December 30, 2012

December 30, 2012 Day 233
Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs, FL
Total miles to date: 4320.3

We spent yesterday and today doing more boat chores.  Bill was unable to fix the motor on the aft head, so it looks like we will be buying a new unit.

Jamming with Andre and Lisa on Sea Hunt IV
After dinner on board, we went over to Sea Hunt IV and had a fun time with the DuBois family.  Bill took his banjo and joined Lisa on mandolin and Andre on guitar in several songs. 

We will leave with them tomorrow afternoon (when the tide is high enough!) and head to Clearwater Beach. We both plan to anchor out near the Clearwater Beach Marina.  We look forward to seeing the fireworks on the beach and welcome in the New Year!

December 28, 2012

December 28, 2012 Day 231
Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs, FL
Total miles to date: 4320.3

We had a fun day! We took the “Jolley Trolley“ from Tarpon Springs to Clearwater Beach ($2.25 roundtrip per person for seniors).  First stop - lunch at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill on the beach.  Joyce loved the sea crab soup and the fruit salad served in a taco shell, and Bill enjoyed the fried clams.  Then we walked past several shops and into Pier 60, a fantastic park at the beach.  From there we walked over to Clearwater Beach Marina and said hello to three Loopers: Irish Attitude, Maia, and Nanceann.  We will probably go there early next week.

We eventually caught the return trolley back to Tarpon Springs. (It also passes through the little town of Dunedin, but we did not have time to stop).

When we returned to our boat, we chatted briefly with the DuBois family. They had returned to their boat on Sea Hunt IV after visiting with family all week. Anne and Larry have also returned to Great Laker after being gone for the holidays.  Loopers on Done Dreamin also arrived today. 

We arrived just in time as it had started to rain when we returned.  We had dinner on board tonight, and just relaxed after our day of sightseeing.

The Jolley Trolley
Clearwater Beach

Nice view from
Frenchy's Rockaway Grill

Lots of activities on the beach

December 27, 2012    Day 230                             
Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs, FL
Total miles to date:  4320.3

After saying goodbye to Irish Attitude in mid-morning, we walked over to the marina office to pick up our mail. We had decided to stay until Saturday, and then learned the marina’s policy of “pay for five nights and get the next two nights free”. So now we will stay until Monday!  We spent much of the afternoon walking around Tarpon Springs.  The Sponge Docks Fishing Village, which dates back to the early 1900's, continues to be full of visitors! It has some great Greek restaurants and shops, along with opportunities for fishing charters.

There are many sponge shops, one with a movie explaining the sponge industry. There are over 125 boats here to collect sponges, either with divers or by hooking them from the boats.  The sponges are then sold through the Sponge Exchange, then taken to packing houses for cleaning and clipping, and then packed for shipment.  

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral
After returning from our two mile walk into the main area of Tarpon Springs (we did get a ride back), we had dinner on board then walked back to Hellas Greek Bakery for cheesecake. 

December 26, 2012

December 26, 2012    Day 229                           

Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs, FL
Total miles to date:  4320.3

The storms that have hit the south finally found us this morning and brought some gusty winds, rain, and thunder.  Fortunately it did not last long and the sun came back out for the rest of the day.  Time to get caught up on the blog, laundry, etc. 

Joyce and Gay walked a few short blocks along the Anclote River waterfront and visited most of the small shops this afternoon. The streets were crowded with tourists today but they enjoyed the browsing!

We went to dinner at Rusty Bellies with Gay and Mike and had great seafood!  Then we walked down to Hellas Greek Restaurant and Bakery (key word here is bakery) and we each came back to our boats with some pretty decadent chocolate desserts!  Joyce and Gay had scoped this place out earlier!

Hellas Bakery!

Sponge Diver Memorial
Gay and Mike will leave in the morning, so we said goodbye tonight.  We will look forward to seeing them again sometime!  Loopers paths cross frequently and that is always a nice surprise.

