The night was filled with magic, they bid the sea goodbye, they swam in to the heavens, they stayed up in the sky. And all the island people when they wish upon a star, see the dolphin and the Jolly Mon who tell them where they are. JB
Carrabelle can be best described as old Florida. No high rise apartments, lots of shrimp boats in various stages of repair (or disrepair), and a myriad of characters walking the street.
We docked at the C-Quarters Marina, a fixed dock marina in bad need of repair! The dock master drank beer all day long, starting around 8:30 am. It is known as a “Looper” stopover while a weather window presents itself for the 172 mile run across the open Gulf of Mexico. We had about a dozen “Looper” boats both sail and power waiting with us. We all walked down to a great little bar that is famous in the area, called Harry’s, with the other loopers.
It was an old DARK bar where people still smoke inside and most of the people in there were already three sheets to the wind. Most of the Loopers were old friends, but there were a couple of boats that were new to us. What a great group of folks for a Thanksgiving celebration. The Marina smoked and deep fat fried two turkeys and a couple of hams and the boaters brought side dishes. Tom made turkey dressing and homemade gravy using turkey necks and giblets for broth and rendered turkey fat for a rue. I (along with Mrs. Smith) made a pumpkin pie with cool whip. We all had so much food to share. It was a wonderful time!
Finally after 6 days of waiting, a weather window opened up. We wanted to end up in Tarpon Springs at the “Turtle Cove Marina” on the high tide which was at 10:30am. We decided to get underway, for the 22 hours sail, at 2:00 in the afternoon, after taking on 185 gallons of diesel fuel.
We planned to arrive at the #2 sea buoy about 2 hours after sunrise so we could see the million crab pots to avoid on our way in. I had been relatively apprehensive about this crossing as most of the people we talked too had made me nervous. I have never run the boat at night and I did not know what I would be up against. I should have realized with my wonderful Captain, we would have no problems. We set 4 hour watches through the day and night so we could each get some sleep while we crossed.
What a beautiful crossing we had with stars galore. It was a gorgeous night. I kept looking to the skies to see if I saw the dolphin and the Jolly Mon. Our radar allowed seeing what was around us in the night and we had 7 other “Loopers” crossing at the same time. There was quiet chatter and a few jokes told on the radio to keep the ones on watch awake. Of course, I sang “Here comes the sun” when the sun was coming up. I am absolutely sure everyone enjoyed my rendition. Some boats were going to Clearwater, some to Tarpon Springs. Our planning was perfect and we arrived on the high tide. Turtle Cove Marina was worth the trouble. Located right downtown in Tarpon Springs. We thought we were back in Greece. The aromas, the white washed buildings and sponge diving boats and the thick Greek accents from waiters and shop keepers.
We ate every lunch and dinner meal out while in Tarpon Springs.
The lamb dishes were so authentic and awesome. We highly recommend Tarpon Springs as a stop on the “Great Loop”.
We met up with friends Bill and Mary aboard “Harbor Reach”. They told us about a remote State Park on a barrier island about 15 miles away. They said we would have to play the high tide but that the shelling on the Gulf side was fantastic. Off we went. The Caladesi State Park is a barrier island inside a mangrove. It was like travelling into the Amazon aboard “Journey”. So beautiful! Other than a couple of park rangers we had the park to ourselves.
We spent two mornings at low tide culling beautiful shells from the surf. I was in heaven and collected a 5 gallon bucket of exotic shells for future projects. Tom actually went with me to the beach! Will wonders never cease? Next stop was a marina at Clearwater Beach.
We needed to do laundry and heard it was a great beach town which it was. We continued on to Gulfport we spotted “Looper” friends Pete and Carolyn’s tug “Humbug” docked but nobody around. We spent the day riding our bikes around town and having a nice meal. The following morning we got underway and had pulled into the pump-out when we heard our name called. Pete and Carolyn had just returned from up north. We decided to stay another night in Gulfport so we could visit. They had a car so we all drove to Wal-Mart for some serious food replenishment. We got back underway the following day and headed for an anchorage in LemonBay.
“I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes.” JB
The next day we headed for an anchorage we had been planning for a long time, Cabbage Key. We dropped anchor in the bay and tried to wait a little while, for the wind to drop, to take Mango ashore. The wind kept getting stronger, so we pulled anchor and went in to the small marina on the island. A small restaurant on Cabbage Key is where Jimmy Buffet would play for his dinner and wrote the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. We ate dinner at this old Florida resort and of course, Tom had a cheeseburger.
This is a beautiful island and can only be reached by boat.
We walked the nature trail around the island and saw some very unusual trees and plants native to the island. The next day we had a beautiful 40 mile run to Fort Myers and our homeport for the next month. We discovered other “Loopers” friends here as well.
We have had lots of fun with our friends here with the downtown within walking distance. Last night, we went into town for dinner and enjoyed listening to live musicians on every street corner. Seems every weekend is something special. The mean age is about 70 here, so Tom and I feel like young folks. We fly out to LA to visit Cait on Christmas Eve and return on New Years Eve. Next cruise will be crossing the Okeechobee Waterway to Stuart, Florida and then north towards NC. We have travelled about 5,500 miles so far and going into our 8th month aboard “Journey”. We want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Tom just read over the blog before I posted and said that I had already posted about Thanksgiving et al in Carrabelle. Sorry bout that. I just reposted so you will remember it. M