing the St Johns River, the crew made a few more miles and pulled into the Palm Cove Marina to end the 2017 cruising season.

Next Week –   

Still Waters II will stay at Palm Cove Marina for at least a month.  The crew will transform into CLOD’s (Cruisers Living On Dirt).  They will travel to Texas to visit family and friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Hope to see you back on board as virtual crew members in 2018 when the crew will head for the Bahamas.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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Back to Jack

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

 

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Guarding the Lion’s Bridge

Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the DAY-TO-DAY TRAVEL LOG.

I would also like to welcome Dirk and Pat, the crew of Wandering Star, aboard as our newest virtual crew members!  They will be launching their Great Loop adventure from Islamorada, Florida very soon.

Summary of week:

The crew made the last 70 miles to Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday.  From Jax, the crew rented a car and headed to Texas for the rest of the week to go spend some time with their grandkids.

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Still Waters II VIMEO site

I have posted a short video of the run to Jacksonville, titled JAX

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The run to Jacksonville from St Augustine is about 70 miles by the ICW.  The crew got an early start and managed to get off the dock just after sunrise.  When they left the marina and turned towards the Lion’s Bridge, there were two sailboats waiting for the 0800 scheduled opening.

 

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Lion’s Bridge

 

Still Waters II could slip under the 22-foot bridge so the skipper was trying to navigate towards the bridge and stay clear of the two sailboats.  The smaller sailboat captain had not posted a look out and nobody was actually at the helm.  There was one person in the cockpit messing with some lines as the sailboat was making a collision course for Still Waters II.

As the skipper was trying to avoid a collision, the Admiral yelled over to the sailboat and got the person’s attention.  He immediately looked up and made a course correction to avoid pending collision.

After this near miss the crew had an enjoyable run to Jacksonville.  The wind that had been howling for the better part of all last week finally decided to take a break.  The water was finally extremely calm.

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After a forty-mile run on the ICW, the crew came to the intersection of the ICW and St John’s River.  The crew turned left on the St. John’s River for the 26-mile run to Ortega Landing.

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Upon arrival in the downtown Jacksonville area the crew could see that the Railroad Bridge was open.  Unfortunately, as they neared the bridge they heard the bridge horn sound and noticed the RR Bridge begin to close.  The skipper backed the boat down and waited for the train to appear and cross the bridge.  As you can see in the photo, Still Waters II would not make it under this 9 foot clearance.

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The crew has not had much luck making this particular bridge.  Seems that they catch a train on the bridge each and every time they pass through Jacksonville.

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After the train passed over the bridge, the skipper expected the bridge to open.  However, the bridge stayed closed and the electronic sign continued to announce the arrival of another train.  After a few minutes more, another train arrived and also crossed over the bridge.  This train was moving extremely slow and had about 100 cars.  It took over 20 minutes for the train to clear the bridge.

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When the bridge finally opened, the skipper allowed all the small boat traffic to clear the fender area of the bridge before passing through.

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After the RR bridge delay, the crew headed towards the Ortega River and the last bridge of the day.

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Once on the other side of the above bridge, the crew headed to the marina to find their slip on the B Dock.  It was a tight fit in the slip, but the crew managed to stern Still Waters II into her berth.

Next Week

The crew will keep the boat at Ortega Landing in Jacksonville until April 10th.  They will then move the boat up river to Huckins to have her hauled out and some work performed.  After she splashes back in the water the crew will decide when and where they are headed next.

For the 2017 season though, they do plan to head north and cruise the Down East Loop.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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big, Big, BIG Boats

Welcome back virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II.

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Painted by Kobra, a famous Brazilian street artist.  Found in West Palm Beach.

I would also like to welcome Five Experts aboard as our latest virtual crew member.  Hope you enjoy the cruise around America’s Great Loop.

Summary of week:

After crossing their wake in Ft Myers, the crew took a few days off to celebrate their Gold Flag achievement.

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On Wednesday, they headed out to start their second trip around the Loop.

They headed east across Florida on the Okeechobee Waterway.  On Friday, they turned south on the Atlantic Inter Costal Waterway at Stuart and anchored at Peck Lake.  On Saturday, they continued south and pulled into Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach.

Link to see a map of the travel stops, day-to-day travel log, and skipper comments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The crew set out on the Caloosahatchee River towards Moore Haven.  Unfortunately, it was raining when they left and the rain followed them as they made their way east.

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Looking out the front window, wishing for windshield wipers

Finally, about noon the clouds began to break and the sun rays found the water.  Interesting enough, it rained on the crew last time they passed thru on these waters.

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Looking out an open side window

However, the rain did not dampen the spirits of Still Waters II.  She had a big smile on her face when she docked at Moore Haven with her new Gold Burgee.  Day 1 of many in the books.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Today the crew would cross Lake Okeechobee.  The winds were favorable, meaning the crew would have light winds and following seas as they crossed the big lake.  Before they got to the lake though they had some good critter watching.

Many birds were out early feeding along the canal.  This one was caught in the act of catching a fish.

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They saw three alligators out sunbathing.  This was the first one of the day.

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Then just before entering the lake the crew noticed a crop duster in the air fumigating the local crops.  Then the plane took a course right down the canal towards Still Waters II.  The skipper thought they were going to get dusted.

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Then, just before the fly over, the plane pulled up to port and flew away.

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Soon after this little incident the crew turned onto the lake.

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Initially, the narrow channel is well marked.  But after the first several miles, the next twenty miles are met with fewer and fewer markers.  The last 7 miles only had one marker showing the way into the Port Mayaca Lock.

 

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Red and Green day markers at the edge of the channel

 



As the crew neared the Port Mayaca Lock, they heard a west bound vessel hail the lockmaster.  The lockmaster gave the vessel instructions to just motor through the lock.

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As Still Waters II approached the lock, the lockmaster gave her the green light and told the skipper that both gates were open and to pass through with No Wake.  After 9,500 miles, the crew is still experiencing ‘firsts’ on the Loop.  This was the first time to just motor thru a functional lock.

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Port Mayaca Lock, both gaates wide open

The excitement of no delay at the lock was short lived.  After clearing the lock, the crew noticed that the normally open Amtrak bridge was closed.  The skipper reached for the radio to request a bridge opening.  But before he could key the mike, he heard a train whistle and then the train appeared and crossed the bridge.  After the train was clear of the bridge, the bridge tender raised the bridge and allowed the crew to pass on down the Stuart Canal.

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Waiting for the bridge to fully open

The crew saw a couple more gators in the Stuart Canal.

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While turning around to get some pictures of a gator, the crew flushed a Bald Eagle out of his perch. The skipper watched the eagle till it landed on a power pole.   After the gator photo shoot, the crew headed back east and took a few pics of the Bald Eagle.

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After docking, the skipper ran into a young couple from Texas who has stopped working, bought a 36 foot Cabot, and are cruising these Florida waters.  They just completed their shakedown cruise to Miami and back to Indiantown.  They have a list of things to fix and then they will head out to explore some more.  They plan to head over to the Bahamas for their next adventure after needed repairs.

Also at the Indiantown Marina, there was a bunch of French being spoken.  Turns out there were a half dozen boats down from Montreal spending the winter here.  The skipper spoke with them as they gathered around the table to enjoy docktails.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

The crew set out on the Stuart River and headed to the beginning of the Okeechobee Waterway at mile 0 near Stuart.  As they approached the Stuart Lock they saw this Texas flag flying off a sailboat leaving the lock.  The skipper flashed the hook ‘em horns sign and the sailboat crew smiled and flashed the sign back.  The sailboat’s homeport was Houston, Texas.

