Tarpon Springs…AT LAST!

December 14

Left Steinhatchee yesterday at 7 AM and were met with smooths seas…for awhile.

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About 45 miles south we ran into some waves, 4 and 5 footers off the bow. Water was spraying over the top of the bimini which is 19 feet above the water line. Had the waves been hitting us on the beam (side) we would have been a wee bit nauseous. No photo’s of the rough seas as we were a bit preoccupied with steering. Oh yeah, add to the rough ride the fact that there are about a brazillion of these little bastards floating around and if you get the rope from one of these crab pots wrapped around your propeller, your boat stops.

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Pretty visible in this photo but when the seas are rough ya don’t spot ‘em till you’re on top of them.

This is what the beginning and end of our day looked like. Middle part, not so much.

I had mentioned that my auto pilot had stopped working due to a old hydraulic pump that was not part of the electronics upgrade. We really missed it. Until this morning. Dave and I discussed our day yesterday and while it would have been GREAT to have been able to set a course and sit back and allow the AP drive the boat we wondered if we would have been appropriately vigilant with regard to the crab pots. In any type of wave action they were hidden as they are only about 6 inches in diameter. Should one have had appeared off the bow I don’t know if there would have been enough time to disengage the AP and steer the boat clear. In retrospect probably best the damn thing didn’t work!

After about 3 hours of the roller coaster ride the seas finally flattened out and we weree ready to dial up the throttle again and cruise along at 17 MPH. Speaking of cruising at 17 MPH, we burned 25 gallons of fuel every hour while running at that speed. Sounds like a lot but I’m a bit surprised.Now I know that I can run this boat at that speed for 20 hours or 340 miles before my fuel tanks are dry. Of course, at my normal running speed of 9 MPH I have a range of 750 miles with no fuel reserve.

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With the outgoing tide giving us a little extra push we were running at just over 18 MPH for a spell. Oh yean, notice the depth of 15 feet? Doesn’t get much deeper than that, maybe 21 feet deep in some parts of Florida’s coastal waters. So the advice you get from boaters down here is, should your boat capsize, don’t panic until after you stand up.

When you purchase a 20 year old boat you have no idea what is in your fuel tanks. If there is any water in the fuel stuff can grow inside your fuel tanks. So I purchased a case of fuel filters as one of my first additions to the boat. Changed ‘em often. The real test is when you get into big seas and your boat is really moving up and down, if there is anything in your tanks it will break loose and clog up the filters and the engines stop till you change the filters. Which can be quite a daunting task in rough conditions. Very happy to report that these big, bad boy 500 cubic inch (that’s 8.3 liters for you millenials) Cummins did not so much as hiccup while running yesterday. Just to be safe I’m gonna change the filters again should there be anything in them waiting for an inopportune moment to clog up.

Around 3 o’clock we pull into Tarpon Springs and VIOLA, it’s 72 degrees! Last night was the first time I have not had to run the heat since getting back on the boat the day after Thanksgiving.

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I apologize for the poor quality of this photo.  The fellow I am standing with is Herb Seaton. Debbie and I met Herb the first time at Green Turtle Bay on Lake Barkley. His boat Phanthom was in the slip next to us at the AGLCA Rendezvous in Joe Wheeler state park in Alabama. In the Looper community, Herb is an icon. He is one of those rare individuals who make it their mission in life to help others. Whenever a Looper comes into Tarpon Springs, Herb is there on the dock to catch a line, provide a map of the area with restaurant recommendations.259284BB-015F-41FE-9816-1D8530ADAC7E

And breakfast for the following morning.

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In the AGLCA there are members in each harbor that are known as “Harbor Hosts”. These are folks with local knowledge who can help you find mechanics, provide info on safe areas to boat and so on. Herb is a Harbor Host Extraordinaire. He joined us for dinner last night and was such a terrific host. We were joined by our buddy boat from yesterday, Jan and Don and a fellow single handling a small sailboat from Bowling Green and Herb.

This is Herb’s boat, a 53 foot Marine Trader that he single handed on on his 2nd Loop. It has a great “back porch” for cocktails at the end of the day.

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Coming home on Sunday, but will be promptly booted from the premises as that is the day Debbie and all of the women in her family make Christmas cookies.

Me? Going to Pat’s for a steak and a manhattan bigger than my head!

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