Wednesday was another bad weather day, so we stayed on the boat. We made contact with Geoff and Marsha and Don and Kim and planned to get together on Thursday. Thursday was the most settled weather day of the week. We got the dingy down and had a blast hanging out with the other two couples. Gulfport is a cool little area just south of St. Petersburg. For some unknown reason, I failed to take one picture of our very enjoyable day.
|The main street in Gulfport. Lots of shops and restaurants.|
We got the dingy on the back of the big boat and prepared for the next three days.
We left at just after sunrise and started motoring to the first bridge. We would open a total of 7 bridges on the day. The winds were as predicted and kind of cold at right at 50 degrees. I was glad we brought all of our bad weather gear.
|Motoring along on the ICW, talking to bridge tenders. I was bundled up against the cold north wind, but was very comfortable.|
|Our anchorage at the Tarpon Springs power plant. The boat to the right is Serendipity, which is our buddy boat for this trip. The others are unattended, which took up most of the space.|
|The anchorage is in the inlet for this power plant. I could see the smoke stack 40 miles off shore the next day.|
|Light winds and calm seas. That is Byron and Mary on Serendipity in the distance.|
|We had a beautiful sunset out on the open water|
About 1:30 am, the wind started to build from the south. At first, it was a nice 5 to 8 knots. I put up our pole and we picked up speed and then turned off the motor. We had a great sail for the next 3 hours. By 4:30 the winds were up to close to 20 knots and the seas were building. What happened to the 10 to 15??? Our speed picked up and we were flying along at 7+ knots. Surfing down waves that had now built to close to 6 feet. It was an exciting ride in the dark. By daylight at 7 am the seas were getting more confused as we got closer to land. The northern Florida coast is known for big seas that stack up on shore when the wind is out of the south. We got hit on the side with a large swell and the boat slammed down hard as a gust turned the boat. It was then that Kim yelled, " look at the pole!" It had snapped in two pieces and was dangling in the water. I attached a tether to my life vest and went to the foredeck in the pitching seas. I was able to get the pole detached and handed it to Kim to stow below. I organized the lines so that we could sail on just the mainsail and made it back to the cockpit without issue.
|The aftermath of our pole failure. I was told by our rigger that it was undersized for our boat, now I believe him. We are now in search of another one. A brand new one is over $2000.|
We covered a total of 149.9 nm, which is 172 miles in about 29.5 hours. We all felt like it was a significant accomplishment and were happy to have it behind us.
We are now tucked into slip 83 and will probably stay here for a week to wait for the right weather to move further west. Byron and Mary had a bit rougher passage than we did. Their 31 foot boat is much lighter than SHIFT and was thrown about in the rough seas. They also had a mainsail issue and it was out of action for most of the night. They made it safely and are right next to us in the marina.
Carrabelle, Florida is a cool little town. I will introduce you to this quiet fishing village in my next entry.