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As they entered Stuart, they had the challenge of making three bridges in a bunch of traffic.  A large floating barge crossed in front of Still Waters II and it was more than a little disturbing trying to figure out what the barge’s intentions were.  By the time the bridge started opening the barge had dropped an anchor and was out of the way.

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After the bridges, the crew headed for the Stuart Inlet which ends the Okeechobee and connects with the Atlantic Inter Costal Waterway (ICW) at mile 988.

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Stuart Inlet, Crossroads of Okeechobee and Atlantic ICW

The crew turned south and started down the ICW.  This is the first time the crew has seen these waters by boat.  This also marks the official first side trip of the second Loop.

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The cruise south witnessed many boats on the water.  This was one of the many interesting boats the crew saw.

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After dropping anchor in Peck Lack, the skipper launched the dinghy and rowed the crew over to shore.  They pulled the dinghy up on shore and walked through an interesting tunnel to the Atlantic.

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Beached dinghy near here

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Tunnel to the Atlantic

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Atlantic Ocean

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The crew weighed anchor and headed towards West Palm Beach in the morning.  Initially the run was through Mangrove lined channels.

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As the crew moved further south they began to leave behind the Florida Wilderness and more into the south Florida mansions.  This was an early taste of what was to come as the crew headed south.  Makes you want to ask the question, “Is that boat really bigger than their house?”

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When the crew arrived at the Jupiter Inlet the water had turned a beautiful turquoise blue.  There was a dredge operation in progress at the inlet due to constant shoaling in the area.  The skipper was busy navigating the busy construction area as they passed this lighthouse.

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The manuevering and navigating through the S-curves at the Jupiter Inlet finally gave way to more straight line cruising.  The crew passed some interesting yard art, or is that two chairs on that point?

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Cruising on Saturday was bound to result in many boaters as the morning wore on. More and more boaters continued to come out and enjoy the day.  This bridge tender announced that no boats were to pass until the bridge spans were fully open.  Even the little boats had to wait.

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After the bridge the crew entered Lake Worth.  The lake was one of the few spots that was not posted NO Wake today.  That lead to many boats speeding by constantly throwing all kinds of nasty wakes.  The crew was happy when they got across the Lake and back into a No Wake Zone.  Maybe the skipper will stop the moaning about No Wake Zones.

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As they approached West Palm Beach they saw this mega yacht.  The little boat anchored in the foreground is 36 feet long.  Not sure how long the big blue boat is, but she is well over 150 feet.

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After docking the crew went walking around West Palm Beach.  The main drag in town is named Clematis St. but it was dead in the early afternoon.  The locals claimed that it will start hopping when the sun goes down.

In the meantime, the crew found the local ice cream store.  They missed it the first time walking by though.  The store is decorated in stuffed animals, and the crew mistook it for a toy store.  After correcting the error of their ways, they discovered the store specialized in Italian ice cream.  The crew took a chance and tried some.  It was good, but still not as good as the Kawartha Ice Cream in Canada.

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Next Week

The crew will be in route to Miami where they will rendezvous with some friends who are flying in from Texas.  After these folks get onboard, the crew and friends will head south towards the Florida Keys and eventually Key West.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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ODE of the White Flag

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My crew learned of the Great Loop in 2010 from a business associate named Al Darelius.  Soon after, my crew joined the AGLCA and began their five-year planning process to circumnavigate America’s Great Loop.  Somewhere along the way they ordered a White Burgee from the AGLC store.

It was then that I was taken off the shelf and stuffed in an envelope by someone in the home office and mailed to this untrained outfit that would become my crew.

By June 2015, my crew retired from work, left Texas, and moved aboard their boat in Ft Myers.  The next thing I knew, I got the shaft, and found myself proudly displayed on the bow pulpit of Still Waters II.

The crew’s insurance required that they get some training by a licensed captain before they could solo in their boat and start this Great Loop Adventure.  After three days of intense training, the insurance company was satisfied, the licensed captain cut the umbilical cord, and my crew was on their own.

 

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Thanks for the great training Geoff!

 

The first time these two tried to dock by themselves it was quite the goat rope.  I am pretty sure I saw tears in the Admirals eyes as she stated that she was not sure if she was ever going to master these new skills of seamanship.

The skipper of this crew is a persistent whipper snapper and pressed on towards their goal of completing the Great Loop while encouraging the Admiral to hang in there, it will get better.

Something weird happened though on their 9,555-mile journey around the Great Loop.  Slowly but surely, I could see that they both were gaining confidence in these new skills.  As they began to gain even more confidence they began to venture off the beaten path and allowed me to lead them on many side trips:

  • St Johns River
  • Across the Pamlico Sound to the outer banks to visit:

o   Ocracoke Island

o   Cape Hatteras

  • Albemarle Sound Loop
  • Circled around to do both the Dismal Swamp and Virginia Cut
  • Circumnavigated the Chesapeake, up the west coast, down the east coast
  • Potomac River to Washington DC
  • Delaware River north to Philadelphia
  • Long Cut thru Canada:

o   St Lawrence River to Montreal

o   Ottawa River to Ottawa

o   Rideau Canal to Kingston

o   Trent-Severn

o   Georgian Bay

o   The North Channel

o   St Mary’s River to Sault St Marie

  • Lake Superior, crossed Whitefish Bay to visit Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
  • Cumberland River to Nashville
  • Tennessee River to Chattanooga and then on to Fort Louden, then:

o   Headwaters of Little Tennessee River

o   Headwaters of Tellico River

 

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Still Waters II, One mile from crossing her wake

The water view from one mile out.

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But today, February 19, 2017 at 1122, something even weirder happened that I did not expect.  After 19 months, 23 days of me leading these two now seasoned crew members around the Loop, they pulled into the marina where they started and Still Waters II crossed her wake.

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They promptly took me down off the bow pulpit and hoisted a Gold Burgee.  While high fives, hugs and kisses were exchanged, pictures were taken of the changing of the Burgee, I found myself relegated to the corner of the salon.

Oh, such is the life and times of a White Burgee.

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

Thanks to all the people that helped this crew around the Great Loop such as the folks back in the home office and the forum hall of famers (Joe Pica, Alan Lloyd, Jim Healy, Foster, and the other Dave Fuller in Georgia)

In addition, thanks to the class of 2015, 2016, and 2017 cruisers who have truly enriched the crew’s lives, made them better people, and shared your lives with them.  There are no better people than the people in the boating community and the AGLCA!

Lastly, thanks to all the folks who have followed the crew’s blog and joined on as virtual crew members.  Your feedback, comments, and encouragement were always welcome.

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Eric here with a few comments.  When I signed up to document this adventure for the crew, I took the liberty to hire Count Dracula as the official statistician on board Still Waters II.  He counted and compiled the following stats of the journey:

Started                                            June 28, 2015

Ended                                              February 19, 2017

Total Time                                      1 year, 7 months, 23 days

Time off the boat                          8 weeks

Days travelled                                235

Total Distance                                9,555 stm

Average distance travelled          40.6 miles/day

Marina stays                                   131

Anchor nights                                 79

Nights on Lock Wall                      36

Days on the Hard                          9

 

Engines are CAT 3208TA, Twin 275 HP for total of 550 HP

Typically set throttles for 1,200 rpm and will travel 7-8 mph depending on wind and current

Engine Run Hours           1,294

Gallons of fuel                 4,167

Cost of fuel                       $10,155

Avg Cost per gallon         $2.44

Fuel Burn                          3.2 gal/hr

 

Other miscellaneous data:

Bridges                              742

Locks                                 151

Countries                          2 (USA and Canada)

Providences                     2 (Quebec and Ontario)

States                                17

Number of hours that the skipper thought he would be arrested while trying to enter Canada – 6

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The crew has decided that once around is not enough.  There are many places that they still have not gotten to explore such as the Florida Keys, Bahamas, Lake Champlain, Ohio River,……

So, they will be departing Sweetwater Landing on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 and heading east across Florida on the Okeechobee Waterway to launch their second multi-year trip around the Great Loop.

