We awoke early and saw a beautiful sunrise and a quiet bayou on Suwannee River. We fired up the normal pot of coffee that we make each day on our propane coffeemaker. I hate the darned thing by the way and I can’t wait until it wears out in 5 years or I can sell it to another cruiser. I wish we got a much smaller press, because we rarely drink more than a cup or two per morning. I rinsed down the boat one last time and Aubrey set off with the kids to find new creatures that were interested in capture. Bianca stayed in timeout while I fueled the boat because she stole her brother’s stick and taunted him with it. Once she got locked down he promptly restore the stick and made the following announcement:
I am the fairy godmother and this stick will help you to be better- poof!
It didn’t work but we had to get out of there while the tide was still high! We went out on the North end of the town through the naturally “deep” river (4-8 ft.) and out 3 miles through something the Army Corp of Engineers dredged a couple decades ago. My sonar read 2.4 feet several times but I never saw sand kick up in the prop wash or felt the dreaded bump of a sandy shoal.
I set a course offshore that was safe and relatively South. It was the easiest day of our cruise and we made reasonable time at about 20 knots. The ride was soft and the kids and Aubrey rode up top all day. It was the first day that we didn’t use the generator for AC down below. Everyone had a nice time. We saw some cool fish and Aubrey watched a stingray leap out of the water in our wake. She said it was about 6-8 feet. I wish I didn’t miss it. We saw Dolphins towards Clearwater.
The water got really clear as we made our way into Clearwater. We travelled anywhere from 3-9 miles off shore for the cruse in and the ocean floor was mostly sandy with some sea grass. We could see the white sand beaches of Clearwater Beach up ahead and we got excited. We stayed at the Clearwater Municipal Marina and it is a nice place with good slips. The rule was $4 per gallon. The slip rate was $2 per foot per night, $6 per week or $10 per month. We decided to stay five nights I think. Don’t ask me what time it is because my wife told me it was August.
We met a nice couple who is a little more permanent here and I got a lift with Bianca into town to do some shopping the day after we arrived. I could tell that Aubrey wanted me to go because she gave me the following verbal cue:
Do you want me to go to the store with the complete strangers?
It is actually very common for other cruisers to help out and give you a ride, invite you to dinner or help you fix things that break. I think she was just tired, as was I. We found everything we needed and drove through a monster rainstorm that made me glad I wasn’t walking! The boat was all organized and sparkling clean when we returned home. We barbecued steaks for dinner, from what I can recall. Everything tastes much better on a boat and I feel like we always eat well. I am looking forward to having too much extra seafood to count in the bottom of our cooler.
We hiked over to the beach one afternoon and the kids had a blast. The waves are big and the lifeguards are grumpy about dogs here. Of course Onyx has credentials that they can’t refuse so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Most things take a lot longer to walk to here, compared to other places we’ve stayed. We really enjoyed a dinner at the boat shop on Pier 60. This place is really in the back of a bait shop and it cracked me up but the food was delicious. I think we had Wahoo and Grouper. Yum.
We enjoyed the estuary that is just a few miles up the bay. We saw the shallows coming in with our boat and we’ve returned in the dinghy almost everyday once or twice. We’ve seen some really beautiful birds and Aubrey has caught more than her share. I got a particularly hilarious shot of her chasing down a stork yesterday. She had on her cowboy hat and the stork had yellow eyes and a neck that was probably three feet long. The look in her eyes was priceless. The stork didn’t know what he was up against.
We’ve caught a bunch of fish, crabs, clams and scallops here in the bay. It is so cool having out own transportation because we can go where nobody else can get to and our experiences are better. Not having a car is a set back but I would do it again in a heart beat. The kid’s and Aubrey’s sea shell collection is growing and they are only keeping perfect shells. I can’t blame them because we’ve found so many and we only have room for a small shoe box size each.
We rode out dinghy across the bay to the town today and we took a hike along the streets with the kids. It was so pleasant and enjoyable. Just kidding, it was horrible and miserable. Where is Grandma when you need her? Kids are so irritating and they complain relentlessly. In the end, we got our groceries and a great breakfast. We hiked back to our water chariot and we were off back to our boat. The kids and Aubrey are recuperating by taking naps and I am typing this to catch up with our readers, family and friends.
We are off to Marco island tomorrow and it shouldn’t be a hard trip. I don’t know if we will stay a day or just get on down the coast to Tavernier, Florida the next day? I can’t wait to see the water get more clear as we travel South!