Friday & Saturday, November 29th - 30th
After waiting what has seemed like weeks, the weather finally calmed down enough for us to leave Tallahassee and get headed South. We left on black Friday and headed back to where we left off at the GCICW at Carrabelle. We anchored a few miles east of Carrabelle ready to head out first thing the next day but once again the weather wasn't cooperating so we stayed in the sound most of the day and then cruised over to Alligator Point to take off from there the next day.
As always, we worked on the project list while waiting for the weather to get right. Since the antennae broke off of the hand held radio, Carter installed the VHF radio that has been in the box for longer than it should have been but since we had the hand held it wasn't a priority. Now it was imperative to get the comms back so it moved to the top of the list and got done.
Anchored by the GCICW waiting for the batteries to charge.
This was a beautiful beach!
Tallahassee has a commercial promoting everyone to pick up after their pets and we laugh every time we see it. The commercial shows many different pet owners with their poop bags! LOL We just want everyone to know that the only thing we leave behind on the beaches we visit are our footprints!
It gets pretty cold out in the Gulf so I sewed this Tee Pee to help keep Radar out of the wind. It also gives him "his space" in the cock pit. He likes that, and we like him out from under our feet. He likes to poke his head out and keep a sharp eye on things. Yes, it's cold in this picture.
The end of beautiful day.
Sunday - Tuesday, December 1st - 3rd
After bouncing around all night at Alligator Point the seas finally laid down. It was sunny and the Gulf was almost like a lake. The solar electric drive was running great and we steamed along all day. As the sun began to set we had made about 20 miles into the Gulf on Solar. Because the days are so much shorter right now as we approach the Winter Solstice we just aren't getting a good angle on the Sun so we can't go as fast. Even though the batteries are charged up by 11 am, that only gives us about 6 hours of cruise time, even under ideal sun conditions we just aren't getting as far this time of year. After a full day on the Gulf, Carter did the math, it was going to take over a week to make the crossing, and that was only if the perfect weather held, which it would definitely not. It was just plain going take too long to cross the Big Bend with the solar electric drive. Although the electric drive does great in sheltered waters, even with high winds, it simply doesn't have enough power to make the necessary headway in 3' seas that were predicted to come up the next day. So the Captain made the decision to switch to diesel and sprint across the Gulf to Anclote Key where the GCICW picks up again. Good thing too because a couple hours after Sunset the seas picked up and we got banged around pretty good for a while and it wouldn't have been any fun hanging off the hook waiting for the sun to come up the next day. The seas varied from dead calm to raging for the next three days and even with the hammer down in diesel mode it took us 35 hours of cruise time to reach Anclote Key and the sheltered waters of the GCICW.
The dolphins were amazing as always!
There are many spoils islands in the GCICW to anchor behind at night and Radar gets to explore them to his hearts content. He has been a happy puppy on this trip.
It's true ... everyone is curious about the big solar powered concrete boat and this guy stopped to ask questions. Turns out he's a "specimen" collector, collecting starfish, seahorses, sea urchins, etc.
The Captain is always happy to talk about the lost potential for solar energy in the "Sunshine" state with interested folks and he had nice talk with this fellow.
As we picked back up on solar power at Anclote Key, it was nice to turn off the smelly diesel. Big Ben is an amazing machine and nice to have as a backup but he's a clunky old fellow and we're happy to let him rest while we run with the sun. We were a little surprised to be stopped by so many boaters on our first day out in Clearwater. It's not uncommon for people to pull up alongside and ask questions but it happened more times here than ever before. It was actually impeding our progress a little today.