Florida diversions

I flew back to Louisiana Thursday to retrieve my car and dinghy, then drove 11 hours to get back to Mazurka. Had help from Eric and Rosalie getting my flight out of Tampa and Ronney met me in New Orleans to drive me back to my car at his place in Houma. Smooth sailing thanks to their help.

On the theme of boating adventures, I have two dinghies that I race, a Laser and a Snipe. Brought my Laser down to race in a couple of regattas on the east coast of Florida.

I’m off for a week of road cycling in Central Florida with Samantha and Sarah later today. Then back to the boat, and I have to three weeks to cruise over to Ft Pierce for a weekend gathering of Trawler Forum folks, then about ten days of racing in West Palm Beach and Jensen Beach.

I still need to juggle car and boats… Somewhere along the line I need to get everything in the same place again in West Palm Beach. Likely I’ll try to leave my car there before I leave Tarpon Springs on Feb 4.

It’s kind of fun to retrace my boat path by land. The drive across the panhandle confirmed my impression that the area is pretty empty of people this time of year.

Gulf Crossing – Thursday and Friday

I last posted on Wednesday while crossing from Carabelle to Steinhatchee. That was day one of a lovely three day voyage across the Big Bend.

Wednesday started out grey and a little choppy, but by early afternoon the sun was out and the wind calm. It stayed like that through the entire trip.

This is approaching Steinhatchee

The boats I was travelling with stopped at the marinas inside the channel. I went exploring up the river through the town for a few miles, and ended up stopping at a pizza joint with a dock. I ended up staying there overnight with permission.

Thursday morning I left at dawn, ahead of the boats I had traveled with Wednesday.

They caught up with and passed me a couple of hours later.

I went through Cedar Key, but didn’t see any place to tie up.

The day was calm and sunny. Beautiful.

I had one dolphin swimming alongside for about 20 minutes, and had lots of encounters with Dolphins and Porpoises through the day

Chrystal River seemed like a nice spot. I got there around dusk, and went up the river to the town.

This area has manatees. Haven’t seen one yet.

I anchored and took the RIB exploring. Had a fabulous feed of blackened grouper on shore.

I thought about staying there, but the forecast was for nasty weather over the weekend, so I left at dawn Friday and had a relaxed cruise down the coast to Tarpon Springs.

The only noteworthy event on Friday was that I got tangled up with a crab pot. They’re everywhere out here. I was about ten miles offshore in about 12 feet of water. Calm and sunny but cool.

I was cruising along at about 7 knots and wasn’t paying close attention. I heard a clunk as I hit the buoy, immediately shifted into neutral, and looked for the buoy behind me. Nothing popped up. So I got back underway. A minute later I looked back and there was a crab pot being dragged in my wake.

I stopped the boat and turned off the motor. No other boats in sight. As the boat drifted I could see the line, and retrieved it with a boathook. The buoy end was caught under the boat, and I was afraid of wrapping my prop. I cut the line, leaving a jug attached. Tried tugging the line from both sides of the boat but it seemed to be really caught. So I anchored, then got ready to dive under to have a look.

It wasn’t warm – I’d been wearing three layers – but I stripped and got my mask and snorkel. Then stood on my swim platform. Eventually I decided that I really didn’t want to go in the water.

After deliberating for a while and putting on my clothes, I tied the line off in my cockpit, started the motor, and gingerly put it in gear, reverse and forward. Pieces of the styrofoam buoy floated up, but the line was still caught.

I got underway and continued on with the line attached. Got into Steinhatchee and it was still tangled. I figured I’d hire a diver or go out to a sandbar on a nice day and try to clear it myself. But Saturday I got up and the line was floating free – I guess it was caught in the rudder and the alternating current here somehow washed it free. I found the end with the plastic fitting that had been marked by my prop.

I’ll keep a closer watch in the future. I’m lucky it didn’t wrap the prop.

Tarpon Springs

I arrived at the municipal docks in Tarpon Springs Friday afternoon. This will be home for Mazurka until Feb 3 or so.

That’s Eric, Ruth, me and Jimmie. Rosalie was the photographer. They came for a visit yesterday. I don’t see them often as they live in NS. We had a nice meal in one of the great Greek restaurants nearby.

I like this place. There are tourists and locals wandering by, and a busy area with sponge stores and Greek restaurants.

Thursday I will fly to New Orleans from Tampa to retrieve my car and Laser. Then Saturday off for a week of road cycling with Samantha and Sarah in Central Florida. Then back to the boat and underway across the state to Stuart.

It’s been fun getting to know some of the Loopers. Had a meal out with them Friday and ‘docktails’ yesterday. It was good traveling with them from Carabelle. There are Loopers here from Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, and BC. It’s nice to join that community.


I’m out in the Gulf, here. Beautiful day now that the sun is out.

Dunno if you can see them, but I’m traveling in the company of two buddy boats, Trust Your Cape and Chrysalis. I finally caught up with the Looper crowd yesterday in Carabelle.

Carabelle is a cute little harbour. Should have taken some pictures. This is approaching

There were dolphins at the entrance and lots around this morning as well

There were about eight Loopers there last night, all planning to leave today. One of them, Trust Your Cape I had seen several times earlier as we traveled east. There was another Canadian boat there, Myra-Marie that was from Comox BC. They trailered their Ranger Tug to Sault Ste Marie. Cool. Had dinner out with the crews of six boats. Spent the night in a slip.

