Wednesday, 19 November 2003
Great Loop Blog - Leg 1
Posted on 11/19/2003 1:23 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 18 November 2003
Day 30 Nov 17 Marlow Marine
The newspaper was delivered in time for breakfast. The next couple of hours were in the engine room checking the batteries and changing the injector pump oil. We fueled up and got pumped out and left for Marlow at noon. The tide was at low tide and the water in Terra Ceia Bay was very low. At one point the sounder showed -0.8 feet under the keel. The rudder touched once. We tied up at the Marlow dock and had power and water. This is a very well run boat works. Everything is newly painted, well organized and the staff is in uniform. It is a Grand Banks heaven! There must be 15 for sale; all 42 or 46 footers. The 36 foot are rare I was told. The boat will be stored tomorrow in one corner of a huge shed. It will be dwarfed by the Marlow Explorer. Two Katy Leigh's could be stored end to end beside the Explorer. Marlow has these built to their design in China. The one in the photo is of number 11. Doc & Eileen Wilson (Kenlake boaters) very kindly picked us up at the marina and took us to their new home (2 weeks old) near here for dinner
Posted on 11/18/2003 10:12 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 18 November 2003
Day 31 Nov 18 Nashville
We packed, emptied the fridge and water tank and were ready to go at 8:00AM. Marlow's crew moved the boat expertly to the lift and hauled it out. The bottom was as clean as could be. Green Turtle Bay did a great job on the bottom paint in July. The prop did not have a single nick so we had been lucky. We left Marlow at 9:00AM with Ria Grasman and arrived in Nashville at 8:00PM. Much of the drive was in the worst weather we have seen in over a month. That's the story until the end of March. Look for the blog to continue then. Statistics 1245 miles 430 gallons of diesel 148.8 engine hours 2.90 gal/hour 2.90 mpg 56.6 generator hours 4 nights at anchor 25 nights in marinas 1 night underway
Posted on 11/18/2003 10:14 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 17 November 2003
Day 29 Nov 16 Riviera Dunes, Palmetto
The ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway) takes you down to Tampa Bay past hundreds of condos and fancy homes. It is quite narrow and shallow. At one point I was not paying attention and got on the wrong side of a green buoy. When I realized it I slowed and took the engine out of gear waiting for the crunch as we ran aground. There was no crunch so I put the throttle forward but we didn't move. Thinking we must be aground it took a while to discover I had to put the transmission in gear. We rounded the buoy on the proper side and continued without running aground. The channel runs beside the Tampa Bay Skyway. Southward we entered the Manatee River where Marlow Marina is located. The boat traffic was heavy and no one slows down here for anything. Worst behaving boaters we have seen yet. At the east end of Snead Island I realized that there is a bridge between the Manatee and Marlow that is too low to get under. We will have to go back around Snead Island. Instead of 5 miles to travel Tuesday morning we have 16 miles. So it's time to change plans we will stay at Riviera Dunes only one night and the travel to Marlow Monday afternoon and spend the night at their dock or at anchor near there. Riviera Dunes is a brand new marina created out of a dolomite mine. It has floating docks, two floating swimming pools and a fancy club house. By spring it will have a restaurant. The newspaper is delivered to your boat each morning. Several loopers are spending the winter here.
Posted on 11/17/2003 12:50 PM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 15 November 2003
Day 28 Nov 15 Harbourside at Indian Rocks Beach
Breakfast was at the Holiday Inn Restaurant. Then it was time to change the transmission oil. Mavis walked on the beach and came back with a big sack of shells. Ria Grasman and Sandy MacDonald showed up around 10:00AM. Mavis and Ria immediately started a game of Scrabble. Ria is driving back on Tuesday and will pick us up at Marlow saving a flight home. In the afternoon we took a city bus down the beach to John's Pass and back. Dinner was at PJ's; really neat oyster bar. We walked by it at 5:00PM and noticed about 20 cars so we went in. A sure sign it must be a good place. By 6:00PM they were lined up outside. It was not as noisy tonight as last and we hit the sack early (as is the case most nights).