I hope you will continue to stay aboard as virtual crew members and watch and read as Still Waters II begins her quest for a Platinum Burgee denoting a second completion around the Loop.

First up, the Florida Keys and the Bahamas.

The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends!

Eric the Red

 

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Shell of a Day

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

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Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.

I would also like to welcome aboard Cookie G. as our newest virtual crew member.

Summary of week:

The crew left Venice and made their way to the Pelican Bay anchorage across from Cayo Costa State Park.  On Friday they headed to Ft Myers to enjoy the Edison Festival of Lights.

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Sunday – Tuesday, February 12-14, 2017

The crew continued to enjoy the laid-back retirement vibe of Venice.  They walked the historic downtown and actually found the worst fudge on the loop.  How fudge can be so creamy and have almost no taste is baffling to the skipper.  He was a trooper though and suffered thru the pound of peanut butter fudge he bought.  The Admiral did her part to eat the chocolate fudge, but in the end the skipper took one for the team and finished it off also.

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Venice bike trail running along side the ICW

The crew spent much of Tuesday riding their bikes around the island and walking the many beaches of Venice.  The crew is still amazed how empty the beaches seem to be, even in this peak season for Venice.  The only thing that seems to be full are the restaurants.

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There is one restaurant at the marina that opens at 1100, closes at 1000, and is packed the whole day.  Cars sit in the parking lot roadway waiting for a car to leave so they can pull up just to get a parking space.  Boaters actually make the marina a destination just to go in and eat.

With all this activity, the crew had to check it out for themselves.  The Admiral had a wonderful fish sandwich and the skipper’s grouper bites were outstanding.  Best of all, they actually found a lull in the activity mid-day and only had two people in front of them in the wait line.  Yes, life is good on the beach.

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A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work

You know you are in a quiet town when the big thing to do is drive to the park and watch the nightly sunsets over the ocean.  But as they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do, so the crew would go walk out to the jetty and sit and watch the dolphins play while the sun would slide down and out of site.

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Tuesday night the crew sat and talked with a couple of locals as the sun did its thing.  After the sun went down the crew invited them aboard for a quick tour of the boat.

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The Snow Moon was also visible coming up in the east one evening.

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This 1926 wooden yacht made its way to Venice and tied up next to Still Waters II.  The owner is selling 20 shares in the boat for $500,000 each.  But do not take too long to make your decision because there are only three shares left.

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If part ownership in a yacht is not your idea of living the dream, maybe this 48 foot Cat that also parked next to Still Waters II is more your style.  It can be yours for a mere 12 million.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The crew set out towards Pelican Bay today with the idea that they would anchor for two nights.  However, mother nature was back to huffing and puffing with high winds so they were not sure if they would anchor or not.

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On the way to Pelican Bay

About half-way to Pelican Bay they ducked into Cape Haze Marina for fuel.  Active Captain showed the diesel price at 2.02, the cheapest fuel in Florida, and the skipper was not going to pass that up.  The marina sells fuel at their cost.  It was a bit trying to get Still Waters II back into the fuel dock but the skipper finally made the dock.  After taking on 132 gallons of fuel, the skipper was delighted to learn that the price was 1.90 a gallon.  Yes, sir re Bob, this is a good deal and worth the trouble.

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Tad bit shallow for Still Waters II

After the fuel stop the crew made way to Pelican Bay.  When they arrived, there were already 15 boats in the anchorage.  The skipper found a good spot and the crew became boat number 16.  About an hour and a half later, two sailboats came in and joined the party.  The cruising guide said this was a popular anchorage, but who knew this many folks would be here mid-week.

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A few of the newest neighbors

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The skipper launched the new Walker Bay dinghy and rowed over to the Cayo Costa State Park dinghy dock.

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Upon arrival, he walked about a mile to the Gulf side of the island.

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If you have ever hiked with the skipper you will recognize this next line, “the beach is just around the next bend.”

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After arriving at the beach, the skipper found this most amazing shrub.  He did not know that shells grew on trees.

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After getting a mile from the campground he discovered shell heaven.  He found nine Sand Dollars and many large sea shells.  In fact, there were so many shells he could not possibly harvest them all.  He found a few good samples to take and left the rest for the next person to make their way down the beach.

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A few other interesting finds along the beach…..

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A few birds were in formation along the shore guarding the shells.

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On the way back to the dinghy dock a Park Ranger picked up the skipper and saved him the mile walk back to the dinghy. Now all he has to do is row back out to Still Waters II.

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Still Waters II at anchor in Pelican Bay

Friday, February 17, 2017

Low tide was at 0800 this morning, so the crew had to wait for the tide to rise before setting out to clear a shallow spot in the entrance of the bay    When the crew went to weigh anchor, they found grass wrapped around the anchor chain.  With a little more than 140 feet of chain out, it took about 40 minutes to retrieve and clean the anchor chain.

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Once underway, the crew had a wonderful day on the water.  The weather was perfect for a day on the water so there were a lot of other boaters out enjoying themselves.  It was not uncommon to see at least seven boats headed towards Still Waters II at any given time.  The crew is glad that they are not making this run on Saturday.

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As the crew continued south on the GICW, they finally came to day marker red 16 which is the furthest the crew will travel south on this loop adventure.  After passing red 16, the crew turned northeast and headed to Ft. Myers.

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Headed up the Caloosahatchee River towards Ft. Myers.

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This water front store brings a whole new meaning to the words convenience store.

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Turns out that this weekend is the Edison Festival of Lights and the largest parade in the southeast will be Saturday night.  This also means that the marinas are all full, but the crew snagged a slip because a long-term slip holder had his boat out for maintenance and agreed to allow the crew to use the slip for the weekend.

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The crew feels pretty fortunate to have gotten a space to stay.  The crew talked to some boater friends that they found over in the west bay of the marina and learned that they book their slips a year in advance to ensure they have a spot for the Festival.

 

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Yes, the 300 slip marina is full

After docking the crew walked over to the main stage of the Edison Festival of Lights and listened to some live music.

The first band played the blues and were pretty good.

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The second band was named SOWFLO and played rock/reggae.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

The crew discovered another public art display in the Ft Myers River District.  This was a 25-piece exhibit of Colombian artist Edgardo Carmona.  The exhibit just completed an 18 city tour in Europe.

A few of the pieces…….

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A snow cone vendor

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El vendedor de raspo

Fixing to score 10 points on the next domino play.

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Juego de Domino

 

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Faena En La Plaza

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Trialogo

While walking around in the morning to look for the art work, the crew noticed that the parade route sidewalk was almost already ‘reserved.’  People had come and placed tape down to mark there spots.  The skipper asked the locals about the practice and the locals all agreed that it was an acceptable practice and people honored the system.

So come early in the morning, mark your spot, go home, and show back up at 1800 to claim your good spot on the parade route.  The skipper is not sure what he thinks of this system.

