Cruising on Last Dance

This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Crossing the Gulf

For many, the most daunting task on the Great Loop is crossing the Gulf of Mexico.  On most of the journey, there are many places to stop along the way, allowing each day's trip to be as short or long as one desires.  Not so the Gulf.  Between Carrabelle, in the Panhandle, and Tarpon Springs, on the west coast north of St. Petersburg, there are no options for most boats to stop.  There are few protected anchorages or marinas in small communities along the Big Bend area of Florida, but due to lower than normal tides in the winter, many cruising boats (including Last Dance) have more draft than there is water depth.  So, a long, long overnight passage is required.

Last Dance left Apalachicola at 10:00 am on Saturday, January 7 for a planned 24 hour trip to Clearwater inlet.  The 10 am starting time was chosen because the earliest you should arrive at Clearwater or Tarpon Springs is 10 am.  The coast of West Florida is littered with crab traps, particularly at this time of year as it is Stone Crab season.  If you head east into either of these two ports before 10 am, the sun is in your eyes and reflecting off the water, making it impossible to see the crab trap floats.  You do not want to hit a crab trap float, since it can easily wrap the line and trap around the propeller and cause great and expensive damage, not to mention ruining your day.

The winter season short daylight hours created a 14 hour darkness for the journey.  That is a long time staring into darkness as you travel.  The pitching and rolling of the boat adds to the fatigue caused by lack of sleep.  It was a long night.  Lightness did finally begin on the horizon (photo above).  While nothing was visible except water, it was great to be able to see again.  Then, the sun peeked over the edge of the water.

A few more hours travel and land emerge along the horizon.  At 10:20 am, Sunday, January 8, Last Dance was at the sea buoy marking the Clearwater inlet.  Not one of the journeys that will be remembered for a fun highlight, but the challenge was addressed and overcome.  It is good that this piece of the Loop is behind the crew.

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