The Amazing...
BackHome Jan 07 Mar 07

The events of this first week of February have been educationally mind-boggling to say the least. One it has affirmed my belief that this is what I was born to do, the other is that I really do have no fear, only the survival instinct of apprehension when the initial big wave approaches. I think I must have a very strong sense of will, because I can feel myself will the boat on its course. It is a case of "of course the boat will float!" for sure.

When we left to cross Mobile Bay, I was as green as they come, but there was no hesitation when the assessment of wind verses wave power prompted us to set a forward sail to counter balance the bounce. Mobile Bay became a memory of gentle swaying on the Gulf, crossing to Steinhatchee. The leaning fierceness of the West Bay crossing to Panama City at night, fifteen minutes ahead of the storm, became the initiation of what was to come on the Steinhatchee run.

We got up at 3am to take a shower and drink coffee to leave at 4am. We left the safe confines of the inner waters, to sail the real ocean. We put up a sail, to take advantage of a 15 knot wind. We left our dinghy with our favorite Canadians on Triton's Trumpet, just so we could have a faster traveling speed. We all (Chipper, La Kay, Triton's Trumpet) had planned to meet on the other side that day.

It felt a little rocky but the forecast was for 1 to 2 ft waves, and was still saying so on the radio. We could not see what was happening it was so dark. So we sat glued to our Garmin Chart Plotter and the compass, hunching down into our foulies as spray, after salty spray, sprung up to sting our faces.

Later the radio sprang to life with the voices of the other boats starting out...but one by one the voices died out as they turned about to return to Carrabelle.

Only little Dreamweaver, the one with the crazy cavers and the "Me what?" attitude, was out there, wondering if we should turn back. We thought, "Na, this is FUN!"

Then daylight came, this is what we saw...


I did not photo the other side of the boat because we both sat on that side with our backs to the swell because the breakers would drench us. I do succumb to vertigo, and the troughs were an awesome sight and well worth blocking out. Do check out the videoclip page for a virtual drench for yourselves!

What finalised our decision to carry on, was Dreamweaver's incredible stability in such rough weather. She positively loved the wind in her sails. It was a close haul most of the way, and with short sails, but she just took every pound with a solid punch right on the nose. She bobbed over without a hitch or pitch.

It was so cold. I was stuck to the tiller. I wanted to be at the helm just so I could be in control. Though, Wm would take over when I needed to pee! This photo shows how the sea became in the afternoon. Flat. There we were, miles out at sea, like we were in a protected lake, but there was no land in sight.
We would be approached by dolphins, who would look at us with that eye, and jump out and spray us defiantly from their spout. This one was a playful character I named Jake, he came back several times with his friends. He was really bold!

We got to Steinhatchee before dark. Here was our first encounter with the Floridian West coast local power boaters. The people here are really very nice, but when they get behind the wheel of their power boats they take on the Mr Hyde version of themselves. There is no care for the other boater, the passing manatee or the feeding dolphin. These people are out to kill fish and crabs. These are the testosterone filled hunters of the sea. Their sport is a gentle one that does not require the anger of a gun, just a piece of cord on a stick, a net, or the placing of pots and a marker. Fishing is the sport of gentlemen. The engine on the back of their boat is the sex, the violence...the desparate need of the man who has little power over the mighty sea in his sport. If he has a good catch, he will 'rock your boat baby' in his jubilant return to shore and show off. If the catch is a bad one for the day, he will blindly power his boat up and drive through you, casting you roughly aside in his angry, frustrated wake.

Crikey, so dumb!

The real locals to the left.

Beautiful Steinhatchee sunset.


Steinhatchee has some interesting homes and people.

On a walk through town, we met with an interesting fellow who owned a vehicle for every season. On the right, you can see the helicopter he built himself. On his dock he had a sailboat that he boasted had every modern convenience, and had the best technology. He offered us a view of his lovely boat. He was proudly showing off a computer from the dark ages, and its huge specially built compartment. I did suggest he might update his computer system and he turned and looked at me as if I was insane! It turned out that he was retired from working for Dick Cheney and Halliburton.

Dawn out of Steinhatchee.

Dolphin watch.