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Speaking of marking your spot.  One last sculpture.

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Territorio

The parade turned out to be a little soggy.  The rain began to fall about 1700, two hours before the start of the parade.  There was a light drizzle for most of the parade.  But it did not seem to put a damper on the parade entrants or crowd.  There were over 130 entrants and it took almost two hours to pass by where the crew watched the parade.  The crew is glad they stayed and watched the parade, but are not going to be booking a year in advance to be back.

Next Week

The crew is only 10 miles from their ultimate goal of crossing their wake at Sweetwater Landing and completing their Loop Adventure.  After taking a few days off to celebrate they will head across the Okeechobee Waterway and head south towards Miami.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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Crabby Bill

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

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Crabby Bill Dolphin

Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.

I would also like to welcome new virtual crew members Port Canaveral Transportation. I am not sure where we will put the limo yet, but I am sure we will figure something out.

Welcome aboard!

Lastly, I will be dedicating this post to a good friend of the skipper, Bill Nix.  The skipper and Bill met back in 1987 and became good friends and fishing buddies.  Bill was also a huge fan of Salvador Dali’s work.  He also has an uncanny resemblemce to Crabby Bill.

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Bill Nix, friend extraordinaire

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Crabby  Bill ‘s is a favorite restaurant of the crew

 

Summary of week:

The crew left Clearwater and cruised to Gulfport to visit the Salvador Dali Museum.  After a surreal experience in Gulfport they made their way to Venice.

Monday February 6, 2017

With only a short run of 25 miles to Gulfport, the crew got a late start.  What a difference a few days makes.  With everybody back at work there were very few boaters on the water today.  A much more comfortable and enjoyable time today on the water.

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Condos lining the GICW

Much of the run was through condo lined beaches and shores.  When there was not a condo there would be private residences.  This meant that the NO WAKE signs were posted along most of the run today which slowed progress down.

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McDonald’s on the water = milkshakes and hot apple pies for crew members

The skipper noticed that a McDonalds was positioned along the water with a private dock.  The crew decided to dock and go buy milkshakes for an afternoon snack.  An added bonus was a Publix grocery store next door, so the Admiral also made a small provisioning run for a few items that the crew needed.

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Arriving at the McDonald dock

After arriving in Gulfport, the crew took a short walk to check out the waterfront part of town.

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Overhead view of Gulfport Municipal Marina

 

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Manatee mural on side of business

Of course, the Admiral found the swing overlooking the Bay.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Today’s destination was the Dali Museum which houses the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s work outside of Europe.

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Dali Museum

The crew wanted to stay at the St. Petersburg Marina which is next door to the museum, but the transient docks are under repair and their was no slip available.  Thus, they went to Gulfport which is about eight miles from the museum.

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Spiral staircase inside the museum

The skipper found a bus route that was near by (1 mile walk to pick up bus) and that would drop the crew off within a quarter mile of the museum.  The bus ride took them through some of the finest neighborhoods in St Petersburg, NOT!

After arriving at the museum, they purchased tickets and took the audio tour of the museum and exhibits.  The audio tour was excellent.  If you would like to participate in the audio tour, go to the app store and download the free Dali Museum Virtual Tour app.  The app will show the works on exhibit and give a brief explanation on the piece.  The app is the same tour we had at the museum.

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17 year old Dali self portrait

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The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory

The above painting was a redo of his Persistence of Memory painting that he completed in 1932.  The above project was completed in the 1950’s after atomic energy was discovered and shows time melting away while the other parts are breaking down into their subatomic pieces.

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Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean

The above painting is a double image.  At the museum, if you stand 20 meters from the painting you can see a portrait of Abe Lincoln.  If you squint your eyes while looking at the pic you can see Lincoln.  Also, if you hold a mirror up to the painting or pic and look at the reflection you can see Lincoln.

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The Rolls Royce was an interesting piece.  Usually you get in a car to get out of the rain.  If you look at the driver, you will notice he has on a deep dive suit and helmet.  The backseat has been enclosed and water is falling along the windows.  The passenger is a mermaid.

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Famous Dali moustache in the gardens.

Another neat exhibit was a virtual reality tour of the painting Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus”.

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The virtual reality tour put you in the painting and you could walk around inside the painting to explore it closer.

Overall, this was an exceptional day for the crew at the Dali Museum.

Now all they have to do is figure out how to get back to the boat using their all day bus tickets.  There is always adventure around every corner.  They got on a route 23 bus that should have taken them within about half a mile of the marina.

But somewhere on the route the bus driver stopped and got off the bus.  A few minutes later he got back on the bus and took off again.  The skipper noticed that they were now on route 14 verse 23.  The skipper pulled up the route maps and laid 14 and 23 out together.  He found a spot where 14 and 23 intersected.

At the intersection, the crew got off the 14 bus and had to wait 20 minutes for a 23 bus.  Once on the 23 bus they were once again headed in the right direction.  The 7 mile distance back to the marina took almost two hours to execute.  hmmm

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

As the crew traveled further south on the west coast of Florida, the competition for marina slips has begun to increase.  The crew had planned to stay in Sarasota for a few days, but the marina slips were not available because a Yacht Club had arrived and taken most of the spots through the weekend.  There was one mooring ball available, but the wind is supposed to kick up to 20 mph on Thursday and the crew did not want to be out in the middle of the water bouncing around in the wind and waves tethered to a mooring ball.  The crew opted to move further south to Venice.

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Crossing Tampa Bay

The 52-mile run was made even longer because the course went through some narrow channels that were marked for slow speed due to Manatee Zones.

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Following a sailboat in a manatee zone

When the crew was not in a manatee zone they were in areas with houses and canals which were posted No Wake.

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One of hundreds of canals lined with boats in this area

Overhead view of a few canals.

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Then there were the million dollar homes that lined the shore also.

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This home has water on three sides

The crew eventually arrived in Venice where they will hang out for a week because the marina provides a  pay for 5 nights, get 2 nights free.  The skipper has trouble passing up free.

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Docked at Crow’s Nest Marina

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The crew spent an uneventful day cleaning and working on the boat yesterday, so today they decided to walk around historic Venice and check the place out.

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One of the places the locals and snowbirds come to watch the sunsets.

The first observation is that this is definitely a place that the retired crowd has taken over.  There are not many folks under 50 even visible.  The beach is full of older folks but no youngsters.  It is a very quiet and peaceful town.  There also is a very large snowbird population here based on the license plates driving around town.

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Sailing at sunset

The crew finally discovered an historical marker that explained the retirement vibe going on in town.  The town was actually designed and built to be a retirement community for railroad employees.  The ‘city plan’ was completed in 1926 by John Nolen.  George A Fuller was selected as the contractor to build the town according to the plan.  The first road was completed in 1926.

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Folks watching the sunset from the jetty

The Great Depression put a major hit on the development of the area and much of the plan was put on hold.  The town got a kick start when an Army Air Base was established here  in 1942.

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A sad claim to fame is that three of the 9/11 hijackers completed their flight training at Huffman Aviation which is located at the Venice Municipal Airport.

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February Snow Moon from Marina

 

Next Week – The goal is to actually make it back to Sweet Water Landing Marina by the end of next week.  You might recall that this is the marina where this adventure started back on June 28, 2015.

The skipper is watching the weather and wind to determine the actual path and travel days to make these last 58 miles before crossing their wake and  hoisting the gold flag.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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D-Day, Gulf Crossing

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

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Sponge Diver Memorial

Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.

