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.

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