December 25, 2012    Day 228                           
Turtle Cove Marina, Tarpon Springs, FL
Total miles to date:  4320.3

At 10:10 am on Sunday, December 23, we began our crossing of the Gulf with Irish Attitude and Sea Hunt IV. We were pleased to find calm water with waves no more than a foot most of the time. About 2:30 in the morning they did pick up to about 2 ½ ft. for an hour or so, and then diminished again. What a wonderful ride!  The sky was mostly cloudy so we did not get our starry night, but the moon did appear from time to time and glistened on the water through the clouds. 
Before leaving we decided we needed a “call sign” for radio communications, so we became the “Rudolph Flight” (thanks to Luc for the Christmas themed title!). We checked in during the night every hour on the radio. At one point Joyce returned from her 2 hour break to find Bill writing poems to share with the other boats during our hourly check!  Here are two examples of his creativity:

“Tis two nights before Christmas

On the Gulf of Mexico

Three boats they do travel

Three boats in a row

Their lights do shine

Green white and red

And how we do wish we

Could all go to bed.”


“In the night

On the Gulf of Mexico

We traveled south

We traveled slow

The clouds flew away

And the moon came out to shine

It’s 2:00 am

And there are 65 miles to go!”

About 6:40 am we slowed down to idle to wait for the sunrise.  We were starting to see the ubiquitous crab pots and need better visibility.  Sea Hunt was the lead boat and communicated over the radio calling out crab pots to port or starboard, giving us time to adjust!

We arrived at Turtle Cove Marina in Tarpon Springs on December 24, at 11:30 am, tired, but so very happy to be here. We are thankful for a safe, successful crossing. Prayers were answered!

After getting about three hours rest we had Gay and Mike (Irish Attitude) over for Christmas Eve dinner.  It was so nice to relax and enjoy the evening with friends.  Gay and Mike joined us Christmas morning for breakfast – another fun time. We are away from our families and it was good to have company!  Christmas afternoon was spent cleaning the outside of the boat to remove all the salt spray we accumulated during the crossing. Gay and Mike returned for Christmas dinner and we talked until after 11:00pm!

We will likely stay here in Tarpon Springs until Friday. We have some boat chores and also want to tour the town, known for its Greek heritage and food and also for being the “Sponge Capital of the World”.

Following Sea Hunt IV into the Gulf

Irish Attitude followed us

Sun setting on the Gulf - see how calm it is!
8 hours into the trip at 6:10pm 123.2 miles to go!
Beautiful sunrise
Irish Attitude, Sea Hunt IV, Carried Away
docked at Turtle Cove Marina in Tarpon Springs

December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012    Day 225                             

C-Quarters Marina, Carrabelle, FL
Total miles to date:  4139.5

Before leaving Apalachicola, Gay and Joyce took the golf cart to the grocery store at 8 am and endured a cold, windy ride. But they were happy to get the food needed for our Christmas meals!  When they got back, Bill and Mike took the cart and drove around town to see various sites. Then it was time to leave for Carrabelle. We only had 29 miles to travel today and we were happy to have a bright sunny day to travel and fairly calm seas!

When we arrived at C-Quarters Marina in Carrabelle with Irish Attitude, our friends on Sea Hunt IV were there to greet us. It was so wonderful to see them again. We last saw them in Killarney, Ontario and our paths have not crossed again until now. 

After we stopped at the fuel dock we tied up at our slip between Sea Hunt and Irish Attitude.  The docking was more complicated today and took several people helping to get our two boats tied up. Short finger piers, tall pilings, dealing with tide, etc. all made it interesting.

The conversation of the day dealt mainly with plans to cross the gulf.  The result: we are leaving at 9am tomorrow, December 23 with Sea Hunt IV and Irish Attitude to make the trip to Tarpon Springs. We expect it to take about 22 hours as we will travel at 8 mph.   We will arrive in Tarpon Springs on the morning of Christmas Eve. The marina closes at noon that day but has already given us slip assignments if they are not there when we arrive.

Joyce prepared lasagna for our Christmas Eve dinner – this will make it so much easier to have a nice meal after a long crossing!  We traditionally have this meal on Christmas Eve and it is nice to keep that tradition!

We will update our blog after we arrive.  We are hopeful for a good crossing with calm seas!

December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012    Day 224                             

Millers Marine, Apalachicola, FL

Total miles to date:  4110.3


After spending over four weeks at Bay Point Marina in Panama City, we finally departed shortly after 7:00am, along with Mike and Gay on Irish Attitude.  It did feel good to get back on the water!  The wave heights were much better than forecast. We had 2 ½ ft. waves for about 2 hours and the rest of our 8 hour day was calm.   We saw very few boats today.  We were happy as always to spot a few dolphins off our bow.  We thought we might spot an alligator today as we came through quite a bit of swampland – but that was not to be!