I would also like to welcome Scott M. aboard as our newest virtual crew member.  Scott plans to start the loop in May 2017.  Welcome aboard Scott.

Summary of week:

The crew moved to Carrabelle on Monday and launched their Gulf crossing to Tarpon Springs on Wednesday.  They then moved to Clearwater on Saturday.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

The wind was forecasted to lay down Saturday about 1600.  Well that did not happen.  In fact, the winds continued to blow all day Sunday, so the crew cancelled their anticipated run to Apalachicola.  The skipper was busy recalculating the next route based on the latest weather information.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The wind finally laid down about 0200 in the early morning.  The crew decided to skip Apalachicola and make the 62-mile run all the way to Carrabelle because there looked to be a good weather window to cross the Gulf on Tuesday night / Wednesday.

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Shrimp Boats near Port St Joe

The crew buddy boated with The Lord’s Provision.  The two crews left just before 0900 and made good time over to The Moorings at Carrabelle.  The crew met up with  Abaco Lady, Journey and Jo-Ca, also staged at The Moorings Marina to cross the Gulf on Tuesday.

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The Lord’s Provision, a 48′ Viking

Based on the ever-changing weather conditions, all the crews agreed that a Wednesday / Thursday crossing looked better than launching out on Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday became a day of relaxation and planning as all the crews were gearing up for the Gulf crossing.

Roger, the skipper of The Lord’s Provision, decided to grill chicken for everybody, so we met on board his boat for lunch and the skipper dubbed it ‘The Last Supper.’

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Lunch on The Lord’s Provision

After lunch, the crews had a final preparation meeting to finalize plans to cross the Gulf.  The Lord’s Provision, Abaco Lady, and Journey were going to go fast (18 mph) and complete the crossing in 10 hours.  While Jo-Ca and Still Waters II planned to go slow (9 mph) and complete the crossing in 20 hours.

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The Fisherman’s Wife – Some of the best fresh seafood on the loop

After the crew meeting, most folks went to The Fisherman’s Wife for supper.  While at supper, the crew ran into the crew of Tranquility III.  The crew of Tranquility III was interested in joining the slow boats for the crossing.  The final preps were made, and the slow boats decided to leave together at 1500 on Wednesday.

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World’s Smallest Police Station

After spending a few days in Carrabelle the crew learned a few things worthy to share.  For starters, the town was incorporated in May of 1893.  The area had many natural resources of virgin forest and a deep water harbor.  The railroad also came to town to help the area prosper.

During WWII Camp Gordon Johnston trained 250,000 men in the art of amphibian warfare.  The area was selected for this specific task due to the barrier islands, Dog Island and St George Island.  The army practiced their beach landings on these two islands that the crew will pass between on their way into the Gulf of Mexico.

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East Pass to the Gulf.  St George Island on the right and Dog Island to the left

Wednesday night / Thursday, February 1-2, 2017

The fast boats got up before the crack of dawn and were off the dock by 0530.

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One of the three slow boats crossing with Still Waters II

The slow boats continued their final preps and were off the dock by 1500.  One minor issue though was an unexpected wind that blew in about 1400.  Before leaving the dock, the skipper reviewed his favorite weather sites and learned that this new wind was predicted to lay down at dark (1830).

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Tranquility III preparing to leave the dock for the Gulf crossing

Unfortunately, when the crew got out of East Pass and entered the Gulf of Mexico, the crew found the winds about 12 mph and the waves 2-3 feet.  The three boats decided to continue to cross the Gulf based on the wind forecast.  Again, the forecast was wrong.  The wind did not lay down until about 2300 and the waves did not calm down until midnight.   This made for a very lumpy, rolly, rocky, ride for the first nine hours of the run.

Tranquility III took the lead across the Gulf.  They have auto pilot and set a waypoint on the Red 4 Marker on the other side of the Gulf.  Still Waters II fell in behind Tranquility III and followed her across the Gulf.

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Headed to East Pass and the Gulf of Mexico

The swells were hitting the boat on the starboard beam while the windblown waves were hitting the bow of the boat.  With the average waves at 2-3 feet, there were many waves in the 4-5-foot range.  The period between waves was less than 4 seconds.

Just a few examples of just how bad it was for the first nine hours:

  1. Tranquility III had three people onboard. Their plan was to have two people at the helm at all times, and one person below sleeping.  Within the first hour of entering the Gulf, one crew member got seasick.  Then, within the next hour, a second crew member got seasick.  Now they had one member at the helm and two members below trying to recover from the Gulf Flu.

 

  1. Onboard the Jo-Ca, the constant beating of the waves on the bow caused a port hole to blow out. Now every time a wave hit the boat they were taking on water.  Eventually this caused a high bilge alarm to warn the crew of a problem.  The forward stateroom was soaked due to the incoming water.  It took about an hour, but eventually the crew was able to affect a temporary MacGyver repair that lasted the duration of the run.

 

  1. Onboard Still Waters II, a large wave hit the boat that caused the cookie cache to go flying across the helm resulting in the loss of over half the cookies. Anybody who knows the skipper knows that this is a real big deal.
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Sunset on the Gulf following Tranquility III

Just a little bit after dark, the crew saw a red flare shoot up.  The flare was judged to be a long distance away due to the height of the flare.  The crew tried hailing any distressed vessels in the area, but there was no response.

Then about 45 minutes later a second and third flare was seen.  These two flares were just off the starboard side and were very high.  Again, when the crew tried to hail any distressed boat, there was no response.  While the skipper was trying to hail the boat shooting the flares, the Captain of Jo-Ca hailed the Coast Guard to report the flares and our GPS position.

The Coast Guard reported that they were performing flare training in the area and NOT to launch a search for the boat.  Interesting enough, there were no more flares after the call to the Coast Guard.  I guess training was complete.  Hmmmm, interesting indeed.  The Admiral was just relieved that they did not have to go searching for any boater in the dark and bad waves.

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This was the crews view for the 12 hours across the Gulf in the dark.  Following the little white light on Tranquility III.  The light is dead center of pic.

A little around 2100, a large light was seen on the horizon.  As the three-boat flotilla got closer, the crew could tell that it was a sport fisher boat with a tuna tower.  The skipper checked the charts and determined that the nearest land was 61 miles away.  The crew began to wonder why on earth would someone be out here fishing in these nasty conditions.

A few minutes later the Captain of the sport fisher boat hailed the flotilla.  The Captain could not identify what kind of vessel the three boats were.  At the time, the three boats were running with only a quarter mile distance between boats to maintain visual contact during then night crossing.  The Captain thought we were a large tow and was beginning to worry that we were getting way to close for his comfort level.

The Captain of Tranquility III, Mike, let the sport fisher know that we were actually three separate boats crossing the Gulf.  Mike also inquired of the sport fisher, “What are you doing out here in this weather?”  The sport fisher responded in a southern drawl, “Oh, we’re just out here catch’n a few red snappers.”

After six hours of misery bouncing around in the waves, the crew found humor in the response.

Finally though, the wind did lay down and the waves settled down also.  There was only a light breeze and the waves were less than 1 foot.  So much for the saying that nothing good happens after midnight.

With the calmer seas, the crew of Tranquility III began to recover enough to come over the radio and sing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

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Sunrise on the Gulf

At 0630, the dawn of a new day was beginning.  At 0720, that big ball of hydrogen fusion peeked over the horizon to give the crew a beautiful sunrise.

At 0850, the crew spotted land and the skipper yelled, ‘Land Ho!”

At 0945, the crew passed back within 3 miles of shore.