Posted on 11/15/2003 12:49 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 14 November 2003
Day 27 Nov 14 Harbourside at Indian Rocks Beach
We left Belle Harbour Marina at 8:30am and passed a large dive boat being reconditioned. It seems that it was in Belize and flipped over in a storm with 22 souls lost. It wound up on a beach and was towed back to Tarpon Springs where it had originally been built. (see photo). It was another beautiful day with the winds light. The tide was out so it was easy to see the shallow spots. Just about every inch of shoreline is occupied by fancy homes and high rise condos as you approach Clearwater. There are low bridges crossing the intracoastal waterway that you have to wait for. I re-measured the mast height so I could be sure of which bridges we could get under without waiting. Out of 5 there was only one high enough to pass under safely. Arriving at 1:00PM we encountered the toughest docking yet. The current running perpendicular to the dock was about 1.5 mph and the wind 10 mph and we were supposed to back in. The piles were about 20 feet apart. Finally I gave up trying and just went bow in. That got us out of the wind. Getting the lines around the piles was also a challenge. The tide is about 2 feet so you have to be careful how you tie up leaving enough slack in the lines. Around 4:30 Mavis yelled that Opa's Boat was passing by. (Friends from Nashville). It is being traded in at Mobile for a larger sailboat. Hans Grasman will have to cross the gulf twice in the next month. We tried to get them on the radio but without any luck. We did reach Ria Grasman by cellphone and she will stop in to see us on Saturday. We ended the day with our first walk on a beach.
Posted on 11/14/2003 12:48 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 13 November 2003
Day 26 Nov 13 Tarpon Springs Bus Tour
Doc and Eileen Wilson (Kenlake boaters) arrived at 8:00AM to take the Swinea's to Tampa airport and had a visit with us all. At noon I was able to attend the Tarpon Springs Rotary Club. An architect showed gorgeous pictures of the islands and shoals near here taken from his home made sea plane. In the afternoon we took the bus tour of town then it was clean up time to remove all the salt acquired from the waves that pounded us all day yesterday. The cold front has now arrived and the wind is so high a palm branch blew off onto the bow deck of our boat. The rest of the trip will be short; 25 miles to Clearwater, 25 miles to St. Petersburg, 25 miles to Palmetto and 5 miles to Marlow Marine where the boat will be hauled out till spring.
Posted on 11/13/2003 9:33 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 12 November 2003
Day 25 Nov 12 Arriving at Tarpon Springs
About 11:30PM the east wind started to kick up. Heading south with a beam wind we were rocking very badly and finally decided to change course to the east. The wind continued to build and we slowed down. At one point we buried the bowsprit in the water. We estimate the waves were 8 feet high from trough to crest. We learned that you get 4 big waves in a row then relatively small waves for a little while. No one slept. You just find a good spot where you can be wedged in. We pounded along heading east planning to stop at Cedar Key if necessary. At 4:00AM as we neared Cedar Key we slowed down even more so we wouldn't arrive in the dark. At 6:00AM the waves died down to about 2 feet, so we turned south again and headed for our original destination Tarpon Springs. This lucky break saved us 4-6 days stuck at Cedar Key as Thursday the with a cold front coming through the sea was expected to be rough and it takes that long for the waves to settle down. Many dolphins were sighted on the way. They love to swim right in front of the boat. Unfortunately I did not get any very good photos. We got to Tarpon Springs at 2:30PM exactly 24 hours after setting out. The Katy Leigh's engine ran that long and never wavered. Engine checks were done every hour. Our advice to anyone planning to crossing is always have more than 2 people and an autopilot. It is far too tiring to steer manually for 24 hours in rough water. Tarpon Springs is the sponge capital. We walked downtown and toured the sponge shops and had a great Greek dinner to celebrate our safe arrival. Mavis had a special bottle of wine we drank after dinner with some baklava bought in town. We all went to bed at 7:00PM.
Posted on 11/12/2003 9:26 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 11 November 2003
Day 24 Nov 11 Heading to Tarpon Springs
Swinea's arrived an hour late. Like everywhere most restaurants in town were closed. A driver took us to a new Italian restaurant that was open but when we got in the door we were told they couldn't serve us because they had run out of propane. Some other people were sent away after they had eaten their salads. They had to pay for the salads. We all wound up walking to second restaurant and had a good dinner at last. This morning we changed the primary fuel filter for the first time. The pressure had been rising. It was very dirty. Thanks to Rick Nance (our marine engineer) we had a can of diesel fuel to refill the filter so the engine started and ran without any air bubbles at all. All weather forecasts appeared to be good and the decision was made to leave at 2:30PM. It was warm and sunny with waves about 1-2 feet from an east wind. We were out of sight of land by 4:30PM and the sun went down at 5:45PM. The moon came up at 7:38pm and gave us enough light to see the waves. On the way we sighted dolphins and some 3 foot long phosphorescent fish that swam beside us.