It was foggy when we left for Cedar Key where we planned to meet John and Linda, who had our dinghy on Triton's Trumpet. La Kay headed off for Tarpon Springs, and Chipper sailed out in the same direction. Our boat does not want to go out that far and we were enjoying to wonderful clear shores. Because this area is so shallow, we did have to venture out in some areas as much as 20 miles out! No land in sight! It was the most wonderful experience to hear nothing but the lapping of water against the sides of the boat. The water was crystal clear and the sun shone bright and warm on us once we got out of the land-bound fog.

We raced Triton's Trumpet, who were coming straight from Carrabelle to Cedar Key. We could see them further out for most of the day, John saw us put up our sail and turned to Linda, "I think the buggers are racing us dear," he said.


A hitch hiker.

John trying to beat us.


We met up in the bay outside Cedar Key, tied up together, anchored and cooked a wonderful meal and watched TV. What a bunch of boring old farts we are! Funny how we change as we age, I would not have ever dreamed that I would actually ever survive not going up the pub every night. This is just the ultimate in living, who would ever want more?

Beautiful, idyllic Cedar Key.

Then we sailed on down to Crystal River the next day. This is how we were greeted... I think these three photos says it all for the great Floridian welcome.


There were no warnings. They just aimed straight at us in the middle of a wide channel and passed as closely as possible. Our sails were out and clearly visible. We radioed them and asked what they were playing at as this is a no wake zone.

What was said was that they were local, had a living to make and one reply was, "if you can't take the heat, get out the kitchen." (!!!!!)

You would think that as locals they would be a little more concerned for their environment and their manatees and dolphins there. We met up with the larger boat at the marina, on land a very nice individual, said he'd had a bad day fishing. All I can say is that God dishes up what you deserve.

The next day we left in the fog again for Tarpon Springs to meet up with the others.

The trip was easy. Triton's Trumpet overtook us even though they had to go out further. There was no room at Tarpon Springs, so we went a little further toward the ICW. It was here we found paradise, I knew then I had to stay here, I felt home, really at home. I will not say where I was because it would get spoiled. Only locals know this place and that is the way it needs to stay. We stayed 3 days and enjoyed beautiful warm weather and paddling along deserted beaches.

The beach.

William in his favorite place.

Dreamweaver going where few sailboats can go. Thank God for shallow drafts!

Dinghying the hidden channels in the mangroves.

On a tree once owned by a Swiss immigrant who claimed this land as his own paradise on an abandoned sailing trip to the South Seas!

The aliens have landed.

We could not stay here. We have to work. I decided I really would like to work with children again, so I am looking to work as a private nanny for a year or two at least. This is the beauty of being away from the workplace for so long, as well as doing something so life-giving and soul-searching. Time to sit back and ask,"Who am I? How do I want to spend my life?" rather than, "How much have I GOT to earn? What am I going to torture myself with for the next 15 years?" I had brought all my credentials and certifications with me, I laid them out on the table and put them in order. It was like asking God, "What is this telling me?" I am an artist, I am creative in many ways more than the ability to put marker to canvas. I felt like I was painting a picture of myself to reflect a calling. I opened up the computer and opened old work files from my teaching days, the days I worked with my nursery and the days I worked with Tom, Jimmy and the other children and adults with learning disabilities. I looked at my babies, the ones that I loved and brought up for the the first few years of their lives in my nursery. I miss that. I love art, and my sewing and painting will always be an enormous part of my career, but the caring side of me requires the fulfilment I experience from nurturing. My artwork always improves with the inspiration I get from teaching and caring for others.

Enough pondering, and on with the journey! I like to do, not think about it!

After the sojourn in paradise, we decided to catch up with La Kay and Chipper who were in Clearwater. We pulled up and anchored at Clearwater Beach and enjoyed a couple of warm days eating fish. After saying our final good byes, we sailed off to Boca Ciega Bay and our final destination for this part of the journey. We started here, and we will stop here now. We sailed up and down the Bay, screaming with delight, tearing the sails off their hooks in our 5.4 knots, and heeling right over at 20 degrees on a turn. This is what we wanted to do, so why go further? We stayed for 3 days, anchored in silence with decrepid, deserted boats swinging nearby.


We feel very happy together in our little boat. The weather deteriorated, and we decided to move into a marina for a while until we have got settled here. This does not mean and end to the weblog. This is just a chapter. Call it the "Prologue".