We put in the longest day (and night) on the trip: Over 24 hours underway as we cut the corner and move down to Tarpon Springs, FL

Start: St. Georges Island Anchorage, vic. Carribelle FL, 0937, Saturday 11/25/17
End: Tarpon Landing Marina, Tarpon Springs, FL, 0927, Sunday 11/26/17
End: Total Distance: 148.7 nm (171 statute miles)1
Time: 23:501
Average Speed: 6.2 kts

0700: One of us gets out of bed. Both of us have been tossing and turning all night because why would we want a good night of sleep the night before we are up 24+ hours. I check all the weather reports and nothing has substantially changed in the forecast. Winds still 5-10 knots until Sunday morning, waves 1-2 feet, though they increase to 2-3 feet on Sunday. And there is a 10% chance for rain. Looking out the back deck we have clear skies with a glorious sunrise to the east, and clouds to the west.

Coffee made, breakfast and the four of us (all minus Sid) pile into the dinghy and head to shore. Lucky is getting a long walk this morning to empty his bowels. We want nothing in the young stud when we get on the water.

0900: We put dinghy up and secure it to keep it from bouncing if we encounter larger waves. Check oil on engines Tie down SUP and all the other miscellaneous things that have found their way on our deck.

0937: We depart our anchorage. And at 1015 we have entered the East Pass and turn to the south east on a 134 degree setting. Andy the autopilot takes over–we have him drive us to the red marker at the entrance to Tarpon Springs. If all goes well, this will be one of the last times we touch the wheel! On our way out, we get an escort by four dolphins.

There are a couple of boats out on the water, most of the fishing variety. We do see a double masted boat way out on the horizon heading in our general direction, so apparently we aren’t the only ones headed this way.

The wind is coming out of the North East and we put the genoa up and we get an extra half knot push. The wind is supposed to shift from the NE to the NW throughout the day.

1032: We notice that the shackle holding the main sheet to the boom has vacated its appointed place of duty. The ‘U’ part of the shackle is still around the line, but the pin holding the line to the boom is gone. Apparently worked its way loose. We aren’t planning on using the mainsail today/tonight, so not a show stopper. We get a replacement ring in place. Stat. But not sure this bodes well for the rest of our long day.

1045: Sail comes in. We are inside of 30 degrees apparent and it has ceased to help. The wind is not strong. What waves there are are hitting us off the front port locker–like 30 degrees.

1130. 8 miles off shore. 5.7 knots in something less than 1 foot waves. A fishing boat comes flying from our right to our left about 200 meters in front of us. And then stops his boat and the four dudes aboard commence to fishing. We have the wide open GULF OF MEXICO in front of us and this is where they choose to fish? AJ hears the word ‘Jackwagon’ for the first, and hopefully the last, time. We take over for Andy for a minute while we steer around the nice boat o’ fisherman, then he is back on his duty.

1312: We pass the sailboat. We are currently doing 5.9 knots into 1-2 foot waves. Wind is directly on our nose, but it is light. AJ continues his homework. Lucky has yet to move from his position by the helm station. Sid, we assume, is someplace in the back sleeping.

1340: I lay down to take a nap.

1355: I get up from taking a nap. Too damn loud. Boom is squeaking, waves are hitting the underside of the boat on a random basis. And Sid has decided that I either smell too much or don’t smell enough and went to town cleaning all exposed skin. Jan is up top driving and thinks I’m crazy. I batten down the boom to stop the squeaking.

1445: 6.1 knots, wind is essentially zero. We still have 1-2 footers from front left quarter. AJ has finished school and conducting an ad hoc experiment on the longevity of the iPad battery when you have multiple games running simultaneously. He has also discovered that LTE coverage does not extend very far off land. But unlike others in the past who have exclaimed “EUREKA” when they discover something new, AJ punctuated his with an “aaaaawwwww” followed quickly by “this sucks!”

There are grey skies all around us right with a small hole of blue sky just behind. There is a 10% chance for rain; guess that 10% is on land, because it looks like about 100% chance out here. This should be fun!

1615: We go under 100 nm to our destination. Well over 12 hours left, but we are celebrating getting to two digits. Jan has been waiting of for this milestone so that she can take a break from Andy overwatch.

1616: Jan goes down for a nap.

1715: Jan is back, no nappy for her either.

1716: We hear two sailboats chatting over the radio. One is 66nm away from Tarpon Springs marker, other is 100 nm, we are in between. Now we know we aren’t alone out here. It has been awhile since we have seen another boat.

1720: Snack time!

1730: Dolphin show! A family of dolphins is our evening entertainment. They see our boat coming, swim over next to us and pace us while jumping in/out of the water. I now know that I am useless when it comes to capturing dolphins on camera. With a ton of opportunity, I have managed to capture my thumb, my finger, lots of pictures of water, lots of pictures of splashes where a dolphin JUST WAS, but NO GOOD ONES OF ACTUAL DOLPHINS!

