Start: Tarpon Landing Marina, Tarpon Springs, FL, 0843
End: Welch Causeway Bridge Anchorage, MM 122.1, 1419
Total Distance: 29.2 nm
Time: 5:35
Average Speed: 5.2 kts

We woke up the crack of 7am this morning without an alarm. We are heading out today, but our scheduled trip is just 30 miles south, so we aren’t stressing. The fuel dock doesn’t open until 8am, so Lucky gets a good walk, we get two cups of coffee and when the dock opens, we make our way over.

When we filled up, we learned that when you run 24 hours with your engines wide open for much of the trip, you get crappy gas mileage. Like we burned 1.3 gallons/hour. Which means today we will be babying the engines…the bill for the gas left a mark.

By 0845 we are heading back down river to the begin our journey south. Our day starts off (once we exit the river) in St. Joseph sound. A wide, shallow bay-like body of water with deserted islands on the gulf side and a mixture of towns and trees on the land side. We have to stay in the channel, but the view is similar to what we have seen on the panhandle. We get to our first (of three) bascule bridges and get to call to get a lift and find out that the bridge operators here are extremely nice! No real wait for bridges and no stress.

IMG_9571
His name is Richard

And then the waterway begins to change as we get to Clearwater and south. The shores come closer together until we are in a narrow canal. More and more condos appear on the islands on the gulf side and both sides of the waterway are built up with houses, condos, businesses and/or marinas. There are a ton of boats parked along side the water. And we motor through peoples back yards. Fast movers zoom by us, most with little regard for their wakes or their impact on our boat. One fine ‘gentleman’ passed us while chatting on his cell phone. He was going way faster than us in a very big boat with a large wake and all of the stuff on our boat ended up on the floor. On shore and in the water there is wildlife galore: Jan spies a manatee just in front of us and I spy some grey hairs in the wild playing the exotic game of ‘shuffleboard.’ All in all, this waterway, while convenient and protected, ain’t real fun. We shall take a look at our plans going forward.

We arrive at our destination for the night. It is an anchorage outside a town center and when we arrive we see that there are six boats already at the anchorage. There is space for us, but we are the farthest from shore and fairly close to the main channel. When we look at the boats we notice that none of them seem to be occupied. And this is verified throughout the night…those boats don’t have anyone aboard. Half of them are in good shape–someone is giving them some TLC. The other half? Not so much. They look like they have been here quite awhile and may need some help moving. Not sure what the deal is.

The anchorage itself is just before a bascule bridge and just off shore of a American Legion. And it is a sight different from what I’m used to seeing. My experience has been that American Legions tend to be in older buildings. Sometimes in need of maintenance. This was a gorgeous building on the water packed with people listening to some guy killing hits from the 60s and 70s. Killing, in this sense, is not good. But the audience seemed to enjoy his show and he went on for what seemed like hours.

We had some drama getting our anchor to stick; it declined to hold the first pass, but decided to stop us the second try. Then we dropped the dinghy and headed into a very convenient dock located next to a McDonalds. AJ scored a shake, Lucky scored a long walk and Jan got groceries at the local store. Then back to the boat.

The plan was to watch “The Voice,” but the local NBC affiliate had actual news on at 8pm instead of mindless entertainment AND our streaming wasn’t working for crap. So after an hour of watching a little circle going round and round on the computer showing that our program was loading, we bagged it and retired for the evening, the sweet, sweet sounds of bad 70s music ringing in our ears.