Continueing on. It took us 3 days out at anchor to get our engine to start. Actually we had to, as Shane says, hire a professional. After changing primary fuel filters, secondary fuel filters, cleaning filter cases, priming, pumping and so on, we found out it was some paper towel that got into the tank and plugged the uptake and supply valve. Fixed!! So off we go. Sailed toward Apalachicola to refuel. All the regular entrys into the back bay were badly shoaled so had to get to the St. George Cut. Lost wind so Christie was happily motoring along when, BAM, run aground! Christie shut the engine down, BAD!! Waves kept lifting us and pounding us down on whatever it was we hit. Not even close to anything by all the charts and readings I took at the shore. Anyway, I got the engine on again and tried to back off....BAD! We by that time had gotten spun around by the wind and waves and I heard the crunching kind of noise. That's always BAD. Put it in forward and every time a wave lifted us we edged forward. Soon we cleared and heading for deep water. Hell of a day so far. We're a bit edgy by this time and still had to go through St. George Cut, read real tight, and on up to Apalachicola through strong winds and choppy seas.. To make a long story short, we came into the fuel dock at Miller Marine in the dark, nerves frazeled and made a perfect docking. The bad thing is, no one was around to see it!! Arrrrg! So it's off to the closes pub for beers. What a relief to be tied to a dock and safely back to shore.
A strong cold front came through that evening and dropped the temps down into the 20s at night and only in the mid 30s during the day. Picture above is ice on the dock in Apalachicola. Decided that wasn't a good time to try to cross the Gulf. It was a nice layover for a few days. Ate at some great seafood restraunts and bought some shrimp right off the boats. Great place. Rented a car for a couple days and drove around the area. Visted some friend we met in Mobile and went over to Panama City to buy some boat supplies. Came across a fella selling strawberries along the road from Plant City, Fl. They were by far the best berries I ever had. Incredible!
A few day later we got another favorable window to make our crossing. Sailed the boat upto Dog Island, just past St. George Island and anchored in this nice, protected little bay. Shane and I rowed the dingy over and explored the island. Very nice. We even got real close to an armadillo. One that wasn't smooshed on the road. :-) Sailed out in the morning into fair seas. Headed out to Green bouy #1 and set our course at 155 degrees and headed across the Gulf of Mexico. The crossing was rather uneventful. We kinda like it that way. We motor sailed the whole way and it took us 36 hrs. to make the crossing. It was nice to come into the channel to Tampa at Egmont Key and have this leg of our trip under our belts. We are better sailors for our experience and are much more comfortable with our chosen vessel. Island Packets are made to take the heavy stuff and we have lots of confidence in her ability to take much more than her crew.
We are now docked at St. Pete Marina and doing a major refit. Installing Wind generator, Solar generator, Arch, radar, chartplotter, new helm, autopilot and more. As you see we came across the Gulf with a paper chart, a hand held GPS and compass. In other words, by the seat of our pants. We made it and are better prepare for it. Hope this catches you all up on what's happening and I'll try to be more diligant on posting.