Thursday, January 28, 2010

Apalachicola to Tarpon Springs overnight crossing

Our Route from Apalachicola to Tarpon Springs, 184 miles, 24 hour nonstop Wednesday the weather forecasts were for good conditions for crossing the Gulf from Apalachicloa to Tarpon Springs, just North of Tampa. We got all our gear ready and departed from the Marina at noon, our friends the Gills were going on to Clearwater so they got away at 9AM. We had a nice time travelling with them since we met and JB their 4 year old grandson, inHouma, we hope we'll see them on down the coast. At noon we pulled out of the marina, another boat from the marina followed us for the trip.
We left the marina and crossed the bay to St Georges Island, through Government Cut and out into the Gulf, it was quite calm we were heading Southeast and settled down at a speed of about seven and a half miles per hour. We both drove, in shifts and though it did get a bit rolly during the nght it was a very good crossing. At sunrise we were about 50 miles out from the coast. The crossing is usually done overnight so you can arrive before daylight, the west coast of Florida is like a minefield of crabtrap bouys, they are set bout just anywhere out to 40 feet deep this can be 30 miles out. They are usually set in "strings" with the traps and floats t seabout 200 feet apart there are thousands of them, most floats are white but they are sometimes blue, or black which makes them even harder to see. There is a nylon rope from the trap to the float, if a boat is unlucky enough to pass over one the rope can become tangled in the propeller and shaft and shut the boat down. then it is either dive and cut off the rope, not an easy and sometimes a dangerous job, or call a towing company to be towed into port and have the job done there . Either way is guaranteed to ruin your day!
So, slow cruising boats, like ours, usually depart the panhandle around noon or early afternoon to arrive the west coast in daylight to be able to see the floats and lessen the chance of entangling one of them. We were fortunate and made it without any problems. We arrived at the Tarpon Springs marina at 11:45AM Thursday did some things on the boat and had a look around town, and early dinner at a good Greek restaurant and made an early night of it, We did not get much sleep at all, ast night during the crossing.
The autopilot steers the boat well but someone always has to be awake on watch for boats or navigation markers.
We'll be staying here 'till Monday morning then move down to the St Petersburg Tampa area.