Posted on 11/11/2003 9:22 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 10 November 2003
Day 23 Nov 10 Moorings Marina at Carrabelle
It was 3.5 hours to reach Carrabelle. The weather was overcast and winds were about 10-15 knots waves at times were 3 feet high. The Moorings Marina at Carrabelle is one of the best yet. There is an IGA and hardware store right across the street. The state has a big police boat here that was called into a rescue last night. People on a 35 foot sailboat were so beaten up by the waves they abandoned their boat when the rescue boat arrived. Now the coast guard is out looking for their sailboat. The Swinea's (our crew for the crossing) arrive tonight at 6:00PM. We will leave tomorrow around 4:00PM and get to Tarpon Springs after an overnight cruise at about 10:00AM.
Posted on 11/10/2003 4:55 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 9 November 2003
Day 22 Nov 9 Scipio Creek Marina in Apalachicola
We crossed the time zone today so the sun now sets at 5:45pm instead of 4:45pm. Of course it comes up an hour later so we don't gain any more daylight. We left Panama City at 7:30 on a cloudy windy morning. Much of the day was in canal so the most exciting event was a wide spot called Lake Wimico where if you stray as much as 6 inches from the channel you will be aground. It is absolutely straight with day markers on both sides so with that and the GPS we didn't have any problem. We got to Apalachicola at 3:00PM so there was not enough time to get to Carrabelle before dark. We tied up at the Scipio Creek Marina which is very good with new docks. The town is 3 blocks away and has several interesting buildings and ante bellum homes. The building in the picture was the original sponge exchange built in 1836. It's a fishing village so there are lots of shrimp and fishing boats. Saturday everything was closed in Panama City, today everything is closed in Apalachicola.
Posted on 11/09/2003 4:54 PM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 8 November 2003
Day 21 Nov 8 Leaving Treasure Island Marina
We left Treasure Island Marina (see photo)(which was not very good) and cruised across St. Andrew's Bay to the Panama City Marina. It only took about an hour. Then it was laundry and engine work day. I think at last I found the oil pressure gage problem I discussed on Day 11. A bent connector on one of the oil pressure activated switches was shorted to ground. It wasn't the sender at all. However, now I know how to test a sender. We walked downtown where much is being done to restore the area. However, there are a lot of empty stores that need to be filled. Dinner tonight was at Capt Anderson's where Florida lobster was on sale for $12.95 as it was the last day they are open. We had a perfect view of the lunar eclipse from the boat. The restaurant closes from now to February 5th. Tomorrow we will leave early for Apalachicola. Monday we will get to Carrabelle. Our plan is to make the gulf crossing to Tarpon Springs Tuesday night and Wednesday. The dock master at the marina in Carrabelle is the expert and advises as to when it is best to cross.
Posted on 11/08/2003 10:41 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 7 November 2003
Day 20 Nov 7 Treasure Island Marina in Panama City Beach
We left at 8:30AM with low fog but good visibility. We followed "No Clew", another trawler all the way to Panama City. Dolphin sightings were frequent but brief and we were unable to get any photos. There is a long canal between Choctawhatchee Bay and St Andrew's Bay. It is cut through sand which has eroded to look like the Bad Lands. We had to pass two tows "on the one" in the canal. The tow boat operators are all very helpful on the gulf coast. Our Panama City friends had recommended Treasure Island Marina. It seems to cater mostly to charter boats and smaller boats. We were put in an empty charter boat slip beside "The Glass Bottom Boat". The Glass Bottom was being worked on for a coast guard inspection. Our friends picked us up and we toured the miracle mile along the beach where a 37 foot wide beach front lot now sells for $1,000,000. The zoning rules have been changed to allow 20 story condominiums so all the old motels are being replaced with these monsters. The developers buy the lots and then sell reservations. One 100 unit planned building sold out in 4 hours. Speculators then sell the reservations. We had dinner at their home and were back aboard Katy Leigh at 8:30PM.
Posted on 11/07/2003 10:39 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 6 November 2003
Day 19 Nov 6 Market at Beach Marina
Breakfast was at the Market at Beach Marina along with a USA Today from the box there. It was an easy run to Baytowne. Mostly wide open water with a narrows at Fort Walton. There were lots of jets flying out of Eglin Air Force Base. A pod of dolphins surfaced near the boat but none followed us. We arrived about 2:00PM and for the first time had to dock using a Mediterranean mooring. That means backing in between two piles. There was a south wind blowing across the boat which added to the complexity but we made it without any damage. There were two Grand Banks on the dock a 46 ft and a 32 ft side by side. The 46 (?Restless?) finished the loop last year about this time. He had bad weather and took out a shaft, prop, and transmission hitting a submerged buoy on the Tenn-Tom. We certainly picked the right year from a weather point of view. There is a board walk through a marsh from the marina to the Village. A perfect place to see alligators but none were found. The tree house in the photo is beside the boardwalk. There are lots of restaurants in the Village but few people at this time. However, it's time we ate on board so Mavis is cooking a chicken for dinner. Tomorrow should be another easy day, just 50 miles or so to Panama City.