At 1010, the crew passed a red day marker R4 that officially ended the Gulf crossing as the crew entered back into the GICW.

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Been targeting this marker since 1600 yesterday

At 1051, the crew entered the Anclote River at low tide.

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Entering the Anclote River

The skipper called the marina and the staff warned the skipper that the low tide had caused water levels to be about 4 feet deep on the approach to the dock.  The staff suggested that the skipper anchor and wait for the tide to rise before entering.  Since the skipper was tired from a long night with little to no sleep, he and the Admiral decided to risk the low water level and try to make the dock.  With a draft of 3 feet 9 inches and the fact that the bottom would be soft and sandy if they went aground, the crew headed for the marina.

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At 1145, the crew was safely secured at the dock.  On the last mile of approach to the dock, the water level showed to be 4 feet 3 inches.

The crew took a well-deserved nap, then headed to Rusty Bellies to celebrate the successful Gulf crossing with the crews of Abaco Lady and Journey.

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Pelicans also napping in the trees

Friday, February 3, 2017

The crew explored the sponge docks in the afternoon and tried to learn a little about the Greek culture that spawned Tarpon Springs.

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In the 1880’s, John Cheyney started the first sponge business in the area.  Greek’s began to migrate to the area to work in the sponge industry.  In 1905, John Cocoris began using divers to harvest the sponges.  The heyday of the sponge industry peaked in the 1930’s with about 200 boats in the sponge industry.  In 1947, a red tide algae bloom killed off most of the sponges and the sponge industry.  Only about a dozen sponge boats still work the Gulf fields.

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Tile Dive Mural on the Sponge Docks

The town now has the largest percentage of Greek’s than any other community in the United States.

The crew tried a Greek restaurant for a late lunch and then tried some Greek pastries for a late-night snack.  While eating lunch, one of the hot menu items was Flaming Goat Cheese.  The waitress would pour some liquor over the cheese and then light the concoction on fire which would toast the cheese.

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The crew also walked down to Craig’s Park to discover if any manatees might be swimming around in the bayou.  The crew watched four manatees for a couple of hours while they also took in the warm Florida sunshine.

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Can you see the manatee?

 

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Craig Park

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The initial Float Plan today was to travel to Caladesi Island State Park.  The water level approach is shallow so the skipper waited for a rising tide before heading out.  Unfortunately, within 100 yards of turning off the main channel to the State Park, the boat nudged the soft sand bottom.  There was already one boat solidly aground here and the skipper did not want to become number 2.

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Leaving Tarpon Springs – 1st of many boat wakes today

He called the State Park Marina and learned that the first come first serve slips were already taken so it was time for the skipper to recalculate the next move.  The skipper then called the Marker 1 Marina in Dunedin only to learn that they were also full.

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Anclote River Lighthouse

This was a beautiful Saturday which caused more than the normal number of boaters to be on the water.  The crew just wanted off of the water because all the boaters were running fast and throwing huge wakes.  Not much boating courtesy being shown on this run.

When the skipper called the Clearwater Municipal Marina he learned that they had one slip available.  He booked the slip and headed to the marina.  Luckily, they were only 6 miles from the Marina.

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Still Waters II in Clearwater Beach Marina

After securing the boat, the crew discovered that they were docked just in front of their new friends aboard Lacuna.  You might recall they first met back at Ft Walton Beach.    Turns out that it was Jen’s birthday and her parents and brother had come down to visit.  Happy Birthday Jen from the crew of Still Waters II!!!!.

The crew debarked the boat and took a two-hour stroll along Clearwater Beach.

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Another public art display.  120 of these dolphins are scattered around Clearwater

Next Week – Keep heading south along the west coast of Florida with potential shore excursions in St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Sarasota.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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Blown into Port Saint Joe

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

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Panama City 911 Memorial

Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.

Summary of week:

After a week stay in Panama City to allow the weather to literally blow through, the crew finally made passage to Port St. Joe.  The crew continues to lay and wait here for a weather window to open so they can safely cross the Gulf.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

As reported in last week’s blog entry, the winds have really decided to kick it up a notch.  Today the Coast Guard was putting out Gale Force Wind Warnings (winds > 40 mph).  The wind did not disappoint.

By 1000 the winds were blowing 15-20 mph.  Unfortunately, the wind direction was out of the east-southeast.  This caused three foot waves to form and come directly into the marina and against the beam of Still Waters II.

The skipper spent the next four hours adding and adjusting lines and fenders to protect the boat from the dock.  It got so bad that the skipper could not stay on the boat because she was bobbing up and down so bad.  He took a seat on the dock in between adjusting lines and fenders.

Finally, about 1400 the wind shifted direction from the west-northwest which caused the waves to shift also, so now the waves were hitting the break water wall.  This resulted in the waters in the marina to calm down and become almost smooth.  With the wind shift, the winds also picked up intensity.  The wind speed quickly rose to the low 30’s with gusts over 40.

The winds stayed strong through the rest of the day and began to die off during the night into the low 20’s.  On Monday, the winds continued to drop in intensity until they finally got back down to normal, less than 10 mph about dark.

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This sailboat did not survive the wind

The good news is that Still Waters II suffered no damage.  Many of the other boats were not as fortunate.  When the winds were out of the east on Sunday, the boats were swinging up and down as much as 3-5 feet.  This caused damage to several boats as they crashed into the wood docks.  In addition, the high winds ripped the canvas and bimini tops off several boats.

And you are probably asking yourself, “Where was the Admiral during the Sunday afternoon fun?”  She had gone to Church.  When she left Church she got a severe weather alert with a tornado warning.  She did the smart thing and went shopping at Home Depot to wait out the warning.

By the time she got to the boat, the wind had shifted direction and the marina water had calmed down.  The skipper told her he was glad she missed the fun.

Tuesday, January 23, 2017

While in Panama City, the crew bought a new dinghy.  This was a safety purchase as they prepare to cross the Gulf.  Better to be prepared for the unexpected in case something happens to the mother ship.

For example, a local boater shared a story with the skipper where a series of unfortunate and seemingly unrelated events resulted in an explosion onboard his boat.  The boat burned to the water line before the fire department could arrive and extinguish the fire.

The skipper spent most of the day adjusting the davit system to hold the dinghy on the swim platform.  Hopefully with these adjustments the crew will not lose a third dinghy.

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Walker Bay dinghy mounted on davits

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

With the weather cooperating today, the crew headed east to Port St. Joe with no issues.

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Leaving the East Bay

While passing through the East Bay a dolphin decided to play in the wake of the boat.  At one point, the dolphin jumped completely out of the water as high as the helm on the boat.  Interesting looking eye-to-eye with a dolphin when you are 10 feet above the water line.

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Salt Marsh in Wetappo Creek

The crew made it far enough east to enter the Eastern Time Zone.  The loss of an hour caused the crew to arrive at Port St. Joe Marina just 30 minutes before closing.

The crew is not sure how long they will stay here, so the Marina Staff took a credit card and put it on hold much like a reservation at a hotel.

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The crew saw more derelict boats on this run than anywhere on the loop

 

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Continuation in Wetappo Creek

 

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Entering the Port St. Joe Marina basin

Shore Excursions at Port St. Joe

The crew wandered around the small downtown area on Thursday afternoon. They found this interesting store display of a guy having a bad day.

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They then walked over to the area Welcome Center and enjoyed the view of the bay.

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On Friday, Abaco Lady and the Journey pulled into the marina.  There are now seven loopers at Port St. Joe.  People are moving east to take advantage of the weather window to cross the Gulf Tuesday and Wednesday.

