Our time in St. Joe is done and we leave relatively early for a destination that we have yet to determine. We have been squirreling around with which way we are going to go south and given we that trip will start tomorrow, today we are going to set ourselves up one way or the other.
Start: St. Joe Marina, St. Joe, FL 0800
End: St. Georges Island Anchorage, vic. Carrabelle FL, 1630
Interim Stop: Apalachicola Marina for fuel (~30 minutes)
Total Distance: 47.8nm
Average Speed: 5.6 kts
The weather forecast is looking very good for a long crossing this afternoon and night as well as for Saturday day and night. We have been looking at every app on our phones (windy, wind finder, sail flow, weather underground) as well as the NOAA web site for the marine forecast for the gulf of mexico. And looking at models for predicted waves in the Gulf of Mexico. It looks like late afternoon Friday the waves drop to 1-2 feet and stay that way until Sunday when they increase to 2-3 feet. Wind is 5-10 knots over that duration, picking up on Sunday morning to 10-15 knots. Both days from NW, N and NE (depending on days). Waves look to be pretty much at us in the morning and afternoon on Saturday and then switch to following in the evening. So by the time we cast off our lines in St. Joe we are resolved, subject to a last minute drastic change in weather, to cut the corner and go the ~170 miles from just outside Carrabelle to Clearwater (Tarpon Springs, actually). At 6mph, this is a 30ish hour run.
Our decision today is do we head out the government cut when we get to Apalachicola and start our journey today, or head over to St. George or Dog Island (farther northeast), get a good night of sleep and head out midmorning on Saturday morning.
We have a lot of time to think about it. When we start out and head to the GIWW, we once again timed our departure perfectly so that we are against the tide. The water is screaming down the waterway into the gulf and we are making 4mph against the current. And the engines are maxed out. Eventually the tide slackens and we get back up to cruising speed, but it has taken us more time than expected.
We stop at the Apalachicola Marina to top off our fuel (10 gallons, still burning 1 gal/hour) and I talk to the fuel dock dude and he tells me that the Government Cut is open and well marked. I plug Clearwater, FL into Navionics on the iPad and if we left the fuel dock and headed across the water, we would arrive at 6pm Saturday afternoon. Night time. We could hope to make up time, but I wasn’t digging ‘hope’ as a method so we headed to St. George Island.
Our anchorage was just a mile or two from the Eastern Cut, our departure point in the morning. We figured we wanted to arrive NLT 1200 at the distant end, which would give us a four hour buffer either way, so we set our departure time for 1000. The anchorage itself was lovely. We had the island pretty much to ourselves and there was plenty of room for Lucky to run. We dinghied to shore and found out that the shallow water extended quite far into the bay, so all of us got some time paddling the dinghy to/from the boat.
We sat down for a quiet dinner and binge watched the rest of the first season of“Stranger Things.” At the end, one of us wanted to go ahead and start the second season, but was voted down.
Tomorrow: Long slog across Gulf of Mexico.
Apropos of nothing: Captured a video of Pelicans throwing them selves head first into the water. This was at Port St. Joe just prior to our departure. Those birds aren’t right.