It was late afternoon when we arrived (we lost an hour as we entered the Eastern Time Zone again), so we did not venture into town.  Gay and Mike joined us for dinner on our boat and we had a lovely evening.


We will try and check out the little shops in Apalachicola tomorrow morning before venturing on to Carrabelle.  The marina is lending us their golf cart for transportation.

December 19, 2012

December 19, 2012    Day 222                             

Bay Point Marina, Panama City, FL
Total miles to date:  4044.3

We were ready to leave at 8:00 this morning but the starboard engine would not start. After several attempts to resolve the problem, Bob (Karma) came over to help and discovered air in the fuel line.  By now it was 9:00 and it was too late to leave and travel the 66 miles to Apalachicola.  So we stayed in port again, and Irish Attitude stayed too.

Joyce, Gay (Irish Attitude), Ivy (Karma) and Joy (Proud Lady) decided to spend a girls’ day out and went shopping! We had a fun day that was long overdue!  While we were out, Laura and Ross (The Zone) and Darrell and Lisa (Why Knot), arrived.  Several of us went to dinner to complete the day.

We will be here again tomorrow with hopes of leaving on Friday.  Stay tuned!

December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012    Day 221                             

Bay Point Marina, Panama City, FL
Total miles to date:  4044.3

This is our last night at Bayside Marina in Panama City.  We have been here for a month and will depart in the morning.  This is a very nice, friendly marina, and many Loopers are staying here for the holidays, but we want to make the Gulf crossing this weekend and be in Tarpon Springs before Christmas. That means positioning ourselves in Carabelle on Friday to be ready when the water is calm enough, hopefully Saturday or Sunday.  Tomorrow we will go as far as Apalachicola which is about 50 miles from here.  We will stay there two nights because Thursday is a no travel day according to the weather forecast! 

We will travel with Mike and Gay on Irish Attitude.  We first met them in Mackinaw City, MI and it is good to catch up with them again.  We had them over for docktails this evening.  Other Loopers, Proud Lady and Karma have arrived since we last posted.  Sometimes we feel like we are playing leapfrog!

Joyce has been doing lots of baking this week, including cookies and the sour cream coffee cake we always have in Christmas morning.  Bill has been working on boat repairs and maintenance.

December 15, 2012

December 15, 2012    Day 218                             

Bay Point Marina, Panama City, FL
Total miles to date:  4044.3

We are still docked at Bayside Marina in Panama City, along with several other Loopers!  We had a wonderful party onboard Lady KK Thursday evening with sixteen Loopers.  Several of these Loopers will leave their boats here over the Holidays while they visit family. Others will remain here on their boats until mid-January.  We are still planning to leave for Carabelle sometime this week – waiting for weather! We still have work to do in the meantime.

We picked up a rental car today for the weekend and spent all day running errands and even walked on the beach for a while.  It was so nice to have the sun shining today!

We will continue to update our blog every few days until we make the gulf crossing.

December 11, 2012

December 11, 2012    Day 214                             

Bay Point Marina, Panama City, FL
Total miles to date:  4044.3

We continue to make progress on the boat chore list. Bill has all plumbing issues resolved!  We also returned our rental car today and made a final trip to the grocery store yesterday for more provisioning. 

We had a fun dinner with Larry and Sherry (Lady KK) last night at a great Mexican restaurant.  Very good food and margaritas! So glad they found this restaurant!

We met another Looper couple today that arrived last week – Joyce and Lane on Makin Memories.  They were bringing a Christmas tree to their boat!

Today was a fairly rainy day and tomorrow’s forecast is for the same, so we are content to work inside.  Joyce is thinking about doing some Christmas baking tomorrow! 

We are still not sure when we will depart for the three day trip to Carabelle – but it will be within the next seven days!  Then we will wait for a good crossing of the Gulf to Tarpon Springs - a 170 mile trip that will take about 24 hours.

Tomorrow, December 12, marks our 7th month on the Loop!