Saturday, we walked over to the SanDollar with Journey and Abaco Lady to enjoy a good breakfast.  Conversation was exciting as stories were swapped about the Loop and the fun that has been had.

Latter in the day, The Lord’s Provision arrived and joined the party at Port St. Joe.  The crew of Still Waters II will probably buddy boat across the Gulf together.

 

Next Week – As mentioned several times, the next big challenge in front of the crew is to cross the Gulf over to the West Coast of Florida.

The following pic and information is from Alan Lloyd’s Navigation Notes.

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  1. Tarpon Springs Route – 175 miles

Carrabelle to Buoy 2 – 112 miles

Buoy 2 to Tarpon Springs – 63 miles

Steinhatchee Route (yellow/red) -206 miles

Carrabelle to Steinhatchee – 85 miles

Steinhatchee to Buoy 2 – 58 miles

Buoy 2 to Tarpon Springs – 63 miles

The brown and green routes have a controlling depth of only 4.5 feet.  With the draft of the boat at 3’ 9 inches, the margin of only 9 inches to going aground is not worth the risk.  These routes are off the table for the crew.

The crew plans to travel at 9 mph, so it will take about 20 hours to cross over to Tarpon Springs on the red route.  This can be done in one long cruise starting about 2100 and arriving in Tarpon Springs about 1700 the next day, an hour before sunset.  The pro of this route is that you only need one weather window to cross.  The con is that you cruise 9 hours in the dark and will not get much sleep, if any in those 20 hours.

The pro of the Steinhatchee route is that you have more daylight time and less night time travel.  However, the con is that you need two days of good weather to cross.  This time of year, getting two days back to back is rare.  The weather windows seem to be about a week apart, so after arriving in Steinhatchee, the crew might be stuck for a week waiting for the next good day.

And what may a good day look like, says you?

The crew is using the following criteria:

Winds less than 10 mph

Wave height less than 2 feet

The skipper is using Eddy’s Weather Wag to help gage the criteria, as well as consulting three independent marine weather sites to pick the window.  But as you know, predicting the weather no easy task.

For example, on Monday, January 23rd, Eddy was predicting a Saturday/Sunday weather window.

Ahoy Fellow Loopers!

Told you it would get worse!  Latest check of sea conditions at Buoy 42036 show 15 footers rolling across that part of the Gulf.                                                          

It will take a while for things to settle down out there.  The predicted Saturday-night / Sunday weather-window (28th-29th) will likely be the next crossing opportunity.   

By Wednesday, January 25th, Eddy had this to say:

Ahoy Fellow Loopers!

It looks like a conspiracy!  Mother Nature and King Neptune are not only dismantling this weekend’s projected weather-window, but they’re also taking away Florida’s warm, balmy temperatures!                                   

Is there no end to this merciless mistreatment?  How long can we endure 50 degree temperatures at night?  How can you be expected to keep a tan when daytime highs are only in the 60s?  And that’s just here in south Florida!  Our fellow Loopers who are trapped along the northwest Gulf coast are suffering even worse.

 I’m hopeful that the arrival of a new month will change all this.  If we collectively concentrate on sending out positive vibes, perhaps we could effect that change by the last day of this month.  That would show Mother and King where the real power lies!  To paraphrase: “Let our people go” (across the Gulf)!

 Then on Thursday, January 26th, Eddy had these encouraging words:

Ahoy Fellow Loopers!

This morning, four out of four on-line weather sites that I reviewed predict that a weather window will be available for a Tuesday-night / Wednesday crossing.  That would be January 31st and February 1st.  Just like most people, sometimes these sites get it right and sometimes they don’t.

 However, only one of those four sites is still predicting that a Saturday-night / Sunday crossing opportunity.  That would be January 28th & 29th.  This particular site has been very reliable in the past for getting it right.

  So (to paraphrase Dirty Harry) the question you have to ask yourself is, “Am I feeling lucky”?  

 Our crew is not feeling lucky.   The sites the skipper uses to watch the weather do not meet the crew’s criteria for safe travel.  For example, this is the Sail Flow page wind and wave height prediction for Saturday/Sunday.  Wind is never below 10 mph and the waves build to 6 feet.  No thank you.

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However, the Tuesday night/ Wednesday crossing is looking promising.  Winds less than 10 mph (even the gusts are under 10) and waves only 1 foot for the whole run.  Now that is what I’m talking about!

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IF, and that is a big IF, the weather predictions hold, THEN this is the anticipated Float Plan for the crew next week:

Monday – travel to Carrabelle and stay at the Moorings Marina.

Tuesday –

1-      Move the boat after lunch and anchor at Shipping Cove by Dog Island (this will shave an hour off the night time travel)

2-      Weigh anchor about 2100 and enter the gulf via East Pass

3-      Target Buoy R2 (N28-56.5 W83-11.0) west of Crystal River

Wednesday –

1- Arrive near Buoy R2 about 0900

2- Arrive near Buoy R4 (N28-14.8 W82-49.9) about 1500

3- Arrive at Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs about 1700

After crossing the Gulf the crew will get some well deserved sleep and figure out what their next move will be.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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The Emerald Coast

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.

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Summary of week:

The crew departed Pensacola and cruised three days last week as they headed east along the Emerald Coast.  The first stop was in Fort Walton Beach.  The crew continued east and stopped in Destin to dock and dine for lunch at Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant.  Then they made their way across Choctaw Hatchee Bay and dropped anchor near the HWY 331 bridge.  Next stop was Panama City where the crew held up to allow some nasty weather packing high winds and rain to pass.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

The cruise to Fort Walton Beach was uneventful.  Along the run though the crew passed a sailboat, Lacuna, while running in the Santa Rosa Sound.

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Lacuna in Santa Rosa Sound

About two hours after our crew landed at the Ft Walton Beach City Marina, the sailboat pulled in also.  A good example of the adage in boating, “everyone ends up at the same place, the only difference is how much did you spend on fuel to get there.”

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Still Waters II in Fort Walton Beach City Marina

Turns out the crew of the Lacuna, Mike and Jen, left from Wisconsin back in October to start the loop but are not members of America’s Great Loop Cruising Association.  They are a young couple who are working onboard via the internet as they do the loop.  The definition of Lacuna is gap or hiatus.  They explained that they are taking a lacuna from their dirt dwelling life to cruise the loop.  Very inspirational.

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Dock neighbors for the night

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Before the crew got started this morning they welcomed some folks from Kentucky onboard.  They were doing a photo shoot at the City Park and Marina.

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The young man is on Instagram at braden_shannon for any of the single virtual crew members who might be interested.

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Braden, the model

The crew also spent some time with Mike and Jen, the crew of the Lacuna, comparing notes and stories.  Seems the two crews are on about the same schedule to move east along the pan handle of Florida and stage for the Gulf crossing.

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Mike and Jen in Choctaw Hatchee Bay

 

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Dewey Destin’s Seafood

The crew shoved off a bit after 1000 a.m. and made the hour run over to Destin to stop and enjoy a Dock and Dine at Dewey Destin’s  Seafood.

They landed at the end of the T-dock.  The restaurant does not look like much but the food was very good and the portions for lunch were  unexpectedly huge.  The crew took a to go box and have enough food left for another meal.

As the crew was walking back down the dock to leave, a couple stopped the crew and asked if they were doing the loop.  The crew answered yes, and had an interesting conversation with the couple.  Turns out the couple are neighbors with Ron and Eva Stob, the originators of the Great Loop Cruising Association.  Small, small world.

