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.
I'm back. I would liked to keep up on this blog for history and your enjoyment. I hope to post on here on a more regular basis.
We finally found a boat to buy. It's a 1990 Island Packet 38, hull #114. We bought it in Mobile, Alabama. We had a survey done on her just before Hurricane Ida made landfall at Mobile. For some reason the marina didn't want us to own a boat that the insurance company wouldn't insure!!?? We were allowed to purchase about a week later. After that we stayed in the Mobile area around 6 weeks to do a small refit. We changed most of the running rigging, anchors, sacraficial cloth ect. I built shelves in the cockpit locker as the locker is so huge that everything you put in ends up in a pile in the forward end. It was getting colder by the day and we really wanted to get on south.
On a side note: We are so grateful to know Mark and Susan Simpson, in Mobile. They so kindly allowed us to stay at their home as often as we wanted/ needed to. We even got into watching "Survivor Samoa". It became a weekly event. And while mentioning the Simpson Family, we were very fortunate to also know Scott Simpson, who let us stay on his Hunter 43 while we were shopping for our boat.
So off we go, with our new (to us) boat and went to the fuel dock. An adventure all it's own. Did I mention that this fuel dock stop was because we ran out of fuel during our sea trial. Had to sail into a fuel dock with 15 to 20 knot winds off the stern quarter. That was up the river. The sea trial out on Mobile Bay was very exciting with 30 knot sustained winds. This was linked to a family that had absolutely no experience with an Island Packet to start with. Yeeee ha!!
Anyway, back to our travels. We managed to cross Mobile Bay that day and anchored outside the entrance to the ICW. This section is known for it's narrow channels and barge traffic. We were mostly concerned with the barges. Heard them coming out of the channel most of the night. To our surprise we never passed a barge all the way to Pensacola the next day. It was a nice cruise along the "Alabama canal". As we came into Florida we were greeted by two dolphins that swam with us for a ways. We figure that they simply weren't allowed into Alabama for some reason. :-) We anchored in the Big Lagoon, south west of Pensacola. It was pretty rolly that night. We drug anchor around 2:am and got washed up into the shallows. Bouncing along the bottom has a way of waking one up right quick!! The next morning was our well planned out weather window to cross the Gulf of Mexico......Yea Right! It wasn't reeeeeeeeal bad but bad enough that 80 miles out and 20 hrs. of rough travel made us decide to hole up at Apalachicola for a while. Now mind you that Apalachicola is 50 miles east of us. By sailboat that equates to 10 hours of travel, in rough seas, at best. Well what to our surprise, the winds shift to the NW and built in front of an unpredicted storm. We're now quartering across 8 to 10 footers that were at 6 sec. intervals. That means short deep troughs. Can you say submarine?? When what should happen........we loose our engine!!! So while Mom and Dad are down below trying to figure out what to do about the engine, Shane calls down and says, "This is a sailboat ya know". Duh! So Shane, single handedly set the genoa and started sailing on a 90 degree easterly course. So I hollered up and said " Keep going, that will take us back toward Apalachicola." So that's how we ended up anchored off Cape San Blas, Florida, working on our engine.
I'll pick up on our story in a little bit. Be patient with me.