This entry will be about what we did just after Hurricane Dorian turned north and missed the west coast of Florida. As the hurricane headed north it brought solid 15-25 knot winds out of the west and dry air to the Tampa Bay area. As many of the boats in the marina were getting put back in the water, we quickly got ready to head out on a trip. We have been wanting to check out the area to the north of Tampa Bay and this would be our opportunity to sail in some stronger winds.
We headed out on Thursday, September 5. We had to go west to exit the bay, so we made a few long tacks to get the right angle to exit the inlet. The sailing was brisk, with 20 knot wind gusting to 25. We sailed under the first reef in the main and about 50% genoa. The boat felt very balanced and did not heel much at all. By the time we made it to the inlet, the wind over the top of the outgoing current created some huge waves. We started out, but quickly turned back. It was just too rough and Kim was feeling a bit sick.
There is an island called Egmont Key at the entrance to Tampa Bay. I turned the boat back to get in the lee of Egmont. We still had good wind,but the waves were significantly reduced. We sailed around the bay for a couple more hours and then decided to drop the hook behind Egmont for the night and get an early start the next morning.
|As we were eating dinner, this Carnival Cruise Ship headed out of Tampa.|
|Lots of Pelicans and other birds|
|The anchorage was a bit rolly, but we got some sleep. The strong breeze kept us reasonably comfortable and no bugs.|
|That is the Century Royal coming at us at 12.3 knots. My AIS system show these ships on my chartplotter.|
We sailed north for about 6 hours in 4-6 feet seas with 15 to 20 knots of breeze. Kim and I debate how big the larges waves were, but I am sure they were close to 8 feet. This is exactly the type of sailing we wanted to do to gain confidence in both us and the boat. I was never concerned for our safety, but was happy to arrive at the inlet in Clearwater.
|A shot of us coming into the Clearwater inlet.|
|Sunset at Bellview Island, Clearwater in the distance.|
|Beautiful Sunrise at Bellview Island|
|Kim took this shot of me at the helm.|
|You never know what you will see as you motor along. A Shark Boat!|
|Lots of boats on this little sand island.|
|Beautiful sunset at Anaclote State Park|
|In this shot you can see how calm the seas were. I spent much of it on the foredeck in my very comfortable chair taking pictures. It was a very relaxing day.|
We made it back to the marina at 6 pm. It was a very good trip. We learned a lot and that will certainly help us with our future plans.
We spent the next week working on the boat. I replaced a raw water pump that was leaking and sent the old one out to see if it could be rebuilt. I then changed the oil in the engine. We have put 75 hours on the engine in the two months since we have owned SHIFT. I then replaced the rusted out water heater that may have been original to the 26 year old boat. We took advantage of great wind on Wednesday and sailed over 30 miles in the bay. That brought up our total miles to over 200 nm in the first 11 days of September.
We had a rigging inspection done on Thursday, and found all of the major things looked good. We will have to replace some minor rigging and we found issues with both head sails. We took them off and took them to North Sails in St. Petersburg on Friday morning on our way out of town. They will hopefully be able to fix them while we are in Missouri.
Our future plans include staying in Missouri until October 17th. We will fly back to Tampa and rent a car for 3 days to do our final provisioning and pick up our sails. We expect to spend close to $500 on food to stock the boat for our 5 to 6 month trip to the Florida Keys and back to Alabama. I will probably not write much for the next month. We will relax in Missouri and get ready for the adventure ahead.