Day 216, November 26, 2012 (Crossing the Gulf of Mexico): Frustrated? Just a little by the gulf! We left Apalachicola on November 15th after spending a miserably cold and foggy day in port. The 15th birthed a decent day and we (Blue Heron and Sequel) made for Carrabelle, a calm, protected ride behind barrier islands. The gulf was all whipped up that day and I guess we just got a little stir-crazy in Apalach. Shoulda, woulda, coulda stayed all the while in Port St. Joe but didn’t! Not that Apalach was not good—it is a pleasant little town with more than one main street. Maybe two or three, even! Carrabelle, on the other hand, but for Buddy and Patty and the other nice people at The Moorings, is a wide spot with a good IGA and a few diners. Once in Carrabelle, our weather window to cross slammed closed, tighter than a frog’s tush under water. With Thanksgiving and plans in Tampa with family and friends in jeopardy, we took a ride to Tallahassee Regional Airport and rented a land ark to drive to Tampa. On Thanksgiving—wouldn’t you know it— the weather cleared briefly,  stuttered, then opened again, yesterday. At left, Gabby is showing Savta her special smile.

Tallahassee was no trouble and I don’t want to make it read like Tallahassee was a chore. We have cousins there and pried cousin Herky (short for Herbert) loose to visit and give us a ride back to Carrabelle. Below is Joe with Herky, Lilly, and Moose overlooking our slip in The Moorings.

We left Carrabelle at first light (below, left), yesterday, on a gorgeous, calm morning. The sea buoy at Carrabelle Pass is a few miles out and once out we were able to take stock. The wind was about 12 out of the northeast. Short period, two to three-foot waves were hitting our port bow with a little confused chop on top. No debate! We plotted the direct route to R4 buoy  north of Anclote Key protecting the mouth of the Anclote River into Tarpon Springs, 140 nautical miles. Our alternative was a calmer inshore route tracing Florida’s Big Bend shoreline, a slightly longer run.

Thirty miles into our run, the wind the predominant wave pattern shifted more northerly, which meant that we were getting the main wave movement just abaft the beam. However, longer ocean swells were coming at us from astern at an average of four feet. We upped our speed from 20 to 24 knots and pushed the bow down. True to form, Sequel, charged forward, head down, giving us a reasonably comfortable ride with only the occasional knock on the bum from a rogue roller. The last 40 miles featured a sparkling, calm sea with one footers and long swells from behind. The only downside we found was the minefield of crab pots for the last 30 miles. They were far enough apart so that we were not obliged to break our stride more than a few times. The upside is Edie’s remarkable picture of a dolphin playing in our wake at 24 knots.

Sunday fishermen have no couth! The channel into Anclote is narrow with shallow, sandy shoals and oysters on both sides. Don’t they love to hang around the channel markers then point out the birds when we have to pass, oh so close. They fail to understand that we don’t have training wheels!

Hindsight is 20-20, isn’t it? If you are a fast boat you can make the crossing from Apalach, Government Cut notwithstanding. If you are a faster boat you can cross from Port St. Joe by exiting St. Joseph Bay into the shipping channel.