We returned to the boat in Panama City the end of July. After a few days we headed east to Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, and Carrabelle. We only spent a day in Port St. Joe, but we spent five days each in Apalachicola and Carrabelle. Diane continued her oyster experiment mentioned in the previous post. Our five days in Carrabelle were due to weather so we took advantage of this and retrieved our car from Panama City. The beaches near Carrabelle were used to train amphibious troops in World War II and there is an excellent museum there.
Our choices for the next leg of our trip were either an overnight passage across the Gulf to the Tarpon Springs area or multiple days going around the Big Bend. We chose the later. Did you know that the Big Bend is the spawning ground for most of the fish in the Gulf of Mexico?
Our trip around took us first to Steinhatchee, where scallop season was in full swing, then to Cedar Key and finally to the Anclote Keys off Tarpon Springs. On the way we passed the now defunct Cross Florida Barge Canal. This was a project begun in the 1930's to connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico across northern Florida. About 30% of the route was built before environmental concerns killed it in 1991.
We worked our way down the west side of the Pinellas Peninsula stopping in Dunedin and Gulfport and arriving at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina in mid August. This is one of our favorite places to take our boat and we took a slip for a month. We retrieved our car from Carrabelle and on the trip spent a night at the Lodge at Wakulla Springs. Wakulla Springs is the filming location for The Creature From the Black Lagoon and other films of similar ilk. The lodge was built in 1937 and still has an original operational elevator and is still cooled by circulating cold spring water through radiators in the rooms. Highly recommended.
Down Time needed some repairs and upgrades so we took her to Endeavour's (the manufacturer) boatyard. It was then back to the municipal marina for another couple of weeks.
We left St. Pete on September 20th headed south with friend Ron Westbrook aboard. As mentioned in the previous post, our yacht club membership gives us reciprocity at other Florida yacht clubs and we took full advantage of this as we headed back to Marathon.
Our first stop after leaving St. Pete was the Field Club in Sarasota. The club was at one time the winter home of one of the Marshall Field family members now converted to a yacht club.
Next was Bird Key Yacht Club also in Sarasota where we met and had dinner with Judi Nofs, a long time sailing friend. We had met Judi and her husband Dave in 1991 when we were headed to the Caribbean. Sadly, Dave passed away just a couple of years ago.
On to Venice and the Venice Yacht Club and more boating friends, John and Bobbie Hanna. We met them in 2003 as they had just purchased the same boat we now own.
Another stop to visit friends of Jim at the St. Charles Yacht Club in Ft. Myers. Jim's first job out of college was at Chemical Abstracts Service in Columbus, OH. There he met Dave Haring and his wife Lou.. Dave and Jim reconnected via Facebook a few years ago, but had not met in person in more than 30 years.
Our last yacht club stop was in Naples. From there we headed to Indian Key in the 10,000 Islands where we anchored. Our last stop before Marathon was an anchorage in the Little Shark River. The mosquitoes were ferocious and we hooked the anchor on something and thought for a while that we were going to have to abandon it, but finally it came free.
The run across Florida Bay was the usual minefield of crab pots, but is was not as bad as it could have been because stone crab season had not begun.
We arrived at the end of our six plus year Loop at 1:40pm on Monday, September 28. We actually went back in the same slip we had left in May 2009.
When we have some more time we will post some statistics for the trip and some pictures.
Happy Holidays to all.