December 8, 2012

December 8, 2012    Day 211                              

Bay Point Marina, Panama City, FL
Total miles to date:  4044.3

The past few days have been focused on working on the boat.  Bill spent over a half day fixing the forward head, a project high on the priority list.  We have been working on several other projects and the list continues.

We did take some time today to do a little Christmas shopping, and do some grocery shopping.  When we returned to the marina, we were happy to see that Good Karma and One September had just arrived.  We met them and Lady KK for dinner and had a good time catching up on everyone’s travels.

We will be here a few more days and continue to get everything on Carried Away cleaned, organized, and back in shape as we prepare to head to Carrabelle for the Gulf crossing in the next two or three weeks.

December 5, 2012

December 5, 2012    Day 208                              

Bay Point Marina, Panama City, FL
Total miles to date:  4044.3

We are finally back on Carried Away after our long road trip of over two weeks. We had such a good time visiting our family.  We spent the first night with Bill’s brother Chuck and wife Becky in Baton Rouge and were joined by their sons and families for dinner also. We were treated to delicious gumbo and learned the difference between Creole and Cajun.  It was a fun evening!!

The next four days were spent at Fort Hood, TX visiting our daughter Kari and her family.  We stayed at a hotel on post but were at their house each morning to begin a full day of activities.  Our four grandchildren (Ashley, 10; Nathan, 8; David, 6; and Rocky, 4) kept us busy!  Our son-in-law, Robert played in a touch football game on Wednesday morning so we were all there to cheer him on.  We helped them decorate for Christmas, had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at their home, went to a fabulous animated Christmas light display, and watched the kids at their first track and field experience. RG2 organized this program several years ago and we were happy to meet him. We had a great family time with them during the four days!

From Texas we drove to Littleton, CO to visit our son, Bill and wife, Amy, and our 17 month old grandson, Will. We spent four days with them in their lovely new home.  Night one included dinner out and a visit to Santa Claus,  although Will would have preferred to have skipped this part!  Nevertheless we all enjoyed it and took some good photos!  A few hours later Bill became very ill with what we thought must be food poisoning. But, three days later when our son caught it, we realized it was a viral flu that was highly contagious.  Add to that we had just come down with colds when we arrived, and you can imagine the guilt we had about bringing illness into their house.  We loved spending time with Will, a happy toddler always in motion! We did help them decorate their Christmas tree and put up the Santa Express Train around the tree, much to Will’s delight!

We left on Thursday afternoon and headed southeast. We stopped in Dodge City, KS and watched a very informative movie about the history of Dodge City and Boot Hill.  By Friday evening we arrived in Enid, OK where we lived from 1971-1975 when Bill was stationed at Vance Air Force Base.   Unfortunately as we checked into our hotel room, Joyce was attacked by the flu and we had to stay there two days until she could travel.  We did drive around town to see our old neighborhood before we left.  On Sunday we drove to Conway, AR.

Monday afternoon we toured The Vicksburg National Military Park.  Joyce’s great-great grandfather fought here during the siege that ended on July 4, 1863. We were able to locate the monument for the 126th Illinois Infantry, and also went inside the large Illinois memorial building with the soldiers names inscribed with their unit.  This is an impressive site high on the bluffs above the Mississippi River. We reached Hattiesburg, MS later that day and spent the night.

Tuesday morning we stopped in Mobile, where we were docked a few weeks ago.  We visited briefly with Laura and Ross, on The Zone, while they are having work done on their boat at Dog River Marina.   We hope they will catch up with us soon!  From there we drove to Pensacola and toured the Naval Air Station Museum. It is a fabulous display of airplanes but we only had two hours and could have spent several more hours there.  We decided to drive on back to Panama City that night, so had to cut the tour short.  Hopefully we can return some day!

And here we are on Wednesday, trying to get reorganized. We did not get a lot of tasks done, but made some progress. We are still very tired and do not feel 100% well yet.  We have kept the rental car for a week and will get provisions for the boat soon.  We have many chores, repairs, and cleaning to do also and plan to remain here at Bay Point Marina for at least another week.

We are happy to be back on Carried Away but at the same time loved seeing our family and more of this great country.  We will probably not update the blog each day while we are just docked here at the marina but will check back now and then to update our progress.

Will in the park
Amy, Will, and Bill
Robert and Kari