1736: Spectacular sunset.

1737: Good time to turn on the navigation lights, so we go ahead and do that.

1742: Try to get Lucky to pee on the carpet. He looks at us, lays down on the carpet and stays there until we feed him dinner.

1845: Dinner on the veranda.

1900: We can see a light way off in the distance on our stern. One of three things. Either another boat, an alien spacecraft, or a dolphin has a light strapped to his head and is messing with us.

1930: Movie on the veranda. We have only two movies that we have saved for offline viewing, one of which we have already seen. So the movie of the night is “The Woman in the Van.” Which Jan and I enjoyed, but based on AJ’s reaction, he didn’t care for all that much.

2058: HALFWAY!!!

2100: Jan and AJ to bed. I have first watch. We have broken the night up into
2100-0000: Jim
0000-0300: Jan
0300-0500: Jim
0500-0700: Jan

And by 0700 we should be close(ish) to land and all get up to look for crab pots.

There is a half moon out and the night is mostly clear. The waves have disappeared, the wind is essentially zero and we are up around 6.3 knots. There is nothing on AIS. And there is nothing on radar. Just that one light way back in the distance, still with us.

2300: Light appears on starboard side, front of us and radar picks up another boat. We pass each other separated by a mile, but that feels a bit too close!IMG_9526

2340: Moonset. It is now officially dark.

0000: Jan on deck for duty. Her first question: “How can you see anything.” To which I gleefully replied “You can’t!” We did a shift change brief, I pointed out the two lights (boats) we could see, and the one signature on the radar. Jan seemed uncomfortable with the whole “dark, can’t see” thing, but I was tired and going to bed. Right at 50nm from the end!

0300: Alarm goes off. Damn. I stumble to the bathroom and realize that wind and waves have returned. Just a bit of each. Head topside and we indeed have a 5-10 knot apparent off our port side. We guess the waves are 1-2 feet; they are slapping our underside once again. Jan has now embraced the darkness; points out the two boats on our starboard side (behind us) and the dude that has been stalking us all night (he is still there). With the wind up, we decide to throw out the genoa to get a push from the wind. I try to turn on the deck light, but the &^%$ connector up front is flakey and decides tonight it isn’t going to work. So we put it up in the dark. And get a nice lift, so we throttle back the engines a bit; still making 6+ knots (7mph). At 0330, Jan heads down to bed for her two hours of sleep.

0530: Jan is back. Wind is still pushing us along, but it is getting a bit tight; we talk about bringing the genoa in while we are both on deck, but decide not to. Jan says she can bring it in by herself if necessary. I head down for my two hour nap.

0540: I’m back on deck wondering who got shot. A wave slapped the bottom of the boat and it sounded just like a gun shot. Jan told me to get back to bed.

0730: Alarm goes off. It is daylight outside. I look up and can see the genoa is in. Brush teeth and head topside and can see land. Like right in front of us. Jan is at the wheel dodging (and swearing at) crab pots which are scattered like bread crumbs in front of us. At dawn, the wind was close enough to the front of the boat that Jan brought in the genoa. And as soon as the sun came up, she began seeing crab pots and has been dodging them ever since. I take over so she can brush teeth and make coffee.

We make the red marker just after 8am, turn into the Anclote River at 0900 and after a 180+ mile day without mishap, run aground at 0922. Because I decided that the green

IMG_9563
Go to the RIGHT of the green thingy…not the LEFT!!

marker should be on my starboard side instead of port side. Why? No idea. I have just followed the channel, green on my left for 22 minutes (since we got on the river). And then we got into downtown Tarpon Springs, no markers because the docks lined the river, and when I saw the next marker, my mind reverted back to the GIWW and I put it on the wrong side. Or I was just tired. Or both. Luckily we were going ‘no wake speed’ (slow) AND the bottom is mud so we backed off the mud, went to the correct side of the marker and got our slip at the Tarpon Landing Marina.

We are back in the land of expensive slips. $1.75 foot. But we would pay a lot to get a good day/night of sleep. The only two things we really want are a shower and a bathroom.2 The dock master informs us that their shower isn’t working. So we shower on the boat and head off to Tarpon Springs to get lunch with Bo and Laura Stolarcek. We a nice afternoon relaxing/talking with Bo/Laura and then we hole up in our boat to watch some TV, eat a light dinner and by 9pm, the entire boat is asleep.

1Records for the cast/crew of S/V Serenity.

2Lucky REALLY wants a bathroom. He again went 24 hours without going to the bathroom. We tried once in the night, but then gave up our effort having learned from our time on the river that it doesn’t make any difference. Good dog.