Posted on 11/06/2003 10:22 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 5 November 2003
Day 18 Nov 5 Sabine Marina on Pensacola Beach
We got up at 5:30AM to find heavy rain and a rather nasty forecast. However, by 7:00AM it was clearing and not to windy so I decided that we would head out and if we found it too rough we could come back in. The waves were only 2 feet and the winds less than 10 mph so we kept going and got to the GIWW (Gulf Intracoastal Water Way) by 10AM. A couple of other boats set out from the Grand Hotel Marina and although we never saw them (except on the VHF radio) we knew we had company. The water is now clear so shoals are quite visible. We saw our first dolphins but none accompanied us. There are 1000's of small white gulls that create a big fuss around something in the water and then fly away. The harbor entrance to Pensacola is open to the ocean and big swells come in. For much of the way today we are sheltered from the ocean by sand bars. We decided to stay at Sabine Marina on Pensacola Beach. We could not raise them by phone or VHF so we just tied up to first dock we came to and went looking for the office. Turns out it's Beach Marina. There is a restaurant and market that look very nice. Tomorrow we will go to Baytowne Marina at Sandestin Resort. It's only 52 miles so it will be an easy day.
Posted on 11/05/2003 10:31 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Day 17 Nov 4 Spectacular Sunset
The weather forecasts called for cloud, then rain, and then clear, and then the same thing repeated. Sure enough that's what it did all day; about 4 cycles all together. We had to take the dingy over to the Fairhope Yacht Club (about 100 feet across the channel) for breakfast and introductions to the crews of the 26 boats that are in attendance at the rendezvous. Everyone got a minute to talk about themselves. Mavis brought the house down with her "I think I am having fun". Most "loopers" are retired, and many have sold everything to buy a boat to live on. When they have finished with boating they buy a motor home. I drove into Mobile to attend the West Mobile Rotary Club meeting at the Heron Lakes Country Club. The speaker had just returned from a Navy stint in Iraq but instead of talking about that gave a boring speech on his fiber optic network. Back at the marina, boat tours were held, then a dinner party at the Yacht Club. Tonight we put the dingy back on the aft cabin to prepare for tomorrows departure (weather permitting) for the Intra Coastal Waterway. It will be a 25 mile cruise on Mobile Bay before entering the canal. Mobile Bay is very shallow and gets very rough if it's windy. Tonight we watched the most spectacular sunset yet.
Posted on 11/04/2003 10:42 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 3 November 2003
Day 16 Nov 3 Touring Battleship Park
Today was the tour to Battleship Park. It was a chance to tour the USS Alabama, a Second World War battleship, and submarine. The battleship tour involved going down 3 layers and up 10 from there. It took about 2 hours to see just the battleship. The tours are self guided. The ship is very well maintained and impressive to see. I hunted high and low for the captain's cabin and finally found it on level 4. It was pretty spartan and not what I imagined a captain would be entitled to. When the ship is underway the Captain has a second, even more spartan cabin in the tower. I took pictures of the ships medical operating room that we might be able to use in some of our healthcare projects at work. We had lunch at a wine and cheese restaurant in Fairhope and returned to the boat to work on my last project running a DC power cable to the freezer. During the last two weeks we had to run the generator a lot just to run the small freezer we have. It has a DC connection so when we are underway the engine alternator will provide power and we will not need to run the generator, except to charge the batteries at night. This evening was the welcome party for the America's Great Loop Cruising Association rendezvous. Ron and Eva Stob, authors of the book ?Honey, Let's Get A Boat . . .? and founders of the organization put on the party. I had a good talk with Ron and we may collaborate on an electronic guide to the Great Loop.
Posted on 11/03/2003 10:39 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 2 November 2003
Day 16 Nov 2 Fort Morgan
I don't know why we bought shrimp. It seems they can fly. Last night one hopped out of the water into our dingy. This morning I installed a second check valve in the manual bilge pump so now I can really pump the bilge dry. Then we drove down through Point Clear where the Grand Hotel is located and on to Fort Morgan through Gulf Shores. Fort Morgan is on a 22 mile long narrow barrier peninsula. Except for a few park areas, there are beach homes from one end to the other. The photo shows the last one before the fort. Fort Morgan was built in 1813 and saw considerable action during the Civil War. It was also used right up to after the Second World War. It guards the entrance to Mobile Bay. On the way back we shopped in the huge strip mall just south of Foley.
Posted on 11/02/2003 10:34 PM by Bob Duthie