I finally gave the top of the boat a really good scrub. There was Mississippi mud on top of Chicago grime. Much better now. Was going to do an oil change on both motors but didn’t have as much oil aboard as I thought I did. Need to go shopping. My food is pretty much gone too.

Today the fleet sorted into groups. I joined the 9 knot to Steinhatchee group. We left at dawn and are due in there about 3:30.

Forecast is for excellent traveling weather for the next two days. Will be back in the ICW at Tarpon Springs Thursday or Friday.


I’m about an hour away from Carabelle. Sun has finally come out.

I’ve got some catching up to do here. Nothing of note. Changed the impeller on the motor last night. Wasn’t overheating but was getting steam from the exhaust and it sounded a little loud. The old impeller was partially disintegrated. The genset impeller went a couple of weeks ago. All good now.

On Sunday not long after I posted last the sound finally ran out, and I entered a dug canal about 3:30.

As it turned out this went for close to 30 miles. Nobody around, no other boats, no snags. I carried on as it got dark.

I eventually anchored in West Bay just west of Panama City. Tried to stop at a restaurant by the bridge but ran aground trying to get to their dock and bailed on that.

The looper that had passed me on Saturday was anchored in the lake as well, and they passed me on the way out the next morning.

Yesterday was relentlessly grey and chilly. I wore my warm hat rather than the sun hat. This was mid-afternoon.

Got underway about 8:00 and stopped about 5:00. Saw almost no other boats, except an old Allmand 35 sailboat aground off the channel with an old skipper. He waved me over and I towed him off.

I didn’t see Pamana City up close, but there was hurricane damage evident.

The area east of the city seemed the worst hit. I went through a few miles where many trees were snapped off

The afternoon was spent in another long ditch, this time with a strong adverse current of 2+ mph. I don’t know whether it’s less green because of the hurricane or whether it’s normal for this time of year, but it seems dead around here. Very little green, and no birds, fish or critters in evidence.

I anchored here last night.

I’m looking forward to stopping here. There is a very good looking weather window for the next couple of days to get across the Big Bend. This is a gap in the Intracoastal that essentially requires about 150 miles of travel on the open Gulf of Mexico.

I’m about 15 minutes out now. More later.

Cruising down the Sound

Nice day for sailing. Wind went around from SE to NW overnight and it’s cleared up. I’m cruising down a long wide sound at about 7.3 mph. I’m here right now.

I spent the night anchored here. Good spot, protected through the overnight wind shift. Thought about going ashore but wasn’t motivated enough.

Weather looks promising for later in the week when I get to the Big Bend. I don’t really have any stops planned, just slowly heading east.

I’ve seen a few more boats today, but it’s pretty quiet out here. I was passed by a looper trawler returning home to Florida and a couple of others that could have been Loopers.

That’s the SITREP 🙂


I write this as I’m cruising east on Santa Rosa Sound. Straight as an arrow for the next ten miles or so, with a barrier island to my right and the mainland on my left.

Yesterday I was underway about 8:00 from my island anchorage. It was a bit choppy for the first hour or two, then smooth sailing. This is the bridge to Dauphin Island

Then about 40 miles across Mobile Bay

And into the ICW on the east side

I stopped for an early dinner at a dockside bar

And found a nice secure spot to anchor in Orange Beach AL

This morning I came through Perdido Key to cross into Florida

The sand is very white.

It’s overcast today. Probably warmer than the last couple of days, but damp and a bit raw. There isn’t another boat out on the sound. Guess this is a summer hot spot…

Pascagoula MS

I’m anchored here. Nice spot.

Today was uneventful. Slept in, did a quick outside wash, filled water tanks and got underway about noon. Then noodled down here. Not many boats around, clear and temps in the 50s.

I went through Biloxi but didn’t stop.

Am going to try to get underway earlier tomorrow. More decent weather is forecast.


I’m in a slip at the municipal marina. Nice facility, had a long shower on shore and have heat on. Unfortunately I dawdled and napped a little too long and missed closing time on all the restaurants close by. But did have a pleasant walk around downtown and ate a salad at McDonalds that was surprisingly decent. I’ve come to realize that as long as I get Diet Coke I’m not all that fussy about the food 🙂

Today was pleasant. Brilliantly sunny with a north wind about 20 kt, jacket weather. I was following the GICW and it runs about 8 miles offshore along here. It was choppy enough at midday that I was getting spray on the flybridge, so I headed inshore, poked into Long Beach, then came over here and filled up with fuel. Stats for the segment from Morgan City to here with about ten extra days noodling around:

Distance traveled: 475 miles

Motor hours: 78 main, 20 generator

Fuel: 105 gallons

That’s 4.5 mpg, 1.35 gph. I’m happy with that.

Tomorrow I’m going to give the outside a good scrubbing before leaving. Not in any rush, as I’m probably going to stop in Biloxi which is not far away.

It’s nice to see sailboats here. First time in any numbers since Chicago.

The only picture I took was of birds flying along behind me

Oh and I saw a pair of nutria when I was walking back to the boat. They’re pretty big.

The marina attendant said I’m the first Canadian boat he’s seen in more than a year here. Guess that will change once I get to Mobile.

Christmas Boat Gifts

Some practical, some whimsical, all on the mark! Thanks, family. I had a lovely time with you all in Guelph.

I’m anchored in a broad bay in the bayou. This radar reflector helps avoid the unpleasant experience of being run into while asleep in bed.

Finally a proper flag!

Boat cards! Very cool, with a selection of pictures.

A dashcam! Have it on. Now have to figure out what to do with it 🙂

A beautifully bound copy. I’m about half through and treasuring it.