Gulf of Mexico Crossing- Carrabelle to Clearwater, Florida?

Choose your fate, fool!

Choose your fate, fool!

It is only 160 miles and it is a straight shot.  Seems logical, but seafaring is rarely easy, logical and it never goes as planned.  Weather was great inside the barrier islands and it didn’t seem like it would be that rough.  We stayed between the markers and had a good course setting.  It was to be a long day but we had done some that were almost as long.  {key the evil and scary music}

Miss Lone Star is a Class A rated ocean gong vessel with a deep V hull and two huge ass engines with velvet drives.  She is a tough old girl and she zipped through the waves as they cut across our bow, just a little less than sideways at a Southeasterly direction.  The problem is: we were also heading SE.  It made for a miserable ride.  I tried slowing down to almost nothing and that sucked.  I put the boat into idle ago check on the crew and I opened the cabin door to observe the original Cuban boat people.  Everybody was laying on the floor, including the dog.  It was really hot and the generator wasn’t running.  I asked Aubrey if she was having a happy day and she gurgled something that sounded mean and scary.

We were traveling at around 1 knot and we were now getting hit with at least 5 foot breakers across our bow.  Life sucked and it wasn’t getting better because I had no idea what the solution was.  I continued on my SE course.  I couldn’t solve the generator problem because I didn’t want to get thrown off the boat.  It was beautiful and sunny, by the way.  It was so pretty that it made me mad.

I went a few miles farther and checked in on the crew.  They were hating me at an increasing rate.

I slowed still and opened the engine hatch to start the generator set manually.  It fired up and I figured all of the problems down below were solved.  I had been battering the hell out of the Gulf for an hour and a half and I figured it would be getting better any minute and it didn’t.  It didn’t get worse, which was good.  Sea sickness has never bothered me.

Aubrey opened the cabin door and I thought she would be bringing me a sandwich or something and she puked all over the deck.  The waves were smacking the boat so hard, I couldn’t even give her a hug.  There was no way I could take my hands off the wheel. I changed course immediately to do in the direction of the waves running a NE course.  We had gone about 50 miles into the Gulf and I had to throw in the towel and change course or face my deadly wife.

Running on the backs of waves is easy.  It was a nice ride and it seemed sad that we had gotten beat up earlier.  The AC was kicking below and the crew was all sacked out on the floor.  I decided to cut a course that was more southerly.  They were all asleep anyway, by this time and a little worse wave action wouldn’t bother them.  My plan went off without a hitch for about 4 hours and they all headed topside in the afternoon.  They dosed up on Dramamine and walk out like zombies.  We were only 12 miles offshore and heading south at this point so life was good.  The depth was a deep 6-9 feet and land was not in sight.

D94A8371I dialed into my GPS to see where the fuck I could get some fuel.  It is a constant struggle in this boat.  My range is lame and maybe only about 300 miles.  Speed is great and it only drafts three feet.  Suwannee River, Florida was the spot so we chopped through the waves trying to get there before we ran out of fuel.  I decided to take the Southern approach to the town through the river.  It was low tide but it was well-marked.  My GPS is showing 4 feet and we aren’t even into the river and out of the Gulf.  What the hell?

I dropped the hook and decided to wait for the tide to come in.  The water was chocolate again and there was nothing to do but clean the boat after the puke-fest.  We looked down below and it was wrecked.  We learned a lot about how to stow things on the boat and chalked it up to a learning experience.  It was 2PM and we had 3 hours to clean and do not much of anything.

In case you were wondering, Aubrey’s puke smelled like coffee and the kid’s was more like peanut butter cookies.

We scrubbed her down and Aubrey crashed out on one of the deck seats.  I was surprised that the kids sat in one place for a few hours without much complaint.  I lit up a Cohiba and smoked up that sucker in peace and quiet.  I’ve grown to treasure that time, more than you can imagine.

I figured out that the tide came mostly all the way in at about 5PM, which allowed us to get in earlier than 7PM.  The gas place shut down but Mr. Miller told me to pull up and hook up to the electric when we could get in.  We started up those engines and crept up the river.

We went through some of the most interesting and beautiful scenery that we’ve seen.  The shallow depths prevent almost everyone that doesn’t have an air boat or those who would risk certain death because there is no fuel for 100 miles, to make the trip.  We pulled up to the fuel dump and it was so cool.  This is a neat town (1 dinner place and 1 store for 45 miles).  The people were nice and we walked a mile or so to dinner.

Aubrey and the kids feasted on everything and re-filled their stomachs after the dump out on board the boat.  I stocked up my gullet to capacity.  You guessed it, more fried fish, shrimp, oysters, clams, etc.

We needed a few items from the most expensive store in the universe so we hiked alongside the highway.  We saw some interesting things.  There was a post office but I wonder if more than a dozen letters travel out of there per month.  Bianca and I (with Onyx) are walking ahead of Blake and Aubrey.  I hear a door shut and see that they jumped as hitchhiker into a minivan.  I was trying to explain to Bianca that Mom made a bad choice as it pulled up and she yells out: “Let me in, I want a ride!”  The store was just up ahead, across a swamp.

D94A8337A nice family with 9 kids gave us a gave to the store.  You know how people offer nice things that you are supposed to turn down?  The husband offered to come back and pick us up to take us back to the boat and Aubrey takes him up on the offer.  He is instantly became sad and wished he didn’t offer.  Poor, nice guy!  He picked us up after a few minutes and after the kids touched everything in the store like homeless children who hadn’t seen new things for an eternity.  We told our new friend about our adventure and he drove us home.

I washed down the day’s salt off of her and we went to bed, setting the alarm to 6:30AM because we had to leave on high tide on the dot!  This day’s trip took us 115 nautical miles, not exactly in a straight line!

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