After the conversation, the crew shoved off from the dock and headed back to the Bay.  The dolphins were ready to play today and this one was very acrobatic as he jumped out of the water several times.

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The crew ran another 20 miles, and dropped anchor for the night near the Choctaw Hatchee Bridge. (HWY 331)

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Anchored a quarter mile from bridge

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The crew woke up to heavy fog this morning.  The crew could hear vehicle traffic on the bridge but could no see the bridge.  The skipper was getting impatient with the fog, so at 1000 he called the Panama City Marina and learned that the fog had cleared over there.  The crew discussed their options and decided to go ahead and leave at 1100 even if the fog was still present.

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Looking at the bridge at 1100

At 1100, the fog was still socked in so the crew raised the anchor and headed east four miles with the hope that when they entered a narrow 16-mile channel that less water would mean less fog.

As they approached the canal opening the crew could not find the green day marker that was supposed to mark the entrance of the channel.  They could not see the day marker on the radar either.  Finally they saw a small object on radar that turned out to be a small Coast Guard boat in the position of the missing green day mark.  Looked like the Coast Guard was deploying a floating green can.  After passing the Coast Guard boat, the skipper noticed the green day mark washed up on shore.

Within a half mile of entering the narrow channel, the fog was completely gone and the crew cruised in partly cloudy skies the rest of the day.  The channel turned out to be a big surprise with good scenery.

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Finally no fog

 

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Some pretty shoreline and reflection

While running through the narrow channel, also referred to as the ‘Grand Canyon,’ the crew passed a man paddling a canoe.  Not all that unusual, except this canoe had Guinness World Record painted along the side of the canoe.

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Adventure Aaron

The crew stopped in the channel and the man paddled over to Still Waters II.  His name is Aaron.   He started his current adventure on the Missouri River in Montana.  He is paddling to raise awareness about adoption.  His goal was to paddle the Missouri River to the Mississippi River, and then the Mississippi River down to the Gulf.

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He said once he arrived at the Gulf he still had gas in the tank so he turned east and started paddling the Gulf Intercostal Water Way.  His new goal is to paddle to the Atlantic Ocean.  He has a website if you would like to learn more about Aaron and/or his cause.  http://adventureaaron.com

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The crew found this interesting since their own daughter and son-in-law just started their own adventure by adopting a sibling group of four in 2016.

After talking with Aaron the crew pressed on to Panama City Marina.

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Sunset from sundeck of Still Waters II at Panama City Marina

Shore Excursion – Panama City

The crew decided to rent a car for the weekend and explore the area.

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This next photo is of a four headed palm tree.  Thought to be the only one in the world.  It is located in a city park in St Andrews.

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St Andrews Park

The next two pics show why this area is called the Emerald Coast.

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Beach at St Andrews State Park

 

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While shelling along the shoreline, the crew found this rare shell back turtle coming ashore.  Turtles should not arrive until March so this must be a scout.

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The Governor Stone is the last known working Gulf Coast schooner.  She served during WWII, and has worked as an oyster buy boat, a rum runner during prohibition, a resort day sailor, a private yacht, and a sponge boat.  She is now a floating sailing museum.

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She was built in Pascagoula, Mississippi in 1877, and has actually been sunk three times.

Next Week – The weather and wind is predicted to be bad through Monday, winds at 24 mph and gusts over 30.  The crew will stay put till mid week and then make their way  over to Port St. Joe.  They will stay at Port St Joe until a weather window opens to cross the Gulf.  When a weather window opens they will move further east to Carrabelle, Florida where they will launch their Gulf crossing to Tarpon Springs.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

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Pelicans in Paradise

Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventures!

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Welcome back onboard as we begin to cruise in 2017

Eric here catching you up to date on the latest travels of Still Waters II. Click on this link to see the day- to-day travel log.

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Summary of week:

After spending a month at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama the crew finally cruised a whole day last week.  They left The Wharf on Friday the 13th and made their way to Palafox Pier in Pensacola, Florida.

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But before we get started cruising, the crew would like to give a shout out and congratulations to LeryLynn for crossing their wake as they made the run to The Wharf.

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Wayne and Lynn with their Gold Burgee

 

 

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Celebrating new Gold Loopers Lynn and Wayne.  Brenda and Scott also at the party.

 

Friday, January 13, 2017

The crew had planned to cruise along the panhandle of Florida with The Lord’s Provision. However, Roger came over in the morning and informed our crew that Grace was ill and was headed to the hospital.  The skipper helped Roger move The Lord’s Provision over for a pump out and get resettled in her slip before setting out for Pensacola.

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Still Waters II at rest at The Wharf

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Leaving The Wharf

The cruise was exceptional for dolphin watching.  The crew counted about 35 dolphins swimming and playing in the water today.

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Just before noon, the crew re-entered Florida waters after leaving them in April 2016.  Little-by-little, the crew is sneaking up on their goal of crossing their wake in Ft Myers.  Today was a major milestone in this quest.

 

Cruising along the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

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Entering Pensacola Bay.

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After crossing Pensacola Bay, the crew landed at Palafox Pier.  After securing the boat, the crew headed out to learn about the history of Pensacola.

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Luna who landed in Pensacola in 1559

The Pensacola colony got off to a rocky start.  In September 1559, they were wiped out by a hurricane.  The survivors continued to try to make a go of it for two more years but finally abandoned the colony in 1561 and returned to Veracruz.

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The Spanish settled the area again in 1698 to guard Florida from the French who were expanding eastward from New Orleans.  This Spanish period lasted till 1719.

 

 

 

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The French then controlled the area 1719-1722. As with the first colony, a hurricane destroyed Pensacola and the French burned what survived.  The French then moved back west to New Orleans.

 

 

 

The Second Spanish period was 1722-1763.  The Spanish reclaimed the area and moved Pensacola from the barrier islands to its present location.

The Treaty of Paris-1763, transferred Florida to the British following the French and Indian War because the Spanish had sided with France.

The Third Spanish period was 1781-1819.  Following the Revolutionary War the British gave the land along the coast all the way to the Mississippi River back to the Spanish.

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Spain sold the Louisiana territory to France.  The French then sold the land to the United States in 1803.  This basically surrounded the Spanish area known as East and West Florida by the growing United States.

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Andrew Jackson led the US invasion to Spanish West Florida

In 1819 the United States invaded Pensacola and took control of the area.  In 1821, Spain sold Florida to the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On January 10, 1861, Florida became the third state to leave the United States and join the Confederate States of America.

Following the Civil War, Florida was readmitted to the Union on June 25, 1868.

 

 

While walking around historic Pensacola the crew began sighting Pelicans in Paradise, a public art display scattered around Pensacola.  The crew found 14 of the  Pelicans that were within walking distance of the marina.

Some of the crew’s favorite pelicans:

 

A few feathered friends that were too far away to go find on foot.

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Pelvis

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Buck

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Peg Leg Pete

 

While walking around historic Pensacola looking for Pelicans, the crew stumbled upon this modern piece of history, The Morrison Family Homestead.  The home was built in 1906.  The Morrison family bought the home in 1932.  The lead singer of the Doors, Jim Morrison, was born and raised in this home.  Who would of known?

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Next Week – The crew plans to continue along the panhandle of Florida and visit Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, and Port St. Joe.  The crew will stage in Port St. Joe and wait for a weather window which will allow them to cross the Gulf over to the west coast of Florida.